The Tour de France is a huge shop window for the many bike brands sponsoring professional teams with a global audience that makes it the perfect opportunity to showcase new bikes and products. It’s for that reason that we see so many new bike launches at this time of year, and why for many years the road.cc Tech Team have headed out to the host town in the days before the Grand Depart to nose around for the newest bikes that might or might not have been revealed.
As you read this, we’re in the car on the way to Brussels but before we get to the Tour de France we wanted to share with you some of the shiny new things we expect to see, and some speculation about the unknowns. The Tour always throws up lots of new bikes and products, some expected and some unexpected.
Cannondale has a radically new SuperSix Evo, more aero and comfortable than the old bike, with an all-new appearance that has shocked many. It’s available with disc or rim brakes, it’ll be interesting to see which the EF Education First team choose. They have been using the disc-only SystemSix aero bike so maybe they’ll go all in with disc brakes? I doubt it somehow.
One of the most interesting bikes launched in recent weeks is the Scott Addict RC. Scott has taken its superlight road racer and design a sleek integrated handlebar with full internal routing for any groupset, chucked in some aerodynamics for good measure. Oh, and it’s only available with disc brakes. Does that mean the Mitchelton team, with Adam and Simon Yates, riding disc brakes for the first time this season?
Wilier is one of the oldest bike brands in the world but its new Zero SLR is one of the most modern race bikes in the world. Mat went to the launch where the Italian company showcased a lightweight race bike with a neat integrated handlebar. It’s only available with disc brakes so presumably, that means the entire Total Direct Energie team will be using them?
Those are the bikes we know about because they have been launched. There are some other brands that have been very quiet on the new bike front. We’ve not heard a pip from Canyon but considering the original Aeroad was launched at the 2014 Tour de France and the current Ultimate was launched a year later, both models would appear ready for an update. We’ll be taking a closer look at the Katusha and Movistar teams to see if there are any prototypes.
For more clues to new bikes not yet announced, we have the UCI’s list of approved bikes. All bike brands have to get new frames approved by the UCI and this means the new bikes are revealed ahead of any planned launch. It’s constantly updated so we check it regularly.
At the moment we can see that Cube has a new version of its Litening approved. This is the German company’s range-topping lightweight race bike raced by the Wanty Groupe Gobert team so we’ll be paying them a visit. Here's what the current Litening looks like for reference.
Ridley Bikes is showing as having a new Helium SLX Disc. The Lotto-Soudal team have been riding the current Helium SLX, the name for the Belgian brands lightweight race bike, while the sprinters and fast men opt for hte Noah SL aero bike. Could the team switch to disc brakes and race the new Helium SLX Disc? We’ll have to wait and see. That's the current bike pictured above, from when we reviewed it.
Eddy Merckx Cycles, now sponsor to French team AG2R, has four new bikes, the 525 and San Remo with disc or rim brake versions. The original 525 was launched at the 2012 Tour de France, and named after the number of race victories by Merckx during his career. I reviewed the San Remo 76 in 2014 and loved the handling, control, stability, and feedback. Here's a reminder of the original 525.
Another brand we’ve not heard anything from, and there’s nothing on the UCI list, is Giant Bicycles, now sponsor of the CCC team. The Propel and Defy were both updated recently, but the TCR Advanced is starting to show its age being introduced as it was back in 2016. Perhaps we’ll see a new version being raced at the Tour?
The UCI list is showing Lapierre having a new Pulsium Disc, but we doubt the Groupama-FDJ team will be using it because it’s an endurance bike, but maybe they’ll surprise us? The team is more likely to race the Aircode aero bike or Xelius SL lightweight model.
It looks like Merida has a new Time Warp TT bike in the works too. No news on an updated Scultura, last updated in 2017, or a Reacto, announced in 2018, but we'll check them out just in case.
Other brands which we’re not really expecting to see anything new from are Specialized, BMC, Cervelo, Biancho, Colnago and Trek, though we’ll definitely be paying them a visit just in case.
Trek only updated its Madone SLR last year (you can read the review here) but the Emonda could be next in line for an update, so we'll keep eyes peeled for that. Bianchi is another brand we'll be paying attention to as well, its Oltre XR4 aero race bike could be due for an update soon as well.
Team Ineos will be riding the Dogma F12 which was introduced a couple of months ago. It’s also available with disc brakes but the team has shown no interest in disc brakes yet. We’ll also keep our eyes peeled for the F12 X-Light which uses posher carbon for an even lighter frame. Team Sky has always been a rich source of interesting custom products over the years (3D printed time trial handlebars) so they are high on our list of teams to check out.
It’s clear from this preview that disc brakes are going to be a major presence this year, more than any year before. There’s still a lot of reluctance in the peloton but with every major bike brand developing new bikes solely around disc brakes, in many cases, the choice has been taken away. Does it make any difference to the racing though? It’s certainly done Deceuninck - Quick-Step no harm this year, they’ve only raced disc brakes this season: they are currently the highest ranked team with 46 victories, all on disc brakes.
Besides bikes, there’ll be lots of new equipment on show. Schwalbe apparently has developed a new Pro One road tubeless tyre which we’ll be excited to see, given how pivotal the original was in converting many cyclists to tubeless. In fact, we’ll be on the lookout for tubeless tyres in general. We’ve said repeatedly over the years that we expect tubeless to grow in popularity amongst the pro ranks, but we’ve so far seen very little evidence of that.
The other interesting tech setup we'll be looking out for is on the groupset front. Shimano will continue to be the dominant choice with its ubiquitous Dura-Ace Di2 groupset. It's now the only 11-speed groupset in the pro peloton, with SRAM and Campagnolo going to 12-speed. What does this mean for the Mavic neutral service? We'll try and find out and have a nose at the spare bikes and wheels they'll be intending to lug around France for three weeks.
Then there's the question of whether any of the Trek riders will opt for an SRAM 1x12 setup at the Tour? We've seen some dabbling with a single chainring at races this season, with various levels of success. Will they take the risk or stick to a double? We'll try and find out.
That's all for now, stay tuned for daily coverage on the site over the next few days for more new bikes and tech from the world's biggest bike race.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.