Vegas Gear: Digging Deeper

 Sep 11, 2012 article & images by Nick Salazar

A growing number of pros have turned to BTA setups. This is Paul Amey using a Speedfil A2 (and riding a TriRig Omega front brake!)

Just as we have done before at some other races, we're going to be taking a slightly closer look at some of the equipment used at the 2012 edition of the 70.3 World Championship race in Las Vegas.

This is a very interesting time for those of us who have been observing pro bike setups. And for me, the big news has to do with hydration. It seems that more and more pros are turning away from the traditional aerodrink-type bottles that dominated the field for a solid decade, and are moving towards the BTA-type setups that we love to recommend. A simple Between-The-Arms bottle is more elegant, more useful, and far more aerodynamic than a traditional aerodrink, and has virtually no disadvantages.

(But let me be clear. Not all aerodrink-type bottles are bad. I've specifically applauded the TorHans bottle, for being a much better-thought-out take on the traditional solution. And while I personally continue to use BTA-type setups (either a standard bottle or the A2), I think TorHans has put together a great case that their solution is actually fast, and potentially just as fast as a good BTA setup.)

There are some other interesting tidbits in the gallery below, like Crowie's custom S-Works MacLaren helmet.

I estimate that more than half of the pros in the field were using some kind of BTA setup (or a TorHans). That's an impressive figure! It means pros are getting smarter, but it also means it's getting tougher for them to gain equipment-related advantages over their rivals. As a gear junkie, I think that on balance things are getting better. I like to see the field adopting smart solutions, because it makes room for even smarter ones in the future.

But water is just one of the stories here. There was a whole lot of excellent, high-end equipment to look at in the sand. Have a close look at the captions in the gallery below, where we take a look at plenty of front ends, wheelsets, helmets, and more. And if you haven't seen it, have a look at our supersized race-day gallery.

  • Here's race-winner Sebastian Kienle, aboard his very sleek Scott Plasma 3. This is the full shot, which we will be breaking down in the next few closeups.
  • Kienle is one of a select few athletes riding the new Scott Split aero helmet. The Split conforms to some modern trends in aero helmet design: a smooth frontal profile, minimal venting, and a shorter tail. Keinle previously rode the Split with its integrated visor, but has since swapped out for a pair of Oakley Radar XL shades.
  • Kielne is one of a very small number of athletes NOT using aerobar-mounted hydration. Instead, he uses just two bottles, both of which are attached to a Beaker Concepts carbon fiber Hydrotail, behind his saddle. This is certainly a workable solution, but perhaps Kienle could save a couple Watts by moving one bottle to a BTA location.
  • Kienle's aerobars are the Pro Missile EVO bar and integrated Plasma 3 stem. The result is super clean and beautiful. But that nasty front brake cable could be eliminated by the application of an Omega brake - I think that would make this machine more or less perfect.
  • Paul Amey's rig is absolutely gorgeous. He's riding the stealth version of the Blue Triad SL, which is basically all nude carbon with black logos. The frontal profile is completed with a black TriRig Omega brake, which keeps everything super fast, super sleek, and still super easy to wrench.
  • Amey is riding with a Speedfil A2, one of my favorite BTA solutions. He attaches his to a massive 32-oz Gatorade Squeeze bottle, making it virtually the only thing he'll need all day long. Just behind the stem, he's taped a couple of gels and a can of Vittoria Pittstop.
  • This time last year, Crowie was just starting to experiment with the use of aero helmets in races. Since then, he's almost always kept one on. Last year he was on a Giro Advantage 2, but has since switched out for the Specialized MacLaren lid, which is as yet not available to consumers. His gets a rather loud custom paint scheme, featuring flames, some poker cards, and a pair of dice.
  • Crowie is also riding one of Shimano's new PRO discs, also in prototype form. They're utilizing Textreme carbon fiber, which purports to offer lower weight than standard twill weave by minimizing bunching in the fibers, and allowing manufacturers to use half the amount of carbon without sacrificing any stiffness. Still, I'd be surprised if this thing was even close to the stunningly-low weight of the Carbonsports Lightweight disc, which you can see on Kienle's bike, above.
  • Here's Rinny on her 650c Felt DA, sized perfectly for her.
  • Look closely - Rinny is also riding the Speedfil A2 between her arms, and supplements it with a single frame bottle. That's all she needs. But unfortunately, stomach problems took her out of the race early.
  • Here's women's champion Leanda Cave, aboard her Pinarello Graal, which I think is one of the saddest bikes on the market today. It's just a cluster of reasonably-good ideas gone bad. Ugly cable routing, harsh bends, behind-the-fork brakes, and slack geometry are just SOME of my problems with the bike. But Leanda clearly had a great race, and took the win from a tough field. So let's zoom in and look at her setup.
  • In my opinion, Leanda's setup is reasonably well-managed. It just looks cluttered because of the Graal it's sitting on. Up front she's got a TorHans aero bottle, keeps a small bento box behind the stem, and has a gel flask just forward of the seat tube. There's one supplemental bottle on the down tube. But nothing hanging off the saddle, and nothing that looks too hobbled-together. There is definitely room for improvement, but it's hard to convince an athlete of that, especially when they came home with the win.
  • Andy Potts is yet another athlete rocking the Speedfil A2. And like Rinny and TO, he's not actually sponsored by Speedfil. These athletes pick the A2 because they like how the product works. That's quite an endorsement, even if it has to be unofficial.
  • Here's a closup of Potts' front end. He's now using the Pro Missile Evo aerobar, but it looks like he has some custom extenders to set the arm cups a little wider than is possible on a stock setup. His A2 is sitting in a Specialized Rib Cage.
  • Bevan Docherty was the only pro we noticed riding the Giro Air Attack helmet. I think it looks like a nice midway point between a full aero lit and a well-ventilated road helmet. But of course, I think its full advantage is realized when you use the integrated visor, which Docherty left out. Most pros do, so that they can keep their eyewear sponsors happy. But in my opinion, an integrated visor is a huge benefit while riding in aero, where shades can slide off your nose, and visibility can be compromised by the rims.
  • Joe Gambles, still rocking the Speed Concept, but he's traded his SRAM group for Campagnolo.
  • I like the Kask helmet, but again, think it's always better with the integrated visor. Joe is keeping Oakley happy by rocking the crystal red Radar XL shades.
  • Jeff Symonds was the only athlete we noticed riding the new Orbea Ordu Gold. He's got a TorHans bottle up front between his Pro Missile Evo aerobars.

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