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Hexcel Composites for TREK SSL Bike

  • Friday, 30th July 2004
  • Reading time: about 3 minutes

Lance Armstrong recently completed a record setting sixth victory in the 2004 Tour de France with the help of carbon fibre materials.

Hexcel Corporation congratulates Lance Armstrong on his record setting sixth victory in the Tour de France on the Trek SSL bike made with Hexcel’s HexPly carbon prepreg. Hexcel materials have been utilized by Trek on all of the bicycles used by Mr. Armstrong in each of his six Tour de France victories.

David E Berges, Hexcel’s Chairman, CEO and President said, “”Everyone at Hexcel salutes Lance Armstrong on his tremendous victory today. Our organization is excited to have been involved with and contributed to his historic winning streak in the world’s most challenging cycling event. The lightweight Hexcel materials developed for the Trek SSL bicycle are just another example of our Company’s efforts to bring space age materials down to earth to improve the performance of all athletes, from world champions like Lance Armstrong to weekend warriors.””

Hexcel has worked in collaboration with Trek to develop one of the lightest bikes in the Tour de France. The weight of the bike is an important factor in winning such a race which lasts more than 3 weeks and includes challenging stages ascending and descending steep mountain passes.

The Time Trial is also an important stage when gains can be made over competitors, a speciality of the US Postal team. For Lance Armstrong’s time trial up the 21 switch backs of the famed Alpe d’Huez climb, Trek created a customised SSL (Super, Super Light) bike incorporating Hexcel’s HexPly lightweight carbon prepreg designed for use on space satellites.

The new HexPly carbon prepreg, weighing just 55 gsm (grams per square meter), is half the weight of the material used in other US Postal team bikes.

Trek has progressively lowered the wheel weight by reducing the weight of the individual prepreg plies – from 150gsm, to 120gsm, then 110gsm culminating in only 55gsm. Hexcel has continually provided Trek with new products that reduce weight while pushing the performance edge.

With Hexcel’s composite materials the SSL bike weighs in at only 14.99 pounds (6.8 kg), the minimum allowable under international rules.

Hexcel is one of a few carbon fibre companies supplying Trek with carbon fibre material for the SSL bike. They are however the sole provider of the OCLV 55 material which is used in the Trek Madone SSL bike.

This material uses a carbon fibre lay-up process that is according to Trek, “far more meticulous and challenging than that we use for any other OCLV frame we build,””. And if the stress tests on the Madone SSL showed that OCLV 55 wasn’t the optimum material, Trek used OCLV 110 to enhance durability.

This bike was made exclusively for Lance Armstrong for the Alpe d’Huez stage of the Tour de France and as a run up to that event he raced it in three stages of the Dauphine Libere. Unfortunately, when it came time to use the bike for the Alpe d’Huez stage, at the last momenmt Lance decided to use his Madone SL – made from 110 gsm carbon, because the SSL was setup with an aero bar which Lance opted not to use.

According to Zapata Espiniza of Trek, “Lance loved these wheels and the reduced rotational weight they provided over the already light OCLV 110 Bontrager Race XXX Lite wheels that he used on a daily basis.””

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