All-New Scott Plasma 5 Triathlon Bike Proves More is More (Aero)

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The new Scott Plasma 5 triathlon bike takes the rider-and-bike combo and aims to make it as fast as possible. They say this bike is faster with the rider on it and with all the storage and hydration solutions mounted. More stuff on board plus more system integration equals more aero.

It’s also meant to be more comfortable for a wider range of riders thanks to a plethora of adjustments and options. Those include three base bars, two different stem styles and much more. The frame and overall design makes it stiffer, too, with a few bits adding durability as well. Even if you’re not into tri and TT, the execution is worth a look.

Despite appearances, it’s completely UCI legal. Well, the bike is anyway – the bento box and battering ram water bottle don’t pass inspection.

Oh, and no, they didn’t just jump from Plasma 3 to 5, there’s a new Plasma 4 in the line, also, bridging the gap between the old and new…

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To improve aerodynamics, they took advantages in the ever improving CFD software to analyze more and more detailed interaction between airflow, the bike, its parts and the rider. That led to changes in tube profiles as they run down the frame. The claimed effect is that wind turbulence and attachment/detachment points were optimized based on what’s happening around tubes (the seat tube in particular) as wheels, legs and cranks are spinning past it in various directions, all in random opposition to the air breezing past the whole enchilada while riding.

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Part of making something aero is integrating as much as possible, and we’ve seen various designs to smooth the transition from stem to frame. Scott made it as flush as possible, but moved the upper headset bearing above the stem, allowing for wider bearing placement to torsionally stiffen the steering system by 47% compared to the Plasma 3. This allows for a 90g lighter stem than the Plasma 3, also, and brake cables and shift wires are able to run from inside the handlebar into the body of the stem and directly into the frame above the top bearing, keeping them hidden from stem to stern.

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Two stems are offered, a 0mm rise for TT and 45mm rise for triathlon. Base bars come in three options:

  • +30mm rise / 420mm wide
  • 0mm rise / 420mm wide
  • -30mm rise / 400mm wide

The base bars’ handles are left intentionally long and can be cut down by up to 15mm. The aero extensions are a standard 22.2mm diameter, allowing any to be used, but Scott had Profile Designs develop a new aero extension system for the Plasma 5 that offers up to 75mm of spacer height adjustment, numerous pad mounting positions to dial width and aero covers for the back of the spacers to hide shift wires.

Directly in front of the head tube is an aero cover that hides the cable leading to the front brakes. They worked with TRP to develop a new single bolt, dual pivot brake with a lower profile so it’d fit under the cover. They also designed it with a higher leverage ratio and more arm movement per lever pull, allowing it to provide strong braking with good modulation. While the arms and design are new and proprietary, they use most of TRP’s existing hardware to make service easier. They even gave the bike both standard single bolt and dual bolt direct mount options, so you can run any brakes you want up front – you just won’t be able to use the aero cover with other calipers.

So far, we’re all good for sanctioned TT races, too. TheĀ frame and handlebar are UCI compliant. Where we run afoul is with the included top tube storage box and aero front mounted water bottle. The box streamlines the transition from the taller Tri stem and is large enough to hold eight energy bars (or your own combo of food, tools, tube, CO2, etc.) and has a divider insert to keep things organized. It bolts on with standard water bottle bolt spacing, so you could replace it with an extra bottle cage. The water bottle comes in two sizes to fit different frame sizes, offering 550ml (~18.5oz) or 625ml (21.1oz) of drink. It clips on to the front of the stem and sits flush with the rest of the front end to improve aerodynamics even further. A wide mouth opening on top makes for quick refills and a straw puts beverage access right where you want it when tucked.

We’ll be at Scott’s press launch this weekend and have some hands on photos and more details on this bike and others. In the meantime, here’s a little video run through, followed by models/spec lists:

MODELS & SPECS

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Below the Plasma 5 is the new Plasma 4, changes the frame up a bit and loses some of the integrated aero features. More on this model coming soon.

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Scott-Sports.com

Comments

DZ - 07/16/14 - 12:11pm

What is that thing on the front? A snow plow? Geez, when did USAT and other Triathlon governing bodies give the okay to take the human element and effort out of racing?
No doubt I will catch heat for my comment, but don’t care. My OPINION……Tri bikes should adheare to the same standards for Frames as Cycling.
Look forward to passing one of these while on my Steel fixed gear Masi.

pmurf - 07/16/14 - 12:26pm

@DZ – did you even read the article? it’s a battering ram. You know, for raiding castles and stuff. Geez, some people can’t see the genius of innovation.

misterh - 07/16/14 - 12:36pm

@DZ oh yea?!? I’m gonna pass you on my vintage steel schwinn varsity

Wendell C - 07/16/14 - 12:47pm

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Chris - 07/16/14 - 12:57pm

Am I the only person who finds it amusing that Scott turned to Profile Designs to source their aero bars? I remember when Scott got their patent for aero bars and sued Profile and 3T when they tried to make bars of their own. Scott eventually dropped the suit once they realized that Richard Byrne (of Speedplay pedals fame) and RAAM winner Pete Penseyres had both created aerobars back in 1984-87.

Champs - 07/16/14 - 3:13pm

Small wonder that triathletes don’t understand bikes. They start with endurance road bikes and either leave them in the garage or upgrade to this.

The full-on tridork config looks like it’s out of Mad Max after they’ve finally run out of gas.

NASH - 07/16/14 - 3:18pm

Your drink will be nice and warm stored in a flat black object. That and a side wind will make you very unstable

Ryan - 07/16/14 - 3:43pm

“We mean no harm to your planet…”

Ronin - 07/16/14 - 4:17pm

I thought Robot-cop had rockets, why does he need this bike?

Triathlon guys are probably so interested, but it’s gonna scare small children if you use it whilst out training, unless you’re going so fast they don’t notice.

Topmounter - 07/16/14 - 4:19pm

Add the optional child seat and you can maintain interstate speeds.

SketchyD - 07/16/14 - 6:30pm

What about it’s urination resistance? How does mounting a compact w/11-28 affect it’s aero capabilities? I’ve worked on more than a few tri-bikes in my day and inquiring bank accounts want to know…

goathead - 07/16/14 - 7:15pm

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The Conductor - 07/16/14 - 8:10pm

Bat-bike. Rear triangle converts to a unicycle.

edd - 07/16/14 - 9:43pm

Does anyone know what percentage of total wind resistance the bike makes up, when compared to the bike and rider combo? I’ve always wondered how effective all this aero stuff is when it’s only effecting a small part of the overall package.

Slow Joe Crow - 07/17/14 - 11:25am

@edd, good point, although I have not seen any actual comparisons, I’m willing to bet that on frontal area and cross section alone, if you put them on the same design of TT bike Emma Pooley has a lower drag coefficient than Andre Greipel.
The bike still plays a part since there can be both measurable and statistically significant differences in wattage required to maintain a given speed depending on aerodynamics. The Trek Speed Concept bikes also used UCI illegal add on boxes as fairings like the Scott. It is also interesting to note that the triathlon setup uses a riser stem, partly because some tris do have longer bike sections than the average TT and partly because the average tri-dork can’t get down that low.

wall - 07/17/14 - 4:21pm

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JasonK - 07/17/14 - 10:46pm

Chris: outstanding point! I had forgotten all about the Scott/Profile legal wars!

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