Cleaning up the Speed Concept
article & images by Nick Salazar
Nov 9, 2011
We're all about the cool toys over here at TriRig, especially the custom-made ones. Today we've got something to show off that's pretty snazzy, if I may be so bold. It's a custom-designed, CNC-machined piece of hardware that improves upon what was already an awesome bike. You might have noticed I'm quite enamored of the Trek Speed Concept. It's a fantastic machine, and my personal favorite of the next-gen triathlon "superbikes." In our review of the bike, we noted that the least attractive part of the bike was the aerobar hardware. It's a bit overbuilt, you might say. On the one hand, we understand why Trek designed it this way. It insures you have the maximum amount of adjustability in every direction, to maximize the number of riders who will fit on this bike. On the other hand, some of this adjustability simply isn't necessary for many riders. And Trek did have to make some compromises to get it all. Our major gripes with the stock hardware are:
- Minimum stack height from base bar to pads is about 50mm. It'd be nice to go lower.
- Tilt adjustment isn't necessary for many riders. If you want a different hand position, use different extensions.
- There are FOURTEEN bolts required to secure the extensions and pads. That's ridiculous.
- The bolts all have different torque specs - and the main bolts require a whopping 14Nm to stay put!
- The bolts sometimes occlude one another - that is, if your arm cups sit directly over the main bolts, you have to remove your arm cups to access the main bolts. Annoying.
- The hardware is heavy -- about 250g for just the metal bits, not including arm cups or extensions.
- All that clunky hardware hanging in the wind has to represent some aerodynamic penalty, even if it's a small one.
So I re-designed the Speed Concept's aerobar hardware. The inspiration came from the Felt Devox aerobar, which we really loved. That bar uses just four bolts for the entire bar, while still maintaining adjustability for extension length, extension roll, pad stack, and pad width.
Basically, the redesigned hardware consolidates five stock parts into one elegant piece of hardware, and reduces the bolt count from fourteen to just four. How'd we do it? Well, it's easier to just show you than to describe it. Here's a quick video of how these puppies mount up.
The main body of this part is shaped exactly like a stock spacer that comes with the bike, except that it's split in the middle, and it also has loops to grab the extensions. Instead of extra armcup-mounting hardware, we just use the armcups themselves to bolt down the extension. When force is applied to the split in the spacer, the extensions clamp down. It's as simple as that - and is exactly how the Felt Devox works.
Lots of Benefits
What do we gain from this system? Well, the most obvious is that there's simply less there. Not as much is out in the wind, so there is probably some aerodynamic benefit. And the parts are MUCH lighter. Just 26g per side, instead of 125g per side. And with just two bolts per side, there's no more bolt occlusion. ALL of your adjustment comes from just two bolts per side. Super easy.
And that's just the beginning. There are two other MAJOR improvements here. First is the reduction in minimum stack height. With this hardware mounted directly on the bar, the top of the arm pads sit about 25mm above the base bar. With stock parts, they're 50mm above it. This is obviously a coup for riders who couldn't get low enough on stock hardware (I'm one of them, which was my primary purpose for making these). This would also be a big benefit to riders who want to have a smaller drop between pads and bars, or riders who just want a sleeker-looking front end. How so? Well, the stack difference between Speed Concept stems is 35mm or so. So, if you're running the 100/10 stem with stock parts one 10mm of spacer, you could swap for the 100/45 stem and this custom part. Your pads would stay in the same place, but the aerobar would come up by 35mm.
The other big benefit of a clamp like this one is that it allows you to adjust the height of the bars independently of the pads. Because this clamp is just a regular spacer, you can put anywhere in your spacer stack. Let's say you're running 30mm of spacers on your Speed Concept. This clamp could replace the bottom 10mm, middle 10mm, or top 10mm. Your pads stay in the same place, but your extensions move up or down accordingly. Why is this important? Because different extensions work better at different heights relative to the pads. Straight extensions, for example, work better the lower you can get your cups relative to the extensions. S-bends and F-bends work well with a very small amount of stack above the extensions. J-bends work best when you have some stack above the extensions, say 20mm or so. We're going to run an article on exactly this phenomenon in a week or so, so stay tuned for that.
As mentioned above, I received a lot of requests to make these available for purchase. Head to the TriRig Store for more details.
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