Photos of (team) bikes
In the 2012 Australian edition of the Official Tour de France Guide, published by RIDE Media, we featured bikes from all the teams contesting the race. It was a project that began at the start of the season. During the Tour Down Under we created a makeshift photo studio in a hotel room and, with a little bit of gentle persuasion of team mechanics, we borrowed the bikes to get some close up shots. Over the coming weeks, we will be establishing a page that allows readers to post photos of their bikes and why they ride. In the meantime, you can send them via email with a brief explanation of why you selected the brand(s) that you have. we will be posting some shots collected in Adelaide this January. Stay tuned to this page as more bikes will appear in the coming days…
Bikes from the 2012 peloton
– By the RIDE team
In January we wedged a photo studio into the back of the Skoda Octavia wagon and hit the road to Adelaide for one of our favourite races of the season. The Santos Tour Down Under is unique among WorldTour stage races for a few reasons, most importantly because it has one central hub, the city of Adelaide. With all stages contested close to the city, you don’t need to change hotels every night like at the Tour de France. For those competing in the race this is a genuine luxury, and it’s also something that the support staff greatly appreciate. Leaving the dead of a European winter for South Australia’s hot summer sun is great, but not needing to repack luggage every night is a real bonus.
A walk across the street from the team hotel, the Hilton, is the tour village. The race organisers erect a massive marquee in Victoria Square – half dedicated to event sponsor exhibits, the other half divvied up among the teams. Each squad is allocated a workshop space and storage lock-up for bikes and equipment. When the mechanics aren’t on the road following their riders, they’ll be found here – assembling, tuning and washing bikes.
We’re fortunate to have long relationships with many of the mechanics, because this year we had a fairly big ask… “Can we please take one of your team bikes for an hour? No, not a spare bike – an actual race bike. No, we’re not going to ride it. We won’t even allow the tyres to touch the ground. We’re going to walk it to our hotel where we’ve converted a suite into a studio and we want to photograph a bike from every team.
“Is that okay? Thank you! We’ll bring it back shortly…”
Repeat this 18 times (in nearly as many languages) and you have most of the bike photos used in this guide.
In the time we had each bike, we took the opportunity to have a close look at the rider set-up. Furthermore, every bike was weighed, all components catalogued for specification and size. If the bike selected for the photo shoot was particularly small or large, we weighed a second bike to achieve a realistic average.
The assumption before we started this exercise was that most bikes used by professional riders would sit exactly on or perhaps slightly above the UCI-mandated 6.8kg minimum weight restriction. Many would also believe that, in order to achieve this target weight, carbon-fibre components would be selected wherever possible. Both assumptions were incorrect. Evidently some things are more important than weight…
After weighing 24 bikes from 18 teams, we arrived at an unexpected average: 7.25kg – nearly half a kilo over the UCI’s minimum. One bike touched down below the legal limit at 6.6kg while two hit the scales at more than 7.6kg. To put this into context, the average weight of the last 18 race-level road bikes tested in RIDE Cycling Review was 6.94kg, and that’s with a generous 250g added to account for pedals (which are not generally included in the magazine’s published weights). Typical of nearly all the bikes used by the pros, tubular tyres were spec’d. As these are usually the light option, we wanted to know: where is the extra weight coming from?
Carbon-fibre takes most of the spotlight these days, and rightfully so. The material offers both high strength and low weight, important elements in any racing vehicle.
All the team frames and race wheels were constructed with carbon-fibre, but 12 out of 18 had alloy handlebars. In many cases these were traditional round bend models you’d expect to pick up for less than $100 at any bike shop. When quizzed on carbon versus alloy the mechanics had varying opinions on which material was more appropriate. Some riders opt for alloy because of perceived durability, some cited the same reason for choosing carbon-fibre. Most suggested that the bend shape was the real determining issue.
Half the bikes featured power meters. Obviously, this is a trend on the rise, despite the roughly 150g weight penalty (for the system fitted to the cranks and not including the computer) and additional expense. Power meter cranks are not cheap, and many teams don’t have a sponsor in this category but it’s a piece of equipment that’s difficult to forgo once you’ve learned how to use the information it provides. It also looks to be an important component of race broadcasting in the future.
Our conclusion was relatively simple. Don’t worry about the weight! Comfort and control are more important than shaving weight. Some of the heaviest bikes were also among the first to the top of Old Willunga Hill. Other than the cost of premium race wheels (and perhaps a power meter), you don’t need to spend as much as you might think to ride what the pro’s ride.
The gallery we published in the 2012 Australian Edition of the Official Tour de France Guide shows a selection of bikes and equipment ridden by pro riders. In most cases, the biggest difference between these and versions available at the shop is the stem length and drop. Building a lighter and higher spec’d bike than what your favourite pro rides isn’t difficult…if you have the budget. But good luck matching their riding position…
– By Greg Chalberg
Here are some out-takes from the photo sessions (below).
Astana’s Specialized S-Works Venge
The important things right: The team may have missed a letter in his name, but they’ve given Jacopo Guarnieri a very fast bike. Even by pro peloton standards, the Corima UP-S wheels have to be considered deep-dish. Don’t expect to see these in the high mountains, but this wheel and frame combo is blisteringly quick in the sprints.
Lotto-Belisol’s Ridley Noah Fast
Big guy, small bars: Perhaps with no other rider is the trend toward narrower handlebars more apparent than Adam Hansen. The 186cm Queenslander looks like he could play rugby, but his Deda 38cm bar would usually only see action on a women’s specific bike. Narrower bars are one way to improve aerodynamics.
Rabobank’s Giant TCR Advanced SL
Listen to the wrench: Tom Leezer’s TCR hit the scales at 7.5kg. It could easily go lighter, but he prefers the older alloy-bodied Dura-Ace pedals over the new carbon-fibre option. He also goes for an alloy PRO handlebar. Rabobank mechanic Tim de Jonghe prefers to have his riders on carbon bars, but Leezer likes this bend.
…To be continued. Stay tuned.