The 22 Fastest Bikes on the Planet: The Time Trial Bikes from This Year’s Tour

Here's a brief look at the time trial bikes teams used in the 2017 Tour.

Matt Phillips |

Here’s a brief look at the time trial bikes teams used in the 2017 Tour. – By Matt Phillips


AG2R La Mondiale’s Factor Slick

The most striking feature of Factor’s Slick is the double downtube, which, the company’s information claims, allows an aerodynamic bike to have “the stiffness and feel of a traditional road bike.” Another interesting feature is the single riser stack underneath the extensions: most bikes employ two risers: one underneath each extension. Another feature the Slick has in common with many of the newer TT bikes: a so-called “external steerer” fork. Instead of the fork disappearing into the frame’s head tube at the lower headset bearing, part of the fork extends above the crown and sits in front of the head tube. According to an aerodynamic expert I consulted, this potentially creates a narrower leading edge than a traditional fork and headtube.


Astana’s Argon 18 E-118 NEXT

Astana had one of the biggest technical sponsor change-overs in 2017, with the team getting a new frame, drivetrain, and tire sponsor. For the time trails, the team is on Argon 18’s, a dual-purpose TT/Tri frame. The E-118 NEXT has many design features in common with other teams’ TT bikes: seat stays that attach to the seat tube well below the top tube (commonly called dropped seat stays); a rear brake located under the chainstay; a deep seat tube with wheel cutout; fully internal routing of the brake and derailleur lines; and the front brake is tucked behind fork legs. As seen here, Astana rides the enduring disc/tri spoke wheel combo.

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Bahrain Merida’s Merida Warp
From the headtube back, the Merida Warp looks like a lot of the TT frames used at the Tour. Up front, however, the Merida uses a very traditional setup: a standard fork (not an external steerer design), and direct-mount brake caliper mounted to the leading edge of the fork. Also, that speed sensor on the front of the fork can’t be doing the rider any aerodynamic favors. Bahrain-Merida is one of two teams in the tour that uses parts from two fierce rivals: Shimano drivetrain and Fulcrum (a Campagnolo brand) wheels.
BMC Timemachine 01

The Timemachine 01 is a dual-duty TT and triathlon bike, and BMC’s engineers have built in some interesting features to make it adaptable to both. Seen here in it’s TT configuration, the seat post fits into what would traditionally be called the seat tube, anchored by a U-shaped clamp the bolts into the top tube. In it’s tri configuration, however, the post is placed further forward, inserted though the top tube and into the triangular frame member that stretches from the seat tube to the top tube. Several bar-height options are offered: BMC Team riders use the “Flat Cockpit” which lets them achieve a very low position, but a futuristic looking V-Cockpit is available for riders who prefer higher bars. Hidden inside the frame: a brake cable-pull accelerator that lets the brake pads sit further from the rim, so riders are less likely to hear pad rub. BMC is one of the teams in the tour with Shimano drivetrain and wheel sponsorship, but rider’s use wheels from Shimano’s PRO brand for TT’s.

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Bora Hansgrohe’s Specialized Shiv
Specialized makes two versions of the Shiv: one for triathlon, and one that’s UCI legal for time-trails. While the Shiv triathlon has received regular updates, the current Shiv TT was launched in 2012, making it one of the oldest designs in the Tour field. Part of the reason for this: the market for triathlon frames is many times larger than the market for UCI-legal TT frames. So while Specialized bikes are usually on the leading edge of design and aerodynamics–as evidenced by the new Tarmac–the Shiv TT doesn’t have some of the more modern touches seen in some of the newer bikes, which is particularly noticeable in more traditional fork and front brake design. Despite it’s age, the Shiv TT appears to be fast: at least under a certain Tony Martin who rode the Shiv TT into the rainbow jersey at the 2016 world championships (Martin has since moved onto Canyon-sponsored Katusha Alpecin).
Cannondale Drapac’s Cannondale Slice RS

Cannondale’s Slice RS debuted way back in 2012. It’s so “old” it doesn’t show up on Cannondale’s website anymore. The only Slice bikes available to the public are the triathlon-oriented Slice (no RS) models. Despite its age, it still looks like one of the most modern TT bikes at the tour with an external steerer fork, hidden brakes, and dramatic tube shapes. The bike shown here belongs to Taylor Phinney, who is one of a handful of riders who uses a traditional saddle shape (though thickly-padded) and not a snub-nosed TT saddle. While the base bar is on the level with the top tube, the 6’4” rider’s extensions sit atop a towering spacer stack. One of Ceramic Speed’s many formally sponsored teams, Phinney’s bike is equipped with the company’s massive pulley wheels, which are claimed to save about 2.4 watts.


