Pro bike: Fabian Cancellara's Leopard Trek Madone 6-Series SSL Paris-Roubaix

By James Huang, tech editor in Belgium | Saturday, April 9, 2011 5.00am

Swiss powerhouse Fabian Cancellara has already won Paris-Roubaix twice but if he were to do what most people expect of him on Sunday, it'll not only be his third cobblestone but the first one for American bicycle brand Trek – and the company is definitely very eager to add this long-elusive monument to its trophy case.

Trek has supplied Cancellara with the Team Issue Madone 6-Series SSL – essentially the same as what consumers can already purchase but subtly tweaked to better handle the rigorous demands of the pavé.  Trek team liaison Ben Coates wouldn't go into specifics but based on what Trek has done in the past (and our own measurements), company engineers have increased the chain stays, fork length, and rake by a few millimeters, lending extra tire clearance all around and more stable footing on the cobbles. 

Team bikes also get experimental rear derailleur hangers machined from hardened steel.  The stiffer material not only improves shift performance slightly but also makes it more likely that Cancellara's bike will still be in tune after a crash – albeit with a minor weight penalty and the increased likelihood of dropout damage in a really bad wreck. 

Trek team liaison ben coates says fabian cancellara (leopard trek) prefers the mechanical version of shimano's dura-ace group for the cobbled classics.: trek team liaison ben coates says fabian cancellara (leopard trek) prefers the mechanical version of shimano's dura-ace group for the cobbled classics.

Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) prefers the mechanical version of Shimano's Dura-Ace group for the cobbled classics.

Speaking of shifting, Cancellara has passed over Shimano's ultra-techy Dura-Ace Di2 electronic group for the cobbled classics despite the benefits of weatherproof adjustments and optional bar top-mounted satellite shifters.  Coates says Cancellara simply prefers the mechanical setup for the cobbles (and neither he nor team mechanic Roger Theel would elaborate further) but other Shimano-sponsored mechanics we spoke to suggested that the Di2 system could occasionally get "confused" on especially bumpy sections of pavé if the system is anything but perfectly adjusted – tough to say at this point if that conclusion is real or perceived but we'll bring you more on this situation as we get additional information.

Nevertheless, Cancellara's Dura-Ace setup was suitably hopped up with Shimano's rarely seen Yumeya package, including gold-anodized titanium hardware all around, milled-out and polished aluminum brake pad holders, and lighter-weight YM-SP91 housing plus Teflon-coated cables.

Bontrager's new team issue saddle uses a similar shape to the company's old rxl model but with a few updates based on more recently collected data, a carbon fiber shell, titanium rails, and extra-firm padding.: bontrager's new team issue saddle uses a similar shape to the company's old rxl model but with a few updates based on more recently collected data, a carbon fiber shell, titanium rails, and extra-firm padding.

Bontrager's new Team Issue saddle uses a similar shape to the company's old RXL model

Much of the rest of Cancellara's bike is filled out using bits from Trek's in-house component and accessory arm, Bontrager, including the old-style anatomic-bend aluminum Race Lite handlebar, a long 140mm Race XXX Lite molded carbon fiber stem, bar tape, and a traditionally shaped Team Issue saddle recently developed using feedback from the Leopard Trek team. 

According to Bontrager soft goods brand manager Tom Kuefler, the new Team Issue perch uses a similar shape to the company's old RXL model but updated with a carbon shell, new titanium rails, and extra-firm padding based on rider requests. 

Bontrager's new carbon tubular wheelsets - one with a 50mm profile and another with a 36mm one - are very wide, measuring roughly 25mm across.: bontrager's new carbon tubular wheelsets - one with a 50mm profile and another with a 36mm one - are very wide, measuring roughly 25mm across.

New Bontrager 50mm carbon rims

Interestingly, Cancellara's bike was fitted with Bontrager's ultralight Race XXX Lite shallow-profile carbon tubular wheels when we went to visit the team hotel two days before the race –more commonly seen on alpine stages of grand tours and something veteran mechanic Julien DeVriese never would have allowed at RadioShack, said Coates.  However, Coates says that extensive testing by the team on the Roubaix cobbles has demonstrated their surprising toughness – though the massive 27mm-wide FMB Paris-Roubaix tubulars surely help, too.

