Tour de France riders race bikes that cost many thousands of pounds each, well out of budget for most of us, but you can buy far cheaper models that share many of the same characteristics, and we’ve chosen six of them.
Bike brands invest a lot of money and effort in flagship products that get used by the professionals, big races like the Tour de France acting as shop windows for what’s on offer.
Okay, you can’t expect to get exactly the same performance at just a fraction of the price, but luckily a lot of the technology trickles down through the ranges. You might not get all the features of a Tour de France bike on your budget, but you can benefit from developments at the high-end.
* Of course, we have different ideas of what constitutes a fortune. The ones we’ve chosen range in price from £1,199 up to £2,700.
Team Sunweb uses Giant’s TCR Advanced SL lightweight bike and both rim brake and disc brake Propel aero road bikes.
Although it’s made from a different grade of composite, many of the TCR Advanced SL’s features are carried over to the more affordable TCR Advanced bikes, including Giant’s Compact Road Design – where the top tube slopes downward over its length to reduce the size of the frame triangles, the idea being to create a lighter and stiffer bike – and the massive MegaDrive down tube that provides stiffness.
The most affordable model is the £1,199 TCR Advanced 3 (main pic) which comes with a Shimano Tiagra groupset and Giant’s own S-R2 wheels.
Canyon sponsors two World Tour teams: Movistar and Katusha-Alpecin. The teams ride the Aeroad CS SLX and the Ultimate CF SLX.
The Ultimates are designed to be lightweight and stiff race bikes with some aero credentials. The Ultimate CF SL shares features with the CF SLX ridden by the pros and Canyon claims a weight of just 940g for the frame in a size medium.
Movistar uses Campagnolo components and Katusha is sponsored by SRAM, but there are no Campag equipped Ultimate CF SLs in the range and the only SRAM model is the £2,299 Ultimate Wmn CF SL 9.0 Team CSR.
The most affordable complete bike is the £1,349 Ultimate CF SL 7.0 (above) which is built up with Shimano’s mid-range 105 groupset and Mavic Aksium wheels. Other very good components include a Fizik Antares R7 saddle and Continental Grand Prix 4000S tyres. This looks superb value for money.
The Trek-Segafredo team ride Madone aero road bikes and lightweight Emondas. Updated Emondas have only just been revealed.
The Emonda SL might not be as lightweight as the version the pros use but the frame is still only 1,091g, according to Trek, with a 313g fork. It has the same E2 tapered steerer, BB90 bottom bracket and internal cable routing.
The Emonda SL 4 is built up with Shimano’s Tiagra groupset and the wheels are tubeless ready.
Cannondale-Drapac use high modulus carbon-fibre versions of the Cannondale SuperSix Evo. The more affordable SuperSix Evos aren’t made from the same type of carbon but they come out of the same mould so they share frame geometries and Truncated Aero Profile (TAP) shapes in the down tube, seat tube, seatstays and fork legs, designed to reduce drag without affecting weight or stiffness. Cannondale fits an unusually narrow 25.4mm diameter seatpost to both in order to add comfort.
As the name suggests, the SuperSix Evo 105 is fitted with Shimano’s mid-level 105 groupset with Mavic’s superb value Aksium wheels.
“While not dripping in lightweight carbon fibre components, it still offers a thoroughly enjoyable ride that is right at home on a long sportive or a demanding road race,” we said in out review. “It's a well-thought-out package with reliable components and comfortable finishing kit.”
Team Bahrain-Merida riders race aboard either the new version of the Reacto aero road bike or the lightweight Scultura.
The Scultura combines high frame rigidity with plenty of comfort and, although not a full-on aero road bike, it boasts ‘NACA Fastback’ frame tubes that are designed to reduce drag.
The Scultura 6000 is built to a slightly more relaxed geometry than the version the professionals ride and it’s a little heavier, but this is still a performance-focused bike with a wide bottom bracket shell, a tapered head tube, and a full-carbon fork. It is built up with Shimano’s second-tier Ultegra groupset and Fulcrum Racing Expert wheels.
Lotto NL-Jumbo riders are racing the Tour de France on Bianchi Oltre XR4 and Specialissima bikes. The least expensive Specialissima complete bike is £8,300 and complete Oltre XR4s start at £5,200.
Oltre XR1s aren’t exactly mass market either, although the version built up with Shimano’s 105 groupset is a lot cheaper at £2,699.99.
You don’t get Bianchi’s Countervail (CV) technology, designed to reduce vibration, on the XR1 but this is still an excellent race bike – lightweight, stiff and very responsive.
“It's a fun and fast bike to ride if belting along the road as fast as you can is top of your list,” we said in our review.
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.