Tech gallery: Weird and wonderful gear at Paris-Roubaix

Teams employ all manner of solutions to reduce the pain of the pavé

Although Paris-Roubaix's 'Hell of the North' moniker originally referred to the bombed-out state of post-war Northern France, many riders today consider the description perfectly apt for the bone-shaking cobblestone race. With more than 57km of pavé during the 253km event from Compiegne to Roubaix, team mechanics broke out fat tubulars, handlebar gel and extra bar tape, and bar-top brake and shift levers of various configurations. IAM Cycling star Sylvain Chavanel took the start on a cyclocross bike with new 30mm Schwalbe G-One tubeless tyres.

At first glance, 2015 Paris-Roubaix champion John Degenkolb of Giant-Alpecin had a fairly straightforward machine with a Giant Defy Advanced SL frameset, Shimano C35 wheels, Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 group and Pioneer power meter. But a closer look revealed a few tricks, like 30mm Vittoria-branded tubulars with clincher treads glued on, a single bar-top brake lever, a Di2 climb switch mounted next to the stem and a little good luck, 'knock on wood' token glued to the frame. MyKnoaky is a good luck charm product created by former pro Andreas Klier.

While Cofidis won the award for most ridiculously fat handlebar tape job — their triple wrap brought bar circumference to nearly 15cm and dwarfed the hoods — perhaps more surprising was the appearance of aero bikes at Paris-Roubaix. Both Tour of Flanders champion Alexander Kristoff and the entire Movistar team rode the Canyon Aeroad CF SLX, with wide tubulars the only concession to the stones. Movistar rider John Gadret rode the Canyon integrated aero handlebar with most of the tops bereft of any tape at all.

With an eye to the chance of wet, muddy cobblestones, weather is always the number one topic at Paris-Roubaix (it was dry this year). But a close second is tyre pressure. While every rider is different — based on their weight, plus weather, tyre size and personal preference — all riders run much lower tyre pressure than at any other road race of the year. Most riders were in the 4.5-6bar/64-86psi range.

As with his teammate Chavanel, IAM Cycling rider Matthias Brändle told BikeRadar that he had mechanics put 5bar/72psi in his 30mm tubeless Schwalbes.

Click through the massive gallery above for a look at the unique bikes of The Hell of the North.

Better knock on wood! myknoaky is a good-luck charm product made by former pro andreas klier. this one is glued to degengolb's bike: better knock on wood! myknoaky is a good-luck charm product made by former pro andreas klier. this one is glued to degengolb's bike
Better knock on wood! myknoaky is a good-luck charm product made by former pro andreas klier. this one is glued to degengolb's bike: better knock on wood! myknoaky is a good-luck charm product made by former pro andreas klier. this one is glued to degengolb's bike

Paris-Roubaix champion John Degenkolb's good luck charm

Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team Issue, Specialized S-Works Tarmac, Priority Eight city bike... and a constant rotation of test bikes
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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