The Clock’s Cold Truth

The Clock’s Cold Truth

Want to shave 20 seconds from your fastest 40km effort? That’s how much time you’ll save with the new Rapide handlebar.

We spend a lot of time studying aerodynamics here at Roval. Eliminating drag - finding the fastest path through the constant resistance of air - was a foundational reason for the brand’s existence back at the beginning, and that pursuit continues to shape both our products and our guiding philosophy today. A staggering database of computational aerodynamics, tested and refined by thousands of hours in the Win Tunnel; guides our engineering direction and influences everything we design. Nowhere is that commitment to slicing through the air more evident than in the new Rapide handlebar.

Rigorous adherence to our aerodynamic principles allows us to boast that these bars can chop 20 seconds out of your 40km time. But claims of aero advantage are basically useless if the bars are about as comfortable as grabbing a handful of razor blades. This spring, Sam Bennett, Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan have all scored sprint victories while torquing the living daylights out of their Rapide handlebars. Those victories are fitting tributes to the thought that went into these bars, since much of the finished shape was informed by the feedback gleaned during the development phase from these racers. We love the forces that these superhuman athletes can generate, the limits they push our products to, and the visibility they bring to our brand when they win, but they are part of a larger story. So, with that in mind, we’d like to talk about all the rest of the stuff that makes the Rapide bar so awesome.

The aerodynamic advantage of the Rapide handlebar is found in the sleek, flat profile of the tops. That flat area also happens to be an incredibly comfortable place to rest your hands. This isn’t just a happy coincidence. We conducted extensive mapping of where riders put pressure on the bars when cruising on the tops, and the shape of those flat tops is a direct result of this research. The tops of the Rapide are carefully designed to be both aerodynamically and ergonomically superior. That comment above about grabbing a handful of razor blades? Some aero bars on the market are uncomfortable to look at, let alone wrap your hands around while grinding out five hours of high-wattage suffering. The lightly stippled tops of the Rapide are carefully designed to be so comfortable you won’t ever want to sully them with bar tape.

In response to the feedback from our racers, we shortened the reach and drop to suit modern cockpit and bike geometry, added a 2-degree flare to the drops, and (specifically for the sprinters) radically tapered the transition from tops to hoods. This single dimension dramatically improves forearm clearance when sprinting in the drops. We’d love to say that this alone is the reason why Bennet, Cav and Sagan are sprinting so well this season, but that might be pushing it. Nevertheless, these bars are an absolute joy to sprint.

And they are light. 220-grams light. We ran a huge amount of FEA to make sure that the carbon fiber layup used in the Rapide bar would be able to not only withstand the massive sprint torque generated by muscular Irishmen, but also would offer the right amount of vibration damping to ensure comfort for those long days in the saddle, AND still hit our weight targets.

Class leading light weight. Sprinter-optimized shape and stiffness. Stylish elegance. Uncompromising aerodynamic performance, without any of the usual caveats or drawbacks. Free speed, a half a second saved every kilometer, just by bolting on some new handlebars. What’s not to love?

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