Tour Down Under Hot Tech: Pro bikes, hot trends, new gear and more

WorldTour teams show off new bikes and kit for 2024 at the first big race of the season in Adelaide

Clock10:32, Saturday 20th January 2024

The Santos Tour Down Under marks the start of the road season for the WorldTour and Women's WorldTour. It is also the first real opportunity to see all the new kit that teams will be using for the year ahead.

It's not just about the race though, as there is also a huge bike expo where there's way more than just pro tech on display. Alex Paton is there in Adelaide, South Australia looking out for some of the hottest new tech he could get his hands on.

Big gears

A trend that is hard to ignore across the sea of pro bikes on display is that the gears being used by pros are getting bigger. For many years the standard ‘pro’ crankset was made up of 53/39 teeth chainrings. With the advent of 12-speed cassettes and wider ratios, riders can run bigger chainrings without compromising their climbing ratios.

Back when 11-speed ruled the peloton a typical cassette would have a spread of 11-28 teeth. Now with 12-speed that can be 11-34 for Shimano riders and 10-33 for SRAM riders.

Prova carbon fibre/titanium bike

Away from the racing, Alex managed to get a look at Australian brand Prova and its titanium/carbon fibre bike that features a lot of carbon fibre technology in the design. The frame itself features titanium tubing, 3D-printed titanium and machined titanium. It uses carbon fibre for the seat tube to offer the high-frequency vibration-dampening qualities we have come to expect from carbon.

Even with all the different fabrication methods used on the bike, the finish is close to flawless and it's very hard to detect exactly where the joins and welds actually sit. This is in part thanks to the mirror finish polishing of the frame and the anodised finish which is incredible.

Unreleased Factor Ostro VAM

Currently one of the worst-kept secrets in cycling tech is the new Ostro VAM from Factor. Although it hasn't been publicly released it has been spotted multiple times out and about. The new Ostro VAM makes the most of changes to UCI regulations regarding bike design. The front of the bike and the fork both have deeper and revised profiles that reportedly save 10 watts at WorldTour speeds.

Factor's in-house finishing brand Black Inc. has also been busy with a new wheelset that apparently managed to shed 300 grams off the current model. As far as weight savings go at the premium end of equipment 300 grams is not to be sniffed at and could result in a tangible difference in feel out on the road.

Simpatico

Much like the Prova, Simpatico is an Australian bike brand specialising in titanium frames. What is particularly interesting about this N1 model is that rather than being anodised or painted as is typical of titanium frames it instead has a Cerakote finish that is hard-wearing and scratch-resistant. It is also incredibly thin with a thickness of between 20-50 microns it is certainly a good way to keep the weight off.

Van Rysel RCR

New to the WorldTour for 2024 are the team bikes of the now-named Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale. Van Rysel is a fairly unknown brand coming from the French sporting retailer Decathlon. We are particularly excited to see how this bike goes in the season ahead as it represents amazing value as far as WorldTour bikes go, with the top-spec bike coming in at £8500. Granted this isn’t exactly loose change but it is some £6000 cheaper than some of the other brands in the pro peloton.

As you would expect from a pro bike it has all the latest in aero trends including a one-piece bar and stem, dropped seatstays and a proprietary aero seatpost. It also tips the scales at 7.5kg which puts it at a competitive weight for a bike of this design.

ENVE Melee

Another WorldTour team that has made a big equipment move this season is TotalEnergies who have replaced Specialized with ENVE. The Melee is ENVE’s race bike and will be the brand’s debut in the WorldTour.

As you might expect the whole bike is dripping in ENVE’s own finishing kit including the wheels, fork, bar and stem. Something else that's perhaps a little less expected on the finishing kit list are ENVE’s own tyres, something we haven’t seen a lot of previously. It will be interesting to see how this bike goes for the team this year.

Pillar Performance

It's not just bikes on show at the expo, Pillar Performance have some of its latest nutrition products on display. The brand’s Triple Magnesium recovery drink aims to improve muscle recovery, and deep sleep and reduce the amount of cramps you experience. With cycling becoming ever more scientific, nutrition and recovery products are becoming a real hot area for riders to seek out marginal gains.

Mirror-finish Ekoi shoes

These new shoes from Ekoi are quite possibly the boldest pair of shoes we have ever seen. They are the R4 Evo model but what really grabs your attention is the mirror-like finish on the uppers. The shiny silver chrome colourway is hard to avoid. Perhaps one for a rider who's confident in their ability and has the horsepower to back up the boldness of the shoes.

Pro bikes galore

Alex managed to get his hands on more than a couple of pro bikes that were knocking around before the start of the Tour Down Under. Make sure to check out the video at the top of this story and our tech gallery if you want to get a more detailed look a some of those bikes from down under. And keep an out for his video next week rounding up all the bikes of the WorldTour.

For more about the 2024 men's Santos Tour Down Under, including the route, startlist and latest standings, visit our dedicated race hub.

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