Trek Madone SSLx is the new Lance Bike, a great combination.
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 Armstrong.
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.”