Shimano sponsors 13 of the 18 men’s teams in the WorldTour, and while all 18 teams are racing on the latest 12-speed Dura-Ace group, hardly any of the riders are using the 12-speed power-meter cranks. Instead, most riders have an 11-speed power-meter crank.
At Paris-Roubaix, Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) raced to third aboard this Lapierre Xelius SL with a different solution: the 9100-series crank but with 9200-series chainrings. This gives him chainrings designed specifically for the narrower 12-speed chain instead of the wider 11-speed design.
For the most part, WorldTour riders with the mixed 9100/9200 set-up have been racing without issue, but there certainly have been some dropped chains. Kasper Asgreen coming to a standstill on the Koppenberg while trying to defend his title at the Tour of Flanders was the most notable instance. Was that entirely due to the 11-speed crank with a 12-speed group? That’s hard to say.
Shimano has attributed the shortage to limited availability. At the classics, each team seemed to have just one or two 9200 cranks, and of course each team needs multiple groups for each rider.
While other teams may be putting 12-speed rings on an 11-speed meter, Küng’s bike was the first we have spotted this on.
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Française des Jeux has been racing on Lapierre bikes since 2002. The Xelius has been in the Lapierre line for a decade, and this latest Xelius SL weighs a claimed 725g for a size medium.
Küng used Elite Cannibal XC bottle cages to make sure his bottles didn’t jump out on the cobbles.
Kung’s Roubaix cockpit looked like any other road bike, with a bare top, normal tape, and sprint shifters tucked into the tape.
The Xelius SL is the third generation of Lapierre’s race bike, with 1.5-inch bearings in the head tube.
Lapierre’s signature look allows for a more comfortable ride, the company claims. Further, the new bike is faster in the wind tunnel than the previous version, saving a claimed 12-15 watts at 50kph, depending on the wind angle.
Küng raced Shimano’s new C50 tubeless wheels with Continental’s Grand Prix 5000S TR tires.