June 17, 2004
Weapons of the Cycling Samurai
With the Tour coming up, a number of sites are starting to offer looks at the bikes and components we'll see in the Tour this year.
PezCycling offers a look at the Phonak team bikes ridden by Tyler Hamilton and his team, which are surely one of the most unconventional bikes in the peloton.
Since they're working in carbon fiber, BMC was free to look beyond cylindrical tubing, and shape every tube on the bike to match its function. With the Phonak team colors, they certainly stand out in the peloton.
Cyclingnews provides a look at the frames Iban Mayo and Lance Armstrong used in the Mont Ventoux time trial at the Dauphiné Libéré this month.
Armstrong's Trek Madone SSL is actually fairly conventional, an evolution of the Madone SL, but with improvements so it just tickles the UCI weight limit of 6.8 kg or 14.96 lbs.
Trek found a way to bring its OCLV frame technology to a new level by using a carbon fibre material usually used for space satellite construction: 55 gsm OCLV. This material uses a carbon fibre lay-up process that is "far more meticulous and challenging than that we use for any other OCLV frame we build," say Trek's people. And if the stress tests on the Madone SSL showed that OCLV 55 wasn't the optimum material, Trek used OCLV 110 to enhance durability.
Armstrong also rode with custom Bontrager race wheels using the 55 gsm carbon fiber, and a clip-on carbon fiber aerobar.
Mayo's Orbea features a very tight aerodynamic rear triangle that snugs the back wheel right up under the rider. It's also got an aggressively sloped top tube, like the Giant TCR. Rather than carbon-fiber, Mayo's rig is aluminum from Columbus, the metal company whose Nivachrome steel was for decades the standard for Tour frames.