101 seconds away from finishing the Ironman World Championship course under 8 hours! Project 101 is a special project for Patrick Lange for Kona 2018, with the aim of making Kona’s fastest ever Ironman, even faster! It is a collaboration between Swiss Side, Canyon and Sauber Engineering to produce a totally customized aero cockpit, perfectly sculpted to Patrick’s arm shape and position. This has been made possible using the latest technologies and innovations from Formula 1, including 3D printing metal processes.
As part of Swiss Side’s aerodynamic support for Patrick, the team reviewed Patrick’s setup and system to determine where additional performance improvements could be found on the equipment. Since Patrick rides with a high angle on the tri-bar extensions, they are more exposed than normal to the airflow. CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) simulations confirmed that tri-bars were producing some significant aerodynamic drag so a concept was devised to improve the design and integrate them into Patrick’s arms, as though they were part of him.
Swiss Side designed and produced a first concept in 3D printed plastic, and tested this as part of a wind tunnel session with Patrick in early May. The results confirmed the potential for significant performance improvement.
Following the wind tunnel test, the results were shared with Canyon, who were equally excited and driven by the potential to further improve Patrick’s performance with new designs. In parallel, Swiss Side was already in contact with Sauber Engineering to discuss the possibility of producing the new aero cockpit using their new 3D printed metal production capabilities, and hereby, the collaboration trio of Swiss Side – Canyon – Sauber Engineering was formed for realizing Project 101.
The next step was to scan Patrick’s arms in order to perfectly sculpt the design to him. This was done at Sauber where both his arms and imprints of his elbows were scanned. Together with Canyon, Swiss Side then designed and optimized the aerodynamics for the new aero cockpit, perfectly matching Patrick’s arms and with the support from Sauber, the parts were also optimized for weight and stiffness using FEM (Finite Element Method) structural analysis.
The latest design evolution was printed first again in rapid prototype plastic and tested in a second wind tunnel session together with Patrick to give the final stamp of approval on the aerodynamic performance of the parts, as well as to check fit with Patrick’s arms and the integration with the bike. Following successfully passing this final test, the green light was given to Sauber for the production of the metal parts. The final design uses 3D printed titanium, with optimized wall thickness and internal structures for the main extensions and mountings, with separate ultra-light 3D printed aluminium shells for the elbow pads. The result is a significant improvement of the aerodynamics, coupled with a reduction in weight and an increase in stiffness as well as overall comfort and ergonomics.
The first parts off the machine were immediately sent to Canyon for rigorous testing on their test benches, in order to confirm the strength of the parts under the most extreme load cases. The new aero cockpit passed with flying colours.
On the 24thAugust, only 16 weeks since the first exploratory wind tunnel test, the final parts were delivered to Patrick at his training camp in St. Moritz, Switzerland for road testing. Patrick confirmed the new aero cockpit to also be very comfortable to ride and thereby, the final hurdle was passed.
As a final touch, Canyon has arranged with Ergon to produce some custom pads for the new aero cockpit to give the final touch for comfort and performance.
The next stop for Project 101… the ultimate test at the 2018 Kona Ironman World Championships on October 13th.
Quotes about Project 101
Quote from Patrick Lange (2017 Ironman World Champion):
„While working on Project 101, we did something that has never been done before in triathlon. I am very proud to be part of this project. We tested my new aero cockpit in the wind tunnel and the results confirmed a significance performance improvement. This will have a direct impact on my bike-splits in Kona. I can’t wait to show the world my new aero cockpit and deliver a strong performance on October 13that the big race in Kona, Hawaii.”
Quote from Jean-Paul Ballard (Swiss Side CEO and Co-founder):
„Project 101 has been a synergy of the world’s best in each of their respective fields. We have again brought the latest know-how and technologies, directly from Formula 1 to cycling industry, to make not just marginal gains, but to deliver minutes of additional performance to World Champion Patrick Lange, with our combined goal to… #betherecordbreaker !”
Quote from Wolfgang Kohl (Canyon Product Engineer):
„At Canyon we always try to work together with the best engineering teams in their field. We try to improve our products and gain know-how. The opportunity of Project 101 together with Swiss Side and Sauber Engineering is the ideal way to create progress and it was fun as well.”
Film: René Domke
Photos: Marcel Hilger