The Trek TTX: Lance Armstrong's Tour de France special designed using computational fluid dynamics
By Mike Hanlon
July 22, 2005
UPDATED July 23, 2005 NEW IMAGES With a resting heart-rate of 32 beats per minute and six victories in the month-long, 3500 kilometre Tour de France cycling race, Lance Armstrong almost qualifies as a Gizmo in his own right. He’s always the one to watch in the event because he has always proven the most competitive in the two stages that are the most distinctive and demanding: the climbing and time trial stages. Armstrong excels when race conditions allow superior talent to shine through. As Armstrong lined up for his final Tour de France, Trek, the company that has supplied his bikes in each of his famous victories, delivered two special machines: the Madone SSLx climbing bike and the TTX time trial machine. Both are lighter, stiffer and faster than anything the company has built before.
Trek has supplied Lance with an array of OCLV Carbon-fiber race bikes and as with every other bike Lance has raced, the Trek TTX was developed with the aid of hours of wind tunnel testing. However, the TTX was the first bike he has raced built with the aid of computational fluid dynamics (CFD). Trek’s CFD process has not only taken hours out of the development process, but it has also empowered the company’s designers and engineers with the most accurate tool yet to produce cutting-edge frames that will cut through the air and shave seconds off the clock.
Due to its prototype nature, less than a handful of new TTX frames have been made available for this year's Tour de France. The bike was designed for Armstrong and due to the allotted development time, only a single size (medium) frame mould was made. Team riders not aboard the TTX will continue to use the Trek TTT bike.
Starting with the OCLV Carbon that was first developed in 1992, Trek engineers created a purpose-built derivative with OCLV Honey Comb. OCLV HC sandwiches a layer of Nomex honeycomb between two layers of OCLV carbon. This sandwich-like construction provides a large increase in wall rigidity, similar to using a very thick section of carbon. However, the honeycomb layer is essentially hollow. The result is a very rigid structure with low weight. Since rigidity prevents the fibers from moving out of alignment in the laminate, OCLV HC also provides a high level of strength per weight.
Few bikes enjoy the winning pedigree of the original Trek TTT which has graced the top step of the podium at every form of cycling sport from the Olympic track and road, Tour de France stages and in world championship Ironman competition and the TTX is the next development of the TTT, built using even more advanced frame science and material technology.
One difference between the TTX and the TTT is that the former has a 15 mm longer top tube which translates into a longer wheelbase. This geometry change was made to increase the bike's straight line stability. Following his first race on the bike in the Dauphine Libere prologue, Lance called Trek and said simply, "It rolls like a Rolls Royce!"