Blog – All change for Billy Oliver for 2015


Billy Oliver says goodbye to his P4, struggles to get his head around winter training and does away with pins for race numbers

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Blog – All change for Billy Oliver for 2015

NOTE: Send your results as well as club, team & event news here

Billy writes … The P4 has gone! What a great bike it’s been and will continue to be for the new owner. Things here are changing so fast, it’s hard to keep up.


I was looking yesterday at some of my racing photos and can’t believe how much everything has changed. The only items to survive from last year to 2015 will be the SRAM R2C shifters, the Smart aero overshoes and the Speedplay pedals. Everything else from the bike all the way down to the wheel skewers, are different. The skinsuit, helmet and even shoes have all been looked at and changed!

I was going to do a list of what we ran then to what I am running now and a reason why but that might give a little too much away but it’s great to look at the details and see where you can improve. I really hope to get a wind tunnel session next year and get some solid data on where everything is at and back up what Andy and I will aero test as the weeks go on.

Bike science are just in the middle of a move to a swanky new store at the top of Whiteladies road in Bristol so testing has slowed down a touch understandably but it’s not all about the testing of everything. I’ve got to make sure I’m doing everything right and putting the effort in to make it all happen. No point in getting the kit spot on when the man riding it is not up to scratch.

I should imagine like most, I hit a bit of a wall as the weather started turning from warmer than it should be with plenty of sun to either rain or cold and dark to boot. It’s when you know the sessions are going to be that much harder.

This was when I realised how much difference having the support of a coach like Matt was really going to make. The difference in having that seed in the back of your mind telling you that you could possibly do it but do you want it bad enough to knowing in your head, it’s going to happen and nothing can stop you.

I had a few sessions when I was feeling tired and almost looking for a reason to cut it short and justify it. I was leaving for sessions 30 minutes later than normal as I was pottering around at home not chomping at the bit to get out there and smash it. This is somewhere I had been before in my first year racing and it seemed to run a pattern of failed sessions and under performed rides which just leads to finding it harder to get out there and do it.

Which when you’re a very highly motivated person who puts everything into everything you do, it is a very slippery path and usually leads to me being a grumpy ass then getting ill and missing a week on the bike.

I messaged Matt and got the reply of lets back it off. It’s November and we don’t want to kill you off which is pretty much the spot on answer but I wasn’t worn down from the training. The battle was all in my head and this was the eureka moment. I had to question how bad did I want it.

This was when I looked at what we had already achieved, what we had planned and the faith people had put in me and their belief in what could be achieved. My thought then wasn’t to even question if I wanted it; more of “lets back it off a tad” was “maybe you haven’t got what it takes” in my warped way of thinking.

And that was that instant flip from struggling to right back to top of my game and motivation back to maximum. To people who say you don’t need a coach, you can find a lot of training plans on the internet, I say it’s the whole package not just the plan you get on paper.

I even managed to do some tough sessions on the turbo which is my ultimate nemesis and the place that sucks motivation straight out of me. Holding my position for the full period which is something I’ve never done. In the words of the great Arnie “the body is important but the mind is more so” and on that note, all that’s left to say is “I’ll be back!”

NoPinz – Avoiding flapping in the wind race numbers
Like many TT racers, I’ve struggled around car parks in the middle of no where sat in the car carefully pinning on my race number trying to get it perfectly flat. Even resorting to being a bit naughty and using double sided tape to stick it to the skinsuit before pinning it (and spending ages picking off double sided tape hoping no one sees) only to start the funky chicken dance to get into the skinsuit only for a pin to come flying off or to realise the number is in the wrong place and in a right state.

Arm numbers are a whole new world of pain in the ass and some of the DIY solutions are comical. Cling film, sellotape etc to save the odd watt from a flapping number.

Surely there was a better way in 2014.

Luckily a guy called Blake Pond came along, a self confessed aero nut and a very handy racer in his own right and the nopinz collection.

I first come across these at one of the national Time Trials. I had heard of them and even tried to get hold of some but they where already being well tested in sunny Devon. I had heard the stories of the claimed savings and the flip side of people saying they wouldn’t work, would come unstuck or leave your skin suit covered in sticky residue.

I stuck with what I knew for the national event and that was that. I thought the ways I had of dealing with numbers was good so what was the point in changing.

