Tech MTB that we spotted at the 2020 Tour de France

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While top-level racing is a hotbed of new technology and new ideas in mountain biking, this doesn’t tend to be the case in professional road cycling. A combination of UCI rules, traditions and riders fearing the cost of failing an experimental setup, it’s a slow world. Comparing mountain bikes from 20 years ago to today would make you think you are looking at a different sport, whereas in road cycling you will probably notice that the seat stays now meet the down tube a bit lower. It’s also a pretty secret world with pro peloton mechanics reluctant to give out information on how their bikes work, in order to prevent other teams from taking advantage, so it can be difficult to spot new technology when she comes. That being said, we have definitely noticed the influence of mountain biking on road cycling in recent years, so we thought we would take a look at what is happening in the peloton this year which can be traced around the world. Mountain biking.Rotors XTR

Despite the fact that the Jumbo Visma team rim brakes are currently in pole position in the race, disc brakes on peloton bikes are more common than ever. It’s a technology that has been adopted and adapted for road bikes over the past decade, but even this year we are seeing technology pulled straight from mountain bikes and put on tour bikes. Scott and Deceuninck-Quick-Step use complete Dura Ace Di2 groupsets with the exception of one component, the brake rotors, on which they run XTR. XTR goes down to 140mm, so installing them is a simple swap, but the question is why? We’ve read a number of theories on cycling websites, but the truth is, no one seems to know for sure.

The main theory comes down to weight. The 140mm XTR rotor is 11 grams lighter than its Dura Ace counterpart, which might not sound like much, but remember we’re in the business of marginal gains and spinning weight. Other theories are that the larger cooling fins of the Dura Ace will be more affected by crosswinds or that the XTR will have better braking performance, especially in the wet, thanks to the larger holes drilled into the surface of the rim braking.

Either way, it seems to be working for the DQS team with two stage wins to its name and Sam Bennet is set to clinch the green jersey in Paris on Sunday.

Configurations Tubeless

As the saying goes in the world of road cycling, “tubeless for amateurs, tubular for pros”. While the benefits of tubeless tires are well proven, professional cyclists tend to stick to tubulars for their familiarity and added safety if they have a flat tire in the middle of a large group of riders. An important distinction here is that we are talking about tubulars, not inner tubes here – tubulars are a tire and inner tube glued to a flatter rim, which means that even with a puncture, you will continue to ride on tire. rubber, not on the rim.

Tubeless didn’t debut on this year’s tour as they’ve been on some riders’ time trials bikes but this is the first time we think we’ve seen a number of riders. use tubeless setups on their regular bikes. The UAE Emirates team announced in February that they would ride tubeless tires all year round and took the stage victory thanks to Alexander Kristoff on Tubeless Campagnolo Bora OMC 45 wheels with Vittoria Corsa tires without air chamber. Kristoff has been one of the strongest tubeless defenders in the peloton and last year won Gent-Wevelgem and finished third in the Tour of Flanders on tubeless tires. Elsewhere, Italian and European champion Giacomo Nizzolo would use Vittoria Corsa G2.0 TLR tubeless tires on Enve 5.6 tubeless wheels on some stages.

Inserts

Where tubeless wheels go, the inserts can’t be far behind. As reported by CyclingTips following a recent episode of The Cycling Podcast, not only are the Education First team experimenting with tubeless racing without a sealant (like some XC racers), but they also appear to use some type of foam in their tires. to help if a riders flat in the middle of a stage.

Jac-Johann Steyn, one of the mechanics on the team, said: “We have it, I call it like a sponge inside. I can’t go into details as it’s still a secret to the other teams, but yes it’s basically our safety. and you can still drive it… it’s almost like having like two bars (around 30 psi) in your tires so that you can still ride with it wherever you need to go… It’s to help you achieve a certain point where you can get a new wheel. And it is also a matter of safety, if you do not use this foam insert and the tire is deflated and it comes off, you may crash.

It is not known which ‘sponge’ is used by the team, although we believe it is something personalized, as we do not know of any brand that currently makes inserts for road tires… Also, how can it be difficult to design your own version of a closed foam hoop? We don’t even know if the foam eventually made it to the Tour, but this is clearly another example of road cycling turning to mountain biking for its technology.

Other trends

Wider tires

Since mountain bike tires are wider, so are road bike tires. While 23mm was previously king, with some runners dropping down to 21mm or less, runners began to realize that the added comfort of going a little wider doesn’t equal the cost of great rolling resistance. . For this reason, we have seen most of the riders in the peloton come out 25mm or even wider at 28mm in some cases.

Off-road skills

Ok, so this one might be a little off the mark, but the three elusive riders on this year’s Tour, Wout Van Aert, Sep Kuss and Marc Hirschi all have one thing in common, an off-road course. Van Aert is a 3-time cyclocross world champion and Kuss and Hirschi both started mountain biking in their youth, with Kuss winning races at the Collegiate Nationals at the University of Colorado. It might be the bike’s superior handling or an extra dose of explosive power, but there is clearly something that off-road riding can add to a road rider’s skills to help them excel at the sport.

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