Tour de France riders have to use handlebars and stems provided by their team's sponsors but they still get to pick from a variety of different models. Here are some that are proving popular in this year's race.
Alejandro Valverde uses a Canyon Aerocockpit on his Canyon Ultimate CF SLX (main pic, above), with a Campagnolo EPS junction box fixed to the underside of the stem section and a computer mount up front. The top sections of the bar employ a modified Trident profile – Trident being the name Canyon gives to the shaping of frame, fork and seatpost sections that are designed to reduce drag. The bar tape is from Lizard Skins.
Rick Zabel and a number of his Katusha Alpecin teammates have a similar setup. They’re on Canyon’s too – either the Ultimate CF SLX or the Aeroad CF SLX which, as its name implies, is the aero road bike in the range.
Team Sky’s Wout Poels uses a one-piece handlebar and stem too, this time from Most, Pinarello’s in-house brand. Many other members of the team use separate handlebars and stems from Shimano’s sub-brand Pro.
Vision’s Metron 5D combined handlebar/stem makes an appearance on many bikes, including Sep Vanmarcke’s new Cannondale SystemSix where it doesn’t integrate especially well with the frame.
Cannondale offers the SystemSix for sale with its Knot SystemBar and stem which are designed specifically for the frame, but Education First has stuck with Vision because it offers bars and stems suitable for all of the team's bikes.
Primoz Roglic, who is riding high in fourth place in GC at the time of writing, has the same bar on his Bianchi Oltre XR4. The top of the head tube is specifically designed to integrate with this bar.
Roglic has grip tape stuck to the top section to stop his hands slipping, which is something that none of his teammates has.
Don’t let all this talk of one-piece handlebar/stems give you the wrong impression – most riders are still using separate components.
Although several of his teammates opt for the Metron 5D, Bahrain-Merida’s Vincenzo Nibali was using a two-piece set up before injury on Alpe d’Huez forced him out of the race. His Merida Reacto KOM was setup to be as light as possible with an FSA OS 99 3D forged 7050 aluminium stem with a compact K-Force carbon handlebar.
As well as standard Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 shifters, Nibali has satellite shifters poking through the tape on the drops.
Teammate Heinrich Haussler uses a negative rise (I know, it’s a ridiculous term!) aluminium stem from FSA on his Reacto in order to get the position he’s after for his K-Force handlebar.
Like many other riders, Ion Izagirre keeps the front end low on his Merida Scultura by using no spacers under his carbon-wrapped aluminium FSA OS 99 stem. The Spaniard uses a climbing shifter for his Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 shift system.
Trek has moved away from a one piece handlebar/stem on the latest version of its Madone.
The new Madone SLR features a two-piece system – still proprietary – with several stem options (90mm to 130mm lengths, and -7° and -14° angles) and more bar widths than before (38cm to 44cm), plus +/-5° of bar rotation.
Bauke Mollema’s bike is fitted with Bontrager’s Blendr computer mount.
Before he missed the time cut, Mark Cavendish was using an Enve SES Aero Road handlebar and Aero Road stem on his Cervelo S5. You can see that the handlebar has a smaller frontal area than a standard bar – it’s not much but it all counts. The bar is made from unidirectional carbon fibre and has a claimed weight of 249g.
The stem earns its ‘Aero’ moniker largely courtesy of the fact that the rise is adjustable through the use of a shim. This allows you to eliminate spacers which aren’t particularly aero. That's the rationale.
Specialized says that the new Aerofly II handlebar on Peter Sagan’s Venge is more aerodynamically efficient, lighter and stiffer than its previous design. The gear cables and disc brake hoses are internally routed.
Specialized claims the Venge’ new stem is stiffer than any other that it has tested including the Zipp SL Sprint that Sagan has used in the past. The new stem takes internally routed cables and hoses from the handlebar and passes them directly into the frame via a small cover on the underside.
No logos on any of this prime real estate? Subtlety isn't something that's usually associated with the bike industry.
Adam Yates of Mitchelton-Scott uses a handlebar and stem from Syncros, a brand that’s now owned by Scott. The bar is a Creston 1.5, made from aluminium with a slight flare that’s designed to allow easier access to the drops. The RR1.5 stem is aluminium too, with a -6° angle. With no headset spacers, that makes for a very low front end.
Yates prefers to have the buttons of his Di2 satellite shifter facing forwards rather than back, operating them with his index finger rather than with his thumb.
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.