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Pro bikes, February 6, 2006

Allan Davis' Liberty Seguros - Würth BH Global Concept

Photo ©: Mark Gunter/Cyclingnews

Global challenge

By Anthony Tan

"The best bike mechanic in the world"
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Swiss-based firm Oval Concepts
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The stylised 'M' logo
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The seat tube cluster
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Curved seatstays
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Corima's carbon wheels
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Selle San Marco Aspide saddle
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Ask "the best bike mechanic in the world" (according to his peers) Faustino Muņoz 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 is "Everything."

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 of equipment.

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."

Muņoz 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.

Muņoz 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 Muņoz.

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 Muņoz 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," Muņoz 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.

Muņoz 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

Images by Mark Gunter/www.pbase.com/gunterphotograph


Full specification

Frame: 2005 BH Global Concept
Fork: BH Global Concept carbon
Colour: Liberty Seguros - Würth

Critical measurements
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
Headset: BH

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