Custom painted bikes have become the norm for Lance Armstrong (Astana) as he makes his return to professional cycling this year and his latest Trek Madone is his most ornate to date.
To commemorate Armstrong's first appearance at the Giro D'Italia, contemporary artist Shepard Fairey – the man behind the infamous Barack Obama 'Hope' poster – designed an intricate pattern that is said to pay homage to classic Italian architecture. The graphics aren't hand painted but are instead die-cut decals carefully applied over a solid yellow base coat at Trek's in-house paint facility.
Whether or not the design appeals to you, the finish work is superb. In spite of the frame's complex curves and limited space, one has to look incredibly hard to locate any seams – no coffee in the workshop that day.
In addition to Armstrong's usual 'Livestrong' and '1274' graphics, one other bit caught our eye. Tucked beneath the down tube near the bottom bracket in letters just a few millimetres high was the phrase 'WNW 2009', as in 'winners, not wankers, 2009' – a possible nod towards Armstrong's work in cancer research and awareness in support of the afflicted but more likely a sign of his sporting intentions for the year.
Aside from the fancy visual treatment, the rest of the bike is standard fare for an Astana team bike. Bolted on is a complete SRAM Red group with 53/39T chainrings, an 11-23T cassette and a few minor tweaks. Gold-anodised alloy chainring bolts are fitted to the crank, Bontrager carbon-specific cork pads are fitted to the brake callipers, a stiffer Force steel cage is spliced onto the Red front derailleur and a Shimano Dura-Ace 7801 chain stands in for the usual PC-1090 unit.
The Bontrager name is also liberally applied throughout the rest of the build, from the finished-to-match Bontrager Aeolus 5.0 carbon tubular wheels (wrapped with Hutchinson tubulars) and Race XXX Lite carbon stem to the Race XXX Lite carbon bar with the variable radius bend that Armstrong himself supposedly prodded Trek to develop. Pedals are Armstrong's usual Shimano Dura-Ace SPD-SL PD-7810 model.
Trek also provide the Bontrager Race XXX Lite bottle cages and Incite 9i wireless computer, and the whole thing is topped with Armstrong's trademark Selle San Marco Concor Lite saddle. Total weight as pictured is 7.26kg (16.01lb).
Armstrong has yet to show his hand in this year's Giro and a recent collarbone break calls into question just how prepared he is. He certainly looks fit, though, and the public are aware of the Texan's disdain for losing. We predict a high finish for sure – possibly even a support role for team-mate Levi Leipheimer.
If nothing else, the Giro will provide good final preparation for the Tour de France, though don't bother looking for this particular machine on the road come July as Armstrong is certain to have yet another special machine ready to go by then.
- Frame: Trek Madone OCLV Red Series, 58cm
- Fork: Bontrager Race X Lite E2
- Front brake: SRAM Red w/ Bontrager carbon pads
- Rear brake: SRAM Red w/ Bontrager carbon pads
- Brake levers: SRAM Red DoubleTap
- Front derailleur: SRAM Red w/ Force steel cage
- Rear derailleur: SRAM Red
- Shift levers: SRAM Red DoubleTap
- Cassette: SRAM OG-1090, 11-23T
- Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace CN-7801
- Crankset: SRAM Red, 175mm, 53/39T
- Bottom bracket: Trek Madone integrated
- Wheelset: Bontrager Aeolus 5.0 tubular
- Front tyre: Hutchinson tubular
- Rear tyre: Hutchinson tubular
- Bars: Bontrager Race XXX Lite, 44cm (c-c)
- Stem: Bontrager Race XXX Lite, 120mm x -7º
- Headset: Cane Creek E2
- Tape/grip: Bontrager Race Lite Grippy tape
- Pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace SPD-SL PD-7810
- Seatpost: Trek Madone integrated, 20mm setback
- Saddle: Selle San Marco Concor Lite
- Bottle cages: Bontrager Race XXX Lite
- Computer: Trek Incite 9i
- Other accessories: SRAM Professional System by Gore cables
- Total bike weight: 7.26kg (16.01lb)
- Rider's height: 177 cm (5ft 10in)
- Rider's weight: 73kg (161lb)
- Seat tube length, c-c: 500mm
- Seat tube length, c-t: 520mm
- Saddle setback: 75mm
- Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 753mm
- Tip of saddle nose to C of bars (next to stem): 580mm
- Handlebar drop: 80mm
- Head tube length: 160mm
- Top tube length: 572mm