Ex-pro bike: Nicolas Roche’s custom geometry FiftyOne

Lyle Ellerbee

This is Nicolas Roche’s new bicycle. Only just retired, the Irish ace is FiftyOne bike’s new prototype ‘test pilot’, and as this kind of he naturally received supplied a company bicycle. But the kicker? He could have the geometry any way he preferred, which raises the issue: is what the professionals are given to trip what the pros would select to experience?

Whichever occurred to personalized pro bikes?

59cm × 59cm was apparently the bedrock of all Miguel Indurain’s bikes – a 59cm top rated tube, 59cm seat tube. But could you get one particular in the way you can invest in Tadej Pogačar’s actual bicycle nowadays? Nope.

All Major Mig’s bikes utilized customized geometry and, if you were up the pecking get as a pro, that was how it had generally been – Eddy Merckx applied to get Ugo De Rosa to braze him 50 bikes a time, generally just millimetres unique. But how points adjust. 

Miguel Indurain’s 1995 Banesto Pinarello. Photo: Mike Massaro

I was as soon as at a reside Q&A with Mark Cavendish when anyone asked, ‘What’s the finest bike you’ve ever ridden?’ To which the reply arrived, ‘The just one I’m driving now… want to check with me about the very best wheels I have at any time ridden?’ 


Execs no for a longer time get tailor made bikes. They haven’t for much more than a ten years, which is element procedures – professional kit should be available to consumers within just 12 months of debuting – and part economics: it’s much a lot easier to make a tailor made steel frame, which just needs slicing distinct length tubes, than a tailor made carbon body, which demands earning whole, pretty highly-priced and completely precise moulds in the case of modern-day monocoque styles.

Furthermore, we’ve presumably perfected geometry because Indurain was shaving his legs – fashionable bikes supply pros exactly what they want, certainly? 

Effectively to solution that, let us distinction Nicolas Roche’s FiftyOne Street Disc with the previous sponsored bike he rode, a Scott Foil Disc.

Professional vs. ex-pro geometry

Underneath are the geometry diagrams and charts, the very first Roche’s FiftyOne, the next is a Scott Foil. Roche rode a 54cm.



Interestingly, both of those bikes share a 150mm head tube, which is short as you’d count on for a pro-bicycle, the place small and aero is paramount. But focussing on head tube duration only is misleading as, ultimately, it is stack height that determines how small a ride placement is. 

The FiftyOne’s stack is 555mm, compared to the Scott’s 547.5mm, so in essence Roche’s shoulders are 7.5mm better up with regard to his hips, when compared to his final professional racing days. Attain is a identical story, 382mm on the FiftyOne as opposed to 388.9mm on the Scott.

As such the FiftyOne gives a somewhat extra upright driving placement. ‘Nico instructed us that he did not want a pure race bicycle, he wished extra convenience,’ suggests FiftyOne’s founder Aidan Duff.

It’s an attention-grabbing side of cycling – fitting one’s system to something for pace at the cost of comfort and ease – but in addition it is an intriguing aspect of pro sensitivities and bicycle in shape: mere millimetres make massive dissimilarities, and the riders discover. 

Prior to you say ‘but what about the stem?’ that displays a comfortable healthy as well, down a complete 5mm from Roche’s racing times, to 130mm.

Okay, that is still way beyond what most of us will ever want. But continue to, it really much appears to be like Roche thinks pro bikes could be far more at ease.

Handling: Shorter path, for a longer time wheelbase

The most appealing factor here, nevertheless, is bicycle dealing with. Roche has labored with FiftyOne to generate a bicycle that ‘is definitely dynamic, for him to toss all around descents’, claims Duff. To that finish, two critical figures stand out, and are really distinctive: trail and wheelbase.

The Scott Foil’s path is 64mm while the FiftyOne’s a is a startlingly quick 53mm (for further more context, a Specialized Tarmac size 54 trail is 58mm).

Shorter trail typically signifies sharper managing, but too sharp and a bicycle goes from reactive to twitchy to unmanageable, significantly at pace. Take into account how a very quick path automobile like a purchasing trolley can make amazingly rapid turns but gets progressively considerably less steady when pushed down a hill (what do you necessarily mean you’ve hardly ever pushed your mate down a hill in a trolley?).

Duff claims Roche was immediately after a bicycle with rapid managing, but it also needed a target on superior-speed descending, for this reason the wheelbase of the FiftyOne goes the other way: 1,006mm though the Scott’s is 987mm. 

Normally shorter wheelbases create sharper-cornering bikes (contemplate the turning circle of a van vs . a car or truck) and lengthier wheelbases generate more secure bikes at pace (one particular of the causes why drag racing automobiles are so prolonged).

Thus the melding of a lengthy wheelbase with a quite shorter trail creates a bicycle with significant-speed steadiness, but just one that improvements path quickly.

To obtain this excess wheelbase, FiftyOne has pushed the rear axles further absent from the bottom bracket with extensive-ish chainstays – 420mm when compared to the Scott’s 410mm. (Be aware that pulling the front axle more out would lower trail even even more, so producing an even a lot more twitchy bicycle.) 

So why does not a manufacturer this kind of as Scott do what Roche has finished with FiftyOne? One particular remedy is that Scott’s bikes have to be sellable to – consequently rideable by – the public, and controlling a brief path bicycle is not likely to be every rider’s idea of fun.

Eventually, the bottom bracket and seat tube. The BB fall of the FiftyOne is 70mm, which is 4mm lower than the Scott’s, as a result lowering Roche’s centre of gravity – a critical contributor to self-assured descending at velocity. Then the FiftyOne’s seat tube, 530mm, some 50mm a lot more than the Scott’s. 

The final stage is moot in the perception the elongated seat tube won’t have an affect on suit or managing as the contact details of saddle, pedals and bars continue being the exact. But it does influence aesthetics as the extended seat tube indicates the top rated tube slopes considerably fewer considerably than the compact geometry of the Scott.


For Roche which is apparently down to aesthetics, to remind him of bikes he grew up riding, in which traditional steel racers primarily had horizontal prime tubes. 

For a maker like Scott, sloping best tubes produce compact frames in the Mike Burrows college of design, the British designer who built Chris Boardman’s Lotus bikes and latterly Giant’s floor-breaking TCR (‘total compact racing’) compact geometry frames.

Part of the rationale behind the Huge TCR compact body was that it could be lighter and stiffer due to the tubes remaining shorter and for this reason the major triangle more compact. Even so, by considerably and away the even bigger boon for Large was the compact design lent by itself to fitting a wider array of riders – instantly a selection of 12 sizes, as was common, could be slimmed to 5: XS, S, M, L, XL. And with that, production prices arrived down.

All of this is not to solitary the Scott Foil out (nor any other of Nicolas Roche’s pro bikes) as currently being in some way missing. They are not. But it is to highlight that when commercial aspirations as very well as race final results are taken out of the equation, an exceptionally capable bike owner these types of as Roche may possibly pick out anything different to the bike they get presented. 

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