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Tour tech: Custom bikes for (almost) everyone

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A bit of tape around the valve stem keeps it from rattling.

A bit of tape around the valve stem keeps it from rattling. (Image credit: James Huang)
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These icons may be part of bigger die-cut decals but it still takes a skilled hand to get them laid on properly.

These icons may be part of bigger die-cut decals but it still takes a skilled hand to get them laid on properly. (Image credit: James Huang)
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A Gore 'grub' seal protects about the only part of the rear derailleur cable that would normally sit unprotected with the new Madone's now-internal routing.

A Gore 'grub' seal protects about the only part of the rear derailleur cable that would normally sit unprotected with the new Madone's now-internal routing. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Even the wheels are decaled to match.

Even the wheels are decaled to match. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The new 6 Series Madone's fork still uses Trek's tapered E2 design and the cosmetic fork crown cap has been replaced with proper carbon fiber.

The new 6 Series Madone's fork still uses Trek's tapered E2 design and the cosmetic fork crown cap has been replaced with proper carbon fiber. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Not everyone will like the look of Armstrong's custom Trek 6 Series Madone but no one can dispute the completeness of the execution.

Not everyone will like the look of Armstrong's custom Trek 6 Series Madone but no one can dispute the completeness of the execution. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Lance Armstrong (Astana) has not one but four custom finished bikes to use in this year's Tour de France.

Lance Armstrong (Astana) has not one but four custom finished bikes to use in this year's Tour de France. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Armstrong's custom finish also carries through to the stem.

Armstrong's custom finish also carries through to the stem. (Image credit: James Huang)
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While the majority of his teammates are using Look's new KeO 2 Max pedals, Armstrong continues to use his tried-and-true Shimano Dura-Ace SPD-SLs.

While the majority of his teammates are using Look's new KeO 2 Max pedals, Armstrong continues to use his tried-and-true Shimano Dura-Ace SPD-SLs. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Armstrong wants his 'Livestrong' followers to adopt this attitude in the fight against cancer.

Armstrong wants his 'Livestrong' followers to adopt this attitude in the fight against cancer. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Half of the Astana team is still using Trek's Equinox TTX SSL time trial frame but Armstrong actually has two of these new Speed Concept bikes at his disposal.

Half of the Astana team is still using Trek's Equinox TTX SSL time trial frame but Armstrong actually has two of these new Speed Concept bikes at his disposal. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Lance Armstrong's (Astana) custom Trek Speed Concept is indeed eye-catching.

Lance Armstrong's (Astana) custom Trek Speed Concept is indeed eye-catching. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Looks like this front wheel was perhaps borrowed from Armstrong's Madone.

Looks like this front wheel was perhaps borrowed from Armstrong's Madone. (Image credit: James Huang)
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From an artist's point of view, a full rear disc just provides a bigger canvas to work with.

From an artist's point of view, a full rear disc just provides a bigger canvas to work with. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Trek Speed Concept's steep seat tube requires a seatpost with a lot of setback to get Armstrong's saddle in the correct position.

The Trek Speed Concept's steep seat tube requires a seatpost with a lot of setback to get Armstrong's saddle in the correct position. (Image credit: James Huang)
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For whatever reason, Ballan's Record derailleur are paired to a Chorus crank.

For whatever reason, Ballan's Record derailleur are paired to a Chorus crank. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Gold and rainbow makes a nice complement to the white background.

Gold and rainbow makes a nice complement to the white background. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Current road world champion Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) is using this custom painted Wilier Cento 1 SL in this year's Tour de France.

Current road world champion Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) is using this custom painted Wilier Cento 1 SL in this year's Tour de France. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Ballan wants to make sure he doesn't overlook any of the key climbs on Stage 6. Now where are the mechanics going to put that thing

Ballan wants to make sure he doesn't overlook any of the key climbs on Stage 6. Now where are the mechanics going to put that thing (Image credit: James Huang)
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Touches of the standard Lampre team colours are still scattered throughout the frame.

Touches of the standard Lampre team colours are still scattered throughout the frame. (Image credit: James Huang)
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No need for a repair stand when there are two mechanics on hand.

No need for a repair stand when there are two mechanics on hand. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Ballan's Fulcrum Racing Speed deep-section carbon tubulars are wrapped in Vittoria rubber.

Ballan's Fulcrum Racing Speed deep-section carbon tubulars are wrapped in Vittoria rubber. (Image credit: James Huang)
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How can anyone complain about gold bars?

How can anyone complain about gold bars? (Image credit: James Huang)
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Bearings are pressed directly into the shell of Ballan's Wilier Cento 1 SL.

Bearings are pressed directly into the shell of Ballan's Wilier Cento 1 SL. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Wilier is rightly proud to have a world champion riding one of its bikes this season.

Wilier is rightly proud to have a world champion riding one of its bikes this season. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The world championship stripes apparently provide Ballan with enough justification to use the older Look KeO version than the new KeO 2 Max version recently introduced.

The world championship stripes apparently provide Ballan with enough justification to use the older Look KeO version than the new KeO 2 Max version recently introduced. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Sure, anyone can buy components adorned with the UCI rainbow stripes - but it's much more meaningful when they're actually earned.

Sure, anyone can buy components adorned with the UCI rainbow stripes - but it's much more meaningful when they're actually earned. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Red bar tape matches the front end of the frame.

Red bar tape matches the front end of the frame. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Evans is one of few riders in the peloton to use a complete Campagnolo Super Record group.

