Tour des Stations Ultimate 1000 bike check: Ollie’s TRIGON AR

An epic ultra-endurance adventure requires an equally special bike. For Ollie Bridgewood, this was the TRIGON AR

ClockUpdated 12:20, Wednesday 23rd August 2023. Published 12:00, Wednesday 23rd August 2023

Ollie Bridgewood isn’t afraid of a challenge, which is why he chose to take on the mighty Tour des Stations Ultrafondo in 2021. 242km with 8,848m of elevation gain, it was a brutal day, but Ollie suffered his way through to finish - and he even beat Alberto Contador, not that he ever reminds us.

Not satisfied with that effort, Ollie wanted more, so he returned this year to take on the unfathomably tough Tour des Stations Ultimate 1000. As the name suggests, it’s 1,000km of pure suffering - a truly epic challenge which can only be completed with the help of a seriously impressive bike and essential ultra-endurance kit. Here’s a full run through of Ollie’s set-up for the day, but before that, find out how he fared in the event here.

TRIGON AR: aero dimples and fairings

With Ollie’s physical exploits out of the way, let’s turn our attention to the real star of the show, his TRIGON AR01 bike.

TRIGON may not be a familiar name to you but it’s a brand which is quickly making inroads in the bike industry and gaining a solid reputation. The Taiwanese brand, like many in this part of the world, started out by making frames for other household names, but it’s since gone solo and now create its own frames and complete bikes. One of these ranges is the AR (All Round), which as the name suggests, falls between their aero and climbing bikes.

That means it gets a blend of tech from both worlds, including aero tube shapes honed using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and tested in a wind tunnel. That’s not too revolutionary, but the aero dimples used on the fork, down tube and head tube are. It’s similar technology to that used on certain skin suits and disrupts the airflow to reduce the air wake on the tubes. Other brands have toyed with the idea but TRIGON believes it’s the first one to master it without adding significant weight to the frame - something Ollie appreciated on those long Alpine climbs.

Despite beating Alberto Contador in his last outing at the event, Ollie falls someway short of being a WorldTour pro, which is good for him as it meant he could take advantage of the bike’s aero fairings. Fairings are banned by the UCI so can’t be used during UCI competitions, but that doesn’t apply to the Tour des Stations where Ollie took advantage of the bike’s drag-reducing brake caliper fairings. Ironically, the race passed the UCI’s headquarters in Aigle, so Ollie flaunted his race-illegal tech right in front of cycling’s governing body. These fairings can be removed should you happen to be riding a UCI-governed race.

Complete integration

Aesthetics don’t matter much when you’re 700km into an ultra-endurance ride, but let’s be honest, everyone likes to show off their steed on the start line. And the TRIGON AR is a real attention-grabber thanks to its sleek design which includes a completely integrated cockpit.

There are no cables in sight, leaving plenty of space for all of the gadgets required for an ultra-endurance endeavour. The handlebars also feature climbing shifters, positioned so you can still shift while your hands are on the tops. It’s a feature Ollie found really useful in his hours of suffering.

1:1 climbing gears

When he last tackled the Tour des Stations, Ollie paired a standard 52/36t chainset with an 11-32t cassette. For this challenge he went compact, combining a 50/34t chainset with a 11-34t cassette into a climber-friendly package. It’s a combination which provides a one-to-one gear ratio in the easiest 34/34 combination, something that came in very handy as Ollie toiled over the Swiss Cols.

What goes up must come down. That means tackling a mixture of long, fast and technical descents, which is why Ollie opted for 160mm disc rotors. Larger rotors dissipate heat better and the brakes last longer, making this one an easy decision.

Reynolds Blacklabel 46 Pro DB wheels

During our challenges, we’re lucky enough to get supported by multiple brands, benefiting from lots of cool tech, like the Reynold wheels on the bike. They’re the Black Label 46 Pro Discs which, sticking to traditional naming conventions, are 46mm deep. That’s a good balance between a shallow and pure aero rim, but crucially they’re impressively light at only 1397g for a pair.

With a 31mm external rim width, the wheels are optimised for 28mm tyres, which is handy as that’s the width Pirelli said would be best for the Tour des Stations.

Most importantly of all, they passed our freehub sound check with flying colours.

Remaining kit

Beyond the bike, Ollie had some important decisions to make about the rest of his bike. The Ultimate 1000 is semi-supported. Riders couldn’t receive this support on the route, but they could at reboost stations which were positioned throughout the event.

That simplifies equipment decisions as Ollie didn’t have to carry everything he needed, only enough food to last him until the next station. For that he relied mainly on a bento box, or top tube bag. On top of any nutrition, Ollie’s bento box of choice also had enough room for his power bank.

At the back, Ollie used a saddle bag for any puncture-repair equipment and spares, plus some spare clothes as he was riding through the night.

Many ultra-endurance cyclists like using handlebar bags but not Ollie because they’re not aero. In case you’re not aware, Ollie is an aero nerd.

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