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Lance Armstrong's Repeat Tour de France Victory Secures New Significance For Waterloo in French History.

Trek Bicycles Celebrates 25th Anniversary with Second Straight Win

WATERLOO, Wis., July 23 /PRNewswire/ --

For the second straight year, Lance Armstrong's Tour de France victory secured a new sense of significance for Waterloo in French history. What they, and the rest of the world, learned was that Waterloo, Wisconsin-based Trek Bicycles was home of the Tour de France winning bicycle frame. Armstrong's two inspirational victories have catapulted the Midwestern bicycle manufacturer into the world consciousness by making it the first American bike frame to win the world's most prestigious bicycle race.

But the road to Tour de France glory was a long and challenging one. It is a journey that began as a five-person operation housed in a barn in Wisconsin 25 years ago, and became a multi-million dollar company with distribution in 65 countries and over 1500 employees worldwide. Trek's success is owed not to the advanced carbon fiber bicycle frames that were guided to victory the past two years, but rather to the people who led the company there.

When Armstrong had finished last year's Tour, he was confident that Trek engineers could create his ideal time trial bike. In September of 1999, Trek's Advanced Concept Group (ACG) in Wisconsin began working with Armstrong to define his goals and needs. Improved aerodynamics from the previous year's TT bike was the number one priority. Second was to lose some weight in the frame. Third was to devise a way that he could stay hydrated without losing the ideal aerodynamic position.

The biggest challenge would be to meet Armstrong's needs in time for the following year's Tour. Normally a new carbon fiber frame design would take 24 months to come to fruition. They had eight months to get a new time trial frame ready for Armstrong's title defense.

Trek knew that its flagship material, OCLV carbon fiber, would provide the ultimate foundation for Armstrong's dream TT bike because it could be molded into a frame with complex, aerodynamic shapes unattainable through welded materials. The patented OCLV stands for Optimum Compaction, Low Void. "Optimum Compaction" is the precise way in which Trek compresses carbon fibers into an optimum blend of carbon fiber and thermoset epoxy (essentially an advanced glue) matrix. "Low Void" represents the aerospace standard of minimizing spaces within the laminate structure to a level of 1% or less.

For the time trial frame, Trek turned to its new variant of carbon fiber, OCLV-HC. This "honeycomb" core of Nomex(r), sandwiched between two thin, OCLV carbon skins was used in the large, flat sections of the frame to shave nearly a half-pound off the frame's total weight to 3.5 pounds.

But aerodynamics is what is most important in a Time Trial bike. After extensive testing in the Texas A & M wind tunnel with aerodynamic specialist John Cobb, Trek engineers had pinpointed the areas where they could reduce the coefficient of air drag. The round seatpost was eliminated, and the foil-shaped seat tube was extended where the saddle would be directly attached. Tube shapes and their junctures were then blended to facilitate airflow, serving a similar purpose to the dimples on a golf ball.

The final obstacle was overcome in the form of a revolutionary hydration system. The trick was to find a way for Armstrong to drink without the drag increase resulting from reaching down for a water bottle. To keep him in the same aero position, Trek installed a water bladder into the downtube via the headset that could be accessed by a tube protruding through a hole in the head lug.

Final wind tunnel testing of the new USPS Team TT frame proved that the aero shape alone could save 10 to 15 seconds in a 40-kilometer time trial over last year's bike. If Armstrong used the hydration system, he could knock off another 10 seconds. Armstrong beat World Time Trial Champion Jan Ullrich in Stage 19 by 25 seconds for his lone stage win of this year's Tour.

But Trek engineers also had plans to improve upon Armstrong's everyday bike, the Trek 5200. The frame design that Armstrong had won last year's Tour aboard was now nine years old, a true testimonial that the technology was far ahead of its time. The biggest change to the 5200 is one that can't be seen by the naked eye. Trek engineers moved to a higher grade of carbon fiber, OCLV 120. The 120 stands for 120 grams of carbon fiber per square meter of material, versus the 150 grams in all previous Trek OCLV frames. The end result is a total frame weight of 2.4 lbs. Coupled with an increased diameter head tube that allows for a lighter fork, the new Trek 5200 frame and fork are 120 grams lighter than last year's. What may at first seem insignificant is greatly appreciated over a three-week torture test through the world's toughest terrain.

While testing new levels of carbon fiber for the 5200, Trek engineers discovered OCLV 110. With 110 grams of carbon fiber per square meter of material, OCLV 110 was used in the production of a frame and fork that Armstrong would use in the mountains at this year's Tour. To take it one step further, Trek saved an additional 60 grams on the frame by using a thin film of clear coat with a satin silver tint instead of paint. The result was the 5900 USPS Team Superlight, a frame that weighed 2.2 lbs., and a frame and fork weight savings of over a half-pound over last year's. With titanium screws and bolts and a carbon fiber seatpost, Armstrong cut the overall weight of his Superlight bike to less than fifteen pounds. A lightweight weapon that paid big dividends as he put nearly a four-minute lead on his rivals in the Pyrennes, the point in the race when he first took the Yellow Jersey that he would never relinquish.

In the end, Armstrong went into this year's Tour with three new bikes in his arsenal. All made in Waterloo-Wisconsin, and all the exact frames that consumers can by at local Trek dealers. Trek will use the OCLV 120 frameset on two models for the 2001 model year. The Trek 5200 will be available as a full bike in two color ways, including an USPS Team replica The 5900 USPS Team Superlight will be offered in both a full bicycle and as a frameset.

When Armstrong and his USPS teammates rode in the Champs Elysees victory parade this weekend with the Stars and Stripes draped over their shoulders, a small part of that victory was shared by a Wisconsin bicycle company.

Trek Bicycle Corporation has grown over the past 25 years from a five-man operation housed in a barn in Wisconsin, to a globally oriented company with distribution in 65 countries and over 1500 employees worldwide. The inspiration for Trek's full line of premium bicycles, components and accessories is born from the passion of the company's employees who remain invariably mindful of creating real bikes for real people. For more information about Trek Bicycles visit http://www.trekbikes.com .
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 23, 2000
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