A look at the new beam-design Falco V triathlon bike
This is the striking Falco V from Chinese hand-built bike company Falco, the result of over 1,700 hours of research and development.
Falco says that the machine that shaves 25 watts compared to other TT superbikes and 40 watts over a typical TT bike over 40km. This equates to a – frankly mental – saving of 75-115 seconds if the claims hold true.
The most obvious thing about the bike is its beam design. This certainly isn’t a new development – Softride and Zipp produced popular beam models in the 1990s and Tom Piszkin is still producing TitanFlex bikes for those who crave the retro beam style while US pro triathlete and beam-design advocate TJ Tollakson has his own brand of modern beam bikes – Diamond Bikes. What seems to be different about the Falcon V is that the emphasis is placed firmly on aerodynamics beyond what is achieved from the removal of the seat tube.
Falco shared a military R&D facility that designs jet fighters and this has shown through in the bike’s use of a US National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics 6-series airfoil system borrowed from F22 and F15 jets. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) were used by Falco to simulate real-world rather than wind-tunnel conditions.
An unashamedly UCI-illegal design, Falco say that the lack of a seat tube means the drag typically-associated with the rear cluster is eliminated completely. The use of wide aerofoils means massive length:width tube ratios of 6:1 for better cheating the wind, while a Kammtail effect should increase effective ratio further still.
The enormous downtube has a deep wheel cut-out and is also asymmetrical to better shield the front derailleur from the wind. Falco have also built the Elite Kit Crono
CX aerobottle into the frame design, integrating its shape into the tube for easy hydration.
Cabling enters the bike in a smooth, kink-free way thanks to the deep head tube while the short nose cone does little to negatively effect handling.
Removing the seat tube means loss of structural stiffness, something Falco say has been addressed by reinforcement ribs in the top and down tubes. They have also opted for a BB86 bottom bracket in order to build massively oversized chainstays.
The massive tubes and extra stiffening carbon do mean the Falco V is no light weight though, the frame coming in at around 1900g and 550g for the fork; meaning it could be a monster on flat courses, but won’t be ideal for hillier triathlons.
Whether it’s the future of bike design or not, we’re looking forward to seeing the Falco V in action – surely there’s a pro triathlete out there who’s up for putting it through its paces. The RRP of USD$4000 for the frameset isn’t so insane to preclude it from appearing at age-group races too.
Many still believe that the Zipp 2001/3001 models were perhaps the fastest bikes ever produced, so given the advances made in the intervening years and Falco’s apparent pedantry for design, this could well prove to be a blisteringly-fast bike.
If you’re interested in the design principles of the Falco V, the company has produced a white paper on the bike.