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Pro Bikes, June 21, 2007

Levi Leipheimer's Discovery Channel Trek Madone

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James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

New machines for the boys in blue

By James Huang in Annecy, France

Leipheimer "lives and dies" by his power meter
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SRM produced a custom-fit power meter
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The carbon fiber rear hub
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Trusty Shimano Dura-Ace pedals
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Leipheimer prefers the semi-traditional bend
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A Selle Italia SLR saddle
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Lots of zip-ties are required to secure the SRM sensor.
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Levi Leipheimer started off this season with a bang, winning the Tour of California in grand fashion by leading the race from start to finish, and rarely appearing to be in much difficulty. Later on at the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, however, Leipheimer kept within striking distance for most of the race but stomach ailments caused him to lose more than fourteen minutes on the hilly Stage 6 to Valloire. The defending champion sought to at least pull out a win on the final stage the next day with what appeared to be a successful late breakaway but an unfortunate crash while crossing a rain-slicked roundabout less than 4km from the finish ended his chances on the day.

With Ivan Basso now officially out of the picture as a result of his involvement with the Operación Puerto scandal, though, Leipheimer is now the undisputed leader of the team for the upcoming Tour de France. Leipheimer's Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré TdF warmup may not have gone quite as planned but he has still displayed solid form heading into the critical month of July, and team sponsor Trek has provided additional support in the form of all-new Madones.

Switching bikes mid-season (and shortly before a critical event) is never to be taken lightly, but according to team liaison Ben Coates, the response has been positive: "The feedback has been really good. They're not a hugely talkative bunch about stuff; you get an 'it's better', 'I like it', 'it's stiff', 'it descends nice'. At first, when we first gave one to Popovych, he was immediately like, 'it's better, I like it better than the old bike.' A couple of other guys, Levi included, said, 'well, I only have a little bit of time on one. I need to ride it some more before I really know, but I like it.' So, to bundle all of the comments I've gotten together, they say it's stiff, it descends really nice, it feels more lively on the climb, and it's more comfortable. If they didn't like it, I'd hear about it."

Leipheimer is certainly about to get plenty of more time on it in short order with the start of the Tour just over two weeks away but the new rig is already showing signs of being worn in nicely. Like the rest of the team, Leipheimer is fully committed to the use of a power meter in training and his home bike is equipped with a power meter supplied by team sponsor SRM. However, Leipheimer's race bike was also so-equipped at the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, a distinct change from years past.

For the most part, Leipheimer's power meter was a stock unit, but the wider and larger-diameter bottom bracket design on the new Madone frame required SRM to build a custom cover to clear the shell and other new Madone owners may be privy to the same technology sometime in the future. According to Coates, "I'm not sure what [SRM's] plans are for mass production, but with the advent of pressed-in bearings on the bottom bracket, and not from just us, they may have to."

Speaking of the frame, it is interesting to note that while the team frames are labeled as being the top-shelf Madone 6.9 machines, riders are actually competing aboard 'mid-level' models built with Trek's OCLV Black carbon fiber blends and lay-up schedules but that doesn't seem to be slowing any of them down much.

"We're within 40g of last year's super light [Madone SSL] 6.9 on the frame weight, but we saved some weight on the headset, bottom bracket, and seat mast. That's an aluminum steerer fork, and that just had to do with where we were at with qualification and needing to get the guys their bikes as well. The 6.9 will be produced in October so if everything goes well and the team has a new sponsor then they'll receive them in November or December. We won't be able to qualify the [OCLV] Red series frame until then so they're be racing the Black series frame for the Tour."

Some may view that as an indication that the Discovery Channel riders are at a technological disadvantage for the time being, but even the mid-level model of the new Madone is apparently a substantial enough improvement over last year's top model to justify the change for the elite level athletes, and Leipheimer's machine was not far off from the UCI weight limit anyway. For most, though, that really just means it's now even easier for everyday consumers to have the same equipment as their favorite Discovery Channel rider.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Full specification

Frame: Trek Madone 5.2 Pro, OCLV Black Series Carbon, 54cm
Fork: Bontrager Race XXX Lite with E2 aluminum steerer

Critical measurements
Rider's height: 1.7m (5'7"); Weight: 60kg (132lb)
Seat tube length, c-c: 455mm
Seat tube length, c-t: n/a
Top tube length: 539mm (horizontal)
Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 690mm
Saddle nose tip to C of bars: 570mm
C of front hub to top of bars: 523mm

Bottom bracket: Trek Madone proprietary, with Enduro cartridge bearings
Custom-built SRM Training System - Dura-Ace compatible standard, 172.5mm, 53/39T
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace CN-7801
Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace FD-7800
Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace FD-7800-SS
Brakes: Shimano Dura-Ace BR-7800
Levers: Shimano Dura-Ace STI Dual Control ST-7800
Rear sprockets: Shimano Dura-Ace CS-7800, 12-25T


Wheelset: Bontrager Race XXX Lite 55 tubular
Tyres: Hutchinson tubular

Bars: Bontrager Race XXX Lite, 42cm (c-c)
Stem: Bontrager Race XXX Lite
Headset: Cane Creek custom
Tape/grip: Bontrager Race Lite Grippy Tape

Pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace SPD-SL PD-7810
Seat post: Trek Madone integrated, short length, 20mm offset
Selle Italia SLR
Bottle cages: Bontrager Race XXX Lite
Computer: SRM
Other accessories: Shimano Dura-Ace quick-release skewers

Total bike weight: 7.03kg (15.5lb)