Lance Armstrong Goes for Tour de France Win on Bicycles Designed with StudioTools
Toronto, Canada, July 15, 2003
Alias|Wavefront, an SGI company, announced that its StudioTools software has enabled Trek Bicycle to create, in a record five months, the two bicycles Lance Armstrong is riding in this year’s 21-stage Tour de France. StudioTools computer-aided industrial design software helped the Trek team create the lightest, most streamlined design in the company’s history, one that is expected to cut a minute or more off of the longer race stages.
Armstrong's Racing Bike, the Trek Madone 5.9. Click on image to enlarge
This year marks Armstrong’s fifth attempt to win for the U.S. Postal Service team, a feat that will tie for the most consecutive victories in Tour de France history. For all five races the super athlete has used Trek bicycles designed with StudioTools software.
The bike Armstrong rides in the time trial stages took Trek seven months to move from concept to reality in the year 2000. That was a remarkable accomplishment at the time, given that earlier bikes required 12 to 14 months to develop. This year the design team was able to break its own record, creating an all new peloton model, the Madone 5.9, in just five months.
Trek's frame design. Click on image to enlarge
The time trial bike is used in the three short distance race stages of under 100 kilometers. This year Trek changed the frame to incorporate a different type of carbon technology, using a lighter carbon and honeycomb carbon combination. The Madone will be ridden by Armstrong for the rest of the stages, some of them 190 kilometers or more. For this bike Trek incorporated its signature OCLV Carbon technology, but made it lighter and more aerodynamic.
High Confidence in Digital Designs
Trek is meeting compressed timelines by relying more and more on its digital assets. With the Madone, for instance, engineers wanted to find ways to make the frame more aerodynamic so they used the StudioTools model to run a computational fluid dynamic analysis. Testing at the Oran J. Nicks Low Speed Wind Tunnel at Texas A&M University confirmed the team’s success. The bike frame saved Armstrong 10 watts of energy, equating to a savings of an entire minute in a 200 kilometer stage race.
Wind tunnel test of Madone. Click on image to enlarge
The group’s confidence in its digital prototype was also tested when it was time to assemble the Madone frame. Unlike other carbon bike makers who use a single, monoquoque scheme, Trek makes a lugged frame composed of nine parts, each of which is optimized for such factors as weight and material thickness. These parts must fit together perfectly – and they did -- on the first try. The decision to rely solely on a digital model saved the team an entire month because they were able to forego a physical prototype.
Ride Armstrong’s Bike
While Lance Armstrong is conquering the Alps this July, Trek is making it possible for road bike enthusiasts everywhere to share in the glory by riding on their own Tour de France bike. With growing confidence in the speed, flexibility and accuracy of the designs created in StudioTools, this year Trek will mass produce seven different sizes of the peloton bike and make it available to the public soon after the Tour de France.
Nine Part Frame Design. Click on image to enlarge
Michael Sagan, Trek’s Industrial Design Group Senior Designer, says, “Now that we have completed Lance’s frame, our focus is on making six more sizes. Thanks to StudioTools we can deliver on our project mission statement: Creating frames as fast as Lance!”
As the world’s leading innovator of 3D graphics technology, Alias|Wavefront develops software for industrial design and visualization markets, film and video, games, web and interactive media. Alias|Wavefront’s design customers include AT&T, BMW, Boeing, Fiat, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Italdesign, Kodak, Kwikset, Mattel, Price Pfister, Renault, Rollerblade, Sharp, Trek Bicycle, Teague and Timex. In 1998, the company was awarded a Technical Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the creation of technology on which StudioTools is based. Alias|Wavefront is a wholly owned, independent software company of SGI with headquarters in Toronto and custom development center in Santa Barbara. .