Thursday, March 25, 2010

Trek Top Fuel 9.8

Thanks to Randy at Mad Dog Cycles, I am getting my first new bike since 2002 possibly tomorrow.  It is a 2010 Trek Top Fuel 9.8 and it shipped out on Tuesday.  I mentioned that I was getting a carbon bike to some of the Composites Engineers that I work with and they all wanted to know if I was nervous riding a carbon mountain bike. I am not. This will be the second carbon Trek for me and the last one held up to lots of abuse with no problems what so ever.
I remember the Trek reps would brag that most of their engineers came from the aerospace industry. It was an excellent selling tool; after all it doesn't get any better than aerospace, right? Fast forward a decade I find myself working for one of the leading aerospace composites companies as a Quality Engineer and I am fully convinced that Trek has the best Composites Engineers on the planet.

The funny thing about aerospace is that the price for failure is often in the billions of dollar range and in many cases results in loss of human life. In this type of environment failure is simply not an option. Designs are overbuilt, conservative and rarely cutting edge. The mantra is build it exactly like we did the last time because the last time... it worked. Pushing the envelope of a design in aerospace is taboo. Don't get me wrong the accomplishments that have been made in the aerospace industry are quite simply amazing, especially considering the complexity of the systems when compared to a bicycle. But there is a big difference when designing a product where failure is not only an option, but in some cases can be desirable. My guess is that many of Trek's designs are built to fail under the most aggressive or abusive riders. Riders that are able to induce the type of stresses that would cause a failure are few and far between. The vast majority of riders will never put the frame through enough cycles to cause a fatigue failure and don't have the cahones to push the bike hard enough to induce catastrophic failure. The benefit for the rest of us is an extremely strong light weigh bike that performs flawlessly for 98% of us, for the other 2% Trek has an excellent warrantee. The best way to find a flaw in a design is to see someone break it, a luxury we do not have in the aerospace industry.

*note I have no science or data to back up my numbers this is just a WAG.

A little less travel and a lot less weight than my current bike, this thing should scream.  I can't wait to get it dirty.

1 comment:

  1. 9.8 is a great bike with geometrics like the 9.9.

    Ongoing Review of 2011 Trek Top Fuel 9.9 SSL