Events

Paris–Roubaix Tech: a look at the bikes of the bunch

Along with much of the cycling world, we were gripped by the events of the 2022 Paris-Roubaix. Never a race to disappoint its fans, the most recent edition — the fastest in history — was quite possibly the most thrilling to date!

But it’s not only the riders that make the difference during Paris-Roubaix. The sheer length of the race is boggling; add to that the fact that over 50km (31 miles) of it is raced on cobbles, and it becomes understandable that riders make modifications to their bikes to add comfort or durability.

We’ve taken a look at some of the standout tech being used by the pros during the 2022 race.

Wheels

Paris-Roubaix Dylan van Baarle, Wout van Aert and Stefan Kung

© Zac WiLLIAMS SWpix.com

At any top bike race, there’s always top quality hoops on display. Of course, Paris-Roubaix is no exception.

Shimano Dura-Ace R9170 C40 Tubeless Carbon Disc Brake Wheelset

Given that versions of these wheels were ridden by all those standing on the podium, it’s a reasonable conclusion that it’s a decent wheelset. The C50s were used by Paris-Roubaix winner Dylan van Baarle and runner up Wout van Aert, and Stefan Küng opted for the deeper rimmed C60. Being a flat course, all three teams likely opted for a deeper wheelset, giving more speed. However, for everyday use or for rides combining a mix of flat sections and climbs, the C40 offers an excellent compromise on weight and aerodynamics.

Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO 45 Disc Brake Wheelset

Any wheel good enough for Olympic Road Race gold-medal winner and previous Paris-Roubaix winner Greg van Avermaet is surely more than enough wheel for us mere mortals. With the Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO, that is exactly what you get! The Bora Ultra is a wheel entirely designed to go fast across varied terrain. Deep — but not too deep — and weighing in at 1420g, this is a wheel that can handle itself in a fast bunch ride, regardless of the terrain.

Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Tubeless Disc Brake Wheelset

Consistently one of our most popular wheelsets, Zipp’s 404 is a wheel meant to be ridden fast. At Paris-Roubaix it was put through its paces in both the men’s and women’s races, in the hands of the Movistar Team. Emma Norsgard, Movistar’s leader on the women’s side, battled on to a valiant 11th place after suffering a mechanical.

Zipp’s Firecrest range is the wheel maker’s answer to long, fast days out on the bike; be that on the road or off it. Having been refined on the cobbles of Roubaix, the wheelset’s propensity for sturdiness and speed is hard to dispute.

Tyres

Three women cyclists race Paris-Robaix

© Zac WiLLIAMS SWpix.com

After wheels, tyres are one of the single biggest changes you can make to the performance of your bike.

Pirelli P Zero Race TLR

Adorning the classic Campag wheelset of Greg van Avermaert and most of his AG2R-Citroën team were the Pirelli P-Zero Race TLR. This is a race-ready tyre, but is the slightly thicker cased version of Pirelli’s fastest tyre, meaning it balances all out speed with durability. Given the number of riders afflicted by punctures en route to the velodrome of Roubaix, this seems a wise choice. If it can handle the ride to Roubaix, it’s easily a match for weekend club runs and fast bunch rides.

Pirelli P-Zero Velo (yellow)

For the flashier rider, look no further than Pirelli’s brightly coloured P-Zero Velo. The 2019 UCI Men’s Road World Champion, Mads Pederson, was spotted sporting the yellow tubular version on his new Trek Domane MK4.

Michelin Power Competition Tubular Road Tyre

Team Cofidis were one of the few (if not only) teams with a more ‘traditional’ set up in Michelin’s Power Competition tubular, in a 23mm. The majority of teams racing ran a tubeless or tubular tyre in a 30mm.

Vittoria Road Air-Liner Tyre Insert

With a rising number of WorldTour teams opting for tubeless tyres for racing, more and more teams are reporting the use of tyre inserts.

Tyre inserts sit between the rim and a tubeless tyre. They effectively allow you to replace some of the air volume inside a tyre, meaning a lower pressure is possible. This leads to an improvement in grip, comfort, and overall performance.

The insert can absorb impacts, reducing the chance of pinch punctures and damage to the rims. Another benefit is that if you do flat, you’ll still have something left to roll on while you limp to safety.

A common addition to off-road riding, Vittoria are pioneering their use on the road.

Accessories

A female cyclist races the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix

© Zac WiLLIAMS SWpix.com

Elite Ciussi Gel Bottle Cage

The Alpecin-Fenix team, of Mathieu van der Poel, opted for this classic Elite bottle cage. It is simple in its design but is fitted with anti-vibration gel buttons to ensure that your bottle stays firmly in place across the pavé. Lose a bottle filled with precious carbs and water at the wrong time, and that’s potentially a race-losing error.

Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 SW-R610 Sprinter Shifters (11 speed) / Shimano SW-RS801-2 Di2 Sprinter Switches / Sram Blip for eTap

When your whole body is shaking to the point you can feel your childhood fillings being dislodged by the unrelenting cobbles, the last thing you want to do is move your hands off your bars.

Used to great effect by sprinters and climbers looking to keep their hands locked into place, both SRAM and Shimano offer sprint shifters or blips. These are used by a variety of riders across the cobbles, not least of all by the majority of the Alpecin-Fenix team on their Canyons and race winner Dylan van Baarle.

Simply place the little button anywhere you like on your handlebars, and even if you feel like you’re a passenger in a Tuk Tuk on an unpathed road, you will at least be able to switch gears!

Selle Italia Flite Boost Superflow Kit Carbon Saddle

As high-performing athletes go, there can’t be many that spend more time seated than cyclists. Even if it was the fastest in history, Paris-Roubaix still saw cyclists crossing some of the most difficult surfaces in road cycling for over five hours, and likely more than six hours. This saddle from Selle, spotted on the Alpecin-Fenix team’s Canyons is intended for both road and off-road riding, making it an excellent choice for fast rides on more jarring surfaces.

Sram Red eTap AXS 1x D1 Electronic Road Groupset

Being a largely flat race, the men’s Trek-Segafredo team opted for a 1x set up. If you find yourself riding and racing on predominately flat terrain, then a 1x set up could be worth considering. It’s lighter, more aerodynamic, and reduces the chances of dropping a chain when going from the big ring to the small ring (and vice versa).

For all things cycling and the latest news, follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.



meagers

meagers

Writer and expert