For this evening's Bike at Bedtime we're heading back in time to check out Lance Armstrong's Trek Madone, designed by British artist Damien Hirst and ridden by Armstrong on the Champs Elysées at the 2009 Tour de France. This bike eventually sold for half a million dollars.
The original idea of this bike was to mark Lance Armstrong's return to cycling after initially retiring in 2005, and the selling price of this one-off creation makes it the most expensive bike in the world. It was one of seven of Armstrong's Trek bikes that went up for auction, which in total raised $1.3 million for LiveStrong. Many of these still feature in lists of the world's most expensive bikes.
Hirst is well known for a series of artworks in which dead animals are preserved and he made no exceptions to this recurring theme when designing Armstrong's Trek Madone.
Hirst used real butterfly wings lacquered onto the frame and said, "I wanted to use real butterflies and not just pictures of butterflies, because I wanted it to shimmer when the light catches it like only real butterflies do, and we were trying not to add any extra weight to the bike."
Unsurprisingly, the project attracted some negative attention, with some animal rights activists branding the use of real butterfly wings as 'barbaric'.
The Bontrager wheels also feature real butterfly wings. They're rim brake wheels which we don't see in the pro-peloton anymore.
Armstrong's Trek Madone was equipped with a SRAM Red groupset, their newest top-end road groupset at the time. SRAM launched its Red group in 2007 as the "lightest, fastest shifting, and most adjustable on the market."
The most recent SRAM groupset to be released is the Rival eTap AXS for road and gravel riding that sees most of the features of higher-level SRAM Red eTap AXS and SRAM Force eTap AXS – including wireless electronic shifting – at a more accessible price. It currently costs £1,448.00 at Sigma Sports.
Oslo, Norway. 1993 World Champs. Armstrong, the kid from Texas stuns Indurain and Chiappucci. How much history in a single photo... pic.twitter.com/uNCfCcok58
— Mihai Simion (@faustocoppi60) September 23, 2017
To say the least, a whole lot has happened in Armstrong's life story since the 2009 Tour de France. In 2013, he eventually confessed to doping during his career. You might have heard!
Armstrong has recently appeared back in cycling news due to Klaas Lodewyck, sports director at Remco Evenepoel’s Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team, comparing Evenpoel's determination to succeed with that of Lance Armstrong.
He said, “It may be a wrong comparison, but in terms of character I do see similarities between Remco and Lance."
As for the Trek Madone, the latest version is perhaps the most significant new bike to have been released this year thanks to its radical aero design. Trek have described it as the “fastest road race bike ever."
It was first spotted at the Dauphiné race by our intrepid road.cc reporters, used by the Trek-Segafredo team.
This is said to be the lightest ever disc brake Madone, about 300g lighter than the previous model. Trek claims a frame weight of just under 1,000g and a fork weight of just over 400g.The Madone SLR is compatible with electronic drivetrains only.
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What do you think has been the best Tour de France custom paint job? Let us know in the comments section below...
Emily is our track and road racing specialist, having represented Great Britain at the World and European Track Championships. With a National Title up her sleeve, Emily has just completed her Master’s in Sports Psychology at Loughborough University where she raced for Elite Development Team, Loughborough Lightning.
Emily is our go-to for all things training and when not riding or racing bikes, you can find her online shopping or booking flights…the rest of the office is now considering painting their nails to see if that’s the secret to going fast…