FEATURES: TOUR OF CALIFORNIA TECH: AMERICAN FLYERS
May 15, 2010


The RadioShack team might be the favorites going into next weeks Tour of California but the Saxo Bank team has brought some big guns to the golden state and will be looking to dethrone three-time TOC champion Levi Leipheimer. Leading the Saxo Bank team is Tour de France runner up Andy Schleck, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix champion Fabian Cancellara and legendary strongman Jens Voigt.



As the team tackles the roads of California they will also be celebrating 25 years of American cycling history. It was back in 1985 that the cult classic American Flyers hit the screen. It was this movie that inspired a young Bobby Julich. Julich would go on to become one of the most successful cyclist in American history. In his career, Julich finished third in the 1998 Tour de France, and won Paris-Nice in 2005. Julich now works for the Saxo Bank team and is responsible for the idea of creating the commemorative edition American Flyer bikes for the team to ride during the Tour of California.



The original 1985 Allez from the movie American Flyers. The frame was constructed using Tange Prestige tubing and featured lugged construction.



The Tarmac SL3 uses Specialized’s FACT IS (integrated Structure) carbon manufacturing process. The frame is comprised of four main parts: The front triangle, seat tube, seatstays and bottom bracket/chainstays assembly. To increase the stiffness of the rear triangle the oversized bottom bracket and chainstays are one piece. The bottom bracket shell also does away with metal bearing cups to save weight and features internal carbon ribs that stiffen the juncture between the bottom bracket bearings and the frame. Specialized uses hollow box section alloy dropouts to increase stiffness in the rear triangle.



A nice touch on the SL3 is the retro frame labels. The labels borrow the look of the 1985 frame labels but with all the new FACT carbon information.



In 1985 Specialized provided the alloy bars and forged quill stem. One thing that hasn’t changed is the iconic “S” head tube logo.



On the SL3 FSA provides the handlebars but a Specialized stem is still used. Despite being better known for their carbon handlebars, the Saxo Bank team uses their alloy Energy bars for increased durability.



Box section, 32 spoke, three-cross wheels was the standard in 1985. The wheels are wrapped in narrow 20c Specialized Transition tires.



The deep section Zipp 404s are in drastic contrast to the older box section wheels. The team has their choice between the Zipp 404 or 808s for the flat stages, with 202s saved for climbing. The team uses Veloflex tubular tires.



1985 was four years before the first STI brake/shift levers appeared in the professional peloton. The 1985 Allez used downtube friction shifters.



The  carbon downtube on the SL3 looks massive compared to the steel Allez frame. The SL3 features internal carbon ribs near the head tube and down tube junctions. These ribs help the frame tubes better hold their shape when under loads and increases torsional stiffness in the front triangle.



The original Campagnolo crankset spins on a square taper bottom bracket spindle with loose pack bearings.



The S-Works crankset is constructed using Specialized’s hollow FACT carbon crankarms. The crankarms, which are available in 170, 172.5, and 175-millimeter lengths, are connected via an oversized alloy spindle and Hirth coupling interface. The spindle spins on 42-millimeter ceramic bearings and is designed to be BB30 compatible.



The 1985 bikes featured Campagnolo Super Record derailleurs with six-speed free wheels. The frame used horizontal dropouts for wheelbase adjustments and proper wheel alignment.



The SL3 features alloy box section dropouts that are lighter and stiffer than the carbon versions used on last year’s SL2 frames. The team uses SRAM Red 10-speed components.



A legendary Selle Italia Turbo saddle adorns the Allez. The Turbo was a mainstay in the professional peloton well into the late 1990s, and is still used by a few diehards.



Coming to the market in 2011 is the Specialized Chicane saddle. While Specialized wasn’t giving away many details, expect the Chicane to continue the evolution of the Body Geometry line of saddles with a more rounded profile.


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