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Old Skool versus Full Aero



In 1991 the CTT (RTTC at the time) permitted the use of tri bars in time trials. Together with the use of disc wheels, deep sectioned front wheels, skinsuits and aero helmets, riders of all shapes and sizes were suddenly going a lot faster.


So how much faster are the top guys going these days than back in the day? Or … how much difference do all the aero gizmos make?


In the winter of 2009 I was doing a bit of work with Dave Loughran of Planet X and during one of our many discussions we had on the topic decided to run an Old Skool Series of events so that some sort of comparison could be made.


We approached a number of event organisers to ask if we could piggy-back on to the events they were proposing to run during the 2009 season and was amazed with the favourable responses we received. Ten events were selected on some of the fastest courses in the country …. including the V718 and U47.


As well as including a section for Old Skool bikes it was possible in some of the events to ALSO ride on a modern day bike with all the aero gizmos. Despite having to ride twice (with one of the rides inevitably being compromised) it was still possible to gauge some sort of estimate as to how much difference a modern day bike made.


Despite both Dave Loughran and Alan Rochford putting up generous cash bonuses for anyone beating Colin Sturgess’s and Alf Engers’s Old Skool competition record times for 10 and 25 miles, the events failed to attract the very top riders of the day. However, there were still enough riders and results to draw some sort of conclusion.


My Old Skool bike was a Guerciotti kitted out with pretty good mix of Campagnolo and Mavic components. The wheels and tyres (which I have always considered to be VERY important) were 28 spoked shod with Vittoria Crono CS 18s … so it’s not as if I was riding something THAT inferior (or so I thought at the time it was being built!).


My chosen aero race bike for the year was a Planet X track bike fitted with a front brake. Wheels were Xentis TT front / Araya track disc rear both shod with Dugast silk 22 mm tubulars. Gear … 49 x 12. At about the same time as the Old Skool series was taking place I was still riding full-on aero events regularly riding 50 minute 25s and 50s in the short 1-40s. I was amazed at how slow I was going Old Skool.


Some riders were only going 30 seconds or so slower over 10 miles. The difference from my viewpoint was significantly more.


I rode several 25s and only managed to beat the hour once … with 59-47.


I wasn’t able to ride two 25s (one Old Skool and one full- on aero) in one event … so a direct comparison wasn’t possible as far as 25s were concerned.


I WAS able to ride a couple of 10s both Old Skool and full-on aero. The times were as follows:

Bath RC 10 U47 22-24 v 20-07

Team Sanjan Design 10 F2A 22-47 v 21-10


My fastest Old Skool 10 (during the Planet X series) was a 21-38 on the V718.


The time difference between me and other riders was greater when using all the aero gizmos than when riding Old Skool. Not sure if that was because I had a better aero position … or if it was just psychological?


So (probably) at least 90 seconds in a 10? For me!


But what about personal bests?


My Old Skool pbs were:


10   20-03 (or thereabouts ... it was a long time ago!)

25   50-11 (subsequently had it pointed out to me by Pete Hamilton - 34 Nomads that I did 50-05 on the V133A in the Otley CC 25 on 26 June 1982. The event was originally meant to be a 50 but had to be shortened due to roadworks. Pete even forwarded me a copy of the result sheet. (And I thought I was the only cycling anorak still breathing). Cheers buddy  :-)

50  1-39-51

100  3-31-53

12 hour 284.4


... compared to the full aero pbs:


10   19-13

25   48-46

50   1-39-49

100  .... can't remember but it was definitely slower than the 3-31!

12 hr   291.2



How do YOUR rides compare?   What difference do YOU think all the aero gizmos make?

Me and my Planet X Series Old Skool Guerciotti

My 2009 full-on aero Planet X time trial bike

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