In 2012, four American women made history. Sarah Hammer, Dotsie Bausch, Lauren Tamayo and Jennie Reed rode their FELT BICYCLES TK track bikes to the silver medal in the women’s team pursuit on the world stage. But shortly after that monumental result, and inspired by the efforts of those American women, racing fans began to question if a victory could be within reach of the USA Cycling Team. Now, as the USA Women’s Pursuit Cycling Team prepares for the season, FELT BICYCLES has the answer. Meet the TA FRD (Track Aero | Felt Racing Development).
The initial discussion for this project began four years ago. We looked at the success that our U.S. women had in London taking the silver medal behind Great Britain and asked ourselves, what’s it going to take to win, and to beat Great Britain and the rest of the world’s top teams in 2016? We wanted Felt’s expertise to help us go one better.Jim Miller
The goal was clearly defined, and that was a gold medal in Rio. The question for us was, how do we improve our current model and create the fastest track bike in history?Jim Felt
A Clean Sheet
When it was first unveiled 8 years ago, the TK1 was the most advanced track bike that FELT BICYCLES had ever produced. And its incredible versatility made it a capable sprint bike, points bike and pursuit bike. But as Jeff Soucek, Director of Engineering at FELT BICYCLES, notes, “The only way to make something the absolute best it can be is to be really focused on it.” To aid the athletes of the USA Cycling Team, FELT engineers started with a clean sheet of paper and narrowed the project down. It would strictly be a team pursuit bike ridden by the athletes of the USA Cycling Team. From an engineering standpoint, that focus allowed them to create the purest race bike in existence.
Inside the Velodrome
With the goal being to create a pure race bike for the athletes of the U.S. team pursuit squad, the engineers at FELT BICYCLES first looked at the environment of track racing and conducted substantial research regarding airfoils inside a velodrome. The results of that research led them to design a bike with revolutionary asymmetric cross sections, along with the radical idea of positioning the crank on the left-hand side of the bike. In a sport and an industry defined by marginal gains, the TA FRD represents one of the biggest undertakings in the history of FELT BICYCLES.
Every part of the TA FRD went through rigorous computational fluid dynamics modeling, wind tunnel testing and finite element analysis. We didn’t use any “off-the-shelf” airfoils. Everything was designed from the ground up and engineered in-house at FELT BICYCLES. Since track bikes only go around the velodrome in one direction, we exploited the aerodynamic advantage of the slight yaw angles you see when the bike is ridden through a velodrome’s banked turns. So the airfoil shapes are asymmetrical.
A Radical Concept
Just like with the asymmetry of the cross sections, FELT BICYCLES found that bikes test faster when the airflow is from the drive side of the bicycle. So by moving the drive side on the bike from the outside of the track, or right-hand side of the bike, to the inner part of the track, or left-hand side of the bike, the bike becomes more aerodynamic, and also handles better because the bike’s weight and center of gravity has moved inboard of the turns.
I think it’s very safe to say that nothing like this has ever been created before. So our riders who are going into Rio have an advantage that really symbolizes everything that we’re really proud of in the U.S.Andy Sparks