Paris-Roubaix tech: More bikes!

Kuota, Scott and electronic shifting

Paris-Roubaix is renowned for its brutal cobbled sections - 28 this year - but when it comes down to it, those sections still only account for 52km of the 259.5km total. True, those 52km played pivotal roles in determining the final outcome of the race but the vast majority of ground covered was still asphalt. When combined with the surprisingly pleasant weather, few teams cracked out the truly special creations that, ultimately, were apparently only intended for a truly ugly day in the saddle.

We were expecting otherwise, but Agritubel riders did head out on their standard ultralight Kuota KOM carbon frames and it looks like they all survived race day intact. Likewise, the Saunier Duval-Scott team was found aboard similarly feathery Scott Addict full-carbon rigs, but they all appeared to opt for the standard non-integrated seatpost version, presumably for the slightly softer ride.

Both teams were equipped with SRAM Red groups with the odd Rival crankset tossed in to accommodate the longer-legged riders. For whatever reason, though, all of the Agritubel and Saunier Duval-Scott bikes we spotted were also fitted with Force rear derailleurs; some also used Force front derailleurs instead of Red. Box-section aluminium rims were still the general rule of thumb.

Perhaps the only people disappointed in Sunday's dry conditions were Shimano engineers. According to rumours circulating amongst the pits, they were supposedly looking forward to some particularly demanding real-world conditions to test their upcoming new Dura-Ace electronic group. Most of the teams and riders that had previously been spotted testing electronic drivetrains (either from Shimano or Campagnolo) reverted back to the tried-and-true mechanical ones for Paris-Roubaix but a few Skil-Shimano riders served as test dummies for the day.

For sure, wet, cold and muddy conditions mixed with the extreme vibrations of the Paris-Roubaix cobbles would have served as the ultimate test bed for the new technology. Unfortunately (at least for them), Shimano engineers never got their chance to see just how their creation would have performed. For the sake of the rest of us, though, let's hope that it would have passed with flying colours as we expect to see the stuff introduced for public consumption late this year. 

James Huang

Technical Editor, US
James started as a roadie in 1990 with his high school team but switched to dirt in 1994 and has enjoyed both ever since. Anything that comes through his hands is bound to be taken apart, and those hands still sometimes smell like fork oil even though he retired from shop life in 2007. He prefers manual over automatic, fizzy over still, and the right way over the easy way.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: Up in the Colorado high-country where the singletrack is still single, the dirt is still brown, and the aspens are in full bloom. Also, those perfect stretches of pavement where the road snakes across the mountainside like an artist's paintbrush.
  • Beer of Choice: Mexican Coke
  • Location: Boulder, Colorado, USA

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