Dave Morse’s aero track bike hangs in Zipp’s advanced development lab in Indianapolis. It’s pristine, yet to be ridden.
He will eventually climb aboard the custom Dimond frame with Zipp wheels, most likely at the nearby Major Taylor Velodrome, and surge at anaerobic threshold around the banked oval. Yet this story runs deeper than simply building a bike to ride. Just as a sculptor chips away marble to reveal an artistic vision, Morse, the self-described bike nerd, laid up carbon to reveal his cycling vision.
“It’s my interpretation of a bicycle,” said Morse, a Zipp advanced development engineer.
“It’s the minimum that you could have for a working bike. If you take off any part of that bike, it becomes non-functional, which is not true of your typical road bike,” Morse said. “You could lose a brake or you could lose some gears or your front derailleur, you can ride it. But on a track bike, you take any single piece off and it’s not a bike anymore.
You’re trying to do as much as you can with very limited resources. A human on a bike really can only put out about half a horsepower, or even less in some cases, for sustained efforts. Yet you can get it to go 50 km per hour sustained for a while, for example the hour record,” he said. “To do that, though, you really have to squeeze every once of energy into going forward, and eliminating drag and friction and all of the other things that slow you down. From an engineering standpoint, it’s really fun to try to tweak and optimize and refine. Then you get to see the results of your work when you ride, going faster for less effort is really fun, validating and exciting.” -Dave Morse
In building this bike, Morse sought to represent his career by selecting a Dimond frame and slightly modifying it for track usage. He designed the molds and did the carbon layup. He also designed the fork. For wheels, he selected the Super-9 Disc and 808 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers, both wheels he helped design.
Morse also sought to pay tribute to the bygone era of unconventional aero superbikes of the 1990s. The American-themed paint scheme of his Dimond bike is a tribute to the “Project 96” bikes of the 1996 U.S. Olympic cycling team.
Though he loves history, Morse’s job in advanced development is rooted in the future. As part of Zipp’s AD lab, “The Nest,” his responsibility is to develop concepts for projects several years away from reality. It’s constant trial and error. “Our goal is to weed out the good ideas from the bad ideas, and do it as quickly as possible spending as little resources as possible. Just because something doesn’t work, doesn’t mean that you wasted all of the time working on it.” -Dave Morse