The day come and I had managed to get hold of a smart aero skin suit and my first thought went to my old assos skin suit that had a huge hole around the bum area from a load of number pinning and was often remarked on at a local Dursley club ten on the mighty u7b.

If by luck or the grace of god, I saw the nopinz advert again for the new speed pocket. This was basically a version of the single use wallets that I had avoided at the nationals sticking to my old ways but this was sewn into your skin suit as a permanent feature.

This seemed like a perfect idea to my solution, a permenant number holder. No more stealing pins off other numbers in the HQ because mine are knackered and will ping off after warm up and more importantly, no wrecking my skinsuit.

So I went onto the nopinz site and set about checking it out. Long story short, the suit was in the post that evening to them. I was having a speed wallet fitted and a set of the aero armbands. To my surprise Blake at nopinz had seen the blog and said he would stick in a set of the single use wallets for me to have a look at whilst waiting for my skin suit to come back.

Four days later my suit is back with the pocket fitted. I went with the reflective strip underneath as well as a bit of added visibility. It was easy to see this wasn’t just a pocket fitted to the suit with little thought. I could see the panel was very neatly sewn into the suit and the outer suit had the smooth seam outside with and no sign that it had been stitched in on the inside out way.

The panel was exactly where it should be, low down on the back where I would normally try and stick my number for a race.

On the inside, the stitching is neat and there is a small slit that allows you to stick your number in the speed pocket. I heard a few say it wouldn’t be possible to get a number in with the suit on so I tested it. I’m like a rubber band so it might not work for all but with one arm out of the sleeve, I managed to get my arm around the back and get the number in with the use of the mirror in the lounge. If I rode to an event, I would probably just strip the suit down to waist level and put the number in but most times I would just get to the HQ and stick the number in before getting the suit on.

The other concern was how stretchy was the panel. Would it give enough when doing the funky chicken to get the suit on as the skin suits are made of a very stretchy fabric. My Smart suit is a medium and super tight.

I honestly didn’t feel any pull in the panel or suit pulling against the panel. I even curled up into a ball on the floor so I was stretching it as much as I could when wearing it (luckily at this time I was home alone – who knows what the wife would of thought If she came home to find me curled up in a ball in a skin suit in lounge!

I couldn’t feel the area that had been sewn on the inside as it’s nicely finished and a soft fabric on the inside of the panel area.


So far I’m really struggling to find fault with it and for me it has to be a no brainer. The TT world seems to be one that is full of the latest bikes and technology but people are very fearful to move away from the standard of pinning on a number for a event.

Pinning before an event is part of the whole experience and something that I’ve always taken a great effort in but nothing is worse that hearing the rip of an expensive skin suit or when your smashing down a course giving it everything and you can feel the number flapping around on your back because a pin has fallen out somewhere along the way.

Then there are the aero claims, something I really think is there and will bite someone’s hand off for one watt saved but I can’t test those claims at the moment so I won’t go into that side of the speed pocket.

Also in the bag that was returned completed in under four days was one of the nopinz skin suits Blake asked if I would like to try out. Taking it out of the bag, the material felt odd almost Teflon like. It looked good in black with the bright pink nopinz stamp on the arms and legs and back. These can be worn in open events as nopinz are the manufacturer the same as Assos, Castelli etc. This obviously has the speed pocket already fitted with the same quality finish and in the same position as the one fitted to my Smart suit.

It’s a very snug fit which is what I’m after in a skin suit and doesn’t bunch up anywhere. I’ve had skin suits before that have bunched a bit between the chest and shoulder when in the aero position. I wore it back to back with the Smart suit and noticed a lot of similar qualities from a suit that has solely been made for aero benefits.

For a £150 skin suit with the speed pocket already fitted, you really can’t go wrong in my eyes. I’ve picked out a few tiny details that I think could make it great but after a quick message to Blake, these are already in the pan for the new suit so I won’t go into that but we are talking very small details so watch this space.

There is also a more refined version of the skin suit called the championship suit which is fully RTTC compliant and can be bought including the armbands for under £200.

The question I got asked was how can I offer a independent view when I was given the skin suit to test. Easy, I’m not sponsored by nopinz. I don’t know the guys at nopinz apart from a few email conversations and I don’t owe them anything so I can have a honest opinion and like the rest of what we are looking at this year, we will be looking at making sure we are using what we know is the best for that situation.

