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Top tech trends at the Tour de France: how pro bikes are evolving

Check out the most popular bike and component features in the peloton

The bikes that the pros ride are constantly evolving as a result of the latest technological innovations and team preferences, and here are the biggest trends that we've noticed this year.

None of these features is entirely new – indeed, some have been around for ages. What is new is the degree to which they're now being incorporated into the bikes of the peloton.

Integrated handlebars/stems

Integrated handlebars/stems have been around for years but we've seen more of them than ever before in 2019.geraint thomas pinarello5.JPG

The new Pinarello Dogma F12 ridden by Team Ineos has a MOST Talon integrated handlebar that has been refined and features a channel for the cables. The rear of the stem section is enlarged to allow the cables to go directly into the frame.Tour de France 2019 Geraint Thomas Pinarello Dogma F12 - 3.jpg

Find out more about Geraint Thomas's Pinarello Dogma F12 here. 

Tour de France 2019 Simon Yates Scott Addict RC - 6.jpg

The new Scott Addict RC, as ridden by Simon Yates of Mitchelton—Scott, features a combined handlebar and stem called the Syncros Creston iC SL combined version here (it's available to buy with a separate handlebar and stem, if that's what you're after).

Tour de France 2019 Simon Yates Scott Addict RC - 2.jpg

The brake hoses and Shimano Di2 wires feed into the handlebar/stem and are taken internally into the front of the enlarged head tube. Scott calls its new head tube and steerer tube the “Eccentric Bicycle Fork Shaft”. The design will also take mechanical gear cables, although Mitchelton–Scott uses electronic shifting only. 

Check out Simon Yates' Scott Addict RC here. 

Tour de France 2019 Wanty–Gobert Cube - 1

Wanty–Groupe Gobert riders have the option of riding Cube's new Litening C:68X, another new bike with an integrated bar/stem.

Find out all about the Cube Litening C:68X here.

Tour de France 2019 Greipel handlebar - 1

Loads of riders from various teams use the Vision Metron 5D integrated bar/ stem which has been around for a few years now. This is Andre Greipel making sure that his bike is set up correctly, for example.

Tour de France 2019 Bahrain Merida Vision Metron 6D handlebar - 1

Some riders use the 6D version which has tops that are straight rather than arcing forwards.

Tour de France 2019 Landa H36 handlebar Aeroad - 1 (2)

Over on Katusha–Alpecin and Movistar, the Canyon H36 combined bar and stem is still popular. 

No wires or brake hoses to be seen!

Related to the increased number of integrated handebar/stems, the trend towards hiding every little bit of gear wiring and brake cable/hose continues .

Internal cable routing has been a feature of high-end bikes – and many cheaper bikes – for ages but its getting rarer to see even a glimpse of cable or hose.

Tour de France 2019 Total Direct Energie Wilier Zero SLR - 9

Total Direct Energie riders are using the new Wilier Zero SLR that the Italian brand describes as "the first superlight road racing bike with disc brakes and fully integrated cables".

One of the Zero SLR's key features is its integrated carbon handlebar/stem (see above) which takes the brake hoses and shift cables internally. These run down into the frame via two-part composite spacers that lock together in use. 

Tour de France 2019 Total Direct Energie Wilier Zero SLR - 4.jpg

As mentioned above, the new Scott Addict RC,  Pinarello Dogma F12 and Cube Litening C:68X have similar systems where the wires and cables or hoses run internally through the stem section and directly into the frame without seeing daylight in between.

Tour de France 2019 Michael Matthews Cervelo S5 - 1.jpg

The Cervelo S5 Disc is another new bike – launched last autumn – with cable routing that's now fully internal. This one belongs to Michael Matthews of Team Sunweb.

The bar and stem look like they're integrated at first glance but they're really two separate components. 

There are certainly bikes out there where some of the cabling remains external (see the pic of Canyon's H36 handlebar/stem higher up the page, for example), but it's becoming the exception rather than the rule, especially on aero road bikes.

Disc brakes

Wind yer neck in, of course we have to mention disc brakes! Like them or loathe them, there are more in this year's Tour de France than ever before.

Some teams still don't touch disc brakes. Movistar, for example, has none on any of its Canyon bikes.

Tour de France 2019 Peter Sagan Chasing Rainbows Venge - 1.jpg

Other teams, such as Bora-Hansgrohe (this is Peter Sagan's Specialized S-Works Venge, above) and Deceuninck–QuickStep, use disc brakes exclusively.

Tour de France 2019 Fuglsang Argon 18 Nitrogen Disc - 1

Some teams have a mixture of the two. Jakob Fuglsang of Astana (who has now abandoned the race), has an Argon 18 Nitrogen Disc...

