2011-08-07 Damjan’s impressions on 1-h World Record (Francesco Russo + Eiviestretto = 91.56 kph)

It was on that day, when I displayed my Eivie III vehicle for the first time at Dekra Test Oval. I kept it as a secret before. Francesco Russo got bad mood looking at »her«. He was improving his Ristretto for 6 years, but it still looked much slower than Eivie III. Later he commented his best achievement of 84,345 km in one hour, »That’s it, I’m done. Too much of effort for too little joy.« I tried to emphasize with him and I got really bad felling, that such a strong cyclist is leaving our sport. My assistant Aleksej got an idea, that I can make a bike for him, that he can be competitive with. Pretty soon I agreed, as I am not so rival athlete, but more enjoy designing and building bikes, which take a breath from other people. If Francesco becomes a part of our team and he breaks the one-hour record with less of effort than me, the success can be perfect. I became world record holder in 2008 and I know the fame doesn’t last for ever. In other words, sooner or later somebody beats you. But, if Francesco succeeds, it is a big chance that the record won’t be broken by a non-team member for a while. I started the project not as a rider, but in connection with Matjaž Leskovar as a rider in 2002, so my role of coach/designer/rider was familiar to me. If I can’t find another Slovenian rider, let it be a Swiss one.

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After a thoroughly decision, Francesco approached to our team. He visited Slovenia twice. First time we measured his body, second time he learned driving a prototype backwards. It is a big pleasure to have such a good learner. In the second day of practicing he could self-start and sizzle 40km/h backwards, what a prodigy! Francesco tried to attract other sponsors from Switzerland, he was quite successful by that. We finalized the Eiviestretto design together. Slightly modified Eivie III shape, which was designed in cooperation with Pipistrel company, changed a little after additional hips measurement by Francesco in November. After air-drag calculations of two different versions of tail-shape, we chose one. As Eiviestretto was bigger, it could use bigger wheels; 20″ in front and 28″ in back.

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Swiss company Vonrollinfratec shaped the plugs using a robot. Moulds and fairings were made in Switzerland. Francesco spent several hours working on that. In the meantime I built transmission and wheels, steering mechanism etc. in Slovenia. Leon Plestenjak (company 3D konstrukcije) and I designed the steering mechanism for Eivie III before, so we just used the same one on Eiviestretto. Dr. Duhovnik on the Faculty of mechanical engineering (LECAD) advised us what kind of bearings and crank (wheel) axle we should use. He also helped to design the chainring and prepared the programming for a high RPM mill. The chainring was fabricated in laboratory (LABOD) of prof. Kopač from Al-Ti alloy.

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We complemented with Francesco very well, he bought the bicycle equipment, titanium for cranks, aluminium for transmission, epoxy resin and carbon etc. That stuff he either brought with him to Slovenia or mailed it here by postal service. I experienced all the benefits of team work again. It was very little disagreement between us, eventual arguing was settled down very soon.

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In the beginning of April I went to Switzerland to assemble Eiviestretto. After two weeks of hard work in his garage, Francesco could finally ride Eiviestretto at the Interlaken airport. Thus I could go home with peace in my heart.

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In May we gathered at Dekra Test Oval in Germany, where Francesco bravely pedaled the new »rocket« to speed of 87 km/h. He managed that even without the windshield. Since then Francesco’s main duty was to train as good as possible, thus we tried to relieve him as much as possible. But, he still had to worry about organizing the record attempt and his job, more than he wished to. As an ex-builder he couldn’t change the habit to not to work on minor details of the bike. I can understand that, so I tried very hard to make the bike flawlessly.

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We gathered in Switzerland again in the beginning of July. I finished all the minor details left, amid the experiences from the Dekra track. Just after painting of the fairings we went straight to Dekra again. 96 km/h was the top speed and Francesco convinced us that the world one-hour record was possible. I was working on the bike for few days after that again, then I went to Slovenia. The bike was ready and good enough. We were looking forward to the end of the month, when the real challenge was scheduled.

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»Dekrawochenende«, event on the Dekra Test Oval close to Klettwitz, Germany. In the first days it was only raining. We were tracing the weather forecasts nervously. After four days of waiting we could finally practice launchings within 15 meter distance, as necessary by rules. Francesco was very satisfied and reliable. I could catch him by hands every time he stopped too. On Tuesday, the fifth day the world record was set in the very first attempt, as Francesco has never pedaled at such power for more than 5 minutes before. You can find his impressions on his web-site HERE (in German and English). I would add, that in the chase vehicle I could imagine how he feels, pedaling as hard as possible, what a motivation and hot conditions must be in there. I tended to be envious, as I never experienced a smooth one-hour attempt in my life, but extremely good mood beat the envy. I celebrated every meter he covered. Jemima, Francesco’s wife was jumping in the air and cheering at every finished lap. The whole team congratulated with champagne and later we had a remarkable »photo-session« in few minutes left before the sunset.

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A year- has been paid off. Francesco has a smile on his face even today, when he remembers his success. The success is of all of us, who contributed to the project Eivie during the last 9 years; sponsors, smart people, designers, builders and athletes. All the experiences, ideas, measurements, experiments and trials count, as only by try and error you can develop such a fast and flawless bike.Thank you so much, Francesco, to prolong the Eivie legend!

I can’t avoid of counting down all main sponsors from the recent years: Microsoft, Src.si, Rotobox, Akrapovic, Aircrafters, Pipistrel, E-hub, 3D konstrukcije, Modelarstvo Miketic, Dr. Duhovnik d.o.o., Vonrollinfratec, Freeoneer. Thanks a lot to all involved.

Damjan Zabovnik

1 Comment

  1. 1.9.2015 at 19.22 · Reply

    Wow, superb blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
    you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is excellent,
    let alone the content!

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