The proof as they say is in the pudding and I can say I will be using the armband and speed pocket to race in next year and the skin suit for club events and who knows when we get to aero test it later, maybe for opens as well.


Testing NoPinz
I had a few things that I needed to check out. The fit including sat up and in the TT position, comfort and would the speed pocket ‘steam up’ in a hard session.

The session I chose was a sweet spot turbo session for three reasons; one I could hold the TT position, two, I could really have a look at the suit whilst wearing it and see if I could find any faults or parts I liked and three, I sweat like a beast in the garage on the turbo so it was going to give the suit a good test.

I started my warm up dropping between TT and sat up position. The suit moved well with me and didn’t seem to bunch up when moving between positions. The chamois felt good at the back but a little thin at the front at the start. But as the ride went on, it felt a lot better. I think using a new Adamo TT saddle might of added to this as my other saddle is well worn in so softened up a bit.

As the steam started coming down from the garage ceiling, it was time to start hitting the session. The suit felt good. I couldn’t feel the speed pocket and shuffling forward on the bars didn’t seem to make the suit pull around the speed pocket.

Looking over the suit during the session, all I could really pick up and these might just be personal to me and something I like in a suit but I would have the sleeves slightly shorter. I have wrists like a small child so need something really tight just above the wrist. The sleeve grippers are really good and managed to hold the sleeve when I pulled it just above the wrist onto my hand which I figured is about the size of a standard mans wrist.

The leg grippers as well were rock solid and stayed where I put them which is nice as a lot of suits ride up or fall down on the leg gripper during a race. I personally like no gripper at all but that’s something that is very hard to get right on a suit that is off the shelf with people having very different leg sizes.

The speed pocket didn’t steam at all. There was a a bit of a line where the slit was to put the number in that was a bit wet but no steam and no loss of number visibility.

All in from the test and the quality, would I buy this suit? Hell yeah. I would put it somewhere between everything else from the big names in skin suits and the Smart aero suit. I think the quality and fit is as good as anything else and with the speed pocket already fitted, all for £150, you really can’t go wrong.

I noticed they do a less branded version that you can get with the arm bands for under £200.

Talking of the arm bands, I wore them on the test as well. You put the number in the same way as the speed pocket then work the band up your arm and into position. The band fitted perfectly between my elbow and shoulder and you can adjust it so the number is in the perfect position. It has the clear coating on the front that again didn’t steam up but I did notice it was very sweaty behind which you would expect and less so than wrapping your arm in cling film which I’ve seen people do.

Added with the fact this was in the garage on the turbo so no wind aiding cooling. With the skinsuit test done and I had smashed out a good session, all was good and I peeled the suit off dripping wet and very impressed. I will be racing in the suit a lot over next year and looking forward to it.

Single use wallet
Second test of the weekend involved the single use speed wallet. This is where it all started and what has led to the retro fitted stuff. These are aimed towards people doing single events or using multiple kit they need to attach numbers to randomly for events. They come in various sizes and an arm version.

For a week in, week out TT rider, I would go for the fitted pocket and working it out, it would probably cost more in single use wallets over the season than a fitted pocket but for a single event, it’s a very useful item for the kit bag.

Being impressed by the other nopinz kit, I thought I would put a bit of extra faith in the single use stuff and fitted the wallet to my training top and stashed it with my food supplies for the ride. This could have ended very bad as I like my food on a ride but I had faith. The plan was to put the food in and seal it. I would need something about 45 minutes in so if it was still there by then, I would be happy it holds well and rip it open to get my goodies or be desperately re tracing my route looking for my food supply.

I’m very happy to say I didn’t lose my stash.

The arm wallet stayed put as well and didn’t flap around in the wind either. For someone looking at a season long solution racing week in week out, I would go for the fitted speed pocket especially as the seams etc are so good once it’s in, it’s in at a one off cost. The wallets I would suggest for one off events or for an introduction into a life without pins.

I think the whole nopinz system has really taken the next step both in searching for aero and with the new skin suits getting thinner and tighter fitting, looking for every watt of saving really think the nopinz system is the future.

I would love the chance to aero test the kit to see how the aero claims stack up but as far as I can see, I’m sold and happy to have my race suit fitted with the speed pocket for next year.

READ MORE FROM BILLY HERE: Blog – All change for Billy Oliver for 2015

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