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Pro bikes, April 29, 2007

Frank Schleck's CSC Cervélo SLC-SL

Photo ©: Shane Stokes/Cyclingnews.com

Black Beauty

By Shane Stokes

Dimpled hubs
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)
The stem is by FSA, the OS 115.
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)
The Vitoria Corsa EVO tubulars
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)
Pedals are by Speedplay
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)
As defending champion,
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

Frank Schleck lined out at the start of Amstel Gold as the defending champion, and was highly motivated to defend his title in the ProTour event. Although the CSC rider crashed during the race and lost a lot of time, he remounted, successfully chased back on to the bunch and finished tenth. That energy expenditure doubtlessly cost him on the tough finale, but the final result confirmed he was in top form.

Schleck was suffering from badly bruised ribs in the days after the crash but nevertheless finished seventh in Fléche Wallonne, just 16 seconds behind winner Davide Rebellin.

Providing his recovery continues at a decent rate, he will therefore line out in Sunday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège as one of the big favourites for the win. Apart from that strong form coupled with the talent which won him Amstel and the Alpe d'Huez stage of last year's Tour de France, he will also have another thing going for him in the race: his bike.

Schleck will be using Cervélo's enticing SLC-SL carbon fibre frame, which the manufacturers say strikes the best possible combination of aerodynamics and weight. Billed as a new and improved version of the award-winning Cervélo Soloist Carbon, Schleck received a prototype for last year's Tour and used it on the victorious road to l'Alpe d'Huez.

Cervélo had already billed the Soloist Carbon as an extremely aerodynamic bicycle but it says that there are clear improvements with the SLC-SL. Firstly, it is 200 grams lighter, thanks to the careful placing and orientation of the carbon fibre, using greater amounts where it is needed most while saving in other areas. Despite that, the company claims that the stiffness in the bottom bracket and the torsion have been increased by 5-10% over the Soloist Carbon.

Cervélo also says that the aerodynamics have been improved by tweaking the tube shape. One of the biggest changes is the shape of the headtube airfoil section and the way it blends in with the downtube and toptube. It says these changes mean that the new frame is both lighter and faster.

The company is certainly convinced that it has a winning formula. According to its own website, "because of the aerodynamic advantages, the regular Soloist Carbon was already the fastest bike in most situations, if not quite the lightest. The SLC-SL puts an end to any uncertainty in this regard, and it combines its aerodynamics with such a low weight [less than 1000 grams] that it is clearly the best choice in any terrain."

The weight claims are accurate: despite its aero profile, Schleck's bike tips the scales at 6.9 kilos, just 100 grams over the UCI weight limit. It is kitted out with an Alpha Q GS-10 Nanotech fork, which uses nanotech technology to maximise the weight-to-strength ratio. The two are joined with a FSA integrated headset and held in place by a 130 mm FSA OS-115 stem, which is in turn mated to 42 (c to c) FSA Energy traditional-shape handlebars.

Like all the CSC bikes, Schleck's Cervélo is kitted out with Shimano Dura Ace components. This covers STI shifters, front and rear mechs, the chain and brakes. The seatpin is Cervélo's aero post, constructed to mimic the aerofoil shape of the seat tube and thus further the aerodynamic benefits. His saddle of choice is a Selle Italia SLR.

Power transmission is via FSA's K-Force Light hollow carbon chainset, mounted on a hollow-axle FSA bottom bracket and using Speedplay Titanium pedals. The Dura Ace chain gets the oomph down to the steel/titanium rear cassette, which for the Amstel Gold (and, most likely, Liège-Bastogne-Liège) featured 11-23 sprockets.

CSC is once again using Zipp wheels, continuing a long partnership. Schleck's model is the deep section 404 wheelset, complete with dimpled hubs to further boost aero properties. A pair of 290 tpi Vittoria Corsa Evo-CX 23c tubulars has been glued on and, with a maximum inflation pressure of 200 psi, will be rock hard on race days.

The striking-looking bike is finished off with Tacx Tao bottle cages and a Sigma Team 1106 computer. And, of course, with one of the quickest riders in the peloton. The bike will certainly be in tip-top shape today; if Schleck is the same way, he should be right up there scrapping it out for a win in La Doyenne.

Photos

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Shane Stokes/Cyclingnews

Full specification

Frame: Cervélo SLC-SL
Fork: Alpha Q GS-10 Nanotech

Critical measurements
Rider's height: 1.86m Rider's weight: 67kg
Seat tube length, c-c: 470mm
Seat tube length, c-t:
520mm
Saddle height, from BB center to top: 765mm
Tip of saddle nose to C of bars:
595mm
C of front wheel to top of bars:
555mm
Top tube length:
545mm (sloping)
Crankarm length: 172.5mm

Crankset: FSA SLK (labeled as K-Force Light), 39/53T
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace CN-7801
Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace FD-7800
Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace RD-7800-SS
Brakes: Shimano Dura-Ace BR-7800
Levers: Shimano Dura-Ace STI Dual Control ST-7800
Rear sprockets: Shimano Dura-Ace CS-7800, 11-23T
Bottom bracket: FSA

 

Wheelset: Zipp 404 ceramic tubular
Tyres: Vittoria Corsa Evo-CX 23c tubular [290 tpi, inflate up to 200 psi]

Handle bars: FSA Energy traditional, 420mm (c-c)
Stem: FSA OS-115, 130mm
Headset: FSA Integrated
Tape: Cervélo/CSC branded bar tape

Pedals: Speedplay Zero Titanium
Seat post: Cervélo
Saddle: Sigma Team 1106
Bottle cages: Tacx Tao
Computer: SRM

Total bike weight: 6.9kg (15.2lb)