First off, we'll answer the
oft-asked question- What does Lance ride?
In 2003, Trek embarked upon an ambitious project to give Lance the
absolute-best bike in the peloton. Up to that point his bikes had been
refinements of the original Trek carbon bike, the 5500, culminating in the
5900 (his "climbing" bike) that helped him destroy his competition at
Sestriere, and became his go-to bike for every important race after that. It
was a tough bike to improve upon, especially for a tough customer like
Lance! But after a whole lot of research & development, including extensive
wind tunnel testing, the Madone was unveiled for him at the '03 Tour de
France. And he rode it... in a few flat stages. Despite all the work that
had gone into proving to Lance that aerodynamics were important, Lance went
back to his slightly-lighter go-to bike, the 5900, for the most-critical
stages of the Tour de France, including the pivotal Luz Ardiden stage, where
a spectator's bag strap caused him to crash, after which he got back up and
rode away from everyone else to win the race.
Lance liked the improved lateral stiffness of the Madone, but the "aero"
version of the Madone wasn't as clean & simple & light as the 5900, which he
had an almost superstitious attachment to. So Trek engineers were left
scratching their heads and went to work figuring out how to make Lance the
perfect bike. It was simple, really... just get rid of the aero bits. No
"tailfin" behind the seat tube, no aero bulge on the downtube and voila, a
lighter, simpler bike that Lance took to immediately. These new bikes became
known as the "SL" (for "SuperLight") and "SSL" (for "SuperSuperLight"). From
a marketing standpoint, it was a bit of a disaster, since Trek strongly felt
that a bike with a bit more shape to it (the "aero" version) was going to
find more favor with the public, because it looked cooler. A deal was worked
out, where Lance would ride the "aero" version for flatter stages, and save
the "SL" and "SSL" bikes for the mountains... and, for a short bit of time,
that's what Lance did. A very short bit of time. He then went entirely to
the non-aero versions for just about all racing, while most of the rest of
the team rode the aero bikes. So, for 2004, the public could only buy the
aero Madone, while Lance rode to victory on his SSL prototype.
Trek is pretty conservative and sometimes stubborn; they believed that the aero Madone made a lot of sense, both from an aerodynamic
standpoint as well as aesthetic. They felt that the "SL" and "SSL" versions
look too "plain" for most customers... so they drastically limited the
availability of the non-aero versions of the Madone. That policy continued
from 2005 into 2006, but Chain Reaction did everything possible to
secure a steady supply of the "SL" and "SSL" versions, including the
almost-impossible-to-get 5.2 SL, their least-expensive Madone with the 110
gsm super-duper carbon tubing.
But getting back to what Lance rides, in 2005 Trek took the SSL, added a bit
of boron reinforcement to the bottom bracket area to make it stiffer, and
sent him out on what is now known as the SSLX. The weight is the same as
last year's SSL (although some of the reports in the press would have you
believe otherwise), but about $3000 more expensive. It's the absolute
ultimate road bike, and, truth be told, would not have existed were it not
for Lance... but for Lance, Trek will do just about anything. 2006 SSLX
bikes are already in stock at Chain Reaction, in limited sizes. When they're
gone, that's it, no more at any price.
Now getting back to what TREK has to offer you in 2005- (We're
into the '06 model year now, but most of this is still relevant. --Mike--
This page shows all current Trek carbon fiber
bikes with conventional road geometry. Missing are the new "Pilot" series
bikes, which have top tubes that rise at the front, allowing for a taller
handlebar height. We'll set up a page showing those shortly, as well as
describe why somebody might want a Pilot instead of one of the more
"conventional" bikes shown below (but, in brief, the Pilots will be
preferred by those who are looking for a more upright riding position, or
the ability to put a rack and fenders on their bike).
There are so many more models this year than last that we've put together a
chart, at the bottom of this page, showing the various options at a glance.
It's still pretty confusing though; Trek increased their different carbon
offerings by over 200% from 2004 to 2005!
