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Pro bikes, May 9, 2009

Fabian Cancellara's Saxo Bank Specialized S-Works TTR prototype

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Photo ©: James Huang

By James Huang in Lido di Joselo, Italy

The team claim that since the nosecone is a structural element
Photo ©: James Huang
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The internally routed cables enter the frame
Photo ©: James Huang
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The rear brake is mounted below the chain stays
Photo ©: James Huang
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Since the integrated front brake isn't all that accessible for adjustments
Photo ©: James Huang
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Even the back of the seatpost head adopts an aerodynamic profile.
Photo ©: James Huang
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Saxo Bank time trial and classics specialist Fabian Cancellara arrived at this year's Giro d'Italia with a brand-new aero prototype that he has been testing over the past several weeks. Currently nicknamed the Specialized S-Works TTR (for 'time trial Riis', according to team rider development manager Bobby Julich), the new bike's more organic shape is a drastically different machine from his previously more angular Transition.

The TTR's most defining feature is undoubtedly the highly integrated front end. Whereas Specialized had previously angled the Transition's top tube to fall behind the stem in an effort to smooth out airflow, the TTR now sports a proprietary stem situated perfectly in-line with a now-level top tube similar to what Giant – and now Scott – have done with their latest aero machines.

Extending below the stem and situated in front of the head tube is a secondary 'nosecone' that effectively increases the aspect ratio of the combined elements to far greater than 3:1, thus apparently skirting around the applicable UCI rule. Don't call it a fairing, though; while Felt and Giant apparently get away with their extensions because they either reinforce or are the steerer tube, Julich says that the TTR's nosecone should be considered a structural element because it provides the sole mounting point for the front brake.

Cancellara's TTR also ditches the Transtion's kinked seat tube in favour of a slightly more conventional straight design with a deep rear wheel cut-out and easily adjustable telescoping carbon aero seatpost – which even sports an aero-shaped head.

As before, the integrated rear brake is mounted below the chain stays – thus making for a smoother junction around the top of the seat stays and seat tube – and both the seat stays and chain stays closely follow the rear wheel before making an abrupt turn out towards the rear-facing aluminium rear dropouts.

Naturally, all of the cables are internally routed with the entry point in the frame being the now-standard top of the top tube, right behind the stem.

Parts-wise, most of Cancellara's other bits are rather standard such as the SRAM Red group, Zipp carbon tubular wheels, and Specialized integrated carbon crankset. The front SRAM carbon brake lever has been modified to accept a small barrel adjuster since the nosecone makes the front brake cable rather inaccessible after installation and shifters are the company's new 1090-R2C model with levers that always return to the forward position after a shift for marginally reduced drag.

Team sponsor Prologo have also provided Cancellara with a new prototype saddle developed just for time trials. The nose is especially broad and heavily padded with surprisingly soft foam, and also rather short to facilitate a more forward position while still adhering to UCI guidelines for setback. Grippy appliqués up front also presumably help Cancellara maintain his position on the nose and perforations in the shell softer that area up even further.

Time will tell just how long Cancellara's TTR will stay in this precise configuration however. Julich suggested there might be some elements of the bike that may not pass muster when the UCI begin their more stringent equipment rule reinforcement July 1 though supposedly only minor changes will be required. Come Tour de France time, it stands to reason that Specialized may outfit the rest of the team with similar rigs so we'll have to wait until then to see what – if any – modifications have been made.

All told, Cancellara's new TTR weighs 8.1kg (17.86lb) – a bit above the minimum limit but still admirably feathery for a dedicated time trial machine. Regardless, Stage 1's dead-flat team time trial course on Lido di Venezia won't require much in the way of gram-shaving and if Cancellara's new bike is as fast as it looks – and if his legs churn out their usual freight train-like power – we'll allow two guesses as to who'll be taking the longest pulls on the team.


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Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Full specification

Frame: Specialized S-Works TTR prototype
Fork:Specialized S-Works TTR prototype

Critical measurements
Rider's weight: 80kg (176lb)
Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 785mm
Seat tube length(c-t): 568mm
Seat tube length(c-c): 548mm
Tip of saddle nose to C of bars (next to stem): 600mm
Handlebar drop: 219mm
Head tube length: 100mm
Top tube length: 580mm

Front brake: Specialized S-Works integrated
Rear brake: Specialized S-Works integrated
Brake levers: SRAM TT Brake Lever 900
Front derailleur: SRAM Red with Force steel cage
Rear derailleur: SRAM Red
Shift levers: SRAM 1090-R2C
Cassette: SRAM PG-1090, 11-23T
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace CH-7801
Crankset: Specialized S-Works Carbon Road, 177.5mm, 54/42T
Bottom bracket: Specialized S-Works integrated

Rear wheel: Zipp 900 disc tubular
Front wheel: Zipp 808 tubular
Front tire: Unknown make/model badged as "Specialized"
Rear tire: Unknown make/model badged as "Specialized"
Handlebars: Specialized S-Works TTR integrated
Stem:Specialized S-Works TTR integrated
Headset: Specialized S-Works TTR integrated
Tape/grips: Specialized BG Roubaix

Pedals: Speedplay Zero Titanium
Saddle: Prologo TT prototype
Seat post: Specialized S-Works TTR
Bottle cages: Tacx Tao
Computer: n/a
Other accessories: Nokon aluminum housing

Total bicycle weight: 8.1kg (17.86lb)