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Raelerts’ Six Steps to a Kona-Ready Bike

Michael and Andreas Raelert have refined the setup of their BMC TM01 for Ironman Hawaii with the help of Stefano Cattai.

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Michael and Andreas Raelert have refined the setup of their BMC TM01 for Ironman Hawaii with the help of Stefano Cattai, BMC Race Team Technical Support. They used these six steps to ensure their BMC TM01 tri bikes are fully dialed and in pristine condition for the Ironman World Championship on Saturday—and their protocol can help you do the same for your biggest event.

1. Choose the wheels based on the wind

Cattai advised the Raelerts to opt for Easton’s 90mm EC 90 Aero wheels rather than the 56mm version because of the wind conditions in Hawaii. “The 56mm could be an advantage… If we compare performance with a frontal wind, 90 and 56mm have the same performance, but the 56 has the advantage of being much lighter. If you have not much wind the 56mm would be the best, but if you have wind from the side 90mm would be the best. But here the wind is not stable, so 90mm will be the setup.”

2. Pick tires to match the wheels and the course

Instead of using standard tires supplied by their sponsor Continental, the Raelert brothers will ride special race tires produced only for Continental-supported professional racers. The German tire company has multiple special options and the Raelerts have selected the time trial version. While he preferred to not elaborate on the composition of these limited tires, Cattai calls the TT version the “fastest” option because of its rolling resistance characteristics. But it is also the most brittle. They decided to take the risk of using a less puncture resistant tire because the road surface in Kona is very clean and nearly free of debris.

They selected 22mm-wide tires instead because they are the best aerodynamic match for the Easton wheels. “They are related to the dimension of the rims,” says Cattai. “If you are looking only at the tires, 25mm would be the best solution when talking about rolling resistance, comfort, everything. But they are using Easton EC 90 Aero wheels with a 21mm-wide rim. With a 24mm-wide rim, I want to use 25mm tires, but when mounting them on the 21mm rims it makes more sense to use the 22mm [tires] from Continental.” The 25mm-wide tires would stick out past the rims and create more aerodynamic drag than the 22mm, offsetting the other benefits.

Cattai’s tire gluing procedure is simple and thorough. He stretches a new tire on a separate rim for 24-48 hours and uses three days to prepare the race wheel surface. Each day he applies a fresh layer of glue and gives it 24 hours to dry. On the fourth day, he applies a final layer to the rim and the tire base tape, then mounts and inflates the tire. He gives the glue at least a day to dry before riding, bringing the total time required to prepare a new wheel to four days total.

3. Track fit changes

The Raelerts—especially Michael—are constantly adjusting their fit to see if they can improve their position on the bike. “Andi is more stable,” says Cattai. “I think he changes really just a few things. Michael I have to check each time what he is doing because he changes a lot.” The Raelerts do not record their adjustments while tinkering with their fit, and they will occasionally decide they prefer an old position. Cattai takes a record of their fit dimensions every time he sees the Raelerts, just in case they want to revert to an otherwise lost position.

4. Keep your gear in working order

Cattai puts the Raelerts’ TM01s through a complete overhaul every time he gets his hands on them. Unlike the BMC road race team, the triathletes train and race on the same machine, so he decides to swap parts and adjust components each time Cattai sees the Raelerts. “I check the brakes, replace the cables and housing,” says Cattai. “Check the battery of the Di2, otherwise replace the cable inside to make sure everything works and not have a surprise on the day. I know, for example that Michael broke a chain ring during travel and replaced it with Ultegra, so I have a [Dura-Ace] replacement now here.”

In case of emergency, he brought one spare frame to the Big Island as well as a replacement for every part on the bike from spokes to the aero bars.

5. Experiment with hydration options

Michael and Andreas will both use two round frame bottles and a horizontal bottle at the front of their bike. “They don’t want to use aero [frame] bottles because they have normal bottles at the feed zone,” says Cattai. Their wind tunnel test showed the brothers have less aero drag with bottles on the frame than in rear carriers. They wanted to use a front bottle for easy access, but Cattai said, “they don’t want to refill (a front system) and loose time,” so they are both using a front bottle cage mount, but different versions. Michael positions his bottle behind the stem using a special machined piece that replaces one of his stem spacers and mounts the bottle. Andreas uses a more standard horizontal bottle mount between his bars.

6. Refine the details

Both Raelerts will race with SRM power meters so they can track and analyze their effort after the race, but they don’t want to see their data during the race. Cattai bonded a Power Control computer mount just beneath the saddle so it could record their data without becoming a distraction.

Another personal touch is the Di2 routing through the aerobar. The Easton Attack TT doesn’t have a clean opening for the shifter wires, so Cattai drilled one behind the right extension. “We asked Easton if we’re able to do it, and they are now starting to make a special bar for Di2 integration,” said Cattai.

The gap between the pads of BMC’s integrated V-brakes cannot be adjusted to fit wheels of different widths, so Cattai uses specific spacers to pair each caliper with the corresponding wheel. “We don’t have spring adjustment so I have to play with the spacers. It’s really customized for training wheel or racing wheels,” he said.