Tim O'Donnell: Interview and Bike Profile

 Apr 16, 2012 article & images by Nick Salazar

Tim O'Donnell's star is on the rise. The Naval Academy graduate and former Naval Officer has proven himself a force to be reckoned with in any race, coming up through the ranks as an Olympic-distance, 70.3-distance, and now Iron-distance athlete. Last weekend, he won 70.3 Lonestar over a field that included Michael Raelert, Lance Armstrong, and others. But despite his palmares and obvious potential, O'onnell is easily one of the most down-to-earth, humble people you'll ever meet. Tim graciously let me crash his house for an interview about racing, gear, and to get a close look at his new bike, the Argon E-118. I think the interview gives you a really good sense for his special combination of humility and ambition.

After the interview, I got to spend a little extra time with Tim's bike, shooting all the small details. Tim's stance on gear, as he says in the interview, is that it should be focused on after acquiring a high level of fitness. It's "an extra little gift," as he says. Last year, he ran two bottles behind the saddle, and found that a BTA bottle up front was far superior in the wind tunnel. Now he's planning to move his frame bottle behind the saddle in a single cage tucked right into the saddle. It's basically the exact same steps I recommend in my hydration guide. Tim, your bottle setup is TriRig approved!

Check out the gallery below for all the little bits and pieces on Tim's Argon E-118.

  • Tim O'Donnell's Argon E-118, with training wheels.
  • Tim rides Campagnolo, and is now using their new Return to Zero shifters, ergonomically similar to SRAM's excellent R2C shifters.  Behind the shifters, you'll notice a BTA bottle.  Tim went to the wind tunnel and found, as most athletes do, that a BTA bottle was aerodynamically ideal, saving valuable watts over other solutions.
  • In order to use his Profile-Design sponsored aerobar, Argon had to make Tim a special stem plate to clamp the bar down, since the E-118's bar uses a non-standard diameter of 32.0mm.
  • From the front, the E-118 has a very slick profile, except for the sidepull brake cable routing.
  • O'Donnell has been riding a slightly high-hands position, which he found to be the best for him in the wind tunnel.  This kind of thing is very rider-specific, and not something to emulate without a trip to the tunnel to validate.
  • The standard ISM Adamo works well for Tim.
  • Retul fit Tim to his bike, and left the tape marks the seatpost position for easy re-assembly when traveling to races.
  • The Argon E-118 uses a single-bolt retention system for the seatpost, a nice touch.
  • The rear seat stay cluster is sleek and narrow, since the brake is hidden beneath the chainstays.
  • Campagnolo Super Record 11 components for Tim.
  • I'm always a fan of the nude carbon look, and the Campagnolo Super Record crank doesn't disappoint.
  • Here you can see the TRP integrated brake sitting behind the crank.
  • Argon is proud of their Canadian heritage, and marks it on the bike.
  • This new TRP brake is showing up on a lot of bikes now, but seems to require some slight design concessions. On the Argon, it meant using sidepull cable routing and exposing the brake housing.  The Cannondale Slice RS uses this brake, and routes the cable through the steerer tube, but that still requires some exposed cable.
  • The rest of the cables route behind the stem for a clean entry. What's nice is that this single frame is compatible with cabled or electronic drivetrains.
  • Here you can see the rubber plug hiding the Di2 cable exit hole.
  • Tim set his BTA bottle up via a couple of bits from sponsor Profile Design.
  • O'Donnell's Garmin computer sits just behind his shifters to make it easy to look at while riding.
  • Profile's carbon ABS levers provide light weight, good ergonomics, and a nice strong return spring.
  • Tim rides the Svet aerobar, a slick, lightweight base bar.
  • Tim O'Donnell's Argon E-118, relaxing after a hard-fought victory two weeks ago in Galveston, Texas.
  • O'Donnell keeps a standard bottle cage on the down tube for course bottles. In our interview with him, he says he's considering moving this to a single behind-the-saddle mount for better aerodynamics.
  • The Argon E-118 has aluminum dropouts on the front and rear for better durability.
  • CycleOps Powertap hubs let O'Donnell keep track of his power while riding.
  • The E-118 has a two-position seatpost which can be flipped.  O'Donnell is still riding a fairly steep effective angle, since he's on an Adamo saddle.
  • Tim O'Donnell with his Argon E-118.
  • Thanks for the interview, Tim!  O'Donnell chatted with us for a while between his swim and run workouts.  I guess champions never really rest!
  • Tim has a lot of cool footwear from sponsor K-Swiss, including these Old Glory-themed kicks.
  • Here are just a few more sets of shoes lying around in Tim's garage.

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