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HED VO3 Preview.
Bike Photos by Seth Kirkendall, Story By Tom Demerly.


Read This About Our Reviews First

Steve and Anne Hed are the inventors of the modern aerodynamic wheel as we know it. The little company in White Bear Lake, Minnesota revolutionized the way a bicycle wheel looks when Hed developed the first deep section wheels as a result of research at the Texas A&M wind tunnel.

Since then the Heds have come up with many innovative performance enhancements. One of the more unusual was a “leash” or strap used by Mark Allen at Ironmanin the '80's that tied his hips to the handlebar stem in an attempt to increase pedal leverage.

More recently the Heds have been at working turning out the usual assortment of excellent wheels and their new, excellent aerodynamic handlebar which was used by David Millar, among others, in the 2003 Tour de France.

Rumors circulated at the 2003 Interbike Trade Show in Las Vegas that Hed would be releasing a very limited quantity of a bike frame based on wind tunnel research conducted at Texas A&M. The development of the frame was shrouded in secrecy and was actually never meant to be sold to the public. It started life as an aerodynamically “inert” design to isolate the drag characteristics of wheels and other components being tested. The result was a bike with drag numbers so low it made even minor changes in aerobar design or wheel configuration become more apparent.

The rumors are true: Hed has built a number of the very unusual frames, dubbed the “VO3”. We acquired one of the very few bikes and have some early photos of ours here. We shot the photos the day the bike arrived and passed them on to our friends at www.timetrial.org. We haven’t built a HED VO3 yet or ridden one. The one example we received is a size “medium”. We also ordered a “small” which, “May be produced again at some time” but has already been sold through the very limited production run for 2004.

Here is a sneak peek at the extremely rare, new HED V03:

The seat cluster area is solid and innovative with two forward facing binder bolts. The proprietary carbon seatpost is very nice and fits smoothly in the frame. Fit and function of all the frame elements are very good. HED paid attention to functional details when this bike was made. It is all go and no show based on our first examination.
Chainstays are gigantic. No “Taiwan dent” needed for chainring clearance. This is perfect for an FSA Carbon Pro Team Issue cranks and their excellent new, lenticular solid chainrings. The derailleur hanger is a production, off-the-shelf replaceable model. The adjustable front derailleur hanger facilitates chainrings ranging from 53 tooth up to a possible 55-tooth knee buster.
  HED had a new aerodynamic, bladed carbon fiber fork designed and made to go with the frameset. It features an aerodynamic “dimple” like the Cannondale Slice aerodynamic fork. This is an interesting and attractive design. We look forward to riding it.
The cable routing for both derailleurs passes through the head tube for a more aerodynamic profile. Threaded barrel adjusters for minor “on the fly” gear adjustments are included. This design enables the cables to “draft” neatly behind the head tube. It will also force the cable housings up, out of the boundary layer of air as they make their way back from the shifters mounted at the tip of the aerobars. Weld quality looks good but unremarkable. This bike is about function and speed. It may not win many beauty contests.
A very deep wheel cutout is incorporated into the seat tube. This is a “Cerveloesque” design element meant to make the rear wheel ride in the draft of the seat tube and eliminate any trailing vortices. The monostay, wishbone seat stay assembly is not only aerodynamic but the carbon fiber material provides ride comfort. We can’t wait to ride this bike. Bikesport Owner Tom Demerly ordered a size small for testing but further production of frames is uncertain and no delivery date has been specified. “This is likely to be the only one we ever see” said Demerly.
The Hed VO3 is a 700c wheel design, 73.8 degree seat tube angle (depending on frame size) time trial specific frame. According to HED it is a time trial specific frame designed from wind tunnel test prototypes and sold primarily for the club time trial circuit popular in England. The frame features relatively neutral time trial geometry and dimensions. It may be an alternative for triathletes with a very long femur bone also. Graphics are basic and stark, black is the only color and the frameset with fork and carbon seatpost sell for a seemingly inexpensive $1200.00. The entire project is reminiscent of something out of Area 51.

 

 

 
 

 

© Tom Demerly, Bikesport Inc.
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