There's always loads of new technology on display in the pro peloton – it's where the big brands showcase their latest designs. Here are some of the most interesting bikes, components and accessories you'll see the pros using over the coming months…
The latest iteration of Shimano’s top-level road groupset (including wheels) is gradually being rolled out to all Shimano-sponsored teams.
The teams have taken delivery of the R9100 products, and the R9150 Di2 (electronic shifting) components were handed over to them last week. The vast majority of riders will be using Di2 as opposed to mechanical shifting.
Quick-Step Floors’ Marcel Kittel has already won using hydraulic disc brakes and it’ll be interesting to see how many others go down this route as the season progresses.
FDJ riders used prototypes of Shimano’s new power meter (part of Shimano’s Dura-Ace R9100 groupset, above) last year during the development process. The Japanese component giant has recently given us more information about the design which is said to offer +/-2% accuracy.
Shimano is the groupset provider to 14 of the 18 WorldTour teams in 2017, but most of these teams already have power meter sponsors; Team Sky, for example, has been using Stages power meters since 2014. FDJ and Team Sunweb will be using the Shimano system this year.
Italy’s Campagnolo has still yet to release any disc brakes, although last March it did reveal several prototype designs that would be trialled by professional riders over subsequent weeks and months.
Campag supplies groupsets for the Lotto-Soudal, Movistar and UAE Abu Dhabi pro teams. All those teams ride bikes from brands that have UCI-approved disc brake frames and forks in the range, so switching to discs for any particular event would be relatively straightforward. Surely Campagnolo will launch a disc brake soon... although we've been saying that for yonks. We’ll just have to wait and see on this one.
Pinarello revealed its new Dogma F10 at Team Sky’s Majorca training camp last month and the team riders raced the Tour Down Under on the new design. Naturally, the F10 is lighter, stiffer and more aerodynamically efficient, according to Pinarello.
FSA’s K-Force WE electronic semi-wireless has been in development for five years and will apparently be used by Astana, Direct Energie and Cofidis pro teams in 2017 (Direct Energie and Cofidis are UCI Pro Continental rather than WorldTour teams).
The shifters communicate wirelessly with the front derailleur which is connected to the battery and rear derailleur by cables.
The Astana riders are currently using Shimano Dura-Ace groupsets but the plan is that they'll switch to FSA as K-Force WE becomes available.
LottoNL-Jumbo, Team Sunweb and several other individual riders including Ian Stannard (Team Sky) and Mathew Hayman (Orica-Scott) are using Shimano’s S-Phyre shoes which were first revealed last year.
LottoNL-Jumbo is using the new Shimano S-Phyre clothing too, and will work with Shimano on future developments.
“Power generation is hard enough, riders don’t need to lose watts to the physics of aero drag, friction or overheating,” says Shimano. “S-Phyre is engineered to limit these losses through technological advancements, applying linkage and movement principles in a complete system between the bike, the body and the motion of its muscles.”
Okay, but we need to try this out for ourselves. Luckily, we have some S-Phyre shoes and (summer) clothing in for review at the moment, so we’ll let you know how it performs in due course.
A new version of the Cervelo R5 has been spotted at the Dubai Tour and we expect to see more Team Dimension Data using it as the race season progresses.
The bike is described as the “R5 rim brake version” on the UCI’s List of Approved Models of Frames and Forks, which implies that a disc brake version is on the cards too.
Details on the new R5 are scant but judging by the fact that the size of the down tube profile has increased, we’re guessing that Cervelo has sought to increase the stiffness-to-weight ratio.
Clearly, we’re going to see more disc brake bikes used this year, and the most obvious first use for many of them would be at the Cobbled Classics. Most of the WorldTour teams use bikes from brands that have UCI approved disc brake frames and forks.
To take a random example, Astana uses Argon 18 bikes, and Argon 18 had the new Gallium Pro Disc approved last September. The team plans to use the disc brake bike at some stage this season.
Cannondale-Drapac’s sport director Andreas Klier recently said, “Cannondale and Slipstream Sports came up with a disc-brake plan for the season, which includes different bike races throughout the year.”
Cannondale has had both the SuperSix Evo 2 Disc and the Synapse Disc approved, and we ran a story in December showing riders training on the SuperSix Evo Disc.
SRAM tells us that we will see some of its road teams and individual athletes riding on Red eTap HRD groupsets (with electronic shifting and hydraulic braking) and Zipp 454 NSW wheels (which are clinchers only; no tubular version is available at the moment) during the season. SRAM’s only WorldTour team is Katusha-Alpecin, so perhaps we’ll see hydraulic disc brakes on its Canyon bikes at some stage.
There are some teams that don’t have access to UCI approved disc brake frames and forks. LottoNL-Jumbo, for example, ride Bianchi bikes and the only disc brake bike on the UCI’s list is the cyclocross Zurigo. Of course, that could change as the season goes on.
Many new wheels that you'll see in the pro peloton this year have wide rims.
Shimano’s new R9100 C40 and C60 tubular wheels have 28mm wide rims, for example, and the Roval CLX 32, 50 and 64 tubular wheels are all over 27mm wide.
The idea is that these wheels work better with the wider tyres that the vast majority of pro riders use these days for both speed and comfort. Wider rims provide better support for wider tyres and, in terms of aerodynamics, they help separated airflow reattach to the rims and so reduce drag.
SRM dominates when it comes to power meters in the pro peloton, and the German brand has a new axle based model that uses its own carbon cranks (as opposed to cranks from third parties like Shimano and Campagnolo) developed with THM-Carbones. SRM says that the carbon arms weigh just 99g each.
The new model is being used by Bahrain-Merida with others sure to follow.
Lotto Soudal riders are using the new Ridley Helium SLX frameset, made from 60T, 40T and 30T unidirectional carbon fibre. Ridley claims that the frame weighs just 750g and the straight-bladed fork is 300g.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.