Tour de France tech: A closer look at the Dogma2

More info on electronic Campagnolo plus custom Katusha Focus bikes

The new Pinarello Dogma2: As swoopy as ever

Sky and Movistar's Pinarello Dogma2 machines retain their curvaceous personalities but undergo a number of changes that are said to make this new version a little more aerodynamic and lighter, too.

The key structural change is a move to a 1-1/8 to 1-1/2in tapered front end from the previous version's 1-1/4in lower steerer diameter. The fork crown has been beefed up accordingly and it also flows more smoothly into the similarly enlarged – and notably lower – down tube. Taken in total, Pinarello claim a 19 percent boost in stiffness under braking.

In addition, many of the original Dogma's pronounced ribs have been toned down in the interest of improving airflow. Changes in the layup schedule supposedly beef up certain sections subject to the most stress while still shedding 30g of weight in total.

Movistar's Pinarello Dogma 2 on the rack

Otherwise, Pinarello not only retain the first Dogma's asymmetrical approach to frame design but perhaps even expand on it. The driveside fork blade and seatstay are visibly puffed up compared to their non-driveside counterparts, the chainstays are asymmetrical as usual, and even the top tube is slightly shifted over to the right with different ribbing on either side. According to Pinarello's official marketing line, this "leads to an increase in the symmetrical pedal action of six percent".

The head tube on the Dogma 2 has been beefed up compared to the previous version

Team Sky have also made a fundamental aesthetic change for this year's Tour de France, switching from their characteristic blue to a bright green to draw attention to the new Sky Rainforest Rescue Project. We're not just talking bikes, either – the team kit has been updated, too, as well as all of the support vehicles and online communications. 

In co-operation with the World Wildlife Foundation, Sky are looking to raise €4 million that will be used to save over 1 billion trees in a region of Brazil – and the habitats of the people, animals and plants that call that area home. More information can be found at www.rainforestrescue.sky.com.

More clues revealed on Campagnolo's mysterious electronic group

Campagnolo still have yet to officially reveal a shred of technical information on their new electronic drivetrain and while we've been able to figure out various pieces of the puzzle by inspection, there are still many remaining – but a couple fewer now.

As we previously suspected, it appears that the system's rechargeable battery is hard-wired with the rest of the harness and is not readily removable from the bike as Movistar mechanics had a web of extension cords and chargers strewn about their work area at the team hotel Friday afternoon. What does this mean to consumers? Probably not much if the battery life is as generous as Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 but either way, potential buyers will want to make sure they've got a plug handy wherever they happen to store their bike.

We also assumed earlier that the buttons on the inner sides of the hoods were to be used as remote switches for an as-yet-unseen computer head. As it turns out, they're instead how you enter into setup mode to adjust the derailleur positions. We stood watch as a Movistar mechanic put the final touches on one team bike: push and hold down the button until the LED lights up on the display, then push the paddles to make microchanges in position. Sorry, folks, that's all we've got. Baby steps…

Customized bikes for some Katusha riders

Four Katusha riders started this year's Tour de France with starkly finished black Focus Izalco Team bikes instead of the usual – and far more colorful – white, blue and red livery. As it turns out, these are four structurally distinct frames that Focus created at the specific request of some of their riders. 

According to Focus marketing head Herwig Reus, team riders have their choice of five different layup schedules (with one being stock) – all using the same mold so at least on the surface, they're indistinguishable from consumer versions. Reus tells us that on average, the other four variants are about 10 percent stiffer in the bottom bracket but other parameters such as front triangle stiffness and ride comfort vary depending on preferences.

Each frame uses "10 to 15 percent" more carbon fiber to hit those stiffness numbers so the raw chassis are heavier. Since those four customized frames are only covered in decals and clearcoat, though, Reus says the finished weights are about the same (which tells us there's probably a difference of about 100-200g raw).

Reus adds that one or more of these variants might make it into the consumer channels depending on how much practical sense each rider's requests make to the general public. Stay tuned.

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