5 reasons why Victor Campenaerts is riding Classified at the Classics
Opening weekend 2023, and the riders are lining up at the start of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, much like they have done every February for the last 78 years before this moment. However, this year, one rider is doing things a little differently from the others.
His name is Victor Campenaerts, and he’s riding a massive, 62 tooth, single chainring.
The Lotto DSTNY rider, a Flemish fan favourite from Hoboken, has spent his entire career in pursuit of the ultimate efficiency on a bicycle. From his success in time trials (twice European & Belgian champion) to breaking the hour record in 2019, Campenaerts lives and breathes aerodynamics and efficiency gains.
Ahead of the 2023 road season, Victor Campenaerts embarked on a partnership with Classified, the Belgian drivetrain technology brand. In combination with his team Lotto DSTNY's wheel and frame sponsors, DT-Swiss and Ridley, all partners came together to provide Victor with the most efficient set up in modern day cycling.
Starting at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and then GP Le Samyn on Tuesday (28/2/23), Campenaerts made it into the decisive break away, driving the pace with some big attacks and setting up his Lotto DSTNY teammate Milan Menten for the race win.
Just like Victor, Classified also lives, breathes and dreams about efficiency gains. The partnership is a match made in heaven, with two Belgian 'efficiency addicts' coming together in search of some great results in the Classics.
Many members of the cycling world, press and fans alike, have picked up on Victor’s use of a huge 62 tooth single chainring. But what drove him to use such an outwardly ‘crazy’ set up, as one cycling fan put it on Facebook, and is a monster chainring the only benefit of the Classified system?
Victor Campenaerts is convinced, but more explanation can be needed to understand exactly why the Classified Powershift hub is so efficient.
Who better to ask for this explanation than the man who invented the hub, the Classified CTO Roëll Van Druten. That’s exactly what we did, and you can find his answers below:
Classified: Thanks for taking the time to explain Classified’s efficiency gains Roëll.
Roëll van Druten: No problem at all, I’m always ready to talk about efficiency!
Classified: Please explain the efficiency gains of the Powershift hub.
RvD: With a Classified hub you have two riding modes, either you ride in the 1:1 mode (reduction gear not activated) or in the 0,7 ratio (exactly 0,686 - reduction gear activated).
In the 1:1 direct drive mode the cassette is driving the wheel directly like any other hub. You typically use this direct drive mode on the smaller rear sprockets at higher speeds. With the Classified hub you have two efficiency gains here:
1) Because of eliminating the front derailleur and the small chainring you have better aerodynamics which can save you up to 1%
2) Without a front derailleur, you have the option to use an even bigger chainring and the use of larger sprockets on your cassette, so instead of riding 52/11 you can now ride a 56/12 or even a 62/12, like Campenaerts. Larger sprockets mean less bending in the chain and therefore less chain force. Force on the chain leads to friction which takes energy from the system. A bigger chainring improves the efficiency.
In the 0,7 ratio the torque on the cassette is amplified towards the wheel and as such the cassette rotates faster than the wheel. You typically use this ratio when riding on the larger rear sprockets to maintain optimal cadence, when riding uphill for example. In this mode you have also two efficiency gains:
1) With a traditional 2x drivetrain you would ride on your small chainring here, which leads to a 45% higher chain force, and adds friction. Due to the significantly lower chain forces when using the big chain ring with the Classified hub, the system efficiency is improved by at least 1%. This is due to lower efficiency losses in your chain, but also lower loses in your crank and hub bearings which are supporting your chain forces. Due to the lower chain force the drivetrain feels stiffer in your pedals and you have less flexing of the frame.
2) Next to the lower chain forces the Powershift hub allows the rider to have an on average straighter chain line. As when in the 0,7 ratio you virtually ride in a bigger rear sprocket, so you can keep your chain line straight and shift with your hub instead of shifting to a larger sprocket at the back. Here we also measured a higher system efficiency by using the straighter chain line and the Classified hub.
All in all, you will always have a better drivetrain efficiency in either the 1:1 direct drive mode or in the 0.7 ratio compared to a traditional 2x set-up.
Classified: Does a rider need to use a 62t chainring like Victor to benefit from the system?
RvD: A 62t chainring maximises the benefit of using a single chainring, but removing the small ring already gives you a big efficiency benefit. For instance, running a 56t chainring and a 12t cog is nearly the same ratio as the standard 52/11 set up, but with the added efficiency gains mentioned above.
Even with keeping a 52t chainring, riders can benefit from the aero gains of losing the front derailleur and small chainring, as well as the reduced chain forces. The Classified system really is an all-round more efficient system than a traditional 2x drivetrain which can benefit all riders, regardless of chainring size. But as explained above, “bigger is better” - the system allows a rider to go bigger on the front which increases the overall efficiency.
Classified: Why is Victor Campenaerts racing with the Classified system this season?
RvD: Because Victor is a pioneer and, like Classified, a believer that the existing 2x drivetrain set up is not the most efficient system for a bicycle. The Classified Powershift hub doubles the number of gears of a 1x set-up, enabling the use of just one chainring, but still having access to the optimal cadence. Removing the front derailleur improves the aerodynamics of the bike, as does only having one chainring.
Using a front derailleur can limiti the size of big chainring that can be fitted to the bike. Removing the front derailleur allows mavericks and pioneers like Victor Campenaerts to run huge chainrings, in conjunction with the gear range that the Classified hub provides.
Classified: Can you explain the reasons for Victor adopting the system in 5 bullet points. The top 5 reasons why Classified is a more efficient drivetrain
1. Removing the front derailleur and small chainring allows for a bigger chainring to be used and adds an aerodynamic benefit
2. The use of a bigger chainring combined with the use of bigger sprockets in the back. This reduces chain bending, chain force and lowers the force on the hub and crank bearings. Overall efficiency is increased
3. Shifting under full load. The Powershift hub allows the rider to change gear whilst pedalling, and not have to ease off in order to change on the front. Powershifting reduces the time to shift (150 milliseconds) in critical situations, so the rider can keep pedalling when others cannot
4. The Classified system enables the rider to shift more frequently using the Powershift hub gear, leading to an on average straighter chain line throughout the ride and increased efficiency
5. Shifting under load with a traditional 2x set up usually leads to a dropped chain, especially on very uneven surfaces like cobbles and gravel. No front derailleur means no chain drop whilst shifting
Classified: Spending valuable time at the side of the road putting a chain back on is certainly very inefficient. Thanks for your insight Roëll.
There you have it. Through each of these technological advancements the Classified system offers Victor Campenaerts an overall efficiency advantage over his competitors.
This is why Campenaerts has partnered with Classified and created the most efficient bike set up at the Classics.
For more information on Classified's efficiency measurements then click on this link. You can also follow Classified on Instagram for product updates and to see how Victor is getting on with the hub.