On the mountain road to Chamrousse, Vincenzo Nibali broke away. He poured on the octane and launched forward, guided by his trusty carbon fiber steed. What didn’t show was the flex, the power transfer, the precise and pivotal shifting of gears that went into taking his raw might and turning it into acceleration, power. What did show were two leg pistons pumping and one fine piece of machinery swaying under his grip.
The bad news: we’re not Nibali. The good news: we can ride his bike. Every year, the Tour de France introduces new rides and fresh tech; the Tour riders get the best at no cost, but for the man with deep enough pockets, the whole stable is available for purchase. Here are all of the bikes of the 2014 Tour de France that you can find on North American shelves.
Team Sky: Pinarello Dogma F8
Froome’s out of the race, but that doesn’t mean the F8’s not a podium contender with Richie Porte pushing its pedals. Ditching the ubiquitous Pinarello swivel on the fork and seat stays, the F8 makes bold lines with ultra stiff, lightweight T11001K carbon. Pinarello claims it’s 120 grams (4.2 ounces) lighter and 12 percent stiffer than the Dogma 65.1; Pinarello also worked with Jaguar to make the bike more aerodynamic.
BMC: BMC SLR01
This year, BMC expanded their use of the stealthy SLR01. Tejay van Garderen was one of the lucky riders to steer the whip last season, but this time around the whole crew’s joined the party. The SLR01 is climber light and stiff; but if the SLR01 doesn’t suit the conditions (or a rider’s fancy), there’s also the “hand-built by machines” BMC Impec.
Giant-Shimano: Giant Propel Advanced SL
Marcel Kittel’s already seen the podium three times this tour, aided by his jetpack-speed Giant Propel. This aero road bike specializes in wind reduction with features like an integrated seat mast (rather than a traditional post); based on wind-tunnel tests, Giant claims the Propel is the most aerodynamic bike on the road.
We focused on bikes available in the U.S.A., ridden by the biggest teams and biggest names. But there’s a handful of bikes less frequently seen on the podium (and American soil). They’re still a part of the Tour, and they deserve some notice. Here are the rare stallions and the teams that train them.
Kemo KE-R8 5KS. Team: Bretagne-Séché Environnement. kemobikes.com
Look 695 Aerolight. Team: Cofidis. lookcycle.com
LaPierre Xelius EFI Ultimate. Team: FDJ.fr. lapierre-bikes.co.uk
Merida Scultura SL. Team: Lampre–Merida. merida-bikes.com
Fuji Altamira SL. Team: NetApp-Endura. fujibikes.com
Canyon Aeroad CF SLX. Team: Katusha & Movistar. canyon.com
Belkin: Bianchi Oltre XR2
Oltre means “beyond” — and the Bianchi Oltre, thankfully, lives up to its name. A BB386 bottom bracket ups the stiffness, and aero elements like internal cables and a sculpted seat tube work to see that you finish beyond the pack.
Tinkoff-Saxo: Specialized Venge
Three teams are saddling up with Specialized horses — the newly revamped Tarmac and the excessively fast Venge — making Specialized the top bike maker in the race. The Tarmac climbs like a champ and is the more comfortable option between the two, but the Venge, with its obvious nods to Specialized’s time trial bike, the Shiv, is best for the rider seeking pure, unbridled speed.
Cannondale: Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod
Some problems are good problems, and Cannondale’s currently got one with weight: hitting the UCI regulation minimum of 6.8 kg can be difficult with the Evo Hi-Mod (and the even lighter Evo Black). The frame is one of the lightest and stiffest on the road, and this lack of poundage, matched with top propulsion, has helped Peter Sagan stay atop the podium.
Trek Factory: Trek Émonda SLR
Trek’s new lightweight category battler is the Émonda. Coming in at 690 grams (1.52 pounds), it’s the lightest production road frame in the world, Trek claims. As Trek takes over from RadioShack-Leopard, the team’s hoping Fabian Cancellara, Jens Voigt, or the brothers Schleck can take its light climber to the top of the mountain.
IAM Cycling & Orica-GreenEDGE: Scott Foil
The Swiss (IAM) and Aussies (Orica-GreenEDGE) are saddling up with Scott’s line of bikes. The Addict resurged last year after a few years of hibernation, and the revitalized frame sits a tad bit lighter and stiffer than its former self; where the Foil is a speedster’s choice, the Addict is a lighter, less aero and more comfortable ride for the long haul up and over the Tour’s peaks.
Garmin-Sharp: Cervélo R5
Tapping the Canadian intel at Cervélo for the lightest and stiffest bikes, the team at Garmin-Sharp is hoping for a quick comeback for the recently retired Andrew Talansky. The R5, a light and snappy climber, is the go-to choice, but they can also use Cervélo’s aero road technology (a bike category Cervélo helped invent) for quick bursts of speed.
Ag2r-La Mondiale: Focus Izalco Max
New year, new Izalco. The crew at Focus spends each year paring down the weight on this bike, and this time they’ve outdone themselves with a one-piece carbon fork and an in-frame molded front-derailleur mount. The Izalco is now one of the leanest racers on the road, weighing in at a feather-light 725 grams (1.6 pounds).
Europcar: Colnago V1-r
Ferrari knows a thing or two about speed, and their Italian countrymen, Colnago, are all ears to listen. The two have paired up once again for Colnago’s first aero road bike, the V1-r. It’s lighter than Colnago’s C60 frame and features an undercounted rear-brake to reduce drag, among other speed-boosting elements. “Created by the wind” is Colnago’s motto, but this grittier bike is ready to chew up the pavement.
Lotto-Belisol: Ridley Noah FAST 1406A
The Belgians are keeping it in the homeland with Ridley’s Noah FAST aero road bike. Ridley’s patented f-brake technology integrates the brakes into the front fork and seat stays for reduced wind resistance. (They claim it’s the only true integrated braking system.) And the Pressfit 30 bottom bracket creates maximum stiffness for minimal power loss. This bike is designed for missile-like performance, and it’s already helped Tony Gallopin reach one stage victory.