WHY YOU MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO BUY ONE OF THESE BIKES-
Unfortunately, production hasn't
come close to keeping up with demand, resulting in massive shortages of the
most-popular models. By mid-April, Trek owed Chain Reaction 72 (yes,
seventy-two) 5.2SLs from orders dating as far back as October '04. We are,
slowly, getting some of that product. But we've been told that large-scale
deliveries would commence shortly... in December, in February, and again in
early March. And we told customers that, as did other shops, because that's
the information we had. As a result, there's been a loss of credibility
between shops and customers, and we sincerely regret that this has happened,
but I can assure you that (in most cases), when your local shop told you
they'd have a Madone in 3 weeks and that was two months ago and you're still
waiting, the shop wasn't trying to string you along. They had no way of
knowing that things would get so bad.
Not only that, but because Trek changed their computer system (during the
busiest time of the year), it has become almost impossible to track bikes
they actually have shipped to a dealer, so bikes sometimes suddenly show up
at the dealer's door without warning. We can't even call people to tell them
that, finally, their bike left the factory and they'll have it in 6 days.
We've literally lost sales of some of these bikes during that period...
customers giving up and buying a different bike, or perhaps seeing one at
another dealer where it may have arrived one day earlier...even though that
other dealer may not be the best place to get the bike from (less expertise
in fit & assembly, not as good taking care of things down the road, etc).
The customer just doesn't know when the original dealer will get the bike,
because they've been told so many stories.
My best advice is this- if you hear that another dealer actually has the
bike you're looking for, call up the dealer where you have it on order, and
have them call their inside rep to see if your bike is in-transit (which it
might be, as bikes are released in batches). If that's the case, sit tight
and very shortly you'll be having a great time on your new bike. If that's
not the case, then you need to think about the differences between the shops
and what made you choose them in the first place. If it's the quality of the
dealership, then you might want to sit tight, since you're going to have the
bike for a very long time, and the differences between one shop and the next
can have a lot to do with how much you'll enjoy and even use the bike down
YOU'VE FOUND THE
RIGHT BIKE- NOW WHAT?
You've found your bike...it's got the right features, feels
great while riding, etc. Now you need to get measured for
proper fit. The frame size on what you rode
might be correct... then again, it might not. At Chain
Reaction, we use the New England Cycling Academy's FitKit system,
which takes a series of measurements of the rider, to make sure we
have not only the correct frame size, but top-tube plus stem
distance (critically important and frequently ignored!),
seat-to-handlebar drop, seat height, handlebar width and
more. It's not a matter of how much clearance you have
standing over the frame! That might help get you in the
ballpark, but since the front-to-back distance of a frame changes
with size, your arm & torso measurements might dictate a frame
size different than standover height might indicate.
Please note that, in the majority of cases, the stem length on
the bike will need to be changed. This isn't a big deal if
the shop sells a lot of road bikes...they'll have the various
stems in stock and ready to go. I would suggest that any
shop not willing to swap the stem for proper fit on a road bike
may not be a good place to buy one! In most cases, there
should be no charge for a stem swap, but there will be times where
you have to go to a stem that might cost a bit more, or perhaps
because it's a lot higher they might need to replace several
cables & housings, which definitely takes a lot of time.
In those cases, you could expect to pay a small amount of money to
cover the difference and/or the labor involved.
Fortunately, at Chain Reaction we have such a tremendous number
of road bikes in stock that there's rarely an issue getting
someone set up with exactly the right size bike, right then and
there. But Chain Reaction, with over 300 road bikes in stock
at any one time, is not exactly typical, so don't be surprised if
getting the proper fit involves waiting for one to come in.
It will be worth the wait, especially if the alternative is a bike
that doesn't feel quite right because the fit's wrong. If
your local shop doesn't have a zillion road bikes in stock, that's
not necessarily an indication that they're not serious about road
bikes...could be they just don't have such a highly-developed road
bike market like we do in the SF Bay Area, and can't afford to
have a huge number of bikes sitting around, waiting for you.
Not a problem for us...the number of road bikes we sell would make
most shops heads spin.
Chain Reaction sells bicycles & accessories
from Trek, Gary Fisher, BikeFriday,Shimano, Pearl Izumi, Continental, Descente,
Sidi, Giro, Blackburn, Speedplay, Oakley, Saris, NiteRider, Bontrager,
Torelli, Look, DeFeet, Rock N Roll, Hammer, Cytomax,
Powerbar, Fox, Clif
Bar, CamelBak, Chris King, Profile Design, Craft, X-Lab and many more!