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A prototype Trek TTX and other Tour time trial bikes

Road Bike 5 546

Many of you have probably already seen Armstrong’s latest custom painted time trial bike, a prototype version of the Trek TTX. If you didn’t notice it in the proloque, you may have spotted it somewhere else on the web as it has garnered quite a bit of attention lately. Here, here, here, and here are just a few of the places that I saw it in recent days. As he did in the Giro, Lance Armstrong is continuing to ride bikes with graphics and paint schemes by famous designers and artists. All of the different bikes will be exhibited in Paris later this month at an event called “STAGES” with benefits going to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The bike pictured here, by well-known industrial designer Marc Newson, features a “Stoboscopic” rear disc pattern, which appears to pulse as it spins. Newson has designed a range of products throughout his career, but is probably best know for some of his furniture creations like the Lockheed Lounge or the Embryo Chair. He also designed the MN series of bikes for Biomega, which I have previously mentioned on this blog.

Enough about the paint job on Lance’s bike though. VeloNews has a great tech article about the design of the TTX prototypes that Astana is currently using in the Tour. They explain how the new design employs the Kamm effect concept to get the benefits of an 8:1 aerofoil shape with a tube profile that meets the 3:1 UCI rule. Basically, the article explains that the shape of 8:1 profile is used, but the tail is cut off just past the widest point, effectively tricking the air into following the pattern of a longer airfoil. In addition to improved aerodynamics over current TTX models, Trek points out that the wider cross section results in an overall stiffer frame. Read more about it in the VeloNews article; it is quite interesting.

In addition to VeloNews, I have been following the CyclingNews Tech and Road Bike Action Tour Tech articles since the Tour kicked off on Saturday. There are quite a few good Tour bike related articles in those places already, but I will stick with the time trial bike theme of this post and just mention one more. CyclingNews points out that a consumer version of Giant’s UCI legal TT bike is on the way. Based on the UCI’s vague rule that in additional to meeting the measurable requirements all bikes used by teams must be “marketable”, this announcement doesn’t really come as a big surprise. I guess we can expect to see more new TT bikes hitting the market soon on top of the ones from Trek, Specialized, Scott, and now Giant. Great! With all these new bikes coming out, maybe I will be able to find a great deal on a used TT bike. It certainly doesn’t matter to me whether or not it meets the UCI requirements; I just want to go a little faster in the local time trail series.

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  1. Ron July 7, 2009 at 9:20 pm -  Reply

    One interesting need for the design of the Kamm structure in motorcycles and cars back in the 60's and 70's was that if you gave the vehicle all the parameters needed to achieve a full teardrop shape, you wouldn't be able to legally drive it or parallel park it on the street. It'd require a lot of space. In bicycles, the UCI has already mentioned you can't do anything mind boggling to a race bike so I presume all this is just to find a loophole around UCI rules. Its ironic to see that UCI's own restrictions on bikes are biting back at them somehow in further innovations.. however, at this point I cannot comment on the effectiveness of Kamm tails for bicycles, especially at speeds of top speeds of only 30-50 mph.

  2. Ron July 7, 2009 at 9:55 pm -  Reply

    Maybe one of your readers HPV desinger Nick Hein can chime in here and tell us what he thinks of the effectiveness of chopped tails for bicycles.

  3. suganick July 8, 2009 at 8:39 am -  Reply

    Love the post..Better than finding a used tt bike, how about a test or prototype frame! You would think things like this happened more often. I've been in search of testing/buying a new tt bike for over a year now. To make it worse, planned obsolesce has me wanting the newest model bike, before it's even out making the old one obsolete.


  4. James July 9, 2009 at 6:09 am -  Reply

    Ron, good point. I would like to hear from Nick or one of the other HPV builders about the effectiveness of a Kamm tail at bicycle speeds.

    Suganick, you are right… a test bike would be much better. I should get on that.

  5. rscott572 July 13, 2009 at 2:31 pm -  Reply

    The 1274 is beautiful. What struck me were the integrated front brakes into the forks. So, Why not integrate the rear brakes into the chain stays? They are more substantial than the seat stays. Second, and admittedly this is far-fetched: why not drive these integrated brakes with a hydraulic system and put an anti-skid control micro computer & gyro in the system. Maybe it could sense bike's 3x-attitude and limit endo's and other critical lock-ups.

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