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The most expensive bike in the world! Take a look back at Lance Armstrong's 'Butterfly Bike'

Today's Bike at Bedtime goes back in time to the Damien Hirst-designed Trek Madone

For this evening's Bike at Bedtime we're heading back in time to check out Lance Armstrong's Trek Madone, designed by British artist Damien Hirst and ridden by Armstrong on the Champs Elysées at the 2009 Tour de France. This bike eventually sold for half a million dollars.

2022 Trek Madone Lance Armstrong Damien Hirst

The original idea of this bike was to mark Lance Armstrong's return to cycling after initially retiring in 2005, and the selling price of this one-off creation makes it the most expensive bike in the world. It was one of seven of Armstrong's Trek bikes that went up for auction, which in total raised $1.3 million for LiveStrong. Many of these still feature in lists of the world's most expensive bikes

2022 Trek Madone Lance Armstrong Damien Hirst 2009

> Lance Armstrong auction: Damien Hirst 'Butterfly bike'

Hirst is well known for a series of artworks in which dead animals are preserved and he made no exceptions to this recurring theme when designing Armstrong's Trek Madone.

Hirst used real butterfly wings lacquered onto the frame and said, "I wanted to use real butterflies and not just pictures of butterflies, because I wanted it to shimmer when the light catches it like only real butterflies do, and we were trying not to add any extra weight to the bike."

Unsurprisingly, the project attracted some negative attention, with some animal rights activists branding the use of real butterfly wings as 'barbaric'. 

2022 Trek Madone Lance Armstrong Damien Hirst 2009 front wheel

The Bontrager wheels also feature real butterfly wings. They're rim brake wheels which we don't see in the pro-peloton anymore.

> Everything you need to know about disc brakes 

2022 Trek Madone Lance Armstrong Damien Hirst 2009 groupset

Armstrong's Trek Madone was equipped with a SRAM Red groupset, their newest top-end road groupset at the time. SRAM launched its Red group in 2007 as the "lightest, fastest shifting, and most adjustable on the market." 

SRAM Rival eTap AXS drivetrain - 1 (1)

The most recent SRAM groupset to be released is the Rival eTap AXS for road and gravel riding that sees most of the features of higher-level SRAM Red eTap AXS and SRAM Force eTap AXS – including wireless electronic shifting – at a more accessible price. It currently costs £1,448.00 at Sigma Sports

> Find out about SRAM Rival eTap AXS here 

To say the least, a whole lot has happened in Armstrong's life story since the 2009 Tour de France. In 2013, he eventually confessed to doping during his career. You might have heard!

Armstrong has recently appeared back in cycling news due to Klaas Lodewyck, sports director at Remco Evenepoel’s Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team, comparing Evenpoel's determination to succeed with that of Lance Armstrong. 

He said, “It may be a wrong comparison, but in terms of character I do see similarities between Remco and Lance." 

> Read more about it here 

2023 Trek Madone SLR9 eTap_23_37420_B_Primary (1)

As for the Trek Madone, the latest version is perhaps the most significant new bike to have been released this year thanks to its radical aero design. Trek have described it as the “fastest road race bike ever." 

It was first spotted at the Dauphiné race by our intrepid reporters, used by the Trek-Segafredo team. 

> Brand new Trek Madone breaks cover 

This is said to be the lightest ever disc brake Madone, about 300g lighter than the previous model. Trek claims a frame weight of just under 1,000g and a fork weight of just over 400g.The Madone SLR is compatible with electronic drivetrains only.

Check out more of our Bikes at Bedtime features here. 

What do you think has been the best Tour de France custom paint job? Let us know in the comments section below... 

Emily is our track and road racing specialist, having represented Great Britain at the World and European Track Championships. With a National Title up her sleeve, Emily has just completed her Master’s in Sports Psychology at Loughborough University where she raced for Elite Development Team, Loughborough Lightning.

Emily is our go-to for all things training and when not riding or racing bikes, you can find her online shopping or booking flights…the rest of the office is now considering painting their nails to see if that’s the secret to going fast…

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