Tour de France 2019 Fuglsang Argon 18 Gallium Pro - 1

...and a Gallium Pro with rim brakes.

There's an increasing number of disc brake-only high-end bikes out there like the new Scott Addict RC, the Wilier Zero SLR and the Cube Litening C:68X. With that in mind, we can only see this shift from rim brakes to disc brakes continuing  in the pro peloton.

Short saddles

We've seen more short saddles in the peloton this year than previously. 

Tour de France 2019 Prologo saddles - 1.jpg

We intercepted these Prologo Dimensions en route for Astana and Groupama–FDJ...

Tour de France 2019 Prologo saddles Education First - 1.jpg

...and spotted this one on an EF Education First bike. It's just 245mm long and designed for those who spend a lot of time in the drops.

Read our review of the Prologo Dimension Nack saddle.Tour de France 2019 Patrick Bevin Cadex saddle - 1.jpg

The Cadex Boost on the bike belonging to CCC's Patrick Bevin is just 1mm longer.bora team bikes31.jpg

Some of the Bora–Hansgrohe team choose Specialized's Women's S-Works Power with Mimic over any of the men's saddles in the range, and it's another shorty. 

Check out 6 of the best shorty saddles.

Tubeless tyres

Let's not overstate this one; the vast majority of tyres used in the pro peloton are tubulars, but there has been a small move towards tubeless.

Tour de France 2019 Movistar Campag Bora WTO 40 - 1.jpg

Campagnolo's Bora WTO (Wind Tunnel Optimized) aero wheels aren't available for tubular tyres, they're tubeless-ready only. This is Alejandro Valverde's Canyon Ultimate CF SLX fitted with Bora WTO 40s and Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL (tubeless) tyres.

Read our Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL review here. 

Deceuninck–Quick-Step riders have used Specialized's new S-Works Turbo RapidAir tubeless tyre.

Tour de France 2019 Quick-Step Specialized tyres - 1.jpg

Specialized says, "They have all of the tubular ride characteristics our pros love, rolling faster and handling corners better, but with instantly sealed flats and quick installation."

There's no danger of tubeless tyres overtaking tubulars in terms of popularity in the peloton any time soon, but they're certainly a technology that's on the up. 

Aero tweaks for non-aero bikes

Over recent years we've become used to brands offering pro riders a choice of road bikes: a lightweight one and an aero one, and sometimes an endurance one too (usually for the cobbled classics). We're now seeing brands incorporating more aero features on their lightweight bikes.

The Wilier Zero SLR ridden by Total Direct Energie, for example, is certainly lightweight, especially for a disc brake bike, with a frame weight of 780g and a fork weight of 340g. It's not an aero road bike by any means but Wilier has increased the distance between the fork blades and the wheel to improve aerodynamics, something it says that it learned when developing its Turbine triathlon and time trial bikes. 

Tour de France 2019 Total Direct Energie Wilier Zero SLR - 7.jpg

The carbon monocoque seatpost has a D-shaped cross section; a rounded leading edge while the rear is squared off.  Wilier says that although it's not designed to be ultra-aero, it's more aerodynamically efficient than a round post.

Tour de France 2019 Simon Yates Scott Addict RC - 1.jpg

The Foil is the aero road bike in Scott's range but the brand has brought more aero features into the new Addict RC, as used by Mitchelton–Scott. We've already mentioned the new one-piece handlebar and stem with internally routed brake hoses and gear wires, and Scott’s own patented airfoil tube shape has been used for the down tube, head tube, seat tube, seatpost, seatstays. Those seatstays have also been lowered (they meet the seat tube lower) to reduce the size of the gap behind the seat tube and decrease drag.

Tour de France 2019 Simon Yates Scott Addict RC - 4.jpg

The result is a bike that saves the equivalent of six watts at 45km/h compared to the previous Addict, according to Scott.

Team Ineos doesn't do the aero bike/ lightweight bike thing, using the Pinarello Dogma F12 for all road stages. The Dogma didn't start out as an aero road bike but it gets more aero with every update, Pinarello claiming that the F12 has 7.3% less drag than the F10, saving the equivalent of eight watts at 40km/h.

Tour de France 2019 Ineos Bernal Pinarello Dogma F12 - 1

We've talked about the updated Talon combined bar/stem already. The Flat Back down tube profile is retained from the F10, but has been made narrower. The idea is that the tube shape works to improve airflow with a water bottle in place. 

Pinarello has also reshaped the bottom bracket to allow the bottle cage to be mounted 5mm lower.

The fork has been updated with a large profile at the top of the legs to help to improve airflow there while Pinarello has also looked closely at the junction of the head tube, down tube and fork crown meet to reduce drag in that area. 

Click here for loads more Tour de France 2019 tech. 

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 pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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