Keep your eyes open at the Tour de France and you'll see some interesting, innovative and sometimes strange equipment and setups. Here's what we've spotted so far...
Coolest paint job: Trek-Segafredo
Trek-Segafredo's bikes are usually bright red with white logos, but they have a 'molten marble' effect for the Tour de France, as seen on this Madone Disc. It's from Trek's Icon range of premium paint schemes that you can get through the brand's Project One programme.
By the way, those Bontrager XXX shoes in the top picture have yet to be officially announced.
Strongest theme: Alejandro Valverde
Movistar's Alejandro Valverde is the current road race world champion, and wouldn't you know it! Almost all of his equipment features rainbow stripes – everything from his Abus Airbreaker helmet to his power2max power meter and the Boa dials on his Fizik Infinito R1 shoes.
If you're world champ, you might as well lord it up.
Shonkiest armrest padding: Team Ineos
The Team Ineos Pinarello Bolide is one of the most high tech bikes out there, and the Most Talon TT bar is chock full of innovative features... and then there are the armrest pads. These are simply cut out from a sheet of foam with a pair of scissors and glued in place. It's all about function, of course, but pretty, they ain't.
That said, it's the same deal on Rohan Dennis's Merida Warp. Some interesting use of grip tape going on here too.
Largest saddle to handlebar drop: Anthony Delaplace
Most Tour de France riders have a large drop from the saddle to the handlebar, trying to get as much aero advantage as possible with a low front end. Is the height difference on Anthony Delaplace's BH the biggest out there? Probably not, to be honest, but it's pretty big. The frame has an extended seat tube and there's a few inches of seatpost extending out of the top, while his stem is slammed right down on the head tube.
Longest socks: Arkea Samsic
We've heard a lot this week about the UCI's war on long socks; they can't extend higher than the midway point between the ankle and the knee. The road.cc ruler says that Arkea Samsic are living dangerously here. Quite something, aren't they?
Fewest spokes: Elie Gesbert
Plenty of tri spoke wheels are used in time trials – and disc rear wheels with no spokes at all – but two spoke wheels are much more unusual. Arkea Samsic's Elie Gesbert had this Falcon model from Dutch brand FFwd fitted to his BH Aerolight TT bike (the Aerolight Disc was added to the UCI's list of approved frames and forks just last month, by the way, and has yet to be officially announced).
The idea, of course, is to reduce drag, and FFwd reckons that their two spoke design is a whole lot more aerodynamically efficient than even a tri spoke.
Most avant-garde shoe modification: Andrey Amador
Whoa! It looks like Movistar's Andrey Amador had his Fizik shoes modified by Freddy Krueger, presumably for increased ventilation.
Longest stem: Steve Cummings
You see 130mm and 140mm stems on pros' bikes all the time but Team Dimension Data's British rider Steve Cummings has a 150mm stem fitted to his BMC SLR01. In fact, it's more of a tiller than a stem.
Most innovative shifter: Team Sunweb
This is the shifting arrangement on Wilco Kelderman's Cervelo P5 Disc, and it's the same on other Team Sunweb time trial bikes.
It's a Shimano R9180 hydraulic disc brake/Di2 dual control lever with a remote satellite shifter – often called a climbing shifter – taped to the side. This allows the rider to swap between chainrings while using the base bar. That's grip tape stuck to the top of the bar; loads of teams use it to stop sweaty hands slipping.
There are, of course, shifters at the ends of the aero bar extensions too.
Funkiest saddles: Prologo
Prologo has supplied saddles for its sponsored riders in team colours. These are all Dimension Nack PAS saddles with carbon rails and a pressure relief channel in the centre.
They will be available to buy in limited numbers.
Most resourceful use of handlebar tape: Movistar
Movistar uses handlebar tape from Lizard Skins. Most of it goes on handlebars, funnily enough, but the mechanics also put a bit on Elite's TT Crono bottle cages for a little extra security.
Strangest seatpost positioning: Gorka Izagirre
Crikey! Astana's Gorka Izagirre has his FSA post fitted back to front so that the layback turns into forward extension. Unsettling!
Mind you, Izagirre's ride position is unusual all round...
...with a spacer positioned underneath a negative rise stem.
Most over the top use of black marker: Movistar
Someone at Movistar had the job of lining up their Elite Leggero carbon bottle cages and going over the red details with a black marker pen. It's a crazy world, pro cycling.
Most dog's dinner-ish front end: Astana
The Argon 18 Nitrogen Disc is a great bike. The Vision Metron 5D Integrated is a great bar/stem. Put them together and you get... well, a bit of a mess, to be honest. The Aero 3D head tube (which extends the height of the head tube without the flex associated with spacers) adds to the complexity, then there's a spacer underneath the stem section and another on top, and Astana positions the Shimano Di2 Junction A box externally for better access. In these days of integrated everything, there's a whole lot going on here!
Most incognito saddle: Vincenzo Nibali
Bahrain-Merida is sponsored by Prologo saddles but Vincenzo Nibali is a long-time Fizik Antares user, hence this logo-less model that's designed to fly under the radar.
Biggest glasses: Rigoberto Uran
There are a lot of big glasses in the peloton these days, but Rigoberto Uran's Pocs take some beating in terms of sheer acreage. They look like Aspires.
Most far-reaching legacy: Sky
When Sky decided not to renew their team sponsorship, people asked what their legacy to cycling would be. Well, there's that number plate on the Team Ineos mechanics' truck for a start.
We'll have loads more Tour de France tech here on road.cc over the course of the race.
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.