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It's official – Giant Trinity Advanced SL introduction

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Giant claims the odd looking seat tube's vertical leading edge produces less drag than an angled one.

Giant claims the odd looking seat tube's vertical leading edge produces less drag than an angled one. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Giant claims its AeroDrive front-end design was the first to use an aerodynamic lower stem extension - and it apparently will vigorously defend the patent.

Giant claims its AeroDrive front-end design was the first to use an aerodynamic lower stem extension - and it apparently will vigorously defend the patent. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The integrated proprietary aero bars offer a multitude of adjustments to fine tune the fit.

The integrated proprietary aero bars offer a multitude of adjustments to fine tune the fit. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The press-fit bottom bracket cups save weight and allow for a wider and stiffer lower half of the bike than a standard 68mm-wide shell.

The press-fit bottom bracket cups save weight and allow for a wider and stiffer lower half of the bike than a standard 68mm-wide shell. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The underside of the bottom bracket is a busy area but it's already in turbulent air so it supposedly doesn't matter much.

The underside of the bottom bracket is a busy area but it's already in turbulent air so it supposedly doesn't matter much. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Trinity Advanced SL requires a proprietary rear brake caliper as the cable pull arm is moved to the other side of the mounting stud. Giant claims the front derailleur still works well despite the tight cable routing.

The Trinity Advanced SL requires a proprietary rear brake caliper as the cable pull arm is moved to the other side of the mounting stud. Giant claims the front derailleur still works well despite the tight cable routing. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The enormous down tube/bottom bracket junction actually comes up above the height of the outer chainring.

The enormous down tube/bottom bracket junction actually comes up above the height of the outer chainring. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The extensions mount to sturdy looking aluminum clamps.

The extensions mount to sturdy looking aluminum clamps. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Extension height is adjusted by adding or removing spacers.

Extension height is adjusted by adding or removing spacers. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Team bikes typically use straight extensions but most consumers can't maintain that hand position so Giant will likely include the S-bend extensions as stock equipment instead.

Team bikes typically use straight extensions but most consumers can't maintain that hand position so Giant will likely include the S-bend extensions as stock equipment instead. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The profile of the proprietary front brake is perfectly matched to the contours of the fork crown, thus effectively hiding it from the wind.

The profile of the proprietary front brake is perfectly matched to the contours of the fork crown, thus effectively hiding it from the wind. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The internally routed cables come down through the lower stem and then jump over into the bottom of the down tube.

The internally routed cables come down through the lower stem and then jump over into the bottom of the down tube. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The aluminum fork crown directs the cables straight back towards the down tube. Giant says extra flexible sections of housing such as Nokon are necessary in this area for optimum function and full production bikes will feature an aluminum ring to protect the edges of the down tube access hole.

The aluminum fork crown directs the cables straight back towards the down tube. Giant says extra flexible sections of housing such as Nokon are necessary in this area for optimum function and full production bikes will feature an aluminum ring to protect the edges of the down tube access hole. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Consumers will be able to buy virtually the same exact bike as what Rabobank uses in time trials come September.

Consumers will be able to buy virtually the same exact bike as what Rabobank uses in time trials come September. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Speed comes at a price, however. The top-end Shimano Dura-Ace Di2-equipped Giant Trinity Advanced SL will run a hefty US$14,000.

Speed comes at a price, however. The top-end Shimano Dura-Ace Di2-equipped Giant Trinity Advanced SL will run a hefty US$14,000. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Orienting the stem inline with a level top tube has become a popular way to decrease drag - but Giant may have been the first to do so.

Orienting the stem inline with a level top tube has become a popular way to decrease drag - but Giant may have been the first to do so. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The AeroDrive front end includes the head tube, upper stem, lower stem, and integrated base bar.

The AeroDrive front end includes the head tube, upper stem, lower stem, and integrated base bar. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Some team stem assemblies are still made from machined aluminum but all production bikes will use carbon fiber exclusively.

Some team stem assemblies are still made from machined aluminum but all production bikes will use carbon fiber exclusively. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The internal cable routing entry and exit points are sized for use with Shimano's new Dura-Ace Di2 electronic drivetrain.

The internal cable routing entry and exit points are sized for use with Shimano's new Dura-Ace Di2 electronic drivetrain. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The 'reverse ISP' seatpost design doesn't rely on a clamp to fix its position so only a very minimal one is used here to eliminate play. A molded rubber cap will seal things up and provide a nicely finished appearance.

The 'reverse ISP' seatpost design doesn't rely on a clamp to fix its position so only a very minimal one is used here to eliminate play. A molded rubber cap will seal things up and provide a nicely finished appearance. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The three-position seatpost head will simulate seat tube angles from 74-78 degrees.

The three-position seatpost head will simulate seat tube angles from 74-78 degrees. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Some team bikes still have their rear brakes mounted on the seat stays but production bikes move them to below the bottom bracket for cleaner lines.

