Glen Alden's Custom Carbon
article & images by Nick Salazar
May 21, 2012
It's no secret that I am a fan of the Trek Speed Concept. But there are a couple little areas that I thought could use improvement, and others obviously feel the same; my custom clamps have been pretty popular.
Engineer and Speed Concept rider Glen Alden has been refining his rig as well, and showed us some of his work last year. Glen has spent the last year refining some of those custom parts, and is ready to release some of them to the public. I got an exclusive look at his custom stem cover (specific to the Speed Concept) and crank fairing (which can be used on most road cranks, but sadly won't fit over a Quarq).
Glen's work represents what TriRig is all about - innovation. Triathlon equipment is born when someone with vision sees a market need that isn't being filled, and decides to do something about it. Glen's parts are the epitome of that process, and I'm delighted to be able to show them to you. These parts are available directly from Glen's website.
Speed Concept Stem Cover
Without a doubt, the most annoying bit on the Speed Concept, for most people, is the rubber cap that sits just behind the stem. The purpose of the cap is to complete the shape of the stem while also holding the cables in place. The problem is that the thing is rather difficult to install, and never wants to stay put. Trek has already revised this piece at least once, so that new Speed Concepts have a slightly different version than the first production batch got. Mine has the old version, and it wants to fall off at least once a season, even when properly installed.
Glen saw an opportunity not only to improve the fitment, but also the aerodynamic functionality of the piece. His carbon version completes the shape of the stem wich a much longer fairing - it extends all the way back to the first top tube bottle cage bolt, which is how it stays in place (no rubber piece to fall out). According to Glen's CFD analysis, it saves a watt or two off this already very fast machine. And because the thing is hollow, it could also potentially be used to house a Di2 control box. However, since I already have mine contained in the regular stem, I didn't need that.
Installation is ridiculously easy, especially compared to the stock version. As mentioned, the fairing bolts into the Speed Concept's native bottle cage boss, has a small piece that hooks into the Speed Concept's cable hole, and you use a couple small pieces of double-sided foam tape just for an extra-secure fit. A kind of belt-and-suspenders approach.
I love the look of this piece, and especially the fact that now I don't have to worry about the thing falling off mid-season. It's bolted in place, and it ain't goin' nowhere. The only real drawback of the part is that because it occupies one of the top-tube bolt holes, you can't run other accessories up there like the Bontrager Speed Box. But I don't use those, so it's no big deal for me.
In short, I'd recommend this piece to any and every Speed Concept owner. It's an easy install, a beautiful upgrade, and a possible aerodynamic advantage.
Now we get to a piece that's meant for any bike, not just the Speed Concept. When Glen unveiled his steed last year, some people had thought he'd somehow fit a Zipp Vumachrono crank to it, which is basically impossible, given his Trek's BB90 bore size isn't friendly to 30mm crank spindles. What Glen actually did was to create a carbon fairing and put it on top of his existing SRAM crank, to achieve the same basic shape.
He's spent the last year trying to create a production process by which he can make more of these things more consistently, and I've got one of the first covers out of his mold. Basically, they turn any standard crank into a fully-faired one. This isn't the same as a flat TT chainring - the cover is three-dimensional, and completes the shape of your crank in a very smooth, elegant way. The pictures should show you what's going on.
The thing is gorgeous, and undoubtedly smooths airflow over the crank. The bad news is that it's fairly difficult to install, and the current version doesn't fit on top of my Quarq, because the battery cover is too big. So I had to put it on a different crank. Installation is a fairly involved and intricate process, requires that you have an M3 tap to create threaded holes in your chainrings. Alden sends each cover out with detailed instructions on how to get it done, but it's not for the feint of heart.
The good news is that if you're too scared to do the installation yourself, Alden will do it for a fee. You just send him your crank, and you'll get it back looking all kinds of awesome. I do wish that installation was easier - but it doesn't look like there's a great way to make it easier at this point. Using tape or epoxy would result in a poor bond, and a cover that would be prone to falling off. It would also be nice if the thing was Quarq-compatible, but maybe it will fit over the 2012 Red Quarq, which has a lower-profile battery cover.
As long as you don't have a Quarq, this is a beautiful addition to just about any crank. And at 38g complete with bolts, it's a pretty light one as well. Just make sure you know what you're doing if you decide to drill holes in your chainrings!