Katusha and Movistar, like every team at this year’s Tour de France, have a few different bikes at their disposal. Frames are now being designed to fit an intended type of rider or terrain and it’s not uncommon to see riders swap bikes from one stage to the next. I’ll concentrate on one frameset that both teams are using; a bike that even looks fast when standing still.
For this year’s Tour Canyon released a new frameset, the Aeroad CF SLX. Several riders from both teams have been seen using this. The update on Canyon’s successful Aeroad CF is a bike that looks as though it’s had all the best traits from the older Aeroad CF and the Ultimate CF SLX fused together.
The frame looks a lot more boxy than the old CF version, with squarer tube profiles that Canyon name Trident 2.0, a development from their TT bikes. The shape is very reminiscent of several other bikes on the market. The facing surface is rounded and looks as though it should smooth to a wing tip shape at the trailing end, but instead cuts off short to a flat box-section tube shape.
Scott has used this aerodynamic styling to good effect on its Foil — it is apparently still as aero as a trailing end that comes to a point, yet due to the squared off section you are able to build a frame that is stiffer laterally.
The weight of the Aeroad CF frame is claimed at 960 grams — pretty respectable for an aero bike. Both Katusha and Movistar have able to get the bikes down to the UCI minimum of 6.8kg.
One interesting feature that steers away from many of the aero frames on the market today is the fact that the rear facing brake is not under the chainstays near the bottom bracket. Instead the rear brake is in the traditional position above the wheel and tucked away behind the down tube.
Canyon though have slightly adapted a front direct-mount brake to sit on the back as apposed to using a standard rear brake. They claim that the area where they have placed it and the brake that they use produces the most efficient results in wind tunnel testing.
Talking to several long-time team mechanics from different teams, the actual idea of placing a brake under the chainstays seems one that many feel is a bad idea, not just for servicing but also for performance. Canyon clearly has the same view.
While watching one of the Movistar mechanics build up a Aeroad CF SLX it didn’t look the easiest of tasks. The bottom bracket junction, where all the cables seem to pass through for the electronic groupset, looked exceptionally fiddly to install and service; the mechanic might have just been having an off day though.
Where the seatpost enters the frame is a sleek and clean-looking junction. No external clamp is needed, instead an internal wedge holds the post in place and helps maintain the fluid lines of the frame. The only slight problem here is that the post is custom to the frame so you can’t fit any other brand’s post. The post also has a similar cut off aero foil shape much like the downtube.
The seat tube has an aero foil shape to it that sits exceptionally close to the rear wheel. This then curves up elegantly to the low slung seatstays. One really nice looking and neat area of the frame is the rear dropouts and the slight upturn of the back chainstays end where the rear cable leave the frame. It’s very clean looking, much like the whole package.
Canyon have stuck with a large 1 1/4” steerer tube and no tapering from bottom to top — this is for increased stiffness. At the moment only Canyon and Ritchey make stems that can accommodate this size.
The Movistar team has Canyon as a bar and stem sponsor, but it’s interesting to note that many of them stick with the more standard alloy bar and stem set up. While developing this bike Canyon worked with a brand new integrated bar and stem to be used in conjunction with it.
The Aerocockpit CF is a fluid looking set up that, if all that Canyon claims is true, should help with the whole aerodynamic nature of the frame. Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha is one of only a few riders that I’ve noticed using it. The setup looks part of the bike, flowing from bars through to stem and in to the frame. The low stack height and the custom-shaped spacers help this look. Up close you just want to run your hands over the lines of it. It’s one flash-looking piece of kit.
Other riders on the Katusha team were using several different bars and stem setups, from Ritchey’s WCS range of alloy stems and bars to their top end Monocurve Integrated cockpit. Canyon has reduced the frontal width of this Aerocockpit CF and this may not be to the liking of many of the team. Hence the reason you’ll only see it on a few bikes.
Canyon uses a different groupset and finishing kit on the two teams they sponsor. For Movistar their blue and green paint scheme looks like something the Ninja Turtles would turn up on for a race, with the Campagnolo Super Record EPS being the groupset of choice.
One noticeable variation in the groupset, and one that no doubt upsets Campagnolo, is the inclusion of the Shimano Dura Ace direct-mount brakes that the bike was developed with. The brakes have all the Shimano logos removed but are clearly from the Japanese manufacture.
Wheels are also supplied by Campagnolo and when I visited the team bus at their hotel they had deep-section Bora Ultra 80s in, making the bike look ever faster. The team uses a selection of wheels from Campagnolo’s range. I’m sure we’ll see some Bora 35s in action right through to the Ghibli TT disk on their time trial bikes. Continental supply the tyres and tubes.
Contact points are colour-coordinated Fizik saddles, Look Keo Blade 2 pedals with Lizardskin’s super comfortable and durable bar tape topping the package off. One item that was missing from a few of the team bikes was the Power2Max power meters, a new sponsor of the team this year.
Over at Katusha, their red machines are decked out in Dura Ace Di2, with Dura Ace SRM power meter cranks. Mavic are the wheels of choice, with most seeming to be the Cosmic Carbon Special Service Course version. I’d quite happily put money on them being just standard Ultimate versions.
Mavic are also the tubular of choice too. Mavic has developed its latest wheels to work as a wheel/tyre system, whatever that means. Personally though, the tyres that they and other Mavic-sponsored teams are using don’t look very different from what Vittoria are doing. Coincidence?
Shimano also sponsors the pedals that Katusha uses, all of which are Dura Ace SPD-SL. Saddles are suppose to be from Selle Italia but a couple seem to have unbranded saddles that are clearly not from Selle Italia.
Even though SRMs were spotted on most bikes, Rodriguz clearly likes to have just the basic info while racing. A PRO computer is fitted to his Aerocockpit CF bars, PRO being Shimano’s equipment brand. The computer looked as though it had been stuck on and wasn’t attached to a bracket. It did look very minimalist and cool though.
Finally, one sought-after item by eager fans is the limited edition bottles by Elite, which have little Russian dolls on them. They’re not quite in keeping with the aggressive nature of the bike, but they’re still very cool, for a bottle.