Perhaps one of the most appealing things about professional cycling is that you can buy and ride the very same bicycle that Mark Cavendish sprints to victory on, or the one Tao Geoghegan Hart used to win the 2020 Giro d'Italia. You really can walk into a bike shop and ride away on a bike that's identical. Try doing that in Formula One.
The one small — okay, large — caveat with this is the very high prices such bikes usually command. Happily, however, it is possible to get bikes that are very similar, not only in appearance but also in construction, to the ones the stars of cycling ride, but at cheaper prices. Okay, these bikes aren't cheap, but they are cheaper. It's all relative, isn't it? These bikes use very similar frames, just with cheaper spec sheets.
To see what is available, we've had a look at 11 manufacturers — Colnago, Bianchi, Scott, Cannondale, Trek, Specialized, Wilier, Canyon. KTM, Cube and Pinarello — to show that you can realistically get a bike that can trace its DNA directly up the chain to those that the professional cyclists are racing. We've focused on bikes that share the same (or a very similar) frame and keep the cost a little more achievable with less posh components. Aside from parts like wheels, transmission and handlebars and stems, these bikes are essentially the same as the WorldTour bikes.
2020 was a good year for Italian bike makers. First Colnago with Tadej Pogačar and then Pinarello and Tao Geoghegan Hart took top honours in the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia respectively, followed by Bianchi and Primož Roglič finishing on top at the Vuelta a España.
The V3 is the more affordable version of the Colnago V3Rs Pogačar rode for the Tour as part of the UAE–Team Emirates squad, though aimed at riders who aren't necessarily targeting a bike that's bang on the UCI's 6.8kg minimum weight limit. It has disc brakes – Pogačar is using a disc brake road bike in this year's Tour but stuck with rim brakes in 2020 – and Shimano Ultegra rather than Campagnolo Super Record EPS.
It rolls on Continental's Ultra Sport II clinchers instead of tubular Vittoria Corsas. And the complete bike costs the same as a V3Rs frame!
Team BikeExchange pinched Jumbo-Visma’s Bianchis this year and they ride the Oltre XR4 Disc (as well as the Specialissima). Problem is, you're looking at five figures for Bianchi's top aero bike in top quality trim, so here's the more sensible version. The Oltre XR3 is virtually identical to the XR4 but made from a less exotic grade of carbon fibre. That means it's a shade heavier (a 55cm frame is claimed to weigh 1,150g which is still far from shabby for an aero bike) but a lot cheaper.
The Australian outfit have Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 groupsets along with Dura-Ace wheels and Pirelli tyres on their XR4s. For £4,650 you can get an Ultegra groupset and Fulcrum Racing 4 DB wheels on the XR3.
Team DSM are now using the latest version of Scott's Foil aero bike for the flatter stages (you may remember Team BikeExchange, in its former guise as Mitchelton–Scott, was on this machine the last few years).
The full-dress Foil RC with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 shifting and deep-section C 40 aero wheels will make an £8,000-deep dent in your bank balance, but there's a cheaper alternative.
The Foil Disc 30 has the same frame shape, but uses a less spendy grade of carbon fibre to keep the cost under control. It has Shimano's excellent Ultegra mechanical shifting and Scott's own Syncros RR2.0 Disc wheels, but retains the sleek aero seatpost and new all-internal cable routing of the top-end bike.
While the Team BikeExchange riders will be aboard the £11,889 Scott Addict RC Ultimate for the climbing days, the Addict RC 40 comes in at a much more bearable £3,199.
The Addict RC Ultimate is a lightweight racing bike that puts the focus on integration. You can read more about the Ultimate over here.
The model the WorldTour team uses is the super lightweight version of the frameset and instead of the SRAM RED eTap AXS Disc groupset with power meter included, Zipp 303 Firecrest Disc wheels and Vittoria Corsa tubular tyres, the RC 40 has a Shimano 105 groupset, Syncros RP 2.0 alloy wheels and Schwalbe’s ONE Race-Guard tyres.
Some of the Syncros finishing parts are also switched with alloy alternatives, such as the Creston iC 2.0 Compact handlebars.
If you want to be Peter Sagan but can't afford 11 grand for a Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 Sagan Special Edition, here's a slightly more sensible option. The Tarmac SL7 Expert uses the same frame design as the Bora-Hansgrohe team's Tarmacs, but laid up in a less expensive grade of composite: Specialized's FACT 10r carbon rather than the S-Works bike's FACT 12r.
