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Tour tech: Scott Project F01 aero road bike

HTC-Columbia bike sponsor Scott will supply team riders with a new aero road bike in their quest for glory at this year's Tour de France.

Scott says the new frame – codenamed 'Project F01' for now – combines the best attributes of its current Addict road and Plasma 3 TT/Tri bikes, presumably making for a potent breakaway or sprint weapon where speeds are typically higher than average and riders are wholly exposed to the wind. According to Scott, the Project F01 weighs just 5 percent more than an Addict (while retaining the same stiffness) and yet reduces frame drag by 20-30 percent.

That equates to an impressive 840g bare frame weight (or a 1,277g fuselage weight with frame, fork, seatpost and clamp) that should satisfy even finicky climbers but also a significant 20W power savings at speed (based on a 300W output). According to Scott, this means the Project F01 is not only faster and more aerodynamic than either the Cervélo S3 or Felt AR but also substantially lighter and more efficient under power.

Interestingly, Scott's new machine doesn't actually look all that slippery at first glance. Rather than use conventional airfoil profiles on the Project F01 – which can often be heavy and poor-riding – Scott is using a truncated teardrop shape with roughly a 3:2 aspect ratio that it says offers a better compromise between stiffness-to-weight and aerodynamics.

Though similar in theory to the Kamm tail concept that Trek successfully put to use recently on its Speed Concept, Scott's Project F01 removes more trailing edge material and also uses a more rounded 'cut line' that is specifically shaped for each tube.

In addition to using far less material than a typical airfoil, Scott's 3:2 profile can also be made far wider than typical airfoils without breaking UCI guidelines for section depth and makes fewer sacrifices in rigidity. Scott also says the less aggressive shape yields better drag numbers at higher yaw angles and produces a far better ride quality, too.

Additional features include Shimano Dura-Ace Di2-compatible internal cable routing (with no additional weight or friction versus a conventional external setup), a proprietary 3:2-profile carbon post with a Ritchey 1-Bolt head and neatly integrated binder mechanism, PF-BB86 press-fit bottom bracket cups (and finally correspondingly wider down tube dimensions and chain stay spacing), carbon dropouts, and an all-new carbon fork with a tapered 1 1/8"-to-1 1/4" steerer tube.

That new fork also directly incorporates the lower bearing seat into the mold for smoother – and thus stronger – fiber paths, and the lower bearing also presses directly into the head tube with no additional cup required. The upper 1 1/8" bearing still uses a conventional internal-type aluminum cup, though.

For now, Scott says the Project F01 is still a work in progress and there's no firm release date or target price just yet. Scott team equipment manager Hermann Pacal says it'll almost be a 2012 model year product, though, and the company may even offer a very limited release as a '11 bike.

Scott marketing and PR director Adrian Montgomery says that the development of an aero road bike (along with a new time trial bike, which has already been done with the Plasma 3) was a specific contract demand of team owner Bob Stapleton, who has historically been an outspoken proponent of providing his riders with the best possible tools.

Montgomery wasn't clear on exactly which riders would definitely be using the new bike in this year's Tour, though one key rider is a virtual certainty – star sprinter Mark Cavendish has already given the Project F01 his stamp of approval and the team has even prepared a specially painted model that it was unveil at Stage 1 – stay tuned.

Regardless of the team's decision (we'll know soon enough), consumer market demands will likely win out and based on Scott's previous Plasma 3 project, we're guessing the Project F01 will make its way into the company catalog – almost certainly with a catchier name – as a 2012 model year product.

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