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The Winning Rigs of Kona
article & images by Nick Salazar
Oct 14, 2012  hits 97,462

Pete Jacobs
Pete Jacobs, 2012 World Champ

Every year, we like to do bike breakdowns of certain Kona race-day rigs. Today we're going to look at the bikes ridden by the overall winners Leanda Cave and Pete Jacobs. Interestingly, neither of these frames represents what most would consider the cream of the crop in terms of FRAME design. However, their riders appointed the rigs in tasteful, minimal ways that allow for easy access to hydration and nutrition WITHOUT making big aero sacrifices. The resulting rigs are still very sleek, quietly taking their riders from T1 to T2 in style and comfort.

Let's start with Pete's rig.

Pete Jacobs' Boardman Air TT

The frame is a Boardman Air TT. While these frames are a fairly late model year, they're based on some very old design cues. Nothing about this bike is really cutting-edge or particularly creative. But that's okay. It sticks to some generally-accepted principles of aero bike design: keep things narrow, tuck the wheels in close to the frame, use smooth, round shapes where possible, and use geometry steep enough to get the rider into position.

That's not to say it's perfect, by any means. Again, it's based on design ideas that have been around for quite some time. I'd guess that in the tunnel, it fares about as well as a similarly-set-up Cervelo P2, give or take a few grams of drag. But I do have one big gripe about this frame, and it's the fork. Boardman has decided that the best way to set its bikes apart from other things that look similar is to use a fork with a built-in front brake. The thing is, they use a SIDEPULL brake, with a huge loop of cable sticking out in the wind. This is quite a shame, because it means that if you want to have a nice clean frontal profile, you'd have to ditch the included fork and go source another one. Which is exactly what I'd do if I rode that bike. Don't people get it yet? A well-designed center-pull brake is going to be aerodynamically superior to this kind of setup.

Jacobs rode the new Red, and delivered Quarq its first ever Ironman World Championship win.

With that rant out of the way, let's continue. The big point I want to make about Pete's rig is that he's dressed it up with exceptionally good choices. This rig is about as fast as it can get. And that turned out to be pretty important for Jacobs, who won this race by getting aggressive on the bike in a way he hadn't really done before. Starting up front, you can see he's running 808 Firecrest tubulars front AND back. Last year he had a 404 up front, which handles just a little better in the wind.

Bottles are all tucked away from the wind. A BTA bottle up front got used for on course nutrition, along with a single bottle cage in the rear, tucked right against his ISM Adamo saddle. And a single aero bottle on the frame was probably used for concentrated nutrition. This is exactly the setup we recommend for long course racing. And each year, more and more pros go this route. They're either getting good advice from the people they work with, or they're all reading TriRig. I choose to believe the latter. I know it's true in Michael Lovato's case.

For more nutrition storage, Jacobs has a bento box right behind his steerer tube. He's using the XLab Rocket Pocket. This is a good example of the right tool in the right application. For bikes like the Boardman Air, a small storage box behind the steerer tube can actually help with the aerodynamic situation, given that without it, there's just a big cylinder exposed to the air. If the box is kept reasonably small, it can help act as a fairing behind the steerer tube. In Jacobs' case, it looks like a very good match. The result is a very clean-looking rig, and it certainly served him well on the way to victory this year.

Hit the jump for the breakdown of Leanda Cave's Pinarello.


  • Pete Jacobs' rig is simple and effective. He rode like hell to set himself up for a great run, and won with daylight behind him.
  • Jacobs' front end is simple: Zipp Vuka Bull, Zipp Vuka Clip, SRAM R2C shifters. A BTA bottle and XLAB bento box finish it off and keep him fueled.
  • Jacobs is on the new Red drivetrain, including the Red Quarq. This is the first time Quarq has gotten an Ironman World Championship win.
  • Jacobs rides the Lazer TT lid, and Rudy Project rimless shades for good visibility while in aero.
  • In back, an ISM Adamo and a single botle cage keep things tidy.
  • The Boardman Air is generally an OK rig, but this giant loop of cable up front is unforgivable - and sadly, unavoidable if you're going to ride it with the included fork.
  • Leanda Cave charged to the win on her Pinarelo Graal. I'm not a huge fan of the bike itself, but there's no denying that Leanda put together a fantastic race aboard it.
  • The front end is fairly simple as well: a TorHans bottle with a FuelBelt bento box. Cave is riding the long-discontinued Easton Attack TT bar. It's not adjustable, but at under 400g, it's still by far the lightest thing around.
  • Cave rode Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 drivetrain.
  • Cave was one of MANY athletes riding the new Giro Air Attack helmet. I think this thing is an awesome hybrid, and a great compromise between full aero lids, which can be tough to bear in the Hawaii heat, and a regular road helmet, which will give up a lot of time in the aero department.
  • Cave rides an Adamo Podium saddle, and kept a single XLAB Gorilla cage strapped to it.

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