Evans is one of few riders in the peloton to use a complete Campagnolo Super Record group. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Evans' Canyon uses the increasingly common design theme of chunky chain stays paired to spindly seat stays.

Evans' Canyon uses the increasingly common design theme of chunky chain stays paired to spindly seat stays. (Image credit: James Huang)
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It's often an overlooked item but a stout front derailleur tab can make a very appreciable improvement in shift performance over one that's too flexy.

It's often an overlooked item but a stout front derailleur tab can make a very appreciable improvement in shift performance over one that's too flexy. (Image credit: James Huang)
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This small decal makes it easier for the team to recover its wheels at the end of stage from the Mavic neutral support crew.

This small decal makes it easier for the team to recover its wheels at the end of stage from the Mavic neutral support crew. (Image credit: James Huang)
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A smidgeon of the Australian national flag pattern is applied to the inside surfaces of the fork blades and chain stays.

A smidgeon of the Australian national flag pattern is applied to the inside surfaces of the fork blades and chain stays. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The colours are from the Tibetan flag but the kangaroo is all Australia.

The colours are from the Tibetan flag but the kangaroo is all Australia. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Evans could have gone with an Aussie theme for his custom Canyon but instead he opted for the colours of Tibet to draw attention to the struggles of its people.

Evans could have gone with an Aussie theme for his custom Canyon but instead he opted for the colours of Tibet to draw attention to the struggles of its people. (Image credit: James Huang)
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There's not much functional difference between Campagnolo Super Record and Record but the slightly reduced weight may provide Evans with a little more leeway in selecting other equipment to hit that magic 6.8kg mark.

There's not much functional difference between Campagnolo Super Record and Record but the slightly reduced weight may provide Evans with a little more leeway in selecting other equipment to hit that magic 6.8kg mark. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Look's new KeO 2 Max pedals have a larger platform for improved stability.

Look's new KeO 2 Max pedals have a larger platform for improved stability. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The rear brake is fitted with Campagnolo carbon-specific cork pads.

The rear brake is fitted with Campagnolo carbon-specific cork pads. (Image credit: James Huang)
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A Campagnolo Super Record rear derailleur is bolted to the rear end of Evans' Canyon Ultimate CF Pro.

A Campagnolo Super Record rear derailleur is bolted to the rear end of Evans' Canyon Ultimate CF Pro. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Evans runs his brakes Aussie-style with the left lever matched to the rear caliper.

Evans runs his brakes Aussie-style with the left lever matched to the rear caliper. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Even without the name identification there's little mistaking who this bike belongs to.

Even without the name identification there's little mistaking who this bike belongs to. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Evans runs a lot of saddle setback.

Evans runs a lot of saddle setback. (Image credit: James Huang)

Custom graphical treatments used to be a big deal in the Tour de France, reserved solely for the most elite of riders or for special situations such as when a rider was in a leader's jersey. But in this year's Tour, specially finished gear was far more common and it wasn't just limited to bikes.

In fact, there is so much personalized gear at the Tour that we need to split it all up into two installments: we bring you a partial collection of the bikes for now and will continue with the visual journey with more bikes and other gear soon thereafter.

Cadel Evans' Silence-Lotto Canyon Ultimate CF Pro

2008 Tour de France runner-up Cadel Evans sported one of the more recognizable paint jobs in the peloton with his brightly hued Canyon Ultimate CF Pro. Rather than go with a nationalistic theme to celebrate his Aussie background though Evans had his rolling canvas painted in red, blue and yellow – the colours of the Tibetan flag – to draw attention to the struggles of its people.

Evans is actually quite the activist for the 'Free Tibet' movement, having very publically expressed his support, openly promoting the use of his image wearing a 'Free Tibet' shirt and even sponsoring a child there with his wife, Chiara.

Evans hasn't completely ignored the people of Australia however (and their collective hopes for a first-ever Aussie Tour de France winner). The inside surfaces of the chain stays and fork blades both feature a slender image of the country's flag and, of course, there's also the obligatory kangaroo silhouette up front by the head tube.

Rainbow stripes for the current world champion

Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) is racing in this year's Tour with a beautifully finished black and white Wilier Triestina Cento 1 in contrast to the rest of his teammates' standard-issue white, blue and pink steeds. Rainbow stripes adorn the top tube, seat tube, down tube and fork blades to celebrate his current status as world road champion while touches of gold highlight the inside surfaces of the fork legs and chain stays.

Even the finishing kit gets into the act as well, such as the rainbow-accented Selle Italia SLR saddle and Look KeO pedals, and – what else – bright metallic gold bar tape. The fact that his Ritchey WCS stem, bar and seatpost stub just happens to already feature the world championship colours comes as nice bonus, too.

More high-fashion bikes for Lance Armstrong

As we've all now come to expect, Lance Armstrong (Astana) of course arrived to the Tour with not one custom finished bike, but four – all pure one-offs designed by prominent pop artists and painted in-house at Trek's Project One custom facility in Waterloo, Wisconsin. These aren't purely just to draw attention, though; after the race wraps up on July 26, all of the custom bikes Armstrong used during the season (including the ones from the Giro d'Italia in May) will be entered into an art exhibition called 'Stages' and then auctioned off for charity. The first stop is the Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin in Paris and the bikes will eventually make their way to the US this fall.

Armstrong's custom fleet comprises two Trek 6 Series Madone plus two of the company's latest Speed Concept time trial bikes. The more colourful of the latter pair features a yellow base coat punctuated by a wide variety of playful icons, including one of a little girl wearing boxing gloves.

Given the 'Livestrong' theme, it's easy to imagine what she's symbolically fighting against.

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