Cofidis’s Orbea Ordu
The Ordu is one of the dual duty Tri/TT bikes in the Tour. The differences in rider position–a triathlete’s saddle is usually pushed much further forward than a TT rider’s–is handled by a symmetrical seatpost multiple saddle-clamp options. Notable features include a Shimano Di2 battery pocket just above the bottom bracket shell, vertical dropouts for easier wheel changes (many TT bikes have rear-facing horizontal dropouts), a wide BB386EVO BB shell. The Ordu was the first Orbea bike to use the bow-legged Freeflow fork design, which aims to reduces the pressure and turbulant air created by the front wheel’s rotation. Freeflow has since been integrated into Orbea’s new Orca and Orca Aero frames. Still, the Ordu is one of the older TT bikes in the Tour (this Ordu went on the UCI’s approved equipment list in the mid-2015), as evidenced by the traditional-looking fork and brake arrangement. This is the only TT bike at the tour with traditionally placed and exposed front and rear brakes.
Dimension Data’s Cervelo P5-Three

Launched back in 2012, the P5-Three is another of the longer-toothed TT bikes at the Tour. The P5 was originally launched in two versions: the UCI-legal P5-Three, and the UCI-illegal P5-Six for triathlons. The difference is in the front end: the Three has a fork with 3:1 length to width dimensions, and an exposed front brake; the Six has a 6:1 ratio fork, and a cowling that hides the front brake and effectively increases the head tube’s depth. Dimension Data rides the UCI-legal version obviously, built with parts from Enve, Rotor, and Shimano. Though the team’s wheel set sponsor is Enve, the TT bikes are equipped with a HED disc wheel for –some riders even had clincher disc wheels with aluminium brake track–because Enve does not yet have a disc wheel available. The P5 is the only bike at the Tour that with a stem that is perched above–and not in line with–the top tube.

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Direct Energie’s BH Aerolight
There’s no missing Direct Energie’s bright yellow BH Aerolight. Even without the bold paint, the bike’s busy tube shapes would make it stand out. Crazy as the tube shapes are, the BH does not use a external steerer fork, and the Aerolight is one of just four TT bikes (out of 20), that has the rear brake on the seat stay; the rest have rear brake under the chainstay. The massive fore/aft range provided by the seatpost handles the different position demands of triathletes and TT riders.
FDJ’s Lapierre Aerostorm DRS
The Aerostorm DRS (Drag Reduction System) is one of the few TT bikes to have its brakes traditionally positioned, though they are hidden from the wind by cowlings. FDJ’s technical sponsors have been in place for many years: an impressive run of stability in the usually tumultuous world of pro sponsorship. The team uses Shimano drivetrains and wheels (for TT, the team uses disc and tri-spoke wheels from Shimano’s PRO component division), and Continental tyres. This bike is equipped with an SRM powermeter, but this team will soon switch to Shimano’s Dura Ace power meter.
Fortuneo Oscaro’s Look 796 Monoblade
Thanks in part to the wireless SRAM Red eTap drivetrain, Fortuneo-Oscaro’s Look TT bike is one of the cleanest looking bikes at the Tour. The 796 is a highly-integrated bike, with the front brakes integrated into the fork blades, Look’s one-piece carbon Zed crank (with dual bolt circles), and an integrated seat mast. Wheels are from boutique French brand Corima (which Look purchased in 2016), which are wrapped in custom red-sidewall Challenge Record tubulars.
Katusha Alpecin’s Canyon Speedmax CF SLX
There’s something interesting about the way the shape of Canyon’s Speedmax can be both crisp and flowing. The wireless SRAM Red eTap drivetrain helps clean up the bike, while wheels from Zipp provide proven aerodynamic performance. Surprisingly, this bike is not equipped with a Quarq power meter. The Speedmax’s base bar features cleanly-integrated Ergon grips. The two companies enjoy a close partnership because of familial ties: Roman Arnold founded Canyon; his brother Franc Arnold founded Ergon.
Lotto Soudal’s Ridley Dean

The Dean ridden by Lotto-Soudal has many features in common with other TT bikes at the Tour like hidden/integrated brakes; external steerer fork; integrated stem and handlebar system; and all-internal control routing. Difficult to see in this photo is Ridley’s F-Split fork design: the slots in the fork blades are designed to reduce turbulence by drawing air away from the fork. Though Campangolo sponsored, the Italian company does not make a tri-spoke front wheel, so the team uses an unbranded wheel, probably a HED.

