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by Dave Rome
February 21, 2020
Photography by Dave Rome
This week’s Bikes of the Bunch is one we caught rolling around during the Tour Down Under. Freshly made, it’s a bike from the Irish custom carbon frame maker FiftyOne and belongs to the agent of many pedalling stars, Andrew McQuaid.
McQuaid (yes, of that cycling family dynasty), once a talented U23 rider in his own right who raced for Ireland at the World Championships, now spends his time running Trinity Sports Management, a growing athlete agency.
Handmade to order in Ireland, FiftyOne’s carbon frames are a common sight at handmade bicycles shows around the world. And while the tube-to-tube construction is always immaculate, it’s the company’s paint that typically grabs the most attention. And that’s certainly true for McQuaid’s fresh ride.
Painted in the corporate sky blue colour of Trinity Sports, this bike has a number of unique graphics and figures masked across it. “There are some elements that are of particular importance to me in my career as an agent, and life,” said McQuaid of the bike he’d taken delivery of just six days earlier.
Along with the paint fade, the toptube showcases a number of key moments, referenced by the date and longitude / latitude.
The graphics of the frame include a crown, an eagle, a bomber plane and a statue-like-object that McQuaid evasively described as a ‘pizza’. McQuaid revealed that the crown is a reference to the King of Willunga, Richie Porte. The eagle above it is to symbolise Bjarne Riis (nicknamed the Eagle from Herning), who McQuaid wrestled to free Porte from his contract with Saxo-Bank prior to his move to Team Sky.
The Crown and the Eagle symbolise a battle from the early days of McQuaid’s rider-focussed agency.
Other moments on the bike are called out along the toptube, such as March 7, 2017, which was the day of Sam Bennett’s stage win at Paris-Nice — his first WorldTour victory. And in amongst many others, there’s also Ian Stannard’s Omloop victory, Philip Deignan’s Grand Tour stage win, Nicolas Roche’s first Grand Tour stage victory, Simon Yates’ Vuelta win, and Tom Pidcock’s U23 Cyclocross World Championship victory.
While most details on the frame point to victories, McQuaid explained that some are from tougher times in his line of work. “We have Simon Gerrans finishing second in the  World Championships behind [Michal] Kwiatkowski – I’ll never forget it. I went into the soigneur tent straight after the race and I’ve never seen someone so broken and disappointed as Simon was.”
Look past the paint and you’ll see FiftyOne’s latest road disc offering, a bike that features room for up to 32 mm tyres, a T47 threaded bottom bracket and old-school quick handling.
FiftyOne’s frames are now using a polymer ablation process on the Enve tubes prior to bonding and wrapping, a patented technique first shown at NAHBS in 2019. Performed by PlasmaBound, a University College of Dublin spin-off company, this process works to safely remove the outer layer of epoxy from the tubes (and that sitting between the fibres of the outer layer) in order to achieve a measurably stronger fibre-to-fibre bond without increased weight.
The separated seatstays are another signature of FiftyOne frames.
FiftyOne’s founder, Aidan Duff, explained that many of the bikes they build feature quick handling. “The frame has the tight fork trail [54 mm] and the slightly longer chainstays that we prefer to run [at] 418 mm,” he said. “I really like this combo of super-responsive, concise front end with that six-hour-sit-in-the-saddle comfort dialled into the back.”
Much of the fit on McQuaid’s bike is based off his previous Pinarello F10. According to Duff, “he wanted something a little more comfortable but at the same time [to] tighten up the handling and make it more concise and responsive.”
“We spent a bit of time getting the poise and stance of the bike just right,” Duff added. “Top tube angle is 6.5 degrees and it looks pretty fast even when stationary. He may have had some spacers on during the shoot but the frame is designed to be run slammed as the headtube has the stem exactly where it needs to be. I think he wanted to get a few hundred clicks in first.”
A single-ring setup isn’t for everyone, but McQuaid seemed pretty content with it.
As for the build, there’s plenty new for McQuaid, as he explained. “This is my first time ever riding disc brakes and first time on a 1x,” he said. “I went for a 48T front, and I absolutely love it. It’s so easy, you don’t have to worry about going up or down on the big ring.” As for the discs, McQuaid’s initial impressions were only positive: “you can definitely brake later going into a corner.”
McQuaid still manages to ride multiple times a week and said the 10-33T cassette and front 48T chairing provided plenty of range around the hills of Adelaide.
Frame: FiftyOne Custom
Fork: Enve Disc
Headset: FSA Integrated
Wheelset: Zipp 454 NSW Disc Clincher
Shifters: SRAM Red eTap AXS
Crankset: Quarq SRAM Red 1, 48T Aero integrated
Bottom bracket: C-Bear Ceramic T47 DUB
Rear derailleur: SRAM Red eTap AXS
Cassette: SRAM Red XG-1290 10-33T
Chain: SRAM Red Flat-Top
Tyres: Continental GrandSport Race (temporary)
Handlebar: Zipp SL-70 Aero
Stem: Zipp SL Sprint
Seatpost: Zipp SL Speed (20mm setback)
Cages: Zipp SL
Bar tape: Fizik Superlight (discontinued)
Saddle: Fizik Antares R1
Pedals: Speedplay Zero Stainless
Accessories: Wahoo Elmnt Bolt