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Tech talk: Hitting the road

Let’s start things off with a first-look at Tyler Hamilton’s freshly unveiled BMC time-trial bike, which he will ride at this year’s Tour de France (from a BMC press release): The core structure of the bike is a 100% carbon-fiber monocoque frame — and when we say carbon-fiber, we really mean it: Even the smallest details, such as our fork drop-outs and derailleur cage, are made of carbon-fiber. The revolutionary new fork-stem design (patent pending) sets the standard in cycling technology. In addition to perfect aerodynamics, we also achieve maximum rigidity from the minimum possible

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By Andrew Juskaitis, VeloNews technical editor

Tyler's clock-stopping BMC

Tyler’s clock-stopping BMC

Photo: BMC

Let’s start things off with a first-look at Tyler Hamilton’s freshly unveiled BMC time-trial bike, which he will ride at this year’s Tour de France (from a BMC press release):

The core structure of the bike is a 100% carbon-fiber monocoque frame — and when we say carbon-fiber, we really mean it: Even the smallest details, such as our fork drop-outs and derailleur cage, are made of carbon-fiber. The revolutionary new fork-stem design (patent pending) sets the standard in cycling technology. In addition to perfect aerodynamics, we also achieve maximum rigidity from the minimum possible weight. Our patented design makes it possible to custom-build all our bikes to suit the measurements of individual riders. The design of the seat post is impressive for its ingenuity. The seat post is no longer really a post but a component of the frame, and is cut to fit. Its special design also allows us to make individual adjustments to the length. Additional innovative details include fork drop-outs that open toward the rear, enabling the rear wheel to be positioned as close as possible to the frame, which is good for the aerodynamics, as well as quick-release nuts that are integrated into the fork, another aerodynamic feature. With a total of just over 1450 grams for the frame, fork and stem, we also offer incredible value in terms of weight, while still achieving extremely good rigidity and aerodynamics.

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Speaking of the Tour, here a few interesting stats courtesy of the folks over at PowerBar, who sponsor Lance Armstrong’s U.S. Postal Service-Berry Floor team:

Lance Armstrong and PowerBar Nutrition

Lance Armstrong has been cycling with PowerBar Performance energy bars since 1993 and in July will seek his sixth-consecutive Tour de France title as a PowerBar-sponsored athlete with a critical component of his muscle fuel coming from PowerBar Performance energy bars and PowerGel®. [His coach Chris] Carmichael estimates that Armstrong will burn more than 109,000 total calories during the event. In addition:

Armstrong will sweat an average of 8 to 12 pounds each day.

Armstrong’s weight will fluctuate less then 1% due to his hydration and nutrition practices.

Armstrong will consume an average of 6500 to 7000 calories each day, approximately 1500 of which are sourced by PowerBar nutritional products.

Armstrong will drink 2.5 to 3 gallons of fluid each day.

Armstrong will average five PowerBar Performance energy bars and five PowerBar PowerGel energy gels per day, consuming more than 100 bars and 200 gels by the completion of the race.

During the Tour, all 198 cyclists will burn approximately two million total calories — the equivalent of 15,267 bananas or 8,695 PowerBar Performance energy bars.

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Now, on to magazine-related business: I recently got a call from Independent Fabrications’ Matt Bracken, who tried his best to pitch me on a story about the metal-working process called shot-peening. Shot-peening, the process of hardening a metal surface by bombarding it with high-velocity ceramic or steel projectiles, is a pretty sophisticated and time-consuming chore — so much so, Bracken said, that only IF and “one other Boston-based manufacturer” go to the additional time and expense.

Bracken says shot-peening improves the overall stiffness and strength of IF’s frames and enhances the long-term durability of the frames’ surfaces. I’m not certain that we’re going to run with such a technical story, but it is an interesting tidbit about IF frames.

As an aside, Bracken also told me that IF was moving along with its full-suspension project. I had the opportunity to ride this bike in its prototype form during a mid-winter visit to IF and am excited to try out the final production version. Other than noting that it pumps out 4 inches of rear-wheel travel, Bracken remained tight-lipped about the project, declining to divulge a firm production date. Rest assured, it’s gonna be one expensive full-susser.

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SRAM’s Michael Zellmann stopped by the VeloNews offices for a visit and ride yesterday. While the jovial Zellmann regaled the staff with stories of his racing exploits “back in the day” here in Boulder, he also dropped a few hints as to RockShox product development.

First off, we’ll get a chance to try out the 8-inch-travel World Cup and Team Boxxer next week at the press product launch in Zurich, Switzerland. Honestly, I’m more interested in riding the 7-8-inch, all-travel-adjustable Boxxer Race, which has freeride capability rather than a straight DH application.

Zellmann still had no official comment on RockShox’s “Air Boxxer” Black Box project, beyond conceding that “the fork exists” and “a few factory-backed racers are riding it.” We’ll see if we can shake any more information out of the RockShox guys in Zurich next week.

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I wrote a short “What We’re Riding” piece five issues ago regarding Sportful’s impressive line of clothing and accessories — more precisely, its arm and knee warmers.

I’ve received a number of phone calls from product-hungry readers who were unable to find any Sportful product at their local shops or online. So, in hopes ot stemming this recent rash of calls, the best source I’ve found for Sportful clothing is a shop located right on the Manayunk Wall called Cadence Cycling. Manager Matt Heitmann assures me that they have almost the complete collection of Sportful clothing in stock. Check ’em out at www.cadencecycling.com.

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I’m off next week to the 2005 Scott and Pinarello introductions in Europe, so stay tuned for frequent tech updates along with coverage of the 2004 UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships July 10-11 in Bad Goisern, Austria.