Bicycle technology continues to evolve and this year, we set out to find what new and/or interesting technology is being used to aid these athletes in pushing their bikes faster. The answers may surprise you. With a field of competitors with no stand out favorites, this year is surely anyone’s race. Here is the tech that got us excited:
E-Dura Ace shifters: while not totally new (we’ve seen iterations for 3 years now) Shimano’s luxury shifters are getting some play by top riders. Most recently on Gerolsteiner’s time trial bike, these shifters allow electronic push button shifting. Normal shifters are mechanical and push or pull a cable connected to the derrailluer to shift the gears. Electronic shifters have been pedaled for years by companies like Mavic, but have not caught on mainstream. Worries of interference such as the guy in front of you shifting causing your gear to intercept the signal and you shift, are the oft cited complaints.
11-Speed. Remember when 21 gears were a lot? The seven speed cogset has given way to 8,9,10 and now 11 allowing riders to fine tune their gear inches. Having 11 choices in the rear cog allows riders to find a comfortable pace and maximize their cadence. Campagnolo brings out the interest with 11 speeds but we are seeing some riders, like Robbie McEwen decline to use it. Typically, the more cogs in back, the narrower (and potentially weaker) the chain must get. It can be these decisions that claim or lose the yellow jersey.
Carbon. Many of the top riders are riding atop carbon bikes. Allowing almost no end to fine tuning of any shape, Valverde’s Pinnarello Prince is decked out in the national Spanish colors and features frame design elements engineered to dampen road vibration without losing power. Carbon has found its way into most parts on a pro level riders bike.
Perhaps my favorite bit of geeky goods is on the Garmin teams bikes. Combining Saris’ Powertap hub and a Garmin cyclecomputers riders are measuring their effort not in mph but in power. It is all about the Watts. Elite riders have been using Watt output to measure their performance for a few years now, but we are seeing riders choose to add this extra weight to their bikes to give them Watt output. That says a lot for these often anorexic looking riders. It remains to be seen if the riders are taking advantage of the GPS on their cyclecomputers in the tour…
Join us for two more installments of technologically advanced gear from the Tour.