Things at this year’s Tour Down Under are a little quieter than normal. There isn’t a huge amount of new gear to be seen, with much of it having been first released at the 2015 Tour de France. However, perhaps this is the calm before the storm – there’s plenty of chatter about what’s happening in the world of road groupsets.
SRAM eTap is now out and about
SRAM's eTap wireless groupset is trickling through to teams as we speak. Although it's in limited supply, both Katusha and Ag2R are using the group at Tour Down Under.
According to Jason Phillips, SRAM’s European sponsorship manager, the time trial version of the groupset will be shipping to its WorldTour teams within the next fortnight.
When we asked about the hydro-brake version of the new wireless group, Phillips openly admitted to it being in development, but had nothing to say beyond that.
Speaking of braking, we’ve seen team Katusha using direct-mount Shimano brakes to fit its Canyon Aeroad frames. Again, SRAM has no word on when (or if) its own style of this brake will appear.
As seen on one of Michal Kwiatkowski's bikes at the Tour de France
Sources at Tinkoff and Etixx QuickStep have told us that FSA groupsets will not be seen on their bikes for 2016. Both Specialized-sponsored teams are keeping the Italian brand as a component sponsor, supplying bars, stems and handlebars when not overlapping with integrated Specialized components (such as on the Venge Vias). However, shifting components will not appear.
This does raise questions around the pre-production wireless groupset seen at the last year’s Tour de France. Without WorldTour teams using it, will it still make it to market?
If you pushed us to speculate, we'd imagine that the hundreds of patents in place from the likes of Shimano, Campagnolo and SRAM might be causing FSA a few issues.
Update 28/01/2016: We've just received confirmation that Cannondale Pro Cycling have FSA as an official drivetrain sponsor for 2016. More updates to come when we have them.
Cervélo-Bigla tweeted this last week
With such evidence of it now in team use, we suspect the Dimension Data team will be seen on the new group soon (though there’s no official word).
Campagnolo EPS V3
The new Campagnolo EPS V3 interface
Campagnolo-sponsored teams are now riding the ‘V3’ version of EPS. This isn’t a whole new groupset, but an updated battery and plug interface.
The new battery features a slimmer and longer shape that opens up frame compatibility and perhaps eases installation.
The big story is in the DTI interface that mounts to the stem or handlebar. Perhaps most notable is the ready-access charging port, similar to Shimano Di2 and a big improvement on the old battery-placed port. Additionally, there’s now Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity, opening up some impressive integration features.
The interface also features a new shape that’s said to be both more aerodynamic and with greater fitment compatibility. New LEDs are said to help ease setup too.
This new wireless connectivity means the groupsets will talk to the MyCampy app when it's nearby. With this, diagnostics, lever and shift speed setup and even Strava integration of gear use will all be available to your phone.
What's next from the Big S? We're not so sure, but it's certainly near
Last but not least, there’s Shimano. It’s little secret that Shimano (like many others in the bike industry) works on a three-year product life-cycle. Based on this, a new generation of Dura-Ace is due. Factor in that L'Equipe last week published that the FDJ team is testing in France with three engineers from Shimano, and something is certainly afoot.
For the moment, all teams racing in front of the media's eye are on Shimano's current generation 11-speed Dura-Ace mechanical 9000 or Di2 9070 groupsets.
But the gossip is strong that an update to the groupset will feature in time for the 2017 season. However, these whispers also suggest it will be based on clever refinements to the current system, as opposed to wholesale changes. Word has it that DA will remain wired and 11-speed, but offer some integrated communication (such as ANT+). Stay tuned on this one though – we strongly suspect we're not hearing the full story.
So which of these five 'pro' groupsets would you pick? As ever, let us know in the comments below.