Spotted: New Pinarello Bolide brings track design to the road

Whew, we'd gone almost a week without a mention of humpback whales around here.

Barely two years after the official launch of the current Pinarello Bolide F, Filippo Ganna has been spotted on what appears to be the next-generation Bolide. It’s the latest in a series of new time trial bike designs ahead of crucial events like the Tour de France and, of course, the Paris Olympics.

Thanks to Christopher for the tag highlighting the new frame sighting.

Images from what seems to be an Instagram story reveal Ganna training on what appears to be an unpainted prototype bike. This bike bears a strong resemblance to the current Bolide F but features a few distinct modifications that are hard to miss. These changes, though minor, have the potential to significantly enhance the bike’s performance – if Pinarello’s track bike marketing from a few years back is to be believed.

Notably, the seat tube and seat post tubercles – a design element that has been a hallmark of Pinarello’s successful track frame, the Bolide F HR 3D – are clearly visible. These tubercles, inspired by the humpback whale, made their debut on a Pinarello for Dan Bigham’s successful Hour Record attempt in August 2022. The concept can be traced back even further to the seat post of Australian sprinter Matthew Glaetzer’s BT Edge track bike for the Rio Olympics in 2016.

The inspiration for these design changes can be traced back to research conducted at the University of Adelaide. The study found that the tubercles on the front of humpback whales’ flippers play a crucial role in their ability to jump out of the water and make tight turns. This led to the exploration of how the addition of similar, so-called sinusoidal hydrofoils could impact the aerodynamics of various tubes on a bicycle frame. The findings were significant, with the ridges on the seat tube said to generate vortices that reduce flow separation and drag.

Fast-forward to 2022, and Pinarello applied a similar design to the seat tube on its Bolide F HR 3D, but not before Zipp and Princeton Carbon Works (“don’t mention the war”) did so on consumer-available rims. (Last week, Fulcrum followed suit with its new Sharq wheels.) Pinarello has now applied the same philosophy to what appears to be a forthcoming trial bike.

The image shows a new Pinarello TT bike from various angles.

Other notable updates include reprofiled seat stays, which appear to interface with the seat tube in the same location but now hug much tighter to the rear wheel all the way down to just above the rear brake rotor and cassette, where they flare out to accommodate the rear drop out and said components.

The result is a neat and incredibly narrow-looking rear to the frame and a new addition to the ongoing narrow-versus-wide-stance stays (and front fork) debate among manufacturers. Some believe narrower is better, and Pinarello is clearly in that camp; others (Factor, for one) believe setting the fork and stays wider and opening the gap between frame and wheel is more favourable given the turbulent conditions in the real world.

Pinarello’s new seat stay design limits rear brake rotor size in some way; the images are blurry, but it appears Ganna is riding with a 140 mm rotor, and the outward arc of the seat stay doesn’t appear to leave room for larger 160 mm rotors. That wouldn’t necessarily be a problem given the popularity of 140 mm rear rotors in time trialling, but could that seat stay double up as an aero deflector of sorts, shielding the top side of the rotating rotor?

Finally, moving to the front of the frame, Pinarello has also carried over the head tube trailing edge from that Bolide F HR 3D with the new road-going TT bike now featuring the same swooping curved/arching rear bridging the down tube and top tube.

Unfortunately, these shots do not provide a view of the bottom bracket area or fork, so we’ll have to wait for more images to spot any updates in those regions. More as we have it.

As for when we might see an official outing for the new bike, the smart money is presumably on the Tour de France, but looking further afield, there is also the Paris Olympics immediately following. In fact, with the Bolide the second new time trial bike on the pages of this site this week alone after Wilier unveiled the new Supersonica SLR, and the fourth of the year after the new Cervelo P5 spotted back in February and the Giant Trinity at the Tour de Romandie, one could speculate those Olympics have seen a few brands get a hurry on with new designs.

So long as we are speculating, it’s worth considering for a second how quickly Pinarello has moved to update what is, as mentioned above, still a relatively young time trial bike. With most brands stretching TT model cycles out as long as possible, certainly five years or more, the Bolide F has drawn a short straw with just two years on centre stage.

While shorter lifecycles for top-model frames are often criticised, the Bolide’s quick update almost confirms this is a model primarily (read: almost exclusively) driven by the demands of the pro team. As such, Pinarello presumably isn’t sitting on a stockpile of unsold Bolide Fs, and so, when an update to make the bike faster is possible, then the update is applied seemingly immediately.

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