Van Bikeradar: Wilier reveals a prototype lightweight time trial bike for the Giro d’Italia

Wilier has revealed the Turbine SLR, a prototype lightweight time trial bike that combines the front end of its Turbine time trial bike with a road bike-like rear end. This new design is said to cut 300g from frame weight compared to the outgoing frame.

As a result of this weight saving, Wilier says the bike is “much faster on roads with slopes and continuous changes of direction”, such as those found in the 2022 Giro d’Italia’s two time trials.

Wilier has acknowledged to BikeRadar that the changes make the Turbine less aerodynamically efficient, but says “less weight means greater acceleration” and notes this is a characteristic its sponsored WorldTour team, Team Astana – Qazaqstan puts a lot of emphasis on.

Vincenzo Nibali riding the Wilier Turbine SLR in a wind tunnel.
Wilier

Aero at the front, lightweight at the back

The front end of the Turbine SLR remains almost unchanged compared to the existing Turbine, with an aerodynamic hinged fork and a large, truncated aerofoil downtube.

The same impressively clean cockpit is also featured on the new bike, though the pictured rider, Vincenzo Nibali, makes use of what appear to be custom made carbon fibre time trial extensions.

These are almost certainly not something we can expect to see specced as a stock on consumer bikes.

The rear of the frame sees significant changes, however.

The seat tube, seat post, seat stays and chainstays have all been significantly slimmed down.

The small, truncated aerofoil tube shapes found on this end of the bike are similar to those on Wilier’s Filante SLR aero road bike.

The tubes at the rear of the bike have been significantly slimmed down to save weight.
Wilier

Pictures also show the Wilier Turbine SLR shod with tubular versions of its Corima wheels. This runs contrary to the wider trend towards using tubeless tyres across the professional peloton, but is presumably a decision based on further minimising the overall weight of the bike.

Interestingly, the specification and pictures given by Wilier also show an aerodynamically optimised version of the CeramicSpeed OSPW system, with a carbon fairing covering the pulley wheels section of the rear derailleur cage.

There’s an unreleased aero CeramicSpeed OSPW system on the bike.
Wilier / Tornanti.cc

Isn’t aero supposed to be everything?

Time trial bikes are typically designed to maximise their aerodynamic performance within the UCI’s technical regulations, with weight only being of relatively minor concern.

A manufacturer so obviously making its time trial bike less aerodynamic is therefore highly unusual.

Specialized’s Shiv TT Disc does something similar, with an all-out aero front end and a relatively lightweight rear end, but the Turbine SLR takes this to a new extreme.

It’s relatively rare for a brand to make their time trial bike less aero.
Wilier

Is it actually faster? Wilier says the Turbie SLR is “much faster on roads with slopes and continuous changes of direction”, but it hasn’t provided any data to substantiate this claim.

Wilier did say, however, that while the new Turbine SLR is less aerodynamic than the current Turbine, its design is a result of feedback from Team Astana – Qazaqstan.

WorldTour time trials are typically hillier and more technical than those found in triathlons, meaning a bike designed solely for aerodynamic efficiency and high-speed stability could feel sluggish on those courses, especially to elite riders.

What feels fast and what actually is fast in the real world can often be different, though.

High tyre pressures were long assumed to be faster than low ones, for example, but recent evidence shows that to be false, in many cases.

It seems the weight versus aero debate is set to continue for the time being, though.

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