Bikes & Tech
Paris-Roubaix is unique — the last race on the...

Gallery: The technology of Paris-Roubaix

Custom tires, cyclocross bikes and heaps of mechanical creativity abound at the Hell of the North, Paris-Roubaix
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Paris-Roubaix is unique — the last race on the calendar that requires teams to drastically modify their equipment choices from the usual carbon-filled, aerodynamic status quo. The range of technology is slimmer than it used to be, as carbon fiber technology and cycling equipment in general improve and normal gear is able to handle the stress Roubaix applies. But there are still plenty of modifications to be done. The wheels shown here used to be the standby — a pair of Ambrosio Nemesis rims laced to a team’s hub of choice with at least 32 spokes, wrapped in fatter-than-usual tires. But as carbon rims have gained strength, the vast majority of these wheels, including the ones shown here, have been relegated to backup-bike status. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Metal rims provide a bit more give over the stones, but teams are more likely to stick with their usual sponsor-correct carbon race wheels these days, which are both lighter and more aerodynamic. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Finding a stack of wheels like these 50mm Shimano carbon hoops, clamped down atop one of the Team Sky cars, is now much more likely than finding a pile of Ambrosios. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Contact points come under scrutiny for Roubaix given the beating that will be sent through them and into the riders. Bradley Wiggins uses a double-wrap of bar tape and runs it all the way into his stem, allowing him to move his hands all over the tops. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Wiggins is also using Shimano’s Di2 Sprint Shifters. Many riders using the electronic group run additional shift buttons as the normal buttons on the levers can be difficult to hit when the bars are bouncing around. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
The Di2 climbing shifters are popular as well, as used here by Katusha’s Luca Paolini. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Premature bottle ejection is always a concern, hence the use of a bit of grip tape on the Elite aluminum bottle cages on Wiggins’ bike. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Teams frequently take a step back towards cheaper cages for Roubaix, away from light carbon options, as the more robust materials used are better able to cope with the torture of the stones. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Little patches of grip tape to help hold the bottles of Orica-GreenEdge’s Luke Durbridge. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Garmin-Sharp gets stainless steel cages from sponsor Arundel for the classics. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
File this one under “don’t mess with success”: Fabian Cancellara is running plastic Trek cages so old that Trek’s logo has changed twice since they were first sold. Mechanics added a bit of grip tape for even more security. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Many riders like to keep their hands on the tops over the cobbles; the addition of an in-line brake lever makes that proposition a bit safer. Giant-Shimano’s John Degenkolb took these bars to a podium spot. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet ran a similar setup, with a single lever to control only the rear brake. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
A rough count has about 40 percent of the field using some sort of increased padding on the bars, either double wrapping the tape or running gel inserts under a single layer. This Lizard Skins tape is extra sticky, excellent for hanging onto bouncing bars. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Prologo’s CPC treatment, a layer of small rubber cones in select spots on the saddle, isn’t a Roubaix-specific technology, but surely helps keep one planted. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Wider tires, like the 27mm FMB Paris-Roubaix, can be used at lower pressures to increase ride comfort. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Some teams run a FMB casing with tread from its sponsor. AG2R rides Schwalbe tires for the rest of the year, and uses Schwalbe One tread on 27mm FMB casings for Roubaix. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Omega Pharma-Quick Step is running a similar setup, using a 30mm FMB casing and Specialized Gripton rubber compound for its rear tires, and a 28mm casing up front. The 30mm tires seem to be popular this year; OPQS and most of the field was on 27s or 28s last year, but many have moved to a 30. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Europcar was actually ahead of the curve, running these massive Dugast tubulars, measuing over 30mm and badged Hutchinson, at last year’s Roubaix as well. They’re back this year, mounted up on the cyclocross bikes that half of Europcar are riding. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
No clearance issues on Europcar’s Colnago cyclocross bikes. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Double brake setup and a cyclocross bike for Europcar’s Jerome Cousin. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Running a cyclocross bike as a road bike can take a big of creativity. Mechanics drilled a hole in this Deda Superleggera stem to provide a stop of the front cantilever brake housing without adding any weight. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Big 29mm Challenge Paris Roubaix tires on the Wanty-Groupe Golbert bikes. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Continental is one of the few major tire brands that has been able to persuade its sponsored teams to run its tires at Roubaix. Most riders had these new 28mm ProLtd tubulars on their first bike and a 26mm on the spare bike. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Ample room between the Continental 28s and Orica’s Scott Addict forks. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
There are 51.1km of cobbles over the Paris-Roubaix course, but clearly there’s one sector that stands out from the rest. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Very nice carbon fiber number mounts for the Orica squad. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Garmin-Sharp riders got a special version of the Cervelo R3 for the classics called the R3 Mud. It has extra tire clearance and slightly longer chainstays. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Plenty of room on the R3 Mud, even with big 28mm FMB tubulars (which are rebadged Mavic). Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Garmin’s Vector power meter made its Paris-Roubaix debut this year. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
The badge says Mavic, but the tread suggests FMB with a dark casing. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Giant-Shimano was on a number of different tires, including these Sharpie’d Dugasts. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Specialized provided these FMB-collaboration tires for its teams last year, and Astana was still using them this year. Astana is also one of the only teams still running aluminum wheels. Last year it ran its carbon Corimas, but they’re back on Ambrosio Nemesis rims this year. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Nope, not Corima. Ambrosio. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
80psi for Borut Bozic’s (Astana) 26mm FMB tubulars. That’s actually quite high — most teams are in the 60-70psi range. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Luca Paolini (Katusha) was running Mavic’s wide CXR60 wheels. Setting the brake up with the quick release half open allows him to close the brake down quickly should he get a wheel change to a much narrower rim. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Greg Van Avermaet’s route notes are decidedly low-tech. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
The sectors are marked on the top tube or stem of just about every bike that rolls across the start line. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Roubaix is a difficult day for staff as well, many of whom will need to hop between sectors to provide wheels and other support throughout the day. The logistics are daunting. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Half the Lotto-Belisol squad was on Ridley cyclocross bikes. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
A 39 tooth small ring isn’t very useful on the flat Roubaix course. Instead, most riders run a 53/44-tooth combination. The 44 is perfect for the rougher pave sectors. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
Gallery: the technology of Paris-Roubaix
Tight cassette gearing like this used to be the norm, but many riders are now opting for wider gearing out back to allow them to stay in the big ring longer. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com