A complete Shimano Ultegra groupset with hydraulic brakes makes it go and stop, and it rolls on Roval C 38 Disc carbon wheels with 26mm Specialized S-Works Turbo tyres.
So you desperately want a Dogma just like Tao Geoghegan Hart, but the budget won’t stretch to 11 or 12 grand. Pinarello has your back. Pinarello recently updated the Prince, which continues as a more affordable version of the Dogma. It shares a similar frame profile, but it’s made from a different blend of carbon fibre.
This brings the price down, with a full Shimano Ultegra bike with Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels costing £4,000. To bridge the gap between the Prince and the Dogma series there are two Prince variants, the Prince and Prince FX; the latter uses a higher grade of carbon fibre.
Still a bit spendy? The base model of the new Paris is just £3,000. It's allegedly an endurance bike, but it clearly shows the racy influence of the Dogma.
If you want to emulate Alpecin-Fenix’s Matthieu van der Poel or Team Arkéa-Samsic’s Nairo Quintana, or even Movistar's Alejandro Valverde and Enric Mas, then you need Canyon’s Aeroad. Yes, there are three teams on Canyon's aero machine this Tour. The range starts with the £2,999 Aeroad CF SL 7.
However, if you want a bike based on the same version of the Aeroad that the WorldTour teams have been riding, then the range starts with the £3,699 Aeroad CF SL 7 Disc, which has the same frame shape as the pro bikes, carved in the wind tunnel, with a Shimano 105 groupset and Reynolds AR58 wheels.
Cannondale claims the SystemSix, the team bike of EF Pro Cycling (formerly known as Education First), is the world’s fastest UCI-legal road bike but the top model on sale, with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 components and Cannondale's own HollowGram deep-section carbon wheels, will cost you £9,999.
Inevitably, there's an Ultegra-equipped incarnation at a price that won't scare the bank manager quite as much.
Trek allows riders of its Trek-Segafredo team to choose between three road bikes (Domane, Emonda and Madone) and there’s a large range of models for the public, including this new version of the Émonda.
The 2021 Émonda isn't just about shaving grams, Trek's engineers having reshaped the frame for better aerodynamics. The aim is to make bikes that use the top-end SLR version of the frame the brand's fastest-climbing ever.
This cheaper version uses the same tube shapes, but swaps out the expensive 800 Series OCLV for 500 Series OCLV, which makes a big impact on the price.
Our Stu was very impressed with the SL 6 Pro, calling it "a very fast and efficient bike that still manages to deliver on the weight front". You can read his review here.
The Filante SLR is designed with aero efficiency in mind and it has been optimised for real-world conditions where wind angle and turbulence change constantly. It still comes in light with a claimed frame weight of 870g and a fork that’s 360g.
Astana-Premier Tech rides the Filante SLR with Shimano’s Dura-Ace Di2 groupset and Corima 47WS Black wheels. While the Team TotalEnergies' is of course also kitted out with Dura-Ace Di2 groupsets but the wheels are instead from the Italian brand Ursus.
The Wilier Filante SLR can be bought specced with an Ultegra Di2 groupset and Wilier’s very own SLR 42KC carbon wheels brings the price down to a slightly friendlier £7,359 – although in the overall scheme of things it's still far from a budget option.
The Intermarché–Wanty Gobert are aboard Cube’s Dura-Ace Di2 equipped Litening C:68 X SLT. This is the brand’s flagship race bike with aero-shaped tubes as well as minimal cross-wind susceptibility. You can find out more about the frameset over here.
The Litening C:68 X is available in a cheaper Pro build with an Ultegra Di2 groupset and Newmen Evolution SL R.32 wheels for a more reasonable £4,699.
Now this one is a much more affordable option from one of the wildcard Tour de France teams that rode the race for the first year last season. B&B Hotels P/B KTM uses the KTM Revelator Alto when light weight is the priority on the mountain stages.
The French team race on the bike from the Austrian brand with Shimano Dura-Ace components for shifting and braking, while the wheels come from DT Swiss.
For just £2,699, you can get the same lightweight disc brake Alto frameset specced out with an Ultegra groupset and Shimano WH RS370 wheels.
*Relative to the actual bikes the pros race, that is. We know that these aren't cheap.
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David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes.