Trek Madone SSLx - The New Lance Bike
Trek Madone SSLx - The New Lance Bike
Over the last six years Trek Bicycles and
Lance Armstrong have forged a relationship that not only produced a
history-making six Tour de France victories, but also one that pushed the
development of cutting-edge bicycle technology to new levels. Lance has not
only been our number one source of inspiration, but he's been a great
friend and a valuable teammate. For Trek, the 2005 Tour wasn't just our
last opportunity to produce something special for The Man's last race. This
year's Tour was also another opportunity for us to create the ultimate
production road bike for the consumer as well. Racing what we sell has
always been Trek's credo.
The 2006 Trek Madone SSLx started out as a production OCLV 55 Carbon Madone
SSL, which is already the lightest road bike we've ever produced. Similar
to the Madone SL, on occasion we've had to add extra weight to the bikes
just to meet the UCI weight regulations. For years, Lance's personal bike
building mantra has been a simple one -- "lighter & stiffer." Always
lighter and stiffer. These were the two key design parameters attached to
the SSLx project.
As our engineers love to remind people, building a light bike is not
hard -- anyone can do it! The key to building a bike that wins the Tour de
France is to design it to not only be light, but also to provide a good
stiffness to weight ratio. Lance wants light and stiff, but he's also very
concerned with ride quality. From the original 5200 he rode in 1998 to the
Madone SL he made history with last year, Trek has been providing Lance
with bikes that have exemplary ride characteristics. And that's the magic
potion that Trek has applied to its OCLV Carbon bikes since we began making
them in 1992.
The Newest OCLV Carbon
Making a bike stiffer usually requires more, not less, frame material. So,
the task at hand was how to build a bike that was lighter and stiffer at
the same time. The answer was in extending the OCLV Carbon family to
include a new member -- OCLV Boron. By adding the OCLV Boron composite, the
result was a 15% increase in frame stiffness. Because each Madone frame is
built using hand-laid strips of OCLV Carbon, it's a relatively easy process
for our frame builders to strategically add directional strips of Boron at
the bottom bracket.
While Carbon Fiber is an excellent material under tensile loads (like
pulling on two ends of a string), it's not as strong under compression
loads. That's where the OCLV Boron comes into play. Boron is very strong
under compressive loads. When the layers of our OCLV Carbon fiber are laid
up, a layer of Boron can be sandwiched between the layers. It can be
thought of as the same as rebar in concrete. By strategically adding OCLV
Boron in compressive load areas, we can use less carbon and make a stronger
and lighter frame and/or component.
With the Dauphine Libere being the traditional cut-off point for
introducing new product for the Tour de France, Trek's Discovery Channel
team liaison Scott Daubert arrived with Lance's Madone SSLx under his arm
just two days before the traditional Tour warm-up race began. Three days
later, Lance was racing the bike to a top five finish. And what is Lance's
opinion of the new bike?
The following is an excerpt from a CyclingNews.com interview with Lance
CN: I hear you had a new bike today, the Trek SSLx climbing bike.
LA: "It's the bike I've been using the whole time at the Dauphine Libere.
Trek has done some special stuff to their SSL frame and we've added some
special pieces, some nuts and bolts, stuff like that. It's a nice bike; it
rides well and it's stiff and even on the descent (down the back side of le
Mont Ventoux) it was good."
None of this would be possible if each OCLV frame, handlebar, wheel and
seatpost made didn't rely on our proprietary OCLV Carbon technology. From
beginning to end, we control the process. Each part, designed, tested and
handmade at our factory in Waterloo, Wisconsin.
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