Aluminum frames and components have been commonplace throughout the cycling industry for much of its history, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t extraordinary opportunities for advancement and perfection. With Alpha Aluminum, Trek has applied the most sophisticated concepts of metallurgy and stretched them to the absolute maximum—building frames that are strong, light, and provide a ride quality that rivals that of many of their carbon counterparts.
A lighter, more compliant ride
Over the years, aluminum frames have earned a reputation as being overly stiff and providing poor ride quality compared to their carbon brethren. The engineers at Trek have made it their mission to challenge this assumption, using methods that allow the material to retain its best characteristics—its lightness and strength—while simultaneously improving ride quality. Many cyclists enjoy the responsiveness that comes with stiffer aluminum frames. Unfortunately, what starts out as a snappy, fun ride can quickly become uncomfortable and fatiguing on long or rough outings, making aluminum a poor choice for endurance and adventure-minded riders. Alpha Aluminum was developed to build more compliant frames that retain the acceleration and affordability that have always made aluminum popular. By taking a comprehensive approach to frame design and construction, Trek is able to fine-tune frames to be stiff where necessary and compliant where possible. The result is a more enjoyable ride that expands the opportunities for you to comfortably enjoy your aluminum frame. With Alpha Aluminum you won’t have to think twice about hitting the gravel or signing up for a multiple-day tour. More than ever, an aluminum bike is the only bike you’ll need for recreation, touring, training, and competition.
From blueprint to reality
Metallic materials can’t be molded like composites. Creating the unique shapes that make for great ride characteristics requires forming, or an actual manipulation of the tube material to take on a desired shape. Holding a sincere belief that materials as difficult to work with as aluminum can in fact be manipulated into something exceptional, Trek has created unique Alpha Aluminum frame designs that are so much more than tubes of aluminum welded together. We go a step further in our willingness to experiment, and the difference is noticeable in performance, comfort, and aesthetics. By stretching aluminum alloy to its absolute capacity, Trek engineers are able to achieve a two-fold benefit: reduced weight and reduced stiffness in key areas that produce a harsh ride quality.
What is hydroforming?
Proven effective in the world of high-end performance automobiles, hydroforming is the process of injecting fluid into a cylindrical frame tube to manipulate it into a more beneficial shape. Hydroforming allows Trek engineers to bring complex aluminum frame designs, especially those with advanced aerodynamic properties, from the drawing board to the production line. Ask any engineer, and they’ll tell you the quintessential engineering shape is a circle. Alloy frame tubes begin as cylinders because this shape allows for an equal load distribution and stiffness that is uniform throughout the tube. Because circular shapes lack in aerodynamic properties, however, Trek employs hydroforming to manipulate the aluminum alloy tubes into performance shapes that retain strength while also adding to the frame’s aerodynamic properties and ride quality.
Trek’s advanced Alpha Aluminum frames feature Invisible Weld Technology, a revolutionary welding process that decreases weight and increases structural integrity, while also delivering finely tuned welds that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are strong. Let’s be honest: Looks matter. A premium road bike requires clean, esteemed aesthetics that are not blemished by sloppy, highly visible weld material at every joint. Invisible Weld Technology produces welds that are just that—invisible. By forming pressurized tube shapes that fit together perfectly, Trek’s engineers make it easier not only to weld tubes into frames, but dramatically reduce the amount of weld material required to do so. Less weld material allows for larger continuous surface areas on the frame, which increases strength and durability. Using less weld material also allows production engineers to control every gram of material that goes into the bike, which results in frames that are lighter than many carbon fiber alternatives. Trek’s lightweight, ultra-strong Alpha Aluminum frames with Invisible Weld Technology disrupt the notion that an aluminum bike can’t compete in ride quality or weight with a carbon bike.
A new era for aluminum
The amazing innovations of Alpha Aluminum have produced bikes that stand up against the highest performing road machines made of composite materials. Trek’s engineers have shown this material may never be obsolete, but that a willingness to experiment can lead to amazing results. Feel the difference of our most advanced aluminum ever today.