By Zack Vestal
Trek’s development of a new TTX time trial bike could almost have been predicted: Giant, Scott, and Specialized have all engineered new TT frame platforms for their ProTour teams in the last 12 months, while Trek’s design cycle apparently remained static (at least in public).
Especially with Lance Armstrong back on board and pedaling, you had to know that the wheels were literally in motion up in Waterloo.
Rarely leading the charge, but often studying the competition and then attempting to meet or exceed with added, unique features, Trek looks to have a time trial bike in the works with a few tricks up its sleeve. It starts by using up every available inch of UCI-compliant frame “fuselage forms,” much like the new bikes from Scott and Specialized. Then the design appears to build in some innovations of its own.
In a huge departure from the current TTX, the stem and fork crown merge in front of the “head tube” to create a leading edge in front of the bearings. This hinged design is similar to what has been seen on Look and BMC TT bikes, as well as the current crop of UCI-compliant bikes from Giant, Scott, and Specialized. Because the section between the stem and fork is structural, it passes muster. The headset bearings apparently sit behind the unified stem and fork (stem + fork, can we call it a “stork?”) on a shortened, aero-faired head tube. The stem is not directly in line with the top tube, as is seen on current “new-school” TT bikes, but an extension of the top tube creates a smooth transition.
Most notable on the front end is the apparent absence of a front brake — however, it’s not missing, just hidden between the fork blades. In fact, zooming in on head-on photos of the bike in action reveals what appear to be caliper pivots, and possibly an enclosed area for cable attachment. While most have tucked a front brake behind the fork crown, Trek looks to have taken the extra step of actually hiding it IN the crown. The fork blades look especially wide, both to house the front brake, and also to maximize airflow and the benefit of a three-spoke front wheel.
Likewise, the rear brake is hidden under the chainstays, and in fact not just hidden, but again integrated seamlessly with the frame tubes. Close inspection of the photos shows the gap between the brake arm and chainstay, as well as a brake pad and fixing bolt. The brake arm is so perfectly matched to the chainstay that it could easily pass for the stay itself.
The huge bottom bracket has no external bearings, and the ends of the crankarms are taped over. Tight zooming-in leads us to wager that SRAM BB30 bearings and cranks are in play. We can’t be sure, but if so, it’s a departure from the Madone-style direct fit bearings that Trek has employed in the past, and possibly the result of SRAM’s close collaboration with Trek and the Astana team.
The seatpost looks like a standard aero post — notably NOT an extended mast with a short cap. This may change in the future, but for now probably permits a wide range of adjustment for what is likely a single frame size. Carbon mold development is not cheap, and outfitting as many riders with one frame size as possible (for the time being) is a probable goal.
What to expect for the future
Trek and Astana team staff would not permit close photos of the frame, as it is likely to change going forward. We were able to zoom in on some action shots, but even the paint scheme seems intended to disguise the features as much as possible.
Contador piloted the bike to fifth in Wednesday’s stage, and said “It’s clear that I still have some work to do on this bike, but my preparation for the Tour is going perfectly.”
It’s probably safe to assume that Trek is making preparations of their own to finalize the bike for as many Astana riders as possible.