There’s a vast number of different wheels on display in this year’s Tour de France, riders making their choice based on the type of stage ahead of them, the terrain, the conditions and the bike they’re on. Here are some that have caught our eye…
For many stages Tour riders are using wheels that would have been considered pretty deep section not so long ago. Peter Sagan’s Venge, for example, is equipped with Roval CLX 64s, the 64 referring to the rim depth in millimetres.
The rim is 27.4mm wide and the hubs feature CeramicSpeed bearings.
The Bontrager Aeolus XXX 6 wheels on Bauke Mollema’s Trek Madone are nearly as deep at 60mm. Deeper wheels can often affect handling but Bontrager claims that its updated design, revealed earlier this year, provides extra stability in crosswinds.
They feature DT-Swiss hub internals with 36-point star ratchets that provide fast engagement when you start pedalling (10°) and they’re laced with DT-Swiss Aerolite spokes.
Before he was forced to retire from the Tour through injury, Vincenzo Nibali was using wheels with quite deep rims for the flatter stages too. These are Fulcrum Speed 55Ts (55mm-deep) with rims that are 24.2mm wide, optimised to work with 25mm tyres. These use CULT ceramic bearings from Campagnolo, which owns the Fulcrum brand.
Nibali’s bike was equipped with super-skinny titanium skewers to save a few grams.
These Movistar riders are using Campagnolo Bora Ultra 50s with rims that are 24.2mm wide, the same as the Fulcrum Speed 55T (above) and with the same CULT ceramic bearings.
Team Katusha Alpecin use wheels from Zipp. This is a Zipp 303 Firecrest on Ilnur Zakarin’s bike, 45mm deep front and rear with a maximum width of 28mm.
You can probably make out the Showstopper textured brake surface that’s designed “to deliver the best modulation and shortest stopping distances in wet and dry conditions”, according to Zipp.
Like several other Katusha Alpecin riders, Nils Politt uses Zipp 454 NSW wheels that feature a distinctive ‘sawtooth’ shape which is intended to reduce aerodynamic drag and side force. Zipp calls the 454 NSW it’s “highest performing wheelset ever”.
Before he was eliminated from the race, Mark Cavendish was rolling on Enve’s SES 4.5 wheelset. The front wheel’s rim is 48mm deep and 27mm wide while the rear is 56cm deep and 25.5mm wide, the idea being to provide an aero performance without compromised handling.
The distinctive green hubs are Chris King R45s. They use lightweight hub bodies and bearings that are made in-house. The rear hub features a RingDrive system with 45 teeth for fast engagement.
Mitchelton-Scott uses Shimano Dura-Ace wheels. This is the disc version of the 60mm-deep C60 on Jack Bauer’s Scott Foil Disc.
Adam Yates has C40s on his Addict, considerably shallower at 37mm although the same width: 28mm. The C60s might have an aero advantage but the C40s are lighter: 1,384g versus 1,507g.
Wout Poels has the same wheels on his Pinarello Dogma F10 X-Light, although shod with tyres from Continental rather than Pirelli.
Having split from Look, Fortuneo-Samsic now rides BH bikes fitted with Corima wheels. Corima offers wheels in 32mm, 47mm and 58mm depths. This is the 47mm S+ wheelset on Florian Vachon’s bike with a claimed weight (front and rear) of 1,250g.
Stage 3 of this year’s Tour de France was the team time trial and there’s an individual time trial on Saturday’s penultimate stage which, if things remain close at the top between now and then, could prove decisive to the overall standings.
Bora-Hansgrohe uses wheels from Roval, a sub-brand of frameset supplier Specialized. This looks like the yet-to-be-released 321 disc wheel. Roval reckon it’s the most aero wheel out there and the lightest too, weighing 1,005g for this rim brake version, 1,015g for the disc brake version (the disc disc, if you like). It features a single layer of 1k carbon on each side, DT Swiss 240 hub internals and CeramicSpeed bearings.
When we swung by, the team was busy stickering the wheels to publicise the Specialized Foundation.
“Through investments in primary scientific medical research and school-based cycling programmes, our mission is to increase accessibility to cycling to aid youth in personal development and education,” says Specialized.
The Roval 321 will be available for clincher tyres only, not tubulars.
Education First Drapac p/b Cannondale uses a disc wheel from Vision.
The front wheel is interesting too. It has ’New TL’ scrawled on it in marker pen and those Vittoria Corsa Speed 25mm tyres are tubeless ready, so it looks like the team has ditched tubulars for the time trials.
Trek-Segafredo’s Toms Skujins has a disc wheel that features a Bontrager logo...
...but look closer and the dimpled surface reveals that it's a Zipp.
Enve supplies most of Dimension Data’s wheels but the brand doesn’t make a disc so the team uses unbranded wheels for the time trials.
Want more 2018 Tour tech? Then visit our special Tour de France tech 2018 tag page and fill yer boots!
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.