Some team bikes still have their rear brakes mounted on the seat stays but production bikes move them to below the bottom bracket for cleaner lines. (Image credit: James Huang)
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A short supplementary lever arm is used on both brakes to amplify power.

A short supplementary lever arm is used on both brakes to amplify power. (Image credit: James Huang)

As we predicted, Giant officially announced the morning of Stage 4 that it would be offering to the public the same cutting-edge aero bike currently raced by Rabobank in the Tour de France. Save for a few production-friendly refinements, the newly named Trinity Advanced SL is a virtual carbon copy of the team bike with the same aero features, including the innovative front end with its inline stem and top tube, vertical deep-section seat tube, proprietary brake system and clever internal cable routing. Giant estimates consumer versions will be available by early September.

Giant reckons the new Trinity Advanced SL's three frame sizes will accommodate most riders' desired positions thanks to well-spaced stack and reach measurements across the range paired with fairly aggressive 80, 110 and 140mm head tube lengths. Base bar height adjustments on the newly dubbed AeroDrive front end will be a tad more complicated than the norm – requiring users to swap out both the upper and lower carbon fiber stems – but three sets will be included with each bike for a fairly generous total adjustment range of 80mm.

The rest of the proprietary integrated bar is also highly customizable: the extensions can be raised up to 40mm via a series of stacked aluminum spacers; grip widths can be set between 100-180mm (or more depending on how the S-bend extensions are rotated in the clamps); and the system offers about as much extension length adjustment as you dare cut with a hacksaw. The pad width can be set between 220-320mm (outside-to-outside), fore-aft offset can vary up to 15mm and there is five degrees of angular movement built in as well.

The vertically oriented seatpost is surprisingly accommodating, too, with virtual seat tube angles ranging from 74-78 degrees and horizontal saddle offsets from about -8cm to +3cm depending on frame size and seatpost cradle position.

Speaking of the seatpost, the Trinity Advanced SL will trade the conventional integrated seatmast of the road-going TCR Advanced SL for a so-called 'reverse ISP' setup whereby the bottom of the post rests on an internal shelf – instead of cutting the frame, users will need to cut the post. Height adjustments are made by adding or removing spaces and a minimal rear-mounted clamp eliminates any play. Ultimately, though, even if the clamp were completely removed there's no physical way for the seatpost to slip further down into the frame.

The clever internal cable routing will use full housing for all the control lines and differs little from team bikes. Cables are fed inside the base bar and down through the lower stem but instead of popping out of the bottom of the steerer tube as did earlier prototypes, a new forged aluminum fork crown guides the lines straight out the back, just below the mounting bolt for the proprietary rear-mounted scissor brake. The tight confines require the use of an extra-flexible housing such as Nokon – at least until just after the housing enters the down tube – but Giant insists the system runs with very low friction and isn't a nightmare to set up. Access holes are also appropriately sized for Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 and the non-drive chain stay sports an integrated battery mount.

According to Giant, design priorities for the Trinity Advanced SL were aerodynamics first and stiffness second, with weight and aesthetics falling somewhere below. The bike's appearance is decidedly subjective but it's still interesting that Giant offers no official figures for frameset mass, suggesting that it's likely a bit heavier than some of its competition though we're not exactly sure by what margin.

Also of note is the complete absence of frame-mounted bottle bosses – rear-mounted cages or bar-mounted hydration systems only, please.

Giant may have glossed over the Trinity Advanced SL's frame weight but one topic it made sure to emphasize was the pending patent on the AeroDrive front end. The patent abstract describes AeroDrive as follows:

"An aerodynamically configured handlebar assembly for use in a bicycle includes a mounting head which has a rear clamping body for clamping an upper end of a steering stem of a bicycle front fork so as to cantilever a front aerodynamic body of the mounting head, a handlebar body which extends laterally from opposite sides of the front aerodynamic body and which has handgrips at leftmost and rightmost ends thereof, and an aerodynamic bracket member which is disposed beneath the front aerodynamic body and which has a rear crosspiece.

"The crosspiece is secured to a crotch segment of the bicycle front fork by a fastening unit so as to enable the bracket member to better support weight of the cantilevered front aerodynamic body."

 The critical term to note here is 'crosspiece', which would seemingly apply to any mechanical means used to attach a front-mounted 'aerodynamic member' to the fork crown area. As such, designs like the Felt DA, Look 596 and Trek's new Speed Concept that use a one-piece fork and external steerer don't fit this description.

Things aren't so clear with Specialized's new S-Works Shiv however, which uses a 'strap' to connect the bottom of its lower stem to the fork crown. Whether or not that bike is in violation of the pending patent (US# 20080036170A1) will be up to the lawyers to decide but Giant – without naming specific models from other makes or potential consequences – firmly states that it "will defend the patent."

This may get interesting.