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Tech feature - January 10, 2005

Discovery's Voyagers: Bringing the Discovery Channel team bike to life

Just to make sure everything goes where it's supposed to, Trek's graphics applicator had a special instruction sheet to follow
Photo ©: Zapata Espinoza
Click for larger image

Cyclingnews spoke one-on-one with Trek brand manager Zapata Espinoza about the process that led to the birth of the new 2005 Trek/Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team Madone. European Editor Tim Maloney got the scoop on the bikes that we've affectionately coined 'Discovery's Voyagers'.

From his office in Waterloo, Wisconsin at Trek HQ, Espinoza began by telling Cyclingnews that "By now everybody knows the story of the Trek Madone... It was born in 2002 after Lance's fourth Tour win, developed with Armstrong in the wind tunnel - the Madone was designed to cut the wind. "Made from Trek's proprietary OCLV carbon fiber, we manufacture the Madone at Trek's factory in Waterloo, Wisconsin. In 2004, again as the official team bike of the U.S. Postal team, [the team] rode Madones to their winningest season ever. That's something we're very proud of at Trek."

So what sets the Trek Madone apart from previous team bikes?

"Lance," replies Espinoza. "After his Tour win in 2003, he came to Trek and asked for something faster. It took many hours in the wind tunnel for Trek engineers to come up with a new frame design that effectively saved a full minute over a 200k stage over previous frame designs. Beyond the aero attributes, the Madone also utilized a new one-piece head tube/ top tube that significantly stiffened the front triangle of the frame. This last attribute came to the fore when Lance was both putting the hammer down on fast downhills and when hammering for the finish sprints."

"Here's the Madone, fresh out of paint
Photo ©: Zapata Espinoza
Click for larger image
Further elaborating on the paint-jobs,
Photo ©: Zapata Espinoza
Click for larger image
What happens to the frames post-paint:
Photo ©: Zapata Espinoza
Click for larger image

In 2005, the Trek Madone 5.9 will once again be the official team bike, only now it's for the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team. Espinoza told Cyclingnews that "this process started soon after Lance took his sixth Tour win. Trek graphic designer Chad Bailey came up with a new eye-popping two-tone blue paint scheme that superbly off-sets the Discovery Channel and Trek graphics. Additional team sponsor logos of Shimano, AMD and Bontrager are also found on the frame. Besides the two-tone blue team Madone, there will also be a second color scheme used for the TTT and Madone SL team bikes used by Lance and a select group of his Discovery teammates."

Augmenting their wheels that US Postal has been using for several seasons, Bontrager will also provide stems, handlebars and saddles from the Bontrager Component and Wheelworks catalog, including: Race XXX Lite carbon stem, Race X Lite handlebar (the first time Lance will use a 31.8mm oversize bar) with BuzzKill handlebar inserts (utilizing Mathew's Harmonic Dampers), Grippy handlebar tape, water bottles and Race Lite and Race XXX Lite bottle cages (for road and climbing stages respectively).

For 2005, the team will be using an all-new Bontrager carbon wheel: the Race X Lite Aero, which replaces the aluminum Aero that has been the team spec wheel for years. For climbing stages, the riders will be using the lighter OCLV 120 Carbon Race XXX Lite wheel; naturally, Lance still has the one pair of ultra-light OCLV 55 rims that were made especially for last year's Alpe d'Huez time trial stage, so who knows if those hoops show up somewhere in the not-too-distant future!

Besides the Bontrager tires (the team is sponsored by Hutchinson), the only part on these spy-shots not to team spec is the Bontrager Race XXX Lite carbon seat post which will be replaced with a Shimano Dura-Ace post on the team road bikes (although both the Madone SL and TTT team bikes will use the Bontrager Race XXX Lite carbon seatpost). Bontrager also scored the saddle spec for the team, where they'll be riding high on both the 200 gram Race X Lite and the 145 gram Bontrager Race XXX Lite Pro.

"Trek is really excited about the 2005 season, especially because new riders to the team, like Tom Danielson and Paolo Savoldelli, have already been praising the Madone as the best bike they've ever ridden," says Espinoza.

For anyone licking their chops over the new Discovery colors... don't hold your breath!

Trek will continue to sell the USPS-themed Madone bikes throughout the year, with the Discovery-themed bike available as a 2006 model from Trek. Espinoza says that "the best paint option available to any potential Madone buyer is to run a frame through the expanded Trek Project One custom paint program. Among the many options, that's where you can score the coveted Plata Negra black flame scheme that Lance raced with in 2004."


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Zapata Espinoza/Trek USA

  • "Here's the Madone, fresh out of paint and waiting to get graphics applied, says Espinoza. "The bikes were getting rushed priority through our painting process so we could send them to the Solvang, CA. training camp to get built up before the riders arrived on Jan. 11th."
  • "Just to make sure everything goes where it's supposed to, says Espinoza, "our graphics applicator had a special instruction sheet to follow."
  • Further elaborating on the paint-jobs, Espinoza says "The Discovery team bikes had a dedicated person applying the wet slide graphics."
  • What happens to the frames post-paint: "After the first bike had been painted, dried, stickered and clear coated, it went to the Trek R&D lab where they started fitting brand new Shimano and Bontrager parts to the bike."
  • "Once assembled, Trek team liaison Scott Daubert began his fine tuning the bike to Discovery Channel chief wrench Julien Devries' exacting specs and to make sure everything was working in proper order."
  • "After all that", says Espinoza, "we parked the bike out across the street from the Trek factory in all of it's glory - the 2005 Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team Trek Madone 5.9. Except for the paint job (and team spec Chris King headset), the exact same bike is available at your local Trek dealer. Trek takes immense pride in not only hand-building every OCLV Carbon frame in our Wisconsin factory, but also in selling the same bikes we race - no custom bikes! If you ride a 58cm frame, you ca n ride the exact frame ridden by Lance; if it's a 62 cm, the same as George, and if you ride a 56cm, you'll be on the same bike that Eki rides!"
  • A very Bontrager-esque front end for the 2005 Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team bikes.
  • The two-tone blue paint scheme is nothing less than striking.
  • Old and new: the US Postal paint scheme (L) vs. the Discovery Channel paint-job.