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A mid-February visit to Trek unveils a host of goodies
By Andrew Juskaitis
I just got back from a whirlwind trip out to Wisconsin where VeloNews’s Nick Ramey and I were able to visit with both Trek and Pacific Cycle. With one long day slated for our Trek visit, we had high hopes of getting a look at what the venerable company is planning for coming years and, 12 hours later, we left very satisfied.
Our main guide for the day was Fisher/LeMond/Klein/Bontrager brand coordinator Ryan Atkinson. Our stops included visits to the massive 182,000-square-foot Whitewater production facility where 240 employees assemble many of the Trek, Fisher, Klein and LeMond models. While not all of Trek brand bicycles are produced here in the United States, around 40 percent of the company’s bikes are. This includes a remarkable 800 to 1000 complete bikes that the Whitewater facility can pump out in a single day.
Trek’s Advanced Design Group is a small cadre of engineers and fabricators dedicated to producing prototype and team-issue products. Separated from the rest of the facility, the bike think-tank is hard at work refining the technology that we’ll be riding in the future. While there was plenty the product developers couldn’t tell us, we were able to sneak a peek at Wade Bootes’s beefed-up Trek Fuel mountain-cross frame. We also learned that the first Madone 5.9 frame Trek produced for Lance Armstrong last year wasn’t a prototype, but thanks to advanced computer modeling, Trek was able to skip prototyping and move directly to pre-production, delivering Armstrong his first bike with 100 percent certainty of its strength.
Back at the main Waterloo facility we were greeted by a legion of individual product managers and engineers including Trek’s newest employee, former Mountain Bike/Bicycling Magazine editor Zapata Espinoza. A short trip around the Waterloo facility led us to Trek’s test shop where we saw both frame and component fatigue and impact testing. A loud “snap” of an aluminum Fuel frame, just seconds after we turned to walk away, indicated that this particular frame’s life cycle had expired right on schedule. As we worked our way deeper into the lab, we saw just about every component that Trek spec’s being put through their respective hydraulic ram paces.
After an impressive final destructive wheel test (to meet the UCI requirements for contained failure) we moved out of the test lab and into the meeting room where we were bombarded by individual product mangers with information regarding 2005 and beyond.
Look for more on our visit as well as interview with Espinoza in the next issue of VeloNews.