ROAD TO ROUBAIX: FULL CIRCLE
First of all, Peter Sagan, Paris-Roubaix, Wow..just Wow!
We've been thrilled these last few years to work with Peter and the technical team at Bora. They've proven to be incredibly open-minded, strategic in their thinking, and so willing to incorporate and share ideas with all of their sponsors, so this kind of success is not surprising to us!!
For me personally, this marks a fantastic bookend to my own ten-year Paris-Roubaix journey (mostly told HERE on our site). It is so gratifying to see that the wheel design features/elements we created to accomplish the first win has gone on to win every single Roubaix since then...EVERY SINGLE ONE. These technologies have changed efficiently the entire belief system about carbon wheels, comfort and aerodynamics at this race (as well as Flanders and Strade Bianchi), and in the process changed the way an entire market (with more than 100 brands)
designs and manufactures products for this type of riding.
Even more interesting, while we were effective in changing the product involved, i.e., the visible thing that riders and teams could SEE the successful teams doing, we have now also influenced the way the peloton has embraced the UNSEEN details. This brings us back to tire pressures, and it is no understatement to say that the entire pro peloton is OBSESSED with tire pressure at the moment.
10 Years ago the conventional wisdom was that 24mm tires were fastest on the cobbles and that you needed 27mm tires if it rained. Tire pressures were similar to standard road stages to prevent wheel damage,
and the riders just went with it.
To win at Roubaix today takes dozens of hours of testing for each team, scrutinizing individual tire pressures both front and rear for each rider. Tire sizes are now 28- 32mm and riders and teams are
obsessed with how LOW the pressures can go per rider.
We've talked about perception vs. reality in this blog before, and have identified in testing that things that FEEL fast aren't necessarily actually fast. Humans are much better at perceiving noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) than they are at perceiving speed.. so our brains use NVH as a proxy. So rough roads and high tire pressure FEEL fast, even when the data show otherwise. This perception makes changing the conventional wisdom so much more difficult as the rider has to choose between what the data show and what they intuitively feel!
We are currently working with more than half the pro peloton on tire pressure strategies, and our mantra for them (and you) is to seek SMOOTHNESS over harshness. Take what feels fast and tune it to feel
SMOOTH and you will actually go faster!
My favorite photo from 2018 Roubaix has to be this one of Nicki Terpstra sneaking a feel of Peter's tires after the race. I worked closely with Nicki (and Tom Boonen) in 2012-2013 leaving my role at Zipp
in 2014 the year Niki won his Roubaix and know Niki to be a fierce
competitor and savvy connoisseur of fine tires and pressures!