Cancellara has a second set of Bontrager prototype carbon tubulars at his disposal if he chooses to use them on Sunday: a shallower version of the 50mm-deep prototypes we've previously spotted in the Leopard Trek camp.  These share the extra-wide profile (roughly 25mm across), rounded nose, and blunt edges specifically engineered for impact resistance but with a shallower 36mm profile. 

Coates wouldn't speculate which wheels Cancellara would use during the race but he did stress that neither of the new designs are simply rebadged rims from Zipp, HED, or anyone else.  Instead, he says they're the result of the company's own exclusive in-house research and development including numerous passes over the Roubaix cobbles and lots of high-speed camera work to learn more about what exactly happens to wheels during impacts (something Zipp also said it did during development of its groundbreaking 303).

Leopard trek mechanic roger theel trims the edges of the friction tape applied to one of the team's bottle cages.: leopard trek mechanic roger theel trims the edges of the friction tape applied to one of the team's bottle cages.

Friction tape on the bottle cages

Finishing touches include Speedplay Zero Titanium pedals, Enduro's latest XD-15 angular contact ceramic bottom bracket bearings – supposedly the most durable Trek has ever tested in its in-house lab, ceramic or otherwise – a custom anodized and etched AceCo K-Edge chain watcher, customized Trek Bat bottle cages, a Cane Creek headset, and not one, but two computers: a Bontrager Node 1 and an SRM PowerControl 7 (surely only one will make it to the start line).

Total weight as pictured is 7.45kg (16.42lb) – right in line with the lightest Paris-Roubaix bikes we've profiled in the past.

Related links

Complete bike specifications

  • Frame: Trek Madone 6-Series SSL Paris-Roubaix, 58cm H1
  • Fork: Trek Madone 6-Series SSL Paris-Roubaix, tapered 1 1/8"-to-1 1/2" tapered
  • Headset: Cane Creek integrated, 1 1/8"-to-1 1/2" tapered
  • Stem: Bontrager Race XXX Lite, 140mm x -6°
  • Handlebars: Bontrager Race Lite Anatomic, 44cm (c-c)
  • Tape/grips: Bontrager Cork
  • Front brake: Shimano Dura-Ace BR-7900 w/ Yumeya pad holders and hardware, Bontrager carbon-specific cork pads
  • Rear brake: Shimano Dura-Ace BR-7900 w/ Yumeya pad holders and hardware, Bontrager carbon-specific cork pads
  • Brake levers: Shimano Dura-Ace STI Dual Control ST-7900
  • Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace FD-7900-F
  • Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace RD-7900
  • Shift levers: Shimano Dura-Ace STI Dual Control ST-7900
  • Cassette: Shimano Ultegra CS-6600, 11-23T
  • Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace CN-7900
  • Crankset: Shimano Dura-Ace FC-7900, 175mm, 53/42T
  • Bottom bracket: Enduro XD-15 integrated for BB90
  • Pedals: Speedplay Zero Titanium
  • Wheelset: Bontrager Race XXX Lite tubular
  • Front tire: FMB Paris-Roubaix tubular, 27mm
  • Rear tire: FMB Paris-Roubaix tubular, 27mm
  • Saddle: Bontrager Team Issue
  • Seat post: Bontrager Ride Tuned Carbon seatmast cap, 20mm offset
  • Bottle cages: Trek Bat Cage w/ friction tape
  • Computer: Bontrager Node 1, SRM PowerControl 7
  • Other accessories: Custom AceCo K-Edge chain catcher, Shimano Yumeya full bolt kit, cables and YM-SP91 housing

Critical measurements:

  • Rider's height: 1.86m (6' 1")
  • Rider's weight: 82kg (181lb)
  • Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 784mm
  • Saddle setback (ask mechanic): 95mm
  • Seat tube length, c-t: 514mm
  • Seat tube length, c-c: 494mm
  • Tip of saddle nose to C of bars (next to stem): 624mm
  • Saddle-to-bar drop (vertical): 113mm
  • Head tube length: 160mm
  • Top tube length: 573mm
  • Total bicycle weight: 7.45kg (16.42lb)

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