Tour de France tech: time trial bikes

by Dave Everett


Stage nine and the TT machines were rolled out once again. We’d already seen the time trial bikes in action on stage one of this year’s Tour de France and we covered some of the smaller kit and custom bikes after the stage. But with the Tour being what it is where every second counts, there is always more exciting tech worth checking out.

Prior to the stage we had a look at some of the bikes that would be used on the 28km long TTT stage from Vannes to Plumelec.

IAM Cycling and Orica-GreenEdge are sponsored by Scott bikes, and both were using Scott Plasma frames. There surprisingly isn’t a huge amount of difference in the kit set up between the two teams. Both use the same base bar, Orica have what looks to be a full Scott set up where as IAM differs by using a Ritchey TT bar extension. Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 is the groupset of choice for both. It would seem that the mechanics on both teams find that storing the Di2 battery and control box under the saddle is the ideal position on the Plasma frames. This year though the addition of the Dimension Data transponder has made it a tighter fit under the saddle for electronic equipment.

Where the set ups do differ is in the wheels. Orica-GreenEdge are sponsored by Shimano and PRO (Shimano’s component arm), and the latest (and unreleased) PRO disc is seen on Orica’s Plasmas. Orica uses either the trusty Dura-Ace C50 wheel up front or the new PRO tri spoke, depending on wind conditions and rider choice. IAM have DT Swiss as wheel sponsor, but its clear from the carbon layup on the rear wheel that it is in fact a Lightweight Autobahn with a DT Swiss hub. The wheel is available on the DT Swiss website and is classed as the RRC 2.0 Disc Dicut T. The front wheel would look to be the RRC 66 model from DT Swiss, though the profile of the rim from what we can gather looks slightly different. Is this a sign that there is a new deep section rim on the horizon from DT-Swiss?

One other area both teams differ is in the tubulars, IAM use Schwalble ONE tubulars, where as Orica are rolling on the very popular (amongst the pro ranks) Continental Competition Pro LTD.

Bora-Argon 18 had their TT bike on display at the team launch prior to the start of the Tour so we were able to get a good look at it. For Argon 18 it’s the first time they have had bikes being raced on at the Tour. The TT model is the E-118 Next, kitted out with Vision’s Tri and disc wheel combo plus Dura Ace Di2 and FSA finishing kit. It’s a very slick looking machine. Prologo supply the saddle and bar tape, however one interesting feature is the pedals. They are using the new Speedplay Zero Aero pedals which have a matching dimpled cleat that Speedplay say makes for a smooth and more aero system than any of the other pedals out there, it is also apparently easier to walk on due to its more rounded profile.

We got to check out Lars Boom’s Specialized SHIV before the race too. This season (and at the Tour) Astana, Tinkoff-Saxo and Etixx Quick-Step are all using Specialized SHIVs in the time trials. One interesting fact is that Jakob Fuglsang was contemplating using the new Venge ViAS in the opening TT given its better handling on the tight circuit and close aero properties to the Shiv. For the team TT however, all used the SHIV.

For Lars Boom a full mechanical Campagnolo Super Record groupset is in use, no EPS here. Corima wheels which are handmade in France are the team’s official sponsor and unlike some teams (Tinkoff) they haven’t rebadged other brand’s wheels to use. The Disc and Tri combination seems to be a popular one throughout the team. The Specialized Sitero saddle has become a firm favourite amongst sponsored riders on several of Specialized’s teams, Boom along with many of the pros can been seen using it.

Boom prefers grip tape over standard bar tape when time trialling. Unlike the new Venge the Shiv still has forward facing front brakes. Will we see the next evolution of the Shiv lose the brakes from the front and have them integrated in to the rear of the fork like the new Venge ViAS, time will tell.

Over at Katusha, Alexander Kristoff has a pretty standard Canyon Speedmax CF, the only major change is the use of Ceramic Speed’s unique UFO treated chain, a chain that is only used on the most important of days due to its short life span and difficulty to keep clean. We covered this in more depth on stage one. Katusha place the Di2 junction box below the arm pads of the Canyon time trial bikes.

The other team at the Tour using Canyon bikes are Movistar, the team use the same Speedmax CF frame as Katusha, just in a more ‘teenage mutant ninja turtle’ inspired colour-way. The Power2Max power meter that the team use hasn’t had massive amounts of publicity but the team seem to be sticking with it unlike other teams who swap sponsored power meters for SRM units.