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Tour de France 2015 Bikes: John Degenkolb’s Giant Propel Advanced SL

The aero road bike the German has ridden to two second-place finishes in this year's Tour

Team Giant-Alpecin’s John Degenkolb finished second to Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) in yesterday’s stage of the Tour de France and here’s his Giant Propel Advanced SL.

Degenkolb is currently sitting third in the Points Classification (green jersey competition) after six top-10 finishes in this year’s Tour de France, including two second-places. The German rider has won stages in both the Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy) and the Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain), and he has won major one-day races like Milan–San Remo, Paris–Roubaix and Gent–Wevelgem, but he has yet to win a stage of the Tour.

Giant calls the Propel Advanced SL the ‘world’s fastest aero road bike’. The frame tubes have been designed with aerodynamics in mind, so you get a very deep down tube and a seat tube that’s cut away around the leading edge of the rear wheel – both features common to many aero road bikes.

That seat tube incorporates an integrated seatpost that’s designed to be more aerodynamically efficient than a standard round post. Giant says that the integrated post saves weight too – about 45g compared to a standard composite seatpost. Perhaps more surprisingly, the brand also says that it provides a more forgiving ride feel.

The fork legs, like the frame elements, are slim and deep, and they’re home to linear pull (V-brake) brakes from Fouriers. These are lightweight and the brake arms sit behind the fork out of the wind.

It’s a similar situation at the rear where the brake arms sit directly behind the slim seatstays. Those seatstays join the seat tube quite low, well below the top tube junction, to reduce the bike’s frontal area.

The head tube is built to Giant’s Overdrive 2 design which means that rather than traditional 1 1/8in bearings it houses a 1 1/4in bearing up top and a 1 1 /2in bearing down below. Most modern race bikes now come with oversized bearings although the exact configuration varies between manufacturers and models. The idea, of course, is to boost front end stiffness for improved sprinting and cornering.

The Propel Advanced SL also features an oversized bottom bracket. It’s 86mm wide in order to add stiffness through the centre of the bike. The chainstays are asymmetric, the driveside

Asymmetric chainstays are designed to provide additional stiffness on the driveside which has to cope with higher forces.

The frame is made from what Giant calls Advanced SL composite. Giant takes T-800 raw carbon fibre and weaves it in its own composite factory. Giant says that it use ‘Continuous Fiber Technology’ in the construction, using larger sections of composite material than usual. That means there are fewer junctions and Giant reckons this makes things stronger and allows it to drop up to 100g.

Giant says that the resin comes with Carbon Nanotube Technology (CNT). This is a microscopic polymer that’s designed to strengthen the layers of composite. Giant says that frames featuring CNT are 14% more impact-resistant than those without it.

Giant gives the Propel Advanced SL’s frame weight as 950g. That’s light for an aero road bike. As a rule, aero road bikes aren’t the lightest options out there because of the extra material involved in the deeper than usual frame tubes. The fork weight is given as 380g.

Team Giant-Alpecin use components from Shimano. Like all the other Shimano-equipped WorldTeams, they have Dura-Ace Di2 electronic shifting. Degenkolb is using a 53/39-tooth chainset here.

The zip-tie to keep the rear mech wire from moving isn't the neatest solution ever, but it looks to be effective enough.

Degenkolb has satellite shifters that allow him to change gear while his hands are on the drops and his bike is also fitted with a climbing shifter that allows gear changes while he’s riding with his hands on the bar tops.

Team Giant-Alpecin use powermeters from Pioneer while the wheels are Shimano C50s shod with Vittoria Corsa CX tyres in a 25mm width.

The remaining components come from Shimano’s in-house Pro brand.

The bar and stem are both Vibe 7S items, made from aluminium alloy.

The saddle is a Pro Turnix Carbon AF with a carbon-reinforced base and carbon-fibre rails.

That little bit of wood bonded to the down tube is from Mynoaky, a project set up by former pro rider Andreas Klier. It allows you to knock on wood whenever you feel it necessary as a thank you or for good luck!

If you've seen the advert – and, let's face it, you can't avoid it – you'll know that John Degenkolb also uses shampoo from Alpecin. Is that because Alpecin is his team sponsor? No, not at all. It's great after training. It leaves his hair feeling good.

Frame Giant Advanced SL-Grade Composite, Integrated Seatpost
Fork Advanced SL-Grade Composite, Full-Composite OverDrive 2 Steerer
Shifters Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 with satellite sprinter and climber shifters
Front derailleur Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Rear derailleur Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Shifters Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Chainset Shimano Dura-Ace 53/39
Brakes Fouriers
Bottom bracket Shimano, Press Fit
Saddle Pro Turnix Carbon AF
Wheels Shimano C50
Tyres Vittoria Corsa CX 25mm

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 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.

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