OK, so it was Lance stomping on his Shimano pedals that carried him to his sixth Tour de France victory but Trek, his bicycle supplier, was tasked with creating bikes that could take the stresses and strains on this stomping.
And this is where computer modelling comes in handy.
Trek uses SolidWorks 3D mechanical design software and COSMOSWorksdesign analysis software to fine tune the carbon fibre frame prototypes and get them ready for manufacturing.
SolidWorks was used to create the molds in which Trek manufactures sleek OCLV carbon fibre frames, and to convert solid models into production drawings for manufacturing. COSMOSWorks lets engineers digitally preview how frame tweaks will support real-world stresses and strains. This finite element analysis process spares Trek the time and money associated with making more prototypes than necessary.
"The US Postal Team has the highest standards in the equipment they ride," said Trek’s mold designer Dan Taitt.
"With SolidWorks, we can quickly and easily build molds that faithfully produce our stiff, strong, and aerodynamic designs. No software moves mold makers from concept to mold creation more quickly. And with COSMOSWorks, we can quickly test our designs on the fly so that we create a prototype only when we’re confident we’re building a championship-calibre machine. Efficiency like this is critical for getting solid, race-worthy bikes ready for one of the world’s most demanding sporting events."
Michael Sagan, Trek’s senior designer and technology principal, said SolidWorks software is just one part of digital design train:
"We create the frame designs in Alias Studio Tools and pass them along to our engineers who can easily leverage these digital assets with SolidWorks to capture our full design intent. They can then create the necessary tooling for production, automatically produce the drawings, and perform extensive analysis to predict the way the frame will perform."
This year’s Madone SSL employed Trek’s new OCLV 55 carbon fibre frame material, 50 percent lighter than the previous generation.
However, Cycling Weekly said this frame is "too stiff" and the Madone came only 6th in the British magazine’s ‘Race Bike of the Year’ issue (August 14th). The winner was the Time VXRS. Second was the Colnago C50 and third, the Cannondale Six13.