Team DSM has confirmed today that the automatic tyre pressure adjustment system they helped to develop will not be used by its riders on today's stage 5 of the Tour de France, despite suggesting the opposite earlier in the year.
The system, called the Scope Atmoz, was noticed by Cyclingnews when the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale, cycling's governing body) quietly announced it would be legal for use in UCI-sanctioned competitions days prior to the cobbled classic, Paris-Roubaix, in April.
Priced at almost €4,000 and weighing 300 grams, it claims to allow a rider to adjust their tyre pressure using a pair of remote switches that are mounted to the handlebars. It features a compressed reservoir of air situated at the hub, which is then connected to mechanical valves and a hose that travels to the rim.
The switches – one for each wheel – allow the rider to transfer air from the reservoir to the tyre, thus increasing the tyre pressure, or release air from the tyre to reduce it. At the same time, a rider can see the exact pressure of each tyre on a compatible bike computer.
The attraction of such a system is that over rough terrain such as cobblestones, a lower tyre pressure allows the tyre to absorb a greater amount of the vertical oscillations that are caused when the wheel hits and rolls over each obstacle. By absorbing more of these impacts, the entire bike isn't forced upwards quite as much, and in turn, more of the rider's forward momentum is maintained. As such, less power is required to ride at a given speed.
However, when the rider then leaves the cobbles and continues on smoother surfaces, too little tyre pressure means an increase in friction, which has the negative effect of slowing the rider down.
Teams have forever been faced with a decision: do they pump their tyres up to higher pressures so that they are faster on smooth surfaces? Or do they run lower pressures so that they are at an advantage on the cobbles? Team DSM wanted the best of both worlds, and so partnered with the Dutch wheel brand Scope to develop the Atmoz, which claims a saving of "easily up to 30 watts".
Ahead of Paris-Roubaix, the team confirmed to Cyclingnews that it would use the technology at the race. However, a last-minute decision was made to eschew its use, and they pushed back the product's debut to today's stage 5 of the Tour de France. “This week on the cobbles has confirmed that we can be confident in the system and our overall setup," read a press release at the time. "we have decided to make our debut at the TDF where we will race it at the cobble stage.”
However, despite that, a representative from the team has today confirmed to Cyclingnews that the product will not feature during today's stage, or indeed the rest of this year's Tour.
"It's a great project and great development strides have been made together with our partner Scope," explained the team's press officer. "It has been good to spend more time getting used to the system over the last months, testing it at races and we have learnt a lot. We will of course only race it when it's 100%. We have already made really good steps in the last period and we’ll keep fine-tuning the system. We look forward to racing it soon, and we are confident it will enable us to perform better and increase safety."
Either way, the Scope Atmoz and all its purported benefits will have to wait a little longer for its WorldTour debut, which is now likely to be the spring classics of 2023.
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