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Lotto NL Jumbo’s Bianchi Aquila CV
The Aquila CV appears to have many features in common with other TT bikes at the Tour. What isn’t seen is Countervail, a layer of viscoelastic material in the frame claimed to decrease vibrations for a smoother ride: a potentially big advantage as TT bikes tend to have a stiff and unforgiving ride. While most riders on teams with Shimano wheel sponsorship use the tri-spoke wheel from the company’s PRO division, this rider has chosen Shimano’s new Dura Ace 60mm deep wheel.
Movistar’s Canyon Speedmax CF SLX
Though Movistar riders are aboard the same Canyon frame as their rivals at Katusha-Alpecin, the parts spec is dramatically different. Movistar uses Campagnolo drivetrain and wheels, Power2Max power meter and Fizik saddle (Katusha sits on Selle Italia). Though seen here in it’s TT form, the Speedmax can be set up and accessorised for triathlons. Among the more standout features: an integrated hydration system.
Orica Scott’s Scott Plasma
British rider Simon Yates entered the stage 20 time trial with an advantage of 2’6” over South Africa’s Louis Meintjes of UAE Team Emirates in the best young rider classification. Considered the better TT rider of the two, Yates secured the white jersey with a quality run. Yates’s bike is Scott’s Plasma equipped with Shimano Dura Ace Di2 drivetrain, PRO wheels, Continental tyres.
Quick Step Floors’s Specialized Shiv TT

Quick Step Floors and Bora Hasngrohe’s bikes look almost identical, so you can be forgiven for mistaking the two. The best way to tell the teams’ bikes apart is the front wheel: Quick Step uses a Roval spoked front wheel; Bora uses a PRO tri-spoke. Another difference: Quick Step uses a Vision bars while Bora uses PRO equipment. Both teams are using an unbranded rear wheel which may be a yet-to-be-announced Roval product, or just an un-branded disc from another company.


Sky’s Pinarello Bolide TT
Team Sky’s riders contest the race of truth aboard one of the most organic-looking TT bikes in the field: Pinarello’s Bolide TT. Befitting the team that promotes the “marginal games” concept, the Bolide TT has fork-dropout extensions inspired by Bradley Wiggins’s hour-record bike and a rear-brake cowling with scalloped trailing edge. Another striking feature are the one-piece 3D printed handlebars, which are certain to carry an equally-striking price tag. While this bike rolls on a Dura Ace 60mm deep front wheel, Sky riders are most often seen with a PRO tri-spoke front wheel.
Sunweb’s Giant Trinity
It’s the rear triangle that really stands out on this Giant Trinity. Check out the frame’s dramatic rear wheel cutout, the slender seat tube; and the nearly vertical seat post: quite unlike any other frame at the Tour. Team Sunweb is one of the many Shimano-sponsored teams at the tour and, like most of them, uses a PRO disc and tri-spoke wheel.
Trek Segafredo’s Trek Speed Concept
While the Speed Concept might not have any particularly standout features amongst the other TT bikes at this year’s Tour (the design convergence can be at least partially blamed on the UCI’s technical regulations driving everyone towards the same design), it does stand out in another way. The Speed Concept is offered through Trek’s Project One customisation program, which allows the buyer to pick paint; a”UCI legal” package for TTs or a “Full Aero” package for triathlons; components; wheels; and bar shapes. Team riders use Shimano Dura Ace Di2 drivetrain, rounded out by Bontrager bars, front wheel, and saddle. Tyres are from Vittoria, and the rear wheel’s dimples and embossed logos give it away as a Zipp 900 (Bontrager doesn’t make a disc wheel).
UAE Team Emirates Colnago K.One

Though sponsored by, and registered in, the United Arab Emirates, the UAE team rides the most Italian bikes in the Tour: Colnago frames, Campagnolo drivetrain and wheels, Deda Elementi Components, Vittoria tyres, Selle Italia saddles, and Elite bottles and cages. The Colnago K.One has all the features of a modern TT bike: hidden brakes; internal control line routing; rear wheel cutout; external steerer fork; sunken stem (the stem is in line with the top tube). Not seen in the photo is the small pocket in the top tube that houses the Campagnolo EPS drivetrain’s inerface unit (or Shimano’s Di2 Junction box).


Wanty Group Gobert’s Cube AERIUM C:68
Wild card invite Wanty Group Gobert showed up at their first Tour de France with a team entirely made up of first time participants. The riders are aboard bike’s from Germany’s Cube, a popular brand in its home country. Though the Aerium’s has many of the features of the other TT bikes shown here, it’s conventional fork, exposed front brake, and exposed front and rear brake housing are a step behind the sleekest TT bikes. Wanty Group Gobert is one of two teams (Bahrain-Merida is the other) that runs the Shimano drivetrain, Fulcrum (Campagnolo) wheel combination.

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