14 interesting tech observations from the Tour de France, from power meters to wheels and wide tyres.
Shimano's latest Dura-Ace R9150 Di2 groupset, after being launched last summer, is now a common sight in the peloton at this year's Tour de France. This one was fitted to Peter Sagan's bike and has the addition of a 4iiii power meter.
There are more power meter options these days, but the pros still opt for the gold standard where they can, SRM's Power Meter. The German company has upped its game recently and partnered with Look to develop this carbon fibre power meter. Called the Origin, its neat trick is the option to convert between 170, 172.5 and 175mm crank lengths thanks to Look's Tri Lobe pedal insert.
You occasionally see some quirky equipment at the Tour, though not as much as in years gone by. Adam Hansen is well known for having an unusual approach to bike setup and he's going against his Lotto-Soudal team sponsors and running a Lightning carbon fibre crankset, with electrical tape covering the logos. Not very high tech at all!
Marcel Kittel has been devastating in the sprint finishes, and he's been winning aboard a Specialized Venge with disc brakes. Here are the mad looking new Dura-Ace disc rotors on his bike.
Fizik sponsors a load of teams and their saddles are a common sight, and nicely colour matched for each team.
The opening time trial gave us the chance to check out the some super aero TT bikes, and the handlebars are an area where riders get very fussy about the setup. SRAM has two teams on its new eTap wireless groupset and the Blips, optional shift buttons you can fit anywhere on the handlebar, are ably demonstrated on the end of the extension bars here.
BMC had developed an adjustable seatpost so if the team rider needs to gift his bike to the team leader in the event of a mechanical, the saddle height can be adjusted to suit. The BMC has a seatclamp integrated into the top tube, as is the case with most top-end race bikes these days, and the team mechanics have retrofitted a quick release lever underneath the top tube.
Shimano has some new wheels out this year, this is the C60. The new wider (28mm) profile is claimed by Shimano to provide a 16W saving over the older C50 wheelset.
In a sea of Shimano, Campagnolo definitely stands out, and those teams sponsored by the Italian company obviously plump for the flagship Super Record EPS. Well, you would, wouldn't you?
You won't spot any aluminium frames in the Tour peloton, but you will spot many aluminium stems and handlebars. Many pros opt for an aluminium cockpit over carbon because it adds a bit of weight, which helps get the bike above the UCI's 6.8kg weight limit, and because it's a bit more durable with the knocks the bikes take.
Wider tyres have been getting popular over the years, and at the Tour this year most pros are riding either 25 or 26mm wide tyres.
The bright yellow Mavic neutral support vehicles might be easy to spot in the peloton, but their wheels aren't. AG2R La Mondiale is riding them though, this is the Cosmic Ultimate, a 40mm deep section carbon tubular wheelset, with carbon spokes for extra weight saving.
Behind the scenes is a well drilled operation to wash, clean and prep the bikes after each stage. It's a military-style setup, each mechanic has his specific role, and bikes are turned around very quickly.
The Tour de France is a showcase for the latest bikes and equipment and of huge importance to the many brands that choose to sponsor the 22 teams taking part in this year’s...Read more