Tour tech 2010: Trek launch Madone 6 Series SSL

Flagship models lose weight for 2011 + technology trickles down Madone ranges

by Mat Brett   July 5, 2010  

Trek are making a new superlight version of their top-level 6 Series Madone for 2011 – the Madone 6 Series SSL drops 100g to bring the weight down to an incredibly feathery 815g (in a 56cm model with the lightest finish).

They’ve managed this by taking 50g off the actual frame, another 30g in lighter paintwork, and the final 20g by using Cane Creek’s crazy-light AER upper headset assembly.

Trek reckon that the reduction in frame weight doesn’t affect the Madone’s rigidity or durability because they’re using a new aerospace-grade OCLV (Optimum Compaction, Low Void) HexSL carbon fibre.

“OCLV HexSL is really a game-changing material,” said Trek Road Product Engineer Chris Pomering. “Before this material’s culmination we had to use two, sometimes three different layers of carbon to get the same strength and performance that we get from just one layer of OCLV HexSL.”

Trek claim that OCLV HexSL is virtually as stiff as high modulus carbon fibre, but over four times stronger with twice the elongation properties. All of the other technologies that Trek used on their top-end Madone last year remain unchanged, including the super-wide BB90 botttom bracket, E2 tapered head tube and fully internal cable routing.

The SSL will be available as a frameset option (frame, forks, headset and seatmast), with Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 and in-house Bontrager Race XXX Lite carbon clincher wheels as the Madone 6.9 SSL, and with Bonty Race X Lite alloy wheels as the 6.7 SSL.

Lance Armstrong has got one already, obviously, emblazoned in Livestrong livery and the odd RadioShack logo. This is going to be his main weapon of choice in the Tour de France, complete with pimped up SRAM Red groupset components.

The rest of RadioShack are on them too, and Jani Brajkovic racked up the first win on the new chasis when he took the overall victory at the Tour of Dauphine in June.

“At the start of last year’s Tour, we unveiled a technological milestone for our company, the Madone 6 Series.,” said Trek Road and Tri Product Manager Tyler Pilger. “For 2011, we’ve refined our design and manufacturing process even further. The result is a frame so light we decided to bring back our SSL designation – one we save for bikes that offer truly revolutionary light-weight performance.”

The irony here is that the RadioShack team bikes, like many others in the pro-peloton already had to have weights added to them to bring them up to the required UCI limit.

Trek are offering the new Madone 6 Series in three different fit geometries. H1 is the lowest and most aerodynamic – the most racy option – the 56cm model coming with a 56cm effective top tube and a 14cm head tube.

The H2 has the same length top tube but the head tube is longer – 17cm on the 56cm model – for a slightly more upright ride position. And the H3 has a slightly shorter top tube and a head tube that’s, again, slightly lengthened – 55.4cm and 18.5cm respectively on the 56cm frame – for a more back-friendly position.

“There is a direct correlation between proper bike fit and peak performance,” said Trek Road and Tri Brand Manager Nick Howe. “With three distinct fit options, our 2011 Madone line will help more riders perform at their highest levels. Whether you’re looking for the most aero position, you prefer to sit as upright as possible, or anywhere in between, there’s a Madone that will fit you.”

The 2011 Madone 5 Series will benefit from trickle-down technology introduced in last year’s 6 Series, making the bikes more than 150g lighter than previous versions. So, the 5 Series front ends are a claimed 15% stiffer than before and you get increased vertical compliance for a smoother ride – 43% more, according to Trek.

The 5 Series kicks off with the 5.2 which comes with a Shimano Ultegra groupset and Bontrager Race wheels, and tops out with 5.9. This has a Ultegra/Dura-Ace components and Bonty Race Lite wheels. The 4 Series, on the other hand, remains largely unchanged.

We’ve no word yet on UK prices or availability. Watch this space..