By Anthony Tan
"The best bike mechanic
in the world"
Swiss-based firm Oval Concepts
The stylised 'M' logo
The seat tube cluster
Corima's carbon wheels
Selle San Marco Aspide
Ask "the best bike mechanic in the world" (according to his peers)
Faustino Muñoz what's been the biggest changes since the Liberty Seguros
- Würth team took on the BH brand two years ago, and the reply one receives
As with the Giant bikes the team used to ride when the squad was known
as O.N.C.E., team manager Manolo Saiz gets very seriously involved with
the design of both the road and time trial machines, including choice
Whether it's coincidence or not, it's interesting that the Giant's
latest offering, their Advanced LE as ridden by Jan Ullrich, looks very
similar to the model now coming out of the BH factory in Vitoria, located
in northern Spain. Asked if there's any affiliation between the two
brands, I'm greeted with a "How dare you?" stare, followed by an terse
response: "No, nothing to do with each other."
Muñoz then quickly goes back to his business of tweaking the team's
machines before the opening criterium in Adelaide, which marks the unofficial
start of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under - but not before telling
us rather snappishly we're banned from taking measurements of the bike.
I spot former O.N.C.E. rider Neil Stephens wandering around the Tour
Village directly opposite the Adelaide Hilton, so I nab 'Stevo' for
a few minutes to help out with the translation, given my Spanish is
rather, well, 'poco'. Stevo's moving into a full-time position with
the Liberty Seguros - Würth team this year, acting as a public relations
manager of sorts; no doubt his time as a professional cyclist, fluency
in four languages and close connections within Spanish cycling has made
him a valuable asset. Hopefully he can diffuse the tension between me
and the rather protective Faustino.
Stevo's always been a bit of a joker, and can't help himself as I ask
him to tell me a little bit about Allan Davis' BH Global Concept. "Well,
it's got two wheels, handlebars, seat, keeps your arse off the ground...
I thank Stevo for these amazing revelations about this Spanish super-bike,
and he goes on to tell me the team at the JCTDU is still riding on last
year's bikes. "It's just logistics, but Allan's bikes and all the other
bikes still run perfectly," he says.
Muñoz isn't prepared to give some hack like me finer details of this
year's model, but does say they'll be little change to the current road
bikes. It looks as if he's about to pull out some 70s dance moves, but
Stevo later explains to me that he was explaining that the time trial
frames are going hand over fist in terms of development. "They're just
going ahead all the time and there's a lot more to do [in terms of improvement
of efficiencies]. The modifications with the road bikes are less dramatic,
but these bikes are right out there, anyway," says a proud-looking Muñoz.
My colleague Les Clarke and I weigh a few of the bikes inside the Tour
Village, and Alby's BH comes in right on the UCI limit of 6.8 kilograms
- well below Daniel Becke's Colnago Cristallo and Thor Hushovd's Look
585 that both fell over the eight kilo mark. This pleases Muñoz no end,
and for the first time this morning, I see a smile.
So just how close to perfect are these machines, then?
"Technically, this is a perfect bike," Muñoz says. "The frame and the
parts on the bike, it's a remarkably good functional bike and technically
100 percent. But in my opinion, this is a 75 percent perfect bike -
the last 25 percent are aesthetics, and I would present it differently.
Muñoz adds that Saiz's team has always been special, the guys on the
team are special, and the bikes are also - you guessed it - special.
"They've broken the norm, but they're not happy just to stay there.
That's the challenge."
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Frame: 2005 BH Global Concept
Fork: BH Global Concept carbon
Colour: Liberty Seguros - Würth
Rider's height: 173 cm/ 5'8"; Weight: 60 kg/ 132 lbs
C of BB to C of seat tube: N/A
C of BB to T of seat tube: N/A
C of BB to T of seat: N/A
Top tube length (C-C): N/A
Tip of saddle nose to C of bars: N/A
C of front wheel to top of bars: N/A
Cranks: FSA Superlight carbon, 172.5mm, 53/39
Chain: Campagnolo Record 10 speed
Front derailleur: Campagnolo Record Ti 10 speed
Rear derailleur: Campagnolo Record Ti/ carbon 10 speed
Brakes: Campagnolo Record
Levers: Campagnolo Record 10 speed
Rear sprockets: Campagnolo Record 10 speed, 11-23
Rim: Corima carbon
Tyres: Hutchison, 23mm
Bar: Oval Concepts carbon 31.8mm, 44cm (O-O)
Stem: Oval Concepts aluminium, 44cm
Pedals: Look KeO
Seat post: Integrated with frame
Saddle: Selle San Marco Aspide
Bottle cages: Tacx
Cycle computer: Sigma Sport
Total bike weight: 6.8 kg/ 15 lbs