What is this mystery road bike? Yes, it looks a lot like a Trek Madone SLR, but it isn’t one – so what could it be?
If you went to Rouleur Live last week, you might have seen this carbon fibre bike on the FarSports stand – FarSports being a Chinese brand focusing mainly on wheels. This bike is fitted with FarSports Evo6 wheels but the frame isn’t theirs.
Although at first sight it might look similar, it’s not a Trek Madone SLR either. As on the Madone, the seat tube doesn’t reach up to the top tube – it is instead connected via extended seatstays – but this frame lacks the huge IsoFlow hole in the frame that, Trek says, provides aerodynamic improvements and allows flex over bumps to smooth the ride.
There are numerous other differences – the Madone’s seat tube is far deeper and curves around the leading edge of the rear wheel to a far greater extent, for example – but the two frames still look similar, at least initially.
“This is not a FarSports product,” says the company’s head engineer and product leader Jam.“Our partner has lent us this concept prototype to showcase at Rouleur Live as an attention-grabber.”
“Many people have drawn parallels with Trek Madone because of the cutout in the seat tube area. However, that’s also where the similarity ends, according to our partner.
“The cutout on this bike is carefully designed to add more damping, unlike Madone’s cutout, which is to create better airflow for aerodynamics. In a sport where 90% of the air drag comes from the rider, improving aero at the expense of ride comfort will only result in marginal gains.”
As mentioned, Trek certainly does say that the IsoFlow system on its Madone SLR is designed to improve comfort as well as reduce drag. “All-new IsoFlow technology soaks up fatiguing bumps in the road so you can ride stronger for longer,” it says.
On top of that, the percentage of drag that’s down to the rider as opposed to the bike is usually quoted at around 80%, although that will depend on the individual and the equipment used. It’s odd to hear a brand that sells aero wheels and aero handlebars minimising the importance of aerodynamics but, hey, that’s their concern.
Not all other bikes have an uninterrupted seat tube, of course. There's this Urwahn Bikes X Vagabund Studfuchs commuting bike that we covered a few years ago...
...Specialized's new Sirrus Carbon has an interesting seat tube arrangement too...
...and there are many more examples from cycling history.
We’ve asked, naturally, but FarSports hasn’t named the company behind the frame so it looks like we’ll have to wait for more info there.
What do you think of the design, though? Do you think it has potential, or does the lack of support for the saddle/seat post fill you with dread?
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.