Reigning British national time trial champion Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) wasted little time in this year's Giro d'Italia, winning the opening prologue through the streets of Amsterdam on Pinarello's new Graal time trial machine.
It's so new, in fact, that Pinarello have released virtually no official information about it, but it looks to be a further evolution of the company's FM1 time trial flagship with a touch of Dogma tossed in as well.
Like the FM1, the Graal's top tube starts out large and blocky up front to promote front end rigidity before tapering to a more flattened shape out back. The new seat tube is even more radically shaped than before, with the upper half – and the seatpost – now adopting a perfectly vertical orientation to help reduce drag.
As some other companies have already suggested, those more upright edges lead to better efficiency through the air and the seatstays have also been propped up a bit before taking a slight jog forward prior to the seat tube junction.
Pinarello have clearly made efforts to smooth airflow around the usually 'dirty' brakes with a side-pull calliper mounted behind the blocky fork crown. A standard Shimano Dura-Ace calliper is used for the rear wheel but even that is well hidden behind an enlarged upper seatstay assembly.
The radically shaped chainstays – which start out tall and narrow at the bottom bracket then effectively twist 90 degrees at the dropouts – are slightly dropped and more horizontal than on the FM1, presumably to reduce their frontal area. Cable routing is mostly internal throughout, including on the carbon aerobars.
The Graal's down tube is particularly interesting with its angular 'cuts' along each side. Without official information, we can only assume that it's an effort to improve airflow and surface adhesion, similar to what Ridley have done with their Noah and Dean aero bikes. We'll report back when more details are available.
The blue swatches on the down tube are meant to highlight the surface shaping
Naturally, aero wheels were installed front and rear for Wiggins' successful run in Amsterdam. Both were conspicuously labeled as 'PROtotypes', but a closer look revealed them to actually be a standard HED H3 up front and a modified HED Stinger Disc out back, built around a Shimano Dura-Ace hub instead of the usual HED Sonic model.
Wiggins' bike wasn't the only aerodynamic thing rocketing through Amsterdam, either, as a quick glance at his position – and the bike measurements – reveal an ultra-aggressive, low and narrow posture that even some of the best time trial specialists can only dream of holding.
Wiggins isn't only concerned about aerodynamics, though, as his build kit shows an obvious emphasis on reducing friction too. Ceramic bearings from UK-based Ultimate Ceramic Bearings are fitted to the bottom bracket and rear derailleur pulleys, and the front hub does without hub seals altogether.
Both BB and derailleur pulleys rotate on ceramic bearings and the front hub has no seals
Other non-standard bits used during Wiggins' maglia rosa-winning ride include a set of O.symetric chainrings (which the mechanics replaced with standard Dura-Ace ones prior to our photo shoot), a Team Sky-coloured Prologo Nago Evo TTR time-trial-specific saddle, and Pinarello's own integrated carbon fibre aerobar setup.
Total weight as pictured is 8.35kg (18.4lb) – quite respectable when you remember that time trial bikes generally aren't all that light and the Pinarello aero bar setup looks to use an awful lot of carbon. Moreover, Team Sky's mechanics stressed that Wiggins' machines (he has two!) are still pre-production prototypes and the custom paint job also adds a chunk of weight.
Not that any of this mattered on Saturday, though, given the pan-flat parcours. Needless to say, Pinarello couldn't have wished for a more successful competitive debut.
Wiggins' 'PROtotype' front wheel is actually a HED H3
- Frame: Pinarello Graal, 55cm
- Fork: Pinarello Graal
- Headset: Pinarello integrated
- Stem: Pinarello MOst FP integrated
- Handlebars: Pinarello MOst FP integrated, 42cm (c-c)
- Tape/grips: Prologo Plaintouch
- Front brake: TRP T922
- Rear brake: Shimano Dura-Ace BR-7900
- Brake levers: Shimano Dura-Ace BL-TT79
- Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace FD-7900-F
- Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace RD-7900-SS w/ Ultimate Ceramic Bearings full ceramic pulleys
- Shift levers: Shimano Dura-Ace SL-BS78
- Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace CS-7900, 11-23T
- Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace CN-7900
- Crankset: Shimano Dura-Ace FC-7900, 177.5mm, w/ O.symetric chainrings
- Bottom bracket: Ultimate Ceramic Bearings
- Pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace SPD-SL PD-7810
- Front wheel: HED Stinger 9 (labeled as 'PROtotype')
- Rear wheel: HED Stinger Disc w/ Shimano Dura-Ace FH-7900 rear hub (labeled as 'PROtotype')
- Front tyre: Veloflex Carbon tubular, 22mm
- Rear tyre: Veloflex Carbon tubular, 22mm
- Saddle: Prologo Navo Evo TTR
- Seatpost: Pinarello MOst
- Computer: SRM PowerControl 7
- Rider's height: 1.90m (6ft 3in)
- Rider's weight: 72kg (159lb)
- Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 840mm
- Saddle setback: 57mm
- Seat tube length, c-t: 610mm
- Seat tube length, c-c: 520mm
- Tip of saddle nose to C of bars (next to stem): 620mm
- Saddle-to-bar drop (vertical): 180mm (to elbow pads); 300mm (to base bar grips)
- Head tube length: 130mm
- Top tube length: 560mm (effective)
- Total bicycle weight: 8.35kg (18.4lb)