Industry-first fork air stream technology (FAST) inspired by F1 racing cars, reducing
airflow blockage on the front of the bike and lowering overall bike + rider drag by
manipulating and improving downstream airflow control.
Athletes are always looking for improvements, gains in performances to get the edge over their opponents. Especially in triathlon, where the athlete is performing at a high level for 8 hours on end, there are a lot of opportunities. With Richard’s experience in Formula 1, we developed our first triathlon specific bike. A radical rethink of how a fast and comfortable triathlon bike should look.
The design is focussed on speed and comfort, by taking a different approach towards aerodynamics we achieve CdA numbers that already outperform some industry leading bikes. In large part this is down to our patented FAST – Fork Air Stream Technology fork which completely redefines the look and feel of the front of the bike.
A traditional triathlon bike is typically a Time Trial or TT bike with some additional storage space for nutrition and gels to get the athlete through the bike leg of the race. However triathlon and time trialing are very different sports.
First, the distance is different with an average time trial not exceeding one hour and an ironman consisting of more than 4 hours of cycling. This has big consequences on the needs of the rider. In triathlon you will benefit from a comfortable position. The athlete will thus not be placed as deep and often you can observe a tower of spacers on triathlon bikes to achieve a more relaxed position for the athlete.
Second, after the bike section of the triathlon there is still a marathon to run. It’s safe to say that you want to save your calves during cycling because of this. This will result in a different kind of position, that is sometimes just unachievable on a time trial bike.
By developing a triathlon specific bike, we can go against the cycling dogma of always going lower and lower. We take the liberty to focus on speed and comfort for triathlon instead of going for the raw speed and more aggressive positions you see in time trialing.
When you develop a time trial bike, there are certain rules that you have to follow. These are defined by the UCI and since the Lugano Charter was introduced in 1996, the rules are very strict. The charter’s aim was to restrict the design of bicycles from becoming too technically driven and to ensure the rider on the bike was still the most important factor.
To some in the industry it was viewed as an anti-technology measurement that in a way prevents smart engineering and innovation. These limitations are another thing that is inherited from time trial bikes
when a brand just transfers their time trial bike into a triathlon bike.
But in triathlon there is no UCI and no UCI means no Lugano charter. You therefore have a lot more freedom to develop the bike and there is a lot more room for innovation.
Boutique bike brands also saw this and many of the “newly” developed bikes are basically modern clones of the pre-lugano charter era bikes.
So actually there has been little development in triathlon bikes.
With our experience in Formula 1 we learned an important lesson. See how in the same timeframe as the triathlon bikes “development” in the above picture (1992-2016) the front wing in Formula 1 has been totally revamped. With Formula 1 in our DNA, we share the same values.
First, we develop our bikes and performance solutions on a continuous basis, ensuring every bike we produce will be a little faster, safer or more comfortable than the previous version. By doing so, we hope to open and inspire new avenues of technological advancement.
Second, we apply the same development philosophy as used in Formula 1 motorsports, implying that anything that goes onto the bike should be there to make the bike faster. Something that you can see in the development of our FAST fork but also in the top tube
mounted hydration and storage system. We use these add-ons to the bike to make the bike + rider system faster by working with the air that leads to improvements in CdA.
The bike industry focuses on “once-a-year, one new model” being introduced. Because generally these brands maintain stock of a certain model and size, hence the yearly development cycles as a standard in the bike industry.
Based on continuous research and actual feedback from the Kú ecosystem partners, Kú Cycle works on new developments 365 days a year to be introduced when these developments are ready.
This continuous development is unique and very similar to upgrades made in between races of Formula 1 cars. And as we build to-order, the upgrades we develop will be incorporated in your bike when you place an order!
As mentioned before we see little development in triathlon bikes. It’s especially noticeable in the front of the bike between the tip of the finger to the elbow as this area dictates up to 90% of the bike’s aerodynamic performance. The design of this part largely influences how the wind impacts the bike and the rider.
With the triathlon industry switching to disc brakes there is quite literally room for improvement, as the brakes don’t have to be attached on the top of the fork. At Ku Cycle, we use the frame and its components to manipulate the airflow around the rider. Which resulted
in raising the headtube between the rider’s forearms while carefully sculpting the fork to create an optimal airflow.
This is a result of optimizing the aerodynamic position as a whole. Instead of looking to make the bike invisible to the air, the system of the bike + rider is optimized. It’s quite a logical engineering way of thinking if you know that over 80% of the total air resistance is coming from the rider. So the bike is actually only a relatively small portion of the total air resistance.
We question products and processes and we are always looking for new ways to deliver athlete performance gains. Taking this approach on the front of the bike, resulted in a granted patent for ‘FAST’.
The figures below shows clearly how Kú Cycle differentiates itself from the competition with our fork air stream technology. In a traditional design of a triathlon bike the airflow is split on the headtube and is then further influenced by the legs (FIG 1).
The FAST fork however, allows the air to flow through the central zone by creating air
passages zones through the fork and in between the rider’s legs. (FIG 2).
The patent is active on the act of raising the headtube between the rider’s forearms along line D in the picture which goes from center axle to the top of the fork.
No other company can thus lift the head tube with fork legs of aero profiles. The optimal length of line D is defined between 475 and 525mm for optimal performance on both aerodynamic and biomechanical
Radically reviewing the front-end design for the TF1 opens the door to development of airflow management. Beyond aerodynamics FAST will help you as an athlete by bringing individual handling preferences into the size selection equation.
Instead of a one size fits all fork and all its inherent limitations on front-end geometry, TF1 and FAST are uniquely sized and matched by the rider specific geometry of the complete bike. Our FAST technology maintains a constant head tube length and achieves size
differentiation by moving the head tube up and forwards. The TF1 allows for the bike to be fitted to your needs, instead of the other way around.
Regardless of size of the rider, the TF1 with FAST will always place them in the ideal aero relationship with the bike and offer a choice of cockpits to match handling characteristics to personal preference. Athlete performance delivered to you!
At Kú Cycle, we are data-driven, committed to solid research and we let the numbers tell the true story. This is a big part of our DNA and another parallel between Ku Cycle and Formula 1. Data is power and enables analysis and new ways of thinking, hence why Kú Cycle invests deeply in aerodynamic testing and data acquisition.
We collaborated with innovative research companies for independent testing of our bikes to ensure the TF1 including the FAST fork technology truly delivers improved aero performance and at the same time improved rider comfort.
The diagram below demonstrates a comparison made in 2016 of the virtual TF1 prototype with the Cervelo P5, the leading triathlon bike at the time.
The TF1 model (version MOD 2) was already on par at that time with the P5 in CFD testing (Computational Fluid Dynamics).
The current TF1 model is proving to be on the edge of aerodynamic advancement leading to real world race pace.
From the workshop engineering we take it to real-life outdoor aero performance testing. For this we cooperate with aerolab which delivers us high speed data acquisition and processing. This allows us to get a better understanding of the environmental conditions and their influence on aerodynamics, very similar to how F1 cars are tested outdoors.
Kú Cycle has introduced a development platform enabling continuous future product development executed jointly with industry partners in order to push the boundaries of athlete performance. Our development iterations will be unconstrained by the industry standard annual product cycle.
This development platform in combination with a well defined development process, allows Kú Cycle to constantly define new and innovative designs leading to unique new products delivering measurable athlete performance improvements.
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