PEZ: The UCI ‘approval’ system, a good or bad thing ?
Pascal Ducrot: A good thing! We have been pushing for a clear ruling towards UCI for quite a while already and told them two years ago that Scott would be in favour of an approval system.
PEZ: The UCI ‘position’ regulations – your opinions ?
PD: Personally I would like to see that UCI opens this a bit in order to increase the playground for individual riders positions.
PEZ: Remind us of how the Plasma came about – development or ‘blue sky’ thinking?
PD: Before we designed the Plasma TT we already had quite a good idea what needs to be done based on the old Plasma 2 frame.
We then sat together with Simon Smart, our aerodynamic consultant in the UK as well as Lars Teutenberg (HTC Team) in order to define the tasks for this new bike.
The aerodynamic approach coming from Simon Smart was then defining the tube shapes while we internally have defined the overall look and the details of the Plasma TT.
PEZ: Weight – how important a factor on a TT bike ?
PD: Once a TT bike is “at speed” the aerodynamics play a more important role than the weight.
But of course for the start, for accelerations and cornering a light bike has a clear advantage over heavier ones.
This is why the goal on developing a TT bike is still to stay lightweight as much as possible.
PEZ: Is aluminum dead ?
PD: For competitions and lightweight applications I would say, YES but I would not say that today’s carbon bikes will be “the thing” for the next 10 years.
The development on fibres and glue is ongoing and there is still some room for development.
Aluminium cannot be replaced so quickly for the lower price points for the next years and therefore the market for aluminium bikes is still big and justified, as aluminium has still a very good performance to price ratio.
PEZ: When you design a bike, how much feedback do you get from team mechanics ? pro riders ?
PD: Very important. I would even say it is key and the starting point before every start of development of a project.
Later, during the phase of development we then test a lot with riders in order to optimize the characteristics of a bike.
You can say that the feedback from mechanics is important before the project starts while the feedback from riders is important during the development phase.
PEZ: How much of your market for Plasmas is triathlon – is that compatible with the TT rider market ?
PD: Triathlon is basically THE market for TT bikes while pure TT usage is very limited.
This is why we have to respect the needs for triathletes during the development of a TT bike.
(Positioning, hydration and other practical issues specific for triathletes)
PEZ: Why have the front brake on the front of the crown ? the current fashion is to tuck it behind, ‘out of the wind.’
PD: At the fork the brake in front of the fork is faster than a brake behind the fork; several tests have proved this.
A brake in the rear of the fork crown creates additional turbulences.
We can control those turbulences much better by putting the brake in front of the crown.
Probably the fastest solution would be an integrated brake in the fork (inside) but this can create problems for the braking performance as the rider needs to have the same braking feeling and performance as on his regular road bike which is not guaranteed on all of today’s design solutions.
In addition to this, such a design adds weight and sacrifices stiffness quite drastically.
PEZ: Isn’t behind the bracket an awkward place for the rear brake – in terms of catching muck; and maintenance ?
PD: We have tested several solutions and the best place for the rear brake is behind the seat tube above the chain stays as we have done it on the Plasma and by using the Felt patent.
Of course this position is slightly more tricky in regards to brake choice and maintenance.
We have found indeed a very clever solution on our Plasma but we are limited to Shimano brakes.
PEZ: Do you keep the bottom bracket height low on your TT bikes to keep them closer to the road ?
PD: The BB height on our TT bikes is not lower than on regular road bikes as the riders must have the possibility to find a riding and pedaling position which is close to his regular road bike.
PEZ: How do you strike the balance between handling/rigidity and comfort ?
PD: Handling is a given, no compromise
Rigidity depends on the usage and level of bikes but on high performance bikes it’s an absolute top priority.
Comfort also depends on the usage and level of bikes.
On a CR1 road bike for example the customer wants a comfortable lay up while on a TT bike comfort stands behind handling and rigidity due to the structure of the frame and aerodynamic constrains.
PEZ: What about electronic – where will you tuck the battery box ?
PD: Good question. So far the battery box was very hard to integrate into the frame due to strength and weight concerns and maintenance issues.
Still today on road bikes the battery box location is best on the down tube below the bottle cage due to weight distribution and aerodynamics.
I guess the longer the industry will be working with battery boxes, the better solutions will appear.
PEZ: Ovoid rings – worthwhile or gimmick?
PEZ: The future – any clues for us ?
PD: Aerodynamic road bikes! The UCI limit of 6.8 kg does not leave a lot of room for weight improvements but aerodynamics on road bikes can still save a lot of watts for riders and consumers.