The Future of Aero: Swiss Side Hadron Wheels and Aeropod Launched

swissside aeropod

On BNA we have followed Swiss Side since their inception, founder Jean-Paul Ballard is Australian though his professional career in Formula 1 motorsport means that he calls Switzerland home. It is surprising how many drivers and team members in motor racing are keen cyclists – this connection was the catalyst for launching the Swiss Side wheelset brand and drawing on the F1 engineering and aerodynamic knowledge to create a faster wheelset. 

In less that five years, the young company have created “the fastest bicycle wheels” available and can back this up both with their unparalleled testing and the sporting success of sponsored athletes such as Patrick Lange, the 2017 Ironman World Champion. You find out more about their development approach and testing in our interview with Jean-Paul Ballard for their groundbreaking Hadron wheelsets in 2014.

Now Swiss Side have some major announcements – and it is fairly important to recognise that their primary audience are triathletes and time trialists. This is where all of the benefits of an entirely optimised racing system really add-up and can deliver those worthwhile seconds and minutes in competition. But Swiss Side are not excluding everyday road cyclists, more on that shortly.

For the new launch and announcements, Swiss Side have used Triathlon Convention Europe which is currently running (23 – 25 March) in Langen, close to Frankfurt, Germany.

triathlon convention europe

 

1 – New Hadron Aerowheel Series

Swiss Side have a completely new series for 2018 – the new Hadron series completely replaces all previous models and there are no entry level or mid-range wheelsets. The aero wheelsets are completely (one piece) carbon which is a move away from two-piece carbon construction or hybrid construction with aluminium brake tracks.

2018 swiss side hadron aerowheels
Jean-Paul Ballard, Swiss Side CEO (right)

The Hadron is split into two ranges, the Ultimate and Classic. Both share an identical rim but the difference is in the spokes and hub. Overall the wheelset design is faster; there is 5  – 10% reduced drag, there is increase ‘sailing effect’ and they stall later.

The sailing effect is when the wind (coming from certain directions) helps to propel the rider so deep profile wheels with a better sailing effect are faster. The new Hadron series are comparably faster and the wind tunnel testing also shows that they ‘stall’ later. A key concept which Swiss Side are now measuring is the rotational drag. Further information will be released by Swiss Side however the hub design and even placement of the nipples affect aerodynamics.

sailing effect aerowheels

Ballard also says that they have reacted to rider feedback and increased lateral stiffness by 20% (and vertical stiffness by 5%). I enquired about rider comfort and Ballard acknowledges that this has an effect, but working with their team of sponsored triathletes, they are moving closer to the ‘sweet spot’.

An interesting approach is that Swiss Side are using flat-pricing – in both the Ultimate and Classic range there is an 800, 625 and 485 model which is available in a disc (brake) or rim brake version. In the Ultimate, the price is always 1,998 Euro (ca. 3,150 AUD) and for the Classic it is 1,498 Euro (ca. 2,350 AUD) – regardless of depth or configuration. For Australian customers – you will need to consider import duty – more on taxes and fees for imports here.

Correction: the provided priced included 19% tax (Germany) so for Australia orders the Ultimate would actually cost 1,679 Euro, ca 2,640 AUD and the Classic is 1,259 Euros which is ca. 1,979 AUD.

Ballard says that they are delivering top quality and top performance but for thousands of dollars less than you would pay for other brands.

For availability, production has started though the company expect that with the current pre-orders and high demand, customers will have to be patient and in a few months delivery times will be faster.

 

2 – DT-Swiss Collaboration

It is ironic that I was chatting with Dr. Matthias Meier, Vice president of Sales and Marketing at DT Swiss prior to the launch and asked about their cooperation. Jean-Paul Ballard and his team have so much expertise that it is no secret that they are cooperating with other bike brands, including DT Swiss. Ballard says that we can also expect to see some aerobikes released soon from other brands that are the result of collaboration and sharing expertise.

DT Swiss could be considered a competitor but Dr. Meyer says that the value of cooperating and developing technology together is far more valuable… and DT Swiss and Swiss Side are simply not direct competitors anyway.

An important launch announcement was that the Hadrons wheels are being built by DT Swiss and they are using DT Swiss parts such as nipples, spokes and optimised hubs.

dt swiss Alexander Schmitt
Alexander Schmitt of DT Swiss at the Swiss Side launch presentation

Just as important as this virtual ‘quality guarantee’ is that Swiss Side Hadron owners will also be able to rely on the DT Swiss service network across 50 countries who will be able to do servicing if required. Swiss Side will still remain an online business and sell direct – but the ability to have local service is great for peace of mind and also practical.

 

3 – Aeropod – Affordable Aero Testing

The Aeropod is really exciting, but also a little mysterious. Part of the Swiss Side success draws on their extensive testing in wind tunnels and on the field. The Aeropod has been announced as a new testing unit for riders to measure aero data while training. Unless a rider goes to a wind tunnel or has the luxury of short-term tests on an aero test bike (of which hardly any exist), there is no way of getting definitive data let alone ongoing data. The Aeropod essentially opens to the door for competitive cyclists to gather real data on their own bikes which they can then use to further optimise their setup.

swissside windtunnel aerodynamic aeropod

Very little information is available however the prototype unit was shown and Jean-Paul Ballard says that it would be priced so that it is accessible. I can only speculate and still expect that it is an investment however for riders who love data and able able to to sort and analyse, the Aeropod would be a natural next step and important acquisition.

You can find out more about the new Hadrons and stay in touch on: swissside.com

 



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About The Author

Christopher Jones is a recreational cyclist and runs a professional design business, Signale. As the driving force behind Bicycles.net.au he has one of each 'types' of bicycles.

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