When maximum speed is required for flat stages and sprints, an aero road bike is the weapon of choice for most riders in the Tour de France. Here are 10 that have made an appearance in this year's race.
Main photo: Chris Auld
Canyon revealed its latest disc brake-only Aeroad range, developed with Swiss Side, last October.
The bike alone is 7.4 watts more efficient than the previous model at 45km/h (28mph) claims Canyon. Plus, the top-level Aeroad CFR is said to be 14% stiffer and 168g lighter than the previous Aeroad CF SLX.
The tube profiles have been optimised to make good use of the sailing effect, Canyon explains:
“Given the correct tube profiles, sailing effect occurs at certain yaw angles when the tube profiles interact with the air like a wing, generating lift and therefore propelling the rider forward.
“This means in certain crosswind conditions the rider benefits from a drag reduction. They can lean into the wind and accelerate, providing a huge performance advantage over non-aero frames."
The new front end with fully internal cable routing brings the Aeroad into line with most other aero road bikes out there. While there have been issues with the CP0018 Aerocockpit leading to Canyon issuing a 'stop ride' order, a solution looks to be just around the corner, as Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel has been spotted riding his Canyon Aeroad CFR with the correct handlebar. Read the full latest story on this over here.
Scott unveiled an updated version of its Foil in August last year with full internal routing.
"The new Foil has the same well-proven lightweight and aerodynamic frame as the previous version and is still amongst the lightest aero bikes on the market, but now comes with fully integrated cable routing and a unique colour scheme," says Scott.
It comes with a new fork that takes tyres up to 30mm wide and uses the Syncros Creston IC SL combined handlebar and stem.
Caleb Ewan has unfortunately crashed out of this year's Tour de France but he sprinted to victory on Stage 3 and Stage 11 last year on a Ridley Noah Fast Disc.
The bike comes with a fork crown that integrates into the cutaway head tube to manage airflow at the front end.
Little fairings at the end of the fork that Ridley calls F-WIngs are designed to combat turbulence created by the spinning hub.
The fourth-generation Reacto is a disc brake-only bike that follows the trend for a fully integrated front end, saving a claimed two watts, according to Merida; the brake hoses and shift cable are hidden inside the head tube whereas they were exposed between the handlebar and the down tube previously.
The fork crown is tucked further into the junction of the head tube and down tube than on the previous version of this bike to reduce drag by another 2 watts.
The seatstays have also been dropped, along with a concealed seat post clamp, hidden through-axle as well as more streamlined and neatly integrated disc coolers.
The Tarmac in a roundup of aero road bikes? Although it has traditionally been the lightweight race bike in the range, Specialized says that the new version of the Tarmac is also super-aero.
"By targeting the tubes that truly impact the aero performance of the frame, whether it's the seat tube, the seatstays, the head tube or the fork blades, all with shapes from our FreeFoil Shape Library [the collection of airfoil shapes that Specialized has developed], and then mating them with the fastest components that we have at our disposal and integrating the cabling, we created a package that is 45secs faster over 40km than the Tarmac SL6," says Cam Piper, the product manager behind the Specialized Tarmac SL7.
The brand reckons that its team riders no longer need to choose between an aero road bike and a lightweight road bike according to the terrain and conditions because the S-Works Tarmac SL7 is both. That’s why the likes of Julian Alaphilippe and Peter Sagan are riding it every day.
Unleashed in September of last year, Factor’s Ostro VAM is an aero disc-brake bike that combines the low weight of its O2 VAM with the aero qualities of its ONE model. Naturally, there are no cables anywhere to be seen.
The tubes are truncated aero sections designed to reduce drag in crosswinds without adversely affecting handling.
The Ostro fork features what Factor calls a ‘Reversing Flow Energising Channel’.
"Both the channel and the fork’s wide stance address the aerodynamic challenge of incoming airflow meeting the ‘reversing flow’ of air carried by the wheel and tyre moving forwards through the fork,” Factor explains. “This reversed flow stagnates behind the fork and disturbs airflow around the outside of the fork onto the down tube."
Factor designed a 'converging nozzle' into the fork crown to accelerate the reversed flow out of this area and cut overall drag.
The Trek-Segafredo team is spending a lot of time on Trek’s Emonda, updated with aero features, but the Madone is still getting a look in.
The Madone is made with Trek’s deep Kammtail Virtual Foil aerodynamic tube shapes and an adjustable top tube IsoSpeed decoupler which allows the seat tube to flex and smooth the ride. You can see the IsoSpeed system on the underside of the top tube in this pic of Mads Pedersen and his bike.
Intermarché took over the CCC World Tour licence this year and its riders will be chasing stage wins mostly on Cube’s Litening C:68X SLT.
The bike features aero tube profiles throughout and is designed to have minimal crosswind susceptibility. Cube claims to have achieved a 30% reduction in drag over the previous model by reducing the number of wide tubes and lowering the Litening’s frontal area.
Its own one-piece integrated handlebar hides all the wires and hoses inside.
Italian brand Newman supplies the wheels.
Team BikeExchange riders are mostly racing on the new Bianchi Specialissima but the Oltre XR4 still gets a look in, a bike that was released way back in 2016. The one pictured above is a Tour de France custom painted version for Michael Matthews.
“In a wind tunnel, technicians flew fluorescent paint over the frame and fork’s surface at race speed and interpreted their trace patterns and intensity to reveal the aerodynamic performance of every aspect,” Bianchi said about the development of the bike.
The head tube is said to have been inspired by Bianchi’s Aquila time trial bike and the same goes for the fork with a crown that integrates with the frame and legs that are narrow to keep the frontal surface area low.
Team BikeExchange riders are using the disc brake bike rather than the rim version Jumbo-Visma riders used last season. Also, instead of the black paint job which the yellow squad opted for to keep the weight down, BikeExchange race on the XR4 with refreshed modern aesthetics. There are diagonal bands of two different celeste shades alongside some stealthy black.
Cervelo announced the S5 Disc towards the end of 2018. The down tube has a profile shaped to reduce drag, and it is cut away around the trailing edge of the front tyre.
The seat tube follows the shape of the rear wheel and is narrower than that of previous versions of the bike, with a slimmer seat post to go with it.
All cables are internally routed and as well as hiding the cables, the V-shaped geometry of the stem is designed “to present less obstruction to the oncoming high-velocity airflow between the rider’s arms”.
Cervelo has made the latest version of the S5 longer and lower than before in response to feedback from professional riders.
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.