Tour de France Tech: TT Weaponary 2012

Under-the-chainstay brakes were a good thing?!

Welcome to our second chapter of Tour de France Back In The Day Tech where we once again take a look back at some of the go-fast equipment that defined all things speed at the 2012 Tour de France. Just for some context, be sure to see our first installment  from the 2010 Tour de France  .

As we head into the final week of the Tour, look for additional chapters of our BITD reports to see just how far we have come  in new technology in just a few short years.

BACK IN 2012

The Magura hydraulic brakes were found on the both the Garmin Cervelo and Cofidis team bikes. The natural carbon Look 596 frame is a thing of beauty. To learn more about the Magura binders, see our recent report from the Magura Tech Camp.

While most riders warmed up with stationary trainers, riders on the Vaconsoleil team relied on Elite rollers.

The Wilier TwinBlade TT bikes of team Lampre remain some of the most riveting to look at. The Wilier was an early adapter of the integrated, rear mount front brake and so far TRP seems to be the go-to company for the special type of brake. For better results, the cable routing could probably be cleaned up.

Here’s the Wilier’s under-the-chainstay rear brake position that has fast become a popular with both TT bikes and even Trek’s new Madone road bike.

The aero/visual benefits of modern aero design can best appreciated by the team Katusha Canyon race bike (l), especially when compared with the klunky, non-integrated style seen on the back-up bikes that were last year’s primary bikes. Time and technology march on!! As further proof…

Compare these back-up Canyon TT SpeedMax bikes with…

The super-duper smooth and lean factory bike that Canyon has yet to make public. In fact, if you live in North America, fat chance you’ll be able to get your hands on any Canyon bike because no amount of pent-up Yankee desire has been able to convince the German company to import their bikes, although they say they are (still) working on it!


Speaking of the comparison between old and new, here’s a good look at what is fast becoming the new thinking on TT helmets. Just as the blunt look of aero wheels is catching on, the Ekoi helmet (L) represents the modern take while the long BBB helmet is now considered “old school”.

And since a reader complained that the photos I shot of the new Specialized S-Works+McLaren helmet were inadequate to get a sense of proper proportion, here’s the new aero lid on Chris Sorensen…better?

And just to remind everyone what the new S-Works helmet is being added to (in very limited numbers next year), here’s the TT helmet that Specialized updated at the 2011 Tour and remains available.

Undoubtedly one of the most beautifully sculpted parts in the TT pits was the carbon/aluminum stem/handlebar combo found on the team Sky Pinarellos.

In terms of publicity and performance, the Astana team is seen as playing third fiddle after the two other Specialized backed teams (Saxo/Tinkoff Bank and Quickstep), but their Shiv TT bikes are easily the best looking.

While just one Campy wheel would set most of us back a week of salary, the Lotto team pit was overflowing with them. Must be nice eh?

Talk about a graphic statement, the Time RXR TT bikes of the Sonja Sour team are indeed a sight to behold.

Although the French made Corima wheels are not too popular in the States, they are commonly found in Europe. Besides a large variety of wheels, Corima also makes a popular track frame.

The biggest problem with many aero brakes is that they are based on a v-brake design which when coupled with the often tight confines provide less than optimum stopping power. TRP is also a supplier of non-aero brakes for some bikes. The Saur-Sojasun team relies on their trick magnesium binder.

Back in my high school days my friend Ethan had this sweet Pontiac hot rod with a license plate that read “Torrid 1”. Torrid (as in: giving off intense heat: scorching) is the word that came to mind when I saw the stable of largely blacked-out team Sky Pinarello Graals.

With every possible Mavic wheel available to them to use, it was interesting to see the Liquigas bikes outfitted with the five-spoke iO wheel that is more commonly found on the track.

The Orica-GreenEdge Scott bikes were running their Shimano Di2 batteries underneath the saddle.

Despite having remained unchanged since they were first introduced at the team TT at the 2010 Tour, the Giant Trinity (yours for $13,000) still appear current and capable.

Of course, no good discussion about TT/aero technology gains can be had without first reminding ourselves of the continued tight (and often ridiculous) technical regulations of the UCI. As one team mechanic said, “One big problem with the UCI is that they aren’t bike guys! They get excited by making rules and regulations, not technology – or even riding bikes!”

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