Photo ©:Shane Stokes/Cyclingnews.com
French class with Italian styling
By Gregor Brown in Herstal, Belgium
The smooth joints of the
Calzati's Deda Zero100
The name of Stage 9 Tour
de France winner, Sylvain Calzati (Ag2r Prévoyance).
Campagnolo's new Record
A fairly subtle head tube
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
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.
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