The big bike manufacturers have been busy this year, with many launching brand new road bikes in the weeks leading up to the 2015 Tour de France. Due to its importance and worldwide reach, the Tour has always been a popular time for bike brands to launch new bikes and products, and this year has been no different.
In fact, it's been the busiest Tour I can remember with eight brand new road bikes on show in the peloton. Here's a roundup of the brand new road bikes on display. These are all 2016 model year bikes so don't expect to see them in your local bike shop just yet, you're probably look at autumn before most become available. Popular trends with these new models are a continued focus on aerodynamics, stiffness, weight and comfort, with some radical redesigns versus some more subtle refinements of previous designs.
A dramatic aerodynamic makeover for Trek’s long-running Madone, with custom brakes integrated into the frame and fork and hinged flaps (Vector Wings) at the head tube to protect the front brake and solve the cable routing issue with the centre pull brake caliper. There’s a new one-piece aero handlebar and stem to further reduce drag. The most notable feature of the new bike however is the use of the IsoSpeed decoupler, borrowed from the company’s Domane bike, to make this an aero bike that doesn't skimp on comfort.
Specialized Venge Vias
The new Venge is about as futuristic as modern race bikes get while still conforming to the UCI’s strict rules. Fully internal cable routing in the new aero handlebar and stem reduces drag up front. Proprietary brakes are positioned in locations that the US company claims complete reduces drag usually caused by the brakes, and provides better braking performance as well.
One of the longest-running aero road bike models has been updated for 2016, and we saw it in action for the first time at the Tour de France. The previous Foil was a pretty slippery bike in the wind tunnel, so Scott has focused predominantly on improving the comfort and stiffness of the bike. Of course they’ve also made some aerodynamic gains, with a smaller rear triangle, revised internal cable routing and completely new front-end leading to reduced drag, with a the fork crown set into the down tube and a new optional aero handlebar and stem. There’s space for up to 28mm tyres as well, the IAM Cycling team has been racing 26mm tyres.
Cannondale SuperSix Evo
From a distance it doesn’t look like Cannondale has changed much on its brand new SuperSix Evo, but there are a raft of subtle tweaks, which all add up to a lighter, stiffer and more comfortable bike. Cables are now internally routed, it has the 25.4mm seatpost from the Synapse, and the fork is all-new to improved front-end compliance. Cannondale has introduced some subtle aerodynamic features, the main tubes using its new Truncated Aero Profile (TAP), and the seatpost water bottle has been lowered. Together the changes contribute to a 6 watt drag reduction at 40km compared with the old Evo.
Giant TCR Advanced SL
Giant has finally updated its long-running TCR Advanced SL with a completely revamped frame that is claimed to have the best stiffness-to-weight ratio of any frame in its class. It’s lighter, of course, 181g has come off the frame compared to the previous TCR, due to the use of slimmer profile main tubes and rear stays. The integrated seatmast has been redeveloped and said to offer more seated comfort, and owes a little to the Defy introduced last year.
Canyon Ultimate CF SLX
German company Canyon has updated its Ultimate CF SLX with with a focus on adding some of the aerodynamic features from the Aeroad. Unlike Trek which totally revamped its Madone, Canyon has been more conservative, and the new bike closely resembles the old model. The key changes are the new D-shape down tube, integrated seatpost clamp, slender D-shaped seatstays, aero optimised bottle cage positions, narrow fork blades, a flat and broad top tube and a narrow and non-tapered 1 1/4in head tube. Canyon claims it's 10 per cent more comfortable with 10 per cent less drag than the previous model.
Lapierre Xelius SL
French brand Lapierre, sponsor of the FDJ.fr team, launched the new Xelius SL just in time for the team to race at the Tour de France. The main story with that bike is that it has gone on a diet, but more interesting than that is the company’s quest to remove weight from the top half of the frame and place it lower in the frame, which it reckons improves handling as the centre of gravity is lower. The changes include the special hatch in the down tube to accomodate the Di2 battery. Those distinctive seat stays aren’t a comfort feature, but instead a solution to the company’s quest to reduce weight in this seat tube area.
The 2015 Tour de France sees the fourth generation of Merida's Scultura road bike making its debut. It's the lightest bike the company has ever made, with a frame weight a claimed 750g - the super top-end model is actually 90g lighter, but the team won't ride that model, as they're already up against the UCI's 6.8kg weight limit with the regular version. The new bike also gets some aerodynamic refinements and tyre clearance is increased so 25mm rubber fits in the frame and fork.
See all the race bikes of the 2015 Tour de France here
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. 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.