How America's No. 1 bicycle company secretly tested the world's lightest production road bike, then unveiled it the day before the Tour de France
Most major bike brands adore the Tour de France, and for good reason. Millions watch the three-week race from the roadside and hundreds of millions more watch it on TV, making it the ideal time to roll out new bikes and cycling gear.
But brands don't just introduce new bikes at the race. Bikes need to be test-ridden, tweaked, and, yes, raced. At the same time, companies want to preserve the excitement of a new bike, build hype, and ensure customers keep buying the existing model that's soon to be replaced.Trek Bicycle Corp.'s launch this past summer of its latest super-high-end road bike was a good example of how brands try to conduct under-the-radar real-world testing before unveiling bikes in prime time. The day before this year's Tour it debuted one of the most talked-about new bikes, its redesigned Émonda SLR 9, an ultralight carbon climber for its Trek-Segafredo team.
But it came only after a year or so of redesigning the bike from its previous iteration and trying its best to test it in stealth mode with some of the world's best cyclists.
In the run-up to this year's Tour, Business Insider got an inside look at how America's leading bike company readied and debuted one of the most important bikes in its over 40-year history.