Discovery Channel Trek Equinox TTX review£3,500.00

The TTX is the logical evolution of the prototype time trial bike ofthe same name that Lance used in St Etienne last year on the way to hisdecisive last Tour victory.

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The TTX is the logical evolution of the prototype time trial bike of the same name that Lance used in the St Etienne time trial on the way to his decisive last Tour victory. That spectacular carbon monocoque, conceived in a San Diego wind tunnel, is built in Waterloo, Wisconsin, and was ridden by big George Hincapie and his Discovery boys in the 2006 Tour TTs. What's more, you can buy one too.

 

Frame

As with other time trial bikes, many of the Trek's prospective buyers will be looking for a triathlon machine that can give the further forwards 'over the bottom bracket' riding position their sport prefers. Which is where the TTX shows its adaptability, with a reversible clamp seat post that caters for roadies and triathletes alike. Point it backwards, and you can have an effective seattube angle of up to 79 degrees, for TT riders looking to mimic the riding position of their road bikes. Turn it round to point forwards and you can effectively straighten the seat-tube to a more triathlete-friendly 73 degrees.

The new weight saving TTX dispenses with the honeycomb matrix of its predecessor's TTT carbon frame and uses new aero carbon 'tubing' so thin it can easily be compressed between thumb and finger. Depending on the frame size selected the head angles can vary from 72, to 75 degrees and the clever use of a forward bulging section to the leading edge of the down tube on the large size frame brings the tyre closer to the frame for better air flow without introducing an unacceptable degree of toe overlap when turning at slow speeds. The chainstays are of modest proportions when placed alongside the other bikes but the seat stays have a winged teardrop section to minimise the disturbance of air.

 

Wheels and equipment

Equipment is courtesy of the obligatory Dura-Ace kit and the Bontrager Aeolus carbon deep section wheels on this team bike run Hutchinson tubulars. It's safe to say this is one outrageously fast-looking bike, even standing still.

The complete bike that Trek are letting us the paying public get our hands on next year will have these rather upright Bontrager tribars (some of the Discovery bikes have a onepiece integrated aero tribar), and come in three sizes and two colour schemes of nudepearl or team baja blue (as tested). A frame only option will also be available .

If you look closely this July, you'll see the Discovery team are running a rear Bontrager disc wheel with a Bontrager 6.5 Aeolus on the front, produced in conjunction with wheel manufacturer HED Design. To dispense with the need for heavier rims and to improve vertical compliance the spokes are attached at the base of the rim rather than within the aero section, and Bontrager Race X Lite Pro tubulars are fitted.

 

Handling

First of all, it has to be said that this bike had been set up for someone clearly much bigger than me. As it was, it would be best suited to a rolling triathlon course as the front was too high for the tight aero tuck needed for a short TT course. But then, as the Bontrager tribars, with their attractive and aero-efficient delta-wing profile, are not integrated, the hand positions could have been lowered simply by using a stem with a steeper drop. Following the starting effort I reached forwards onto the ends of the extensions and settled my elbows onto the comfortable (although too high for me) armrests. To minimise the speed deficit of my un-aero position, I moved onto the back of the saddle for a more stretched out riding position. Once settled down in a steady rhythm, the Trek shows its true colours with a smooth ride that's easier to live with than Jan Ullrich's ruthlessly efficient Giant team TT bike over the mottled surface of my local time trial course. The lightness of the Bontrager wheels could be felt on one particular section as it was easier to hold the gear for longer than the others on its slight gradient. In fact, given their comfort too we would go as far as to say that these are the best wheels we've used for long distance time trials and probably the best wheels for any time trial discipline.

Onto the brakes to scrub speed in readiness for first left turn and Trek appear to have omitted special brake blocks on our test bike to act on the carbon rims because the brakes grab.

While the Trek has a longer trail than the Jan's [actual] Giant the jury's still out on the effect that this made on the stability of the bike as the riding position felt like it distributed my weight more centrally than the Giant.

With the approach to the only real gradient of our course, the gear levers came into play. While the bends of the tribar extensions form a natural position for the wrists, I felt that most riders would want to trim 3cm from their ends to bring the bar end shifters closer to the hands to improve gear shifting convenience. Back down into a big gear for the home straight and the frame's stiffness shines through, though we can only imagine that Lance would have enjoyed a lower riding position than that afforded by our bike as we crossed the finish line. But then it's safe to assume his bike wouldn't have been made for someone else a lot bigger...

Trek Equinox TTX

Replacement value: Since the black 2006 TTX will set you back £6000, when this the 2007 model goes on sale expect to pay around £7000 with Aeolus wheels Trek UK 01908 282626 www.trekbike.co.uk

Frame and forks Size tested: Large Sizes available: S-M-L Weight as tested: 8.160kg/18.0lb

Bike dimensions Top tube: 58.0cm/22.8in Seat tube (c-c): 55.0cm/21.7 in Chainstays: 40.5cm/15.9in Wheelbase: 99.7cm/39.3in Head tube angle: 74.0 Seat tube angle: 73-78 see notes Fork offset: 4.5cm/1.8in Trail: 5.4cm, Wheel Radius: 35 B/b height: 26.8cm/10.6in Standover height: 82.0cm/32.3in Braze-ons: bottles

Frame alignment Head tube: perfect Rear triangle: perfect Fork: perfect

Transmission Chainset: Dura-Ace 170mm Bottom bracket: Dura-Ace Freewheel: Dura-Ace Chain brand: Dura-Ace Derailleurs: Dura-Ace Gear levers: Dura-Ace bar end Pedals: none

Wheels Front & Rear: Bontrager Aeolus Tyres: Bontrager tubulars 22mm Wheel weight: 1003gFr, 1311gRr

Other components Handlebar stem: Bontrager XXX Lite carbon stem Handlebars: Bontrager XXX Litecarbon aerobar Headset: Cane Creek IS Saddle: Bontrager Seatpost: Bontrager OCLC 110 carbon aero Brakeset: Dura-Ace Accessories: none

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