On Tuesday of this week, I traveled to the Trek factory in Waterloo, Wisconsin to test, get fitted upon and ultimately take home with me the bike pictured below. It is a six series Trek Domane frame, with a red liquid crystal paint scheme in matte finish.
It is beautiful.
It has a name painted on the top tube--"Bandit", which is the name my brothers call me when we play golf together, and reflects the fact that my left arm has gone missing at the shoulder and they consider any winnings I receive to be an act of theft.
More significantly, the Bandit represents almost a year of research and development by some very wonderful and talented people at Trek and its vendors, SRAM in particular. After many years of doing my own adaptations on various pieces of sporting equipment, I had approached them with a challenge: let's see what people who know what they are doing can come up with to create a safer, cleaner, and better performing one hand controlled bicycle. The Bandit is the result.
I'll provide more technical details in response to questions, but in essence, the Trek engineers tweaked the climbing buttons from a Shimano di2 system to provide multiple control points, one on the hood and one on the top bar by the stem. They took apart a SRAM Red hydraulic rim brake lever, installed the di2 buttons they had fabricated, and then SRAM engineered and built a splitter so that the single lever fires both the front and rear hydraulic rim brakes.
It goes. It shifts with the flick of a finger and without the need to take my hand off the bike. Best of all, it stops--boy does it stop. I lost my arm 39 years ago and can honestly say that this is the first time I have felt truly in control on fast descents.
Although I suspect it is the case for many other companies, I can personally vouch for the passion Trek has for the bicycles they build and the people who ride them. I am profoundly grateful for what they have done and will continue to do now that this is on their radar screen. I think we are only a few more spins of technology away from a solution that will not require the custom building and testing done here, and can go out to other riders in kit form.