When we here at Bond.Bike announced that Emma Pooley was to be riding our bikes in 2017, it caught the attention of the editor over at CyclingTips' Ella site, Anne Marije Rooke. She then spoke to Emma and gave us a great write up, which is detailed below.
Note that Emma said "this bike is without doubt the best I’ve ever ridden."
By Ella editor Anne Marije Rooke
As a former world time trial champion – and qualified engineer – Emma Pooley knows what she wants in a bike.
So much so that Pooley, who’s currently focused on her triathlon and duathlon career, designed her 2017 bikes from the ground up, determining everything from the reach to the headtube length and 650 wheelsize.
Bespoke bike company, Bond, jumped at the opportunity to meet her needs, outfitting her with a road and time trial bike fit for a world champion and proving that aluminium – and not carbon – is the way to go for custom bikes.
Thirty-four year old Pooley enjoyed a successful career as a professional cyclist before retiring and returning to her first love, triathlon. Her nine-year career saw her win a silver medal in the individual time trial at the Beijing Olympics, a UCI world champion title in that same discipline as well as several additional medals at the world, Commonwealth and national championships. During that time she established herself as one of the best hill climbers of the peloton and gained a lot of respect off the bike for being a well-spoken advocate for women’s cycling. Enticed by the hilly courses for the Rio Olympics road race and time trial, Pooley briefly returned to cycling in 2016, but she continuous her du- and triathlon focus in 2017.
Pooley is the current Powerman Duathlon champion, having won the event three consecutive years. In 2017 she hopes to defend her title and needed the perfect bike to do it.
Pooley also happens to have a PhD in engineering and knew exactly what she was after
At 1.57m (5’2”), Pooley is a shorter rider who’s had a hard time finding a bike that fits her while still handles well.
“The smallest frames from most manufacturers are at best borderline on fit, and they have normally compromised somewhere in terms of handling or geometry,” Pooley explained.
“There are plenty of cyclists my size – I know, because a lot of them get in touch to ask about bike choice,” said Pooley. “But it’s remarkable how little consideration there is in the mass-market bike industry for people my size… I honestly think most small cyclists don’t even realise how badly their bike fits (or, to put it another way, how much more comfortable they could be) because they’ve never known anything else.”
As a professional athlete, however, Pooley was exposed to more options than most.
“I’m lucky because when I was racing on the Cervélo Test Team we had a brilliant mechanic, who adapted gear levers and stems and handlebars to get everything to fit me as well as possible, and also that I was, eponymously, riding a Cervélo. By far the best bike I raced on (in terms of fit) was the Cervélo P3 with 650c wheels. Sadly, Cervélo has now changed their smallest TT bike geometry and discontinued the 650c frames – a disappointment to discerning smaller cyclists.”
What Pooley needed was a shorter reach and small wheels.
THE END RESULT:
“This bike is without doubt the best I’ve ever ridden. I’d like to think my clever choice of geometry is helping a little, but mainly it’s light, stiff, and when I put my foot down it goes,” said Pooley. “When setting about defining the frame geometry for my Bond road and TT bikes, I knew what I wanted but I wasn’t sure if it was possible. I’m hugely grateful to both the Bond engineer for his help, and a former colleague from a previous pro cycling team, whose expert advice was invaluable in coming to the final specification.”
THE FINAL SPECIFICATION:
On the road:
Crank length: 165mm – “thus reducing toe crossover problems”
Headtube angle: 71deg – “in order to reduce toe crossover, I specified a relatively low headtube angle, and relatively large fork rake. This together means the front wheel will be further in front of the handlebars than usual, but with a reasonable fork trail so that the bike is not too twitchy at the front end.”
Reach: 361mm – “this means I’ll be able to reach the handlebars!”
Headtube length: 90mm
Seattube angle: 76deg
Rear centre: 405mm
On the TT bike:
Crank length: 165mm – “Reducing toe crossover problems as well as reducing the vertical range of motion of my feet and knees, which is useful for comfort of breathing when tucked down in an aero position.”
Headtube angle: 72deg
Headtube length: 84mm – “I’ve reduced this to the absolute minimum possible, to get as low as possible at the front. This helps with aerodynamics, especially on the TT bike where I have traditionally had to use a very extreme step to drop enough height at the front to be in a good aero position.”
Seattube angle: 80deg
Rear centre: 399mm
Note: Pooley’s custom frames have not (yet) been wind tunnel tested.
“In any case the drag of the frame alone is pretty meaningless for real life situations, since it’s the aerodynamic properties of rider and bike and wheels together that affect one’s drag. And though the Bond frames won’t have aero tubing, this has far less of an effect on drag than body and head position,” said Pooley. “With the frame geometries I’ve specified, I will be able to reach a lower position than on any off-the-peg bike I’ve ever ridden previously, so I’ll be more aero than previously.”
Note that while her triathlon/TT bike features 650c wheels but her road bike does not.
“Because I plan to still do the occasional road race, 650c would be a risky choice for the road bike because it’s near impossible to get a spare wheel in a hurry mid-race (as hardly anyone uses them, neutral service do not carry them),” Pooley explained.
Pooley will be putting her Bond bike to the test at the Rheintal Duathlon on April 30th, a test event before the European long-distance duathlon championships on May 21st.
Our tech writer Matt Wikstrom is currently testing a Bond bike. Check back soon to see what he made of this new take on aluminium bikes.