Lance Armstrong's road and track bikes for the 2005 Tour de France have been unveiled to the press. In a press release, Trek gives a list of "seven assets" that these bikes have over the competition. In at number six is "Graphics: Not as time consuming or expensive to create as the frame itself, but the graphics are nonetheless an important part of the package."

Trek releases pix and tech of Lance’s “curtain call” bikes


Bikes of the 2005 Tour

For the last six years, Trek designers and engineers have been pressed to adopt a special calendar when it comes to providing Lance Armstrong with the latest and greatest in new technology. For 2005, things were no different as we undertook two new bike projects that would act as the final curtain call in Lance’s history making career.

The evolution of both the SSLX and the TTX represent Trek’s state-of-the-art approach to designing and building high performance bicycles. They are the truest reflection of Trek’s leadership role of driving new technology in the cycling industry.

The following notes are a breakdown of the steps involved for the production of the TTX time trial bike that Lance raced in the Dauphine Libere.

1. The Center lines: The centerlines are the skeleton of every bike we make, the starting point for every design. These act as the road map. By mapping the hard points (bottom bracket, seat angle, top tube etc), engineers are able to get the geometry that the rider needs and, get an idea as to what the frame will look like.

2. The Concept Sketch: This is the modern version of the traditional napkin sketch, where many great ideas begin. However, Trek industrial designers are using the latest in technology – digital markers and airbrushes as replacements for regular pen and paper. These tools enable designers draw over the centerlines to explore all the possible shapes the bike might take-on.

3. Digital Prototyping: Trek designers and engineers use the same technology as the car and aerospace industries. They can create a fully digital 3D model of the bike. Building right over the concept sketch, they are able to keep the original concept sketch design intent. Once a model is created the designers continue working on shapes and forms while the engineers work on the function and strength of materials being used. Working in parallel they can share data to create the optimum machine.

4. Computational Fluid Dynamics: The latest & greatest tool we have. Also known simply as CFD, this has proven to be one of the biggest breakthroughs in the rapid evolution of concept to prototype. What CDF provides is a virtual wind tunnel simulation using the digital prototype. This provides the initial compass heading to show if we’re going in the right direction or not. AMD technology provides our computers with the horsepower to run simulations so that our engineers can achieve an optimal design without committing to a fully developed prototype. CFD eliminates many of the old time consuming mysteries which in turn help save the team vital seconds on the bike.

5. Tooling: Tooling refers to making the molds and parts we use to produce the OCLV Carbon frames. The tooling is based on digital prototypes and all of the TTX tooling was created in-house at Trek’s Advanced Concept Group prototype shop in downtown Waterloo. Both engineers and programmers use robotic CNC machines that carve the molds out of billet aluminum. Mold making is the expensive part of the process, but once we can mold the frame and assemble it – game on!

6. Graphics: Not as time consuming or expensive to create as the frame itself, but the graphics are nonetheless an important part of the package. Trek designer Chad Bailey created the distinctive TTX graphic to work with the new frame shape.

7. Physical Testing: There are actually four important parts to the physical testing of the TTX. Like every other bike we make, the prototype goes to the test lab where it undergoes a barrage of strength and fatigue tests. Next is simply to get outside and ride the bike. Did it steer well or handle funny? Did we get the hard points figured out correctly with the centerlines? The TTX was sent to the Allied Low Speed Wind Tunnel where we were able to assemble solid figures on how the bike performed. Lastly, and most importantly, the bike goes to Lance. Scott Daubert delivered the TTX in the days leading up to the Dauphine Libere. Lance rode the bike in the prologue. His reaction? “It rolls like a Rolls Royce!” Mission accomplished.

8. What comes next?: Currently, only two bikes exist and the team has both of them. While the future status of the bike remains uncertain right now, the TTX project was important in many ways. Similar to the evolution of the Madone, the TTX forced us to think about bikes in a different way. And to do so we had to rely on new technology like CDF. The result was taking our design and manufacturing capabilities in new directions. The TTX ended up being lighter, faster and stiffer than the current TTT bike.?

Although the bike was designed for Lance, the truest result of the TTX is the proof, once again, of Trek’s ability to design cutting edge bicycles that perform on the world stage. Not just for July, but year round, Trek Technology leads the way.

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