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Pro bikes, May 9, 2007

Sylvain Calzati's Ag2r Prévoyance bTwin FC700

Photo ©:Shane Stokes/Cyclingnews.com

French class with Italian styling

By Gregor Brown in Herstal, Belgium

The smooth joints of the bTwin FC700
(Click for larger image)
Calzati's Deda Zero100 stem
(Click for larger image)
The name of Stage 9 Tour de France winner, Sylvain Calzati (Ag2r Prévoyance).
(Click for larger image)
Campagnolo's new Record brake calipers
(Click for larger image)
A fairly subtle head tube decal
(Click for larger image)

Fifth year pro Sylvain Calzati relied on the bTwin Full Composite 700 (FC 700) to get him through the 93rd Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Things didn't go quite as well as the 25 year-old rider had hoped as he finished 15 minutes down on winner Danilo Di Luca, but perhaps he was thinking more of the upcoming Tour de France where he put his name (and the name of bTwin) into the lights with a solo victory during last year's stage 8 to Lorient. The bike that he used on that day was much the same as the one he is using in the early part of 2007.

France-based bTwin is better known for its production of non-racing bikes but has been in the game for some time nevertheless. In fact, parent company Decathlon was the official bicycle supplier of Ag2r back in 2005. What catches the eye immediately on the FC700 is the hard-edged industrial styling of the carbon fiber tubes and the bulbous juncture of the seat tube and top tube. bTwin uses T700 high modulus fibres to impart stiffness to its top-end machine but also a healthy dose of Kevlar fibres to absorb vibrations.

bTwin passes on the currently en vogue integrated seatpost in favor of a slightly extended conventional seat tube. Although used on mountain bike frames for years to impart additional seatpost support, the concept is still almost completely unknown to the road arena. Regardless, that standout feature on the FC700 is intended to yield the same increased fore-aft rigidity to the rider's perch as an integrated design but without its associated practical drawbacks.

bTwin capitalizes on its French connections with the 390g Time-built Monobloc full carbon fork, but the rest of Calzati's machine is almost entirely Italian. Campagnolo dresses the frame with a full Record group, including the QS front derailleur, 10-speed carbon rear derailleur, and Ergopower integrated levers. The gem of the group is arguably the new Ultra-Torque crankset,a two-part system joined in the middle of the bottom bracket spindle via a unique Hirth spline borrowed from the automotive world.

Seating and cockpit components are also sourced from Italy, including the matching Campagnolo Record carbon fiber seatpost, fi'zi:k Aliante saddle, and a Deda Newton handlebar (with shallow, traditionally shaped drops) mated to the company's newest Zero100 stem.

Although already reasonably light at 7.35kg (16.2lb), Calzati's FC700 could still stand to shed some mass before hitting the cols of this year's Grand Tours and bTwin is apparently already working on a special model for such occasions. "Last year bTwin created a frame for the climbs but the riders were not happy because it was too stiff and they went back to the regular machines," noted an Ag2r Prévoyance team mechanic on the night before Liège.

This year bTwin will make a second attempt at creating a climbing-specific bike that will hopefully provide greater comfort levels than the first iteration. According to that same mechanic, "[bTwin] is working on that now. The frame should be ready for testing in the Giro d'Italia and Dauphiné Libéré."

Calzati's Italian teammate, Rinaldo Nocentini, will help provide feedback to bTwin for the eventual Tour de France model and may be aboard a prototype machine when he lines up for the Giro d'Italia on May 12 in Sardegna.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com

Images by Shane Stokes/Cyclingnews.com

Full specification

Frame: 2007 bTwin Full Composits 700
Fork: Time Monobloc carbon

Critical measurements
Rider's height: 1.78m (5'10") Rider's weight: 63kg(139lb)
Seat tube length, c-c: 500mm
Seat tube length, c-t:
Saddle height, from BB center to top: 750mm
Tip of saddle nose to C of bars:
C of front wheel to top of bars:
Top tube length:

Crankset: Campagnolo Record Ultra-Torque, 172.5mm, 53/39T
Chain: Campagnolo Record Ultra-Narrow
Front derailleur: Campagnolo Record QS 9s/10s
Rear derailleur: Campagnolo Record
Brakes: Campagnolo Record
Levers: Campagnolo Record QS Ergopower 10s
Rear sprockets: Campagnolo Record
Bottom bracket: Campagnolo Record Ultra-Torque


Wheelset: Campagnolo Hyperon Ultra - 22/24 spokes F/R
Tyres: Michelin Pro² Race Service Course 700x23c

Handle bars: Deda Newton Shallow (31.7mm), 43cm (c-c)
Stem: Deda Zero100, 130mm


Pedals: Time RXS Carbon
Seat post: Campagnolo Record Carbon
Saddle: fi'zi:k Aliante
Bottle cages: Elite carbon
Computer: Mafac M15

Total bike weight: 7.35kg (16.2lb)