How much does bike technology really boost performance? - GCN Tech Show

Alex Paton and Ollie Bridgewood look at how the tech behind Van Rysel bikes might be driving more success in the pro peloton

Clock19:05, Thursday 9th May 2024

It feels like the WorldTour peloton is still in the early throes of the 2024 season but it has already reached May and the half-way mark in the road calendar. It’s been a season characterised by trends on the bike, namely Mathieu van der Poel and Tadej Pogačar winning everything, and trends off the bike, with the use of larger chainrings standing out. It’s also been a season that has delivered plenty of success for Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale, who have taken 12 wins so far this season - the fastest they’ve reached that tally since 2005.

That success has obviously been delivered by its talented riders but, as Ollie Bridgewood and Alex Paton discuss in this week’s GCN Tech Show, it could also be driven by the team’s new Van Rysel bikes. When looking at the team, most of the key elements have remained the same, including many of the riders, but the bikes stand out as being the key difference.

In what proved to be a busy off season, Decathlon joined the team as title sponsors, bringing its new high-end range of Van Rysel bikes with it. They’ve caused quite the stir in the world of racing and away from it, with the bikes selling out hours of going on pre-sale. It’s perhaps not surprising considering the much more friendly price tag compared to other WorldTour bikes, with the top-of-the-range model with SRAM Red AXS selling for €8,500.

That lower cost doesn’t appear to have come to the detriment of performance, with the bikes performing admirably in tests, so are they helping to drive the team’s success? Check out what Alex and Ollie think in the video at the top of this page and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Read more: Tech throwback: Remembering the Decathlon pro bikes of the 2000s

Hot and spicy tech

It’s been another busy week in the world of tech, with a new SRAM Red groupset potentially breaking cover at the Giro d’Italia.

New SRAM Red on show at the Giro d’Italia

While there has been no official word yet, an unreleased version of SRAM’s top-tier Red AXS groupset has been in full show at the Giro d’Italia.

We won’t give away all the details here, but suffice to say there are some interesting developments across the groupset, with changes to the shifting levers and derailleurs. 

Check out a full breakdown of the changes we spotted at the Giro d’Italia.

Tadej Pogačar skinsuit divides opinions at Giro d’Italia

Having taken the race lead on stage 2, Tadej Pogačar took ownership of the maglia rosa. Except, in a move that has divided cycling, the UAE Team Emirates rider chose to wear a Castelli skinsuit on stage 3 that blended the usual pink on the top half with a granata on the bottom.

Featuring it in hot tech is controversial in itself, as it wasn’t to the liking of many. Including, as it turned out, the race’s commissaires who apparently threatened him with disqualification - not for crimes against fashion, but for breaking rules. The UCI has since dismissed such rumours and cleared the Slovenian to wear the mutli-coloured skinsuit in future stages, should he keep hold of the lead.

Read more: Tadej Pogačar cleared to use multi-coloured skinsuit at the Giro d’Italia

Forge+Bond bring recyclable rims to the road

Forge+Bond is a new company, only hitting the market in 2023, but it has already made a big impact through its carbon recyclable wheels. It previously only offered gravel and mountain bike wheelsets but has expanded the recycling capabilities to the road through the new CR wheels.

Like the other wheels in its line-up, they are created using FusionFiber technology which combines nylon and carbon fibre. When heated up, this takes on a liquid-like substance, hence why it is recyclable.

Read more: Forge+Bond brings FusionFiber technology to the tarmac through new CR all-road wheels

SLF Motion new oversized pulley wheels…kind of

Oversized pulley wheels are popular with many brands tapping into the market, including SLF Motion. The brand, which manufactures its products in the US, has done things a little differently though, developing slightly over-sized versions designed for sprinting.

They’re a lot less in your face compared to the giant wheels that are a regular sight on bikes, although the blue colour still helps them to stand out from the crowd.

Downhill mountain bikers are going aero

Mountain bikers are seen as the cool kids of cycling, but it appears they’re now challenging their inner nerds by tapping into the world of aerodynamics. It’s previously been difficult to do so as the UCI has banned skinsuits in the sport - presumably to uphold its cool kid status - but Fox has come up with a solution through a two-piece aero jersey and bib shorts. Except, the bib shorts come all the way over the top of the shoulders and act like the top of the jersey.

Bike Vault

If you want to see your bike critiqued by our presenters, don’t forget to submit images of it via our uploader. You can find out more about how to do this here.

Once submitted, your bike could earn a much coveted super nice vote, although it’ll need to meet our presenters’ high benchmark for presentation, like this Giant TCR Advanced.

For all the latest tech developments make sure to head over to our dedicated tech news section of the GCN website.

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