Three for the Tour: Kask, Orbea and Bianchi
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While the Tour de France has always been fertile ground for product launches, the 2017 edition may set a new record. We’ve already seen new bikes from LOOK, Trek and Specialized. In fact, when all is said and done as many as seven new bikes will have been debuted, to say nothing of all the components and apparel we’ll see. With week one in the books, here are three new pieces that got TdF debuts – the KASK Valegro, Orbea Orca Aero and Bianchi’s Pantani Specialissima..
Team Cofidis’ Orbea Orca Aero
Aero’s not just for time trials anymore. Lead out trains and sprinters are deadly serious about shaving drag, and now Nacer Bouhanni, French sprint star on Team Cofidis, has his own aero weapon thanks to Orbea – the new Orca Aero.
Being a freshly minted bike, Orbea was able to take advantage of the newly relaxed UCI technical guidelines for 2017 and went deeper than 3:1 on the tube shapes, but not much deeper, there are still plenty of UCI rules to follow. Like other aero road bikes, Orbea has opted for truncated airfoil tube shapes, but a bit blunter than most other manufacturers. The seat post has a deep cut out to tuck the rear wheel out of the wind and the seat stays are dropped significantly. The new fork is also slightly deeper than 3:1, and alone saves 4watts versus the Orca OMR fork. Using a Vision Metron 5D integrated bar and stem (Bouhanni uses a traditional bar and stem, likely due to fit needs), Orbea shaves another 6watts of effort. Overall, the set up is 27watts faster than a standard Orca, saving 82sec over 50km at 50kph, according to Orbea. Of course, how it compares to bikes like the Specialized Venge or Trek Madone will be the real barometer.
For Bouhanni, he’ll measure any advantage in bike lengths gained over the last 200meters. If he sneaks a wheel past Kittel or Demare, he’ll know he has the Orbea Orca to thank for it. The Orbea Orca is available now with builds ranging from $3300 to $8500. As always, Orbea just suggests builds and colors. For no extra fee, Orbea lets you swap components and customize paint with MyO. For more info go to orbea.com.
Team SKY’s new KASK Valegro
When Team SKY wanted a new ultra light, incredibly ventilated and aerodynamic new helmet, they turned to helmet supplier Kask – the only helmet supplier the team has ever worked with. The Italian’s at Kask already make some of the most aerodynamic and sought after helmets in the peloton – the Protone, Infinity and Bambino Pro – and it wanted to go after the best climbing helmet as well.
The brand used its aerodynamic experience and turned it inside out, using it to channel airflow to the rider even at slower climbing speeds, with 36vents. Kask also tackled evaporative cooling by reducing the amount of head to pad contact substantially and ensuring the pads that do contact your head feature the best wicking material available. Of course, weight is always critical and the European version of the Valegro comes in at just 180grams, including a full featured fit system. The US version, with different safety standards to achieve will likely be a bit heavier.
We saw Froome wearing the new Valegro as he took the yellow jersey from teammate Geraint Thomas on stage 5 this week. We imagine there were some busy nights at Kask’s factory, since they had to save the white and blue Valegro’s for another day and deliver yellow helmets with Team SKY already leading the team classification. It’s a good thing Kask manufactures its cycling helmets down the road from its HQ in Italy. The Valegro will be available in December of this year, go to kask.it for more information.
Pantani Inspired Bianchi Specialissima
If you’ve followed PELOTON’s reviews for a year or two, you know we are huge fans of Bianchi’s new line up, and foremost among that line up is the Specialissima. This is Bianchi’s ultra light climber, in fact, it is so light it will likely not be raced at the Tour this year. The Bianchi Oltre Xr4 of Team Lotto NL – Jumbo is already light enough to require ballast to reach the weight minimum for most riders.
RELATED: Check out the Specialissima in PELOTON 360.
Even though it won’t be raced this year, this 2018 Special Anniversary Specialissima CV is calling back to 1998, when Marco Pantani won both the Giro and the Tour on his Mercatone Uno liveried Bianchi. The Specialissima is the bike that marries Bianchi’s heritage with its technological know how. It features a traditional profile with the latest in material science, using Countervail, Bianchi’s vibration damping material in the carbon layup. Our 58cm test bike was just 13.8lbs. Look for pricing and availability soon, for more on the Specialissima go to bianchiusa.com.
To see all of PELOTON’s 2017 Tour de France tech coverage and all the new product releases, check out our Gear section.