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Pro bikes, May 18, 2009

Pro bike: Lance Armstrong's Astana Trek Equinox TTX SSL Giro d'Italia

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Photo ©: James Huang

Soaring through the expanses of space and time

By James Huang


Custom painted bikes have become the norm for Armstrong.
Photo ©: James Huang
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The top tube is level to reduce frontal area
Photo ©: James Huang
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…while a deeper HED H3D is installed out back.
Photo ©: James Huang
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The SRAM Red group is punctuated
Photo ©: James Huang
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Lance Armstrong (Astana) is racing not one, but two custom-finished Trek bicycles in his first appearance at the Giro d'Italia – and that's not counting spare bikes, either.

Armstrong's Trek Equinox TTX SSL was custom painted by artist Kenny Scharf with a space-age theme to go along with his usual 'Livestrong' and '1274' logos. Set on a black background are various stars and other celestial features along with a red figure streaking through the cosmos – perhaps a hopeful portent to the Texan's typically blistering performances against the clock assuming he can find his form in time.

Lying beneath the paint, however, is a standard medium-sized Trek Equinox TTX SSL frame with its deep-section down tube, seat tube and seat stays. The fork blades are naturally aero as well but also set widely apart to allow air to pass through more easily – a feature Trek claims shaves 0.1lb of drag by itself. Extensions behind the fork crown also help smooth airflow on to the down tube, which is also slightly dropped to transition more cleanly with the front wheel.

The horizontal top tube presents minimal frontal area to the wind but its unusually wide hourglass profile also adds stiffness to the front triangle. According to Trek, all too often aero bikes put too little emphasis on frame rigidity, leaving a whippy feel and vague handling – neither of which is good at time trial speeds.

Scharf also painted a rear Bontrager disc and deep-section Bontrager Aeolus 9.0 front tubular though Armstrong is famously careful in his wheel selection so it's anyone's guess at this point what he'll actually use. Historically, Armstrong has relied on the expertise of renowned wheel and aerodynamics guru Steve Hed based on the wind conditions of the particular day and the course details.

As pictured here, Armstrong's bike is equipped with a HED H3 three-spoke front – a long-standing design that is said to still be brutally fast depending on the conditions – and a newly developed H3D rear with a deeper 90mm profile that the company claims to be nearly as fast as a disc but with a lighter weight and better ride.

However, Armstrong will have an army of hoops at his disposal. Aside from the ones already mentioned, he may also choose from Bontrager's 65mm-deep Aeolus 6.5 or new 90mm-deep Aeolus 9.0.

Team sponsor SRAM is on hand in the form of a mostly-complete Red group, with notable exceptions being a hybrid Force/Red front derailleur and a Shimano chain. The Red crankset is also fitted with a more aerodynamic – and presumably stiffer – time trial chainring and Armstrong's 1090-R2C bar-end shifters also have a special bulbous shape that only he is using in this year's Giro. Thanks to their unique self-centering ratchet internals, the levers always return to their most slippery position – straight into the wind.

As always, Armstrong is also using Shimano SPD-SL pedals and his aero Bontrager Race XXX Lite TTX seatpost is topped with a Selle San Marco Concor Lite saddle – complete with a slightly trimmed nose to satisfy UCI guidelines for setback.

Total weight? A competitive 8.40kg (18.52lb).

Total cost? Priceless.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Full specification

Frame: Trek Equinox TTX SSL, size M
Fork: Bontrager Race XXX Lite TT w/ alloy steerer

Critical measurements
Rider's height: 177 cm (5' 10") ; Weight: 73kg (161lb)
Seat tube length, c-c: 518mm
Seat tube length, c-t: 580mm
Saddle setback: 55mm
Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 753mm
Tip of saddle nose to C of bars (next to stem): 562mm
Handlebar drop: 155mm
Head tube length: 115mm
Top tube length: 550mm

Front brake: SRAM Red w/ Bontrager carbon pads
Rear brake: SRAM Red w/ Bontrager carbon pads
Brake levers: Bontrager Race XXX Lite Aero
Front derailleur: SRAM Red w/ Force steel cage
Rear derailleur: SRAM Red
Shift levers: SRAM 1090-R2C Aero prototype
Cassette: SRAM OG-1090, 11-23T
Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace CN-7801
Crankset: SRAM Red, 175mm, 55/39T
Bottom bracket: SRAM Red GXP

Front Wheel: HED H3 tubular
Rear Wheel: HED H3D tubular
Front tyre: Hutchinson tubular
Rear tyre: Hutchinson tubular

Bars: Bontrager prototype, 42cm (c-c)
Stem: Bontrager Race X Lite, 90mm x -17º
Headset: Cane Creek IS-2
Tape/grip: Bontrager Race Lite Grippy tape

Pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace SPD-SL PD-7810
Seat post: Bontrager Race XXX Lite TTX
Saddle: Selle San Marco Concor Lite w/ shortened nose
Bottle cages: Trek Bat Cage
Computer: Trek Incite 9i

Total bike weight: 8.40kg (18.52lb)