What's Cool In Road Cycling

PEZ-Tech: Columbia’s ’09 SCOTT Team Bikes

It doesn’t really matter how good an athlete you are – you always need a decent racing rig. For the Columbia-High Road guys and gals, the horsepower comes from the legs and lungs, but that all gets translated to the road through their 2009 Scott Addicts and Plasma TT bikes.

PEZ got up-close with the new Scotts at the Team Columbia training camp in Mallorca, and again at the Tour of California. Okay, we didn’t actually ride them, but talked to someone who does…

Columbia-High Road have made the shift from the Giant bikes of last season to Scott, specifically the 2009 carbon-framed Addict SL model for the road, and Plasma for the time trials. Each rider on the squad gets two road frames: one is a professional specific model which won’t be available to any of us plebians, regardless of whether we have any cents, pennies or groats left over thanks to the global recession. The other machine, for training purposes, will be more of a ‘factory’ rig.

The pro-level machines, which the likes of Cavendish, Griepel and Hincapie will be thundering about on, are actually heavier than the regular training models because a few additional carbon layers have been incorporated to help stiffen up the bottom bracket and head tube. And when you think about the sprinting power Cav, Griepel, Greg Henderson and co., can lay down, that’s no bad thing!

Scott claim themselves that the Addict’s carbon properties allow it to handle climbing, sprinting and descending “with comfort and confidence.” The Addict SL is constructed using Scott’s IMP (integrated molding process) technique, which means the front triangle (top tube, head tube and down tube) is created in a one-er to save weight and increase the lateral rigidity of the frame, which also features an integrated seat mast.

Team manager Rolf Aldag offered a quick once-over of the new rigs at the press launch over in Majorca and reckoned that Scott offered a nice partnership: “[They] listen to our experience and they’re open-minded.” Similar to the Cervelo Test Team premise, there’s a two-way process of feedback and development, where the emphasis is on getting rider input to help hone the best possible equipment for the guys and girls on the road.

The Columbia-High Road ladies will also be racing on Scott Addicts this season

Among Columbia-High Road’s other partners this season are:

SRM whose wireless power meters are used by all the riders. The management sees them as a major advantage in terms of controlling training efforts and monitoring performance. Or, quoting team DS Rolf Aldag: “To see what goes right and what goes wrong!”

Fizik, whose saddles are the “important connection between the best part of the body and the bike!”, offer the Arione model in team colors, with matching bar tape. That adds a lovely accessorizing touch, if that’s what you’re into. Hours of anatomical research combined with lightweight technologies … I’d want all that too if I was spending 7 hours in the saddle over the cobbles!

Shimano’s new Dura-Ace 7900 set adorns the Scott Addict, although the cranks are still Dura-Ace 7800 to accommodate the SRM power meters – there’s some work to be done before the new 7900 cranks can take the power meters.

As with Scott, it’s all about information being fed back and forth to constantly improve the technology. Also noteworthy on the TT rig is the electronic shifting – no manual cable, which offers advantages in terms of speed of gear changing and aerodynamics.

Continental tires, now as familiar to soccer fans as cycling fans thanks to their hundreds of TV ads which punctuate the commercials during the Champions League tournament, complete another partnership agreement.

Look closely and you’ll see a Scott Plasma – that narrow profile darn near disappears in the wind.

So what do the guys think? Pez got a few minutes to get the feelings of fast-rising German star Tony Martin and one of the team’s mechanics, Lars Teutenberg (brother of ace women’s squad’s sprinter Ina-Yoko). Tony was testing the electronic-shifting version of the TT bike.

“I really like it. I tried it before and it works really great… So I think it will be good to use in the races. The best thing is that you can shift on the inside (ie: on the aero bars) and the outside (ie: when cornering on the regular bars), so that is really cool.”

Pro carbon components included on the road rig are the Vibe S7 bar and stem.

Lars reckons the SRM power meters, which all the team are using, are: “ … a great tool. Very useful and easy to use. I’ve been personally using it since 1988. It was a big block back then! The Scotts are a very good bike. You get great performance and I think it will be good for the riders. The frame geometry is quite different from last year’s Giants – they were quite specialised in their geometry.”

“But the Scotts are a nice ride, and they’re good to work on. It has taken a while to get them all ready because they are quite different to last year’s machines. Right now (training camp) we’re still building some of them, so that’s why not all the bikes are set up with electronic shifting.”

So, are they easier for you as a mechanic?

“Uuuuh … I don’t know yet! We’ve been getting used to them, and it’s taken time to cut all the cables and so on. But the frames are really light.”

The narrow profile of the Plasma frame is very evident at the bb, which has been shaped to smooth airflow under the bike as well as around it.

Quizzing Lars about the electronic shifting, and knowing this has been a bit of holy grail in terms of reliability, this was his take on it.

“We’re still trying out what’s best. The cable routing is different for different bars and frames. We’re looking for a kind of ‘customized’ fit – then it should be very fast to install.

For a company, they can take six months or a year to go from prototype through development of a product and we have to do it in a few days or the season is over! So it’s about learning quick and finding an instant solution, then getting the company to produce that.”

By the time the squad hit the Tour of California, George Hincapie and a couple of his team-mates were running the new Dura-Ace Di2 electronic shifting set-up on their road bikes. Gone are your familiar shift cables, replaced by wires, while the operating computer has taken up cosy residence in the front derailleur. The battery pack lives on the down tube, below the Elite bottle cages.

It will be interesting to see how the riders feel about the electronic shifting, but the carbon fibre brake levers and reduction of all the parts you get in manual shifter reduces the overall weight, and if the reliability gets nailed … it could be a major breakthrough.

For more on the Scott Addict check out: www.scottusa.com and go to www.highroadsports.com for more on the team and links to their partners.

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