As part of a new series called "the bikes of the pros" we will be looking a bit closer at the race machines of several pro athletes. The question was, do the athletes truly ride what they desire, or is it all about sponsorship, or maybe a little bit of both? A couple years ago while watching a big European stage race, one of the pros noticed me before the stage and said to me “can your company please sponsor us again, I don’t like what I ride now.” The athlete who spoke to me is actually a very famous and talented rider and to this day he still rides the bike he does not believe in. Clearly in triathlon things are a bit different as individuals make decisions versus a team making decisions for the rider. Still though, we want to know why riders choose specific equipment they are riding. We start the series here with the bike of Torbjorn Sindballe.
ST: Why this Argon 18 E-114 frame versus any other?
Torbjorn: Being a pro athlete the choice of equipment is always a balance between sponsorships and performance. In my case I am privileged and I am able to work with some of the top brands on the market, be part of their development team and make sure that things are performing at the absolute highest level. In regards to the E-114, I have been very close with Argon 18 in the development process and have been a significant contributor to the concept, so I am riding something very close to my dream bike. We have also taken it to the tunnel and seen a 3-minute advantage over 180k compared to my old bike, coming from the frame alone, which is huge. And I am confident that this bike is one of the absolute fastest out there. Add to that the excellent handling, adjustability, stiffness and looks and you get the complete package.
ST: How were you fitted to this bike?
Torbjorn: My fit has been a work in progress over years and years. The argon guys built their philosophy on a certain power position where the different joint angles work optimally, i.e. in the tuck position on the road bike. They actually inspired me to move back a bit a couple of years ago, not only the seat, but also the elbow pads, extensions etc. So I maintained the angles in the arms, shoulders, but changed the angles in the hip and legs to use the powerful glutes more than if I am further ahead and thereby save a little from the quads to the run. This has been a good move for me, but I am considering moving a bit forward again if I can get a substantial aero benefit. We will test on this during the winter and see what it brings. A good position is always a balance between aerodynamics, power and comfort and the better you are at body maintenance the more you can sacrifice on comfort to improve the other two. Also it is my experience that you can train yourself to develop power in most positions, just check out Bjorn Andersson. However, there can be a price, maybe on the run or maybe in terms of injuries.
ST: How does the Argon 18 E-114 bar setup compare to other ones you have used before?
Torbjorn: The adjustability is there so I had no troubles finding my position, which is quite an accomplishment since I often have to modify things to get the pads far enough back. The foam on the pads works great and doesn't compress during long rides. What is pretty unique though is the stiffness. Due to the special mounting system it is very, very stiff and a pure joy when getting out of the saddle up the hills. The "stem length" on my E-114 in Kona was a bit short though and this will be changed before the bike hit the shops from 6.5 cm to around 10. The pad setup will be changed accordingly so it is still possible to adjust them maximally rear- or forwards. One detail that I had hoped for was a bit broader base to improve aerodynamics and I am pushing the guys to improve this in the future - this is on the very detailed side though :-)
ST: What about the Vittoria tires you use, why did you choose them?
Torbjorn: They are picked from tests showing they had the lowest rolling resistance and once I had them on the road the ride was silk smooth. They are bit narrow at 20mm, which is good for the aerodynamics on the front, but the rear could have been wider for increased comfort.
ST: Have you used other power meters before the Ergomo? How does this one compare?
Torbjorn: Power meters are a tough subject. I have used SRM before but have been with Ergomo now for the past 2 years. It is a great tool for analyzing, planning and motivation. I use it both in training and racing and have a very good understanding on how to get the most from my effort over the course of the race or session. Comparing power meters even from the same brand is quite difficult though and I think is a constant challenge to the business. So currently you can get power meters that gives you a standardized number for your efforts from session to session, but whether it shows the correct level of watts and is comparable to other power meters on other bikes, is out in the open as I see it. It is very tough technically to develop something with such high degree of accuracy on a bike that is constantly pounded rev after rev and in all kinds of climates and conditions. I think that better calibration methods while the power meter is on the bike is the way forward and I hope they will take their efforts in this direction.
ST: Why these wheels versus any other?
Torbjorn: I admit that these might be just shy of optimal in Hawaii and I would have preferred a deeper rim especially on the rear wheel. FFWD has not yet made it though, but it will come. The FFWD disc, which I can't ride in Hawaii but love to ride anywhere else, is top notch though and offers unbelievable handling and stiffness for a disc.
ST: Why did you pick this Fizik Arione saddle?
Torbjorn: This saddle has been with me for ages. I tried a different one once, but I never got comfortable. I love that is long and that I can slide a bit back and forth depending on the terrain and power needed, this is very convenient for a triathlete. I spec a standard one instead of the tri version because I aim at sitting mostly on the back of the saddle on my seat bones, which is much more comfortable than being on the tip, if the saddle is positioned low enough.
Bike details and numbers:
- frame: Argon 18, E-114
- size: L (58cm)
- bar drop: 14 cm
- saddle setback: 4 cm (tip to center of BB)
- saddle height: 78.5 cm (center of BB to center of saddle)
- fork: Argon 18, E-114
- seat post: Argon 18, E-114, reversible
- saddle: Fizik Arione
- stem: Argon 18, E-114
- bars: Argon 18, E-114
- extensions: Argon 18, E-114
- cranks/power meter: Ergomo
- rear derailleur: Dura-Ace
- front derailleur: Dura-Ace
- shifters: Dura-Ace
- chain: Dura-Ace
- brake levers: Tektro
- brakes: Tektro
- wheels: FFWD T-50
- tires: Vittoria Chrono CS
- bottle cages: Xlab
- pedals: Speedplay