But what about the tech we haven’t seen yet? What crazy new innovations will we see in future editions of the race?
Drawing inspiration from kit seen at this year’s Tour and looking to the fringes of cycling tech, I’ve gazed into the (ceramic) mystic ball of the cycling industry to give you my top three predictions for the Tour tech of tomorrow.
Pinarello released a full-suspension version of the Dogma earlier this yearPinarello
I can’t imagine how many times people have made this exact point, but you would never consider buying a motorbike or a car without suspension. Why is it then that road bicycles, which travel on the exact same terrain as these vehicles, remain unsprung?
To be clear, when I talk about suspension on road bikes, I’m not suggesting that Marzocchi Super Monster T-like levels of bounce will be making its way onto your dainty-tyred go-fast pew-pew wagon.
The Topstone is built around a shockless rear suspension systemCannondale
This recently announced bike uses a shockless rear-suspension system that relies on the whole rear triangle acting as a leaf spring to provide up to 30mm of rear-wheel travel.
While less sophisticated than any modern mountain bike suspension layout, this setup is far lighter and less complex. By all accounts, it also still adds a genuinely useful degree of comfort and control in rough terrain. Why couldn’t a similar concept be ported to the road?
Pinarello’s Dogma FS is another key example. This bike uses a coil spring and a hydraulic damping circuit in the fork that runs in conjunction with an electronically lockable elastomer in the rear to provide fully-automated suspension. Our own Oli Woodman rode the previous generation of this bike and found the whole package to be very impressive.
Assuming it works and could be proven to be faster (not only in rough terrain), what’s stopping further development of suspension for road bikes?
Weight is, of course, the spanner in the works here. It’s inevitable that adding suspension to a road bike is going to make it heavier.
However, given we’re still adding lead weights to some bikes to ensure they’re above the 6.8kg UCI limit and that pros are also happy to ride bikes above this limit in the name of aero performance, is it that far-fetched to think that an ultralight suspension system could be seen on the bike of tomorrow?
This has been common knowledge for some time and tubeless tyres have been gaining ground against the clock in the time trialling world.
Outside of time trialling, tubeless technology has also seen success under Alexander Kristoff at this year’s Gent-Wevelgem cobbled classic, though the Norwegian later punctured at Paris-Roubaix on a set of 25mm Vittoria Corsa Graphene 2.0 tubeless tyres.
Sagan’s bike was set up with tubeless Specialized Turbo tyres in a 26mm width in the run up to the Down Under Classic, though opted for tubulars on the day.Jack Luke / Immediate Media
Oddly, of all of the things in the list, this is the one I am most skeptical about. Tubular tyres still offer significant safety advantages in the event of a puncture because they are less likely to completely blow out and can still (just about) be ridden even if a tyre punctures.
Nonetheless, speed trumps almost everything else in the pursuit of a Grand Tour win, so if tubeless tyres offer a significant advantage over tubulars, it’s entirely possible their use will become more widespread.
Besides, it’s not as if the peloton cares about safety anyway; half of them are still using dang rim brakes (I’M KIDDING).
The Notio Konect measures wind speed, air density, rider speed and other things, then works with a Garmin Connect IQ app to display aero information on a newer Garmin Edge computer.Oli Woodman / Immediate Media
Power meters are now ubiquitous in pro racing and, as it currently stands, I honestly can’t imagine that someone would be able to win a Grand Tour without one — being able to maintain and monitor efforts within specific zones is vital to ensuring a rider is performing at their very best.
Likewise, wind tunnel time is pretty much mandatory for anyone who takes their racing (particularly time trialling) seriously.
With such a device at their disposal, riders would be able to adjust their position in reaction to real-time data, potentially offering a significant performance advantage mid-race.
With a device like the Notio Konect, riders would be able to say whether or not their position was aero with confidence.Zac Williams/SWpix.com
Such a device also opens up the possibility of a world where a directeur sportif can chide slouching riders with data-driven confidence from the side of the team car — pantomime meets the peloton! One can dream.
Look, this guy doesn’t like tubeless tyres or drag sensors either — you’re not alone.Matthew Allen / Immediate Media
As an aside, even if you hate the idea of any of these ideas becoming a reality, remember that in 2019 it is still perfectly possible to build a thoroughly retro-grouchy classic steel road bike with rim brakes. I know this because I have just built one.
Trust me, just because it exists, doesn’t mean ‘the man’ is going to make you ride a full squish road bike with more sensors than a jet fighter and — horror of horrors — tubeless tyres.
What do you think? Am I a tech-obsessed industry-insider that can’t see that all of this progress is eroding the purity of cycling, or should we embrace the future our Di2 overlords have in store for us? As always, leave your thoughts in the comments.
Jack has been riding and fettling bikes for his whole life. Always in search of the hippest new niche in cycling, Jack is a self-confessed gravel dork, fixie-botherer, tandem-evangelist, hill-climbing try hard, and thinks nothing of taking on a daft challenge for the BikeRadar YouTube channel. With a near encyclopaedic knowledge of cycling tech — from the most esoteric niche nonsense to the most cutting edge modern kit — Jack takes pride in his ability to seek out tech and stories that would otherwise go unreported. Jack has been at BikeRadar for three years now and is regularly testing an esoteric mix of weird and wonderful bikes.