Tour de France Bikes Head To Head Review

| Bike Reviews | Bikes & Cycling Gear | Gear | 28/06/2012 05:30am
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We review six production versions of Tour de France pro bikes to see if they’re any use for multi-sport athletes

For more road bike reviews, check out our Best Road Bikes For Triathlon round-up.

The competitors may not swim or run, but it’s hard to argue that the Tour de France isn’t the ultimate bike race. That means a lot of brands back up their support of team bikes with ‘team replica’ versions to cash in on the massive worldwide audience. But what relevance are these replica rides to multi-sport athletes like us?

Responsive, lightweight, non-aero bikes are good for morale on climbs or any time the pack accelerates, and friendly handling will always reduce psychological fatigue and riding stress. Plus this test proves that fitting aero wheels to a conventional frame can net you a drag reducing advantage without the weight and handling penalties of a TT bike. But which one of our six bikes on test is the right one for you?

 


 

Canyon CF SLX 9.0 SLCanyon CF SLX 9.0 SL
£3,279
canyon.com

German direct sales bike company Canyon has had a cracking early season for the past two years thanks to the Lotto (2011) and now Katusha road teams. Riding the ultralight, explosively rapid SLX 9.0 SL, it’s certainly obvious the bike is a genuine advantage whatever level you’re at. That’s before you realise that the complete bike is cheaper than most of the framesets in this test too.

Read the full Canyon CF SLX 9.0 SL review

Pros
+ Lightweight frameset creates a responsive, fitness boosting ride
+ Great performance and buyer-tuneable premium kit

Cons
– It comes in a box rather than from the your local bike shop
– Front end can sometimes get a bit unsettled on fast technical descents

Verdict
Ultra light, responsive all-rounder and a great climber. This is a genuine superbike competitor for the price of most comparable framesets

Performance 5/5
Value 5/5
Overall 5/5

 


 

Bianchi Oltre Vacansoleil Ultegra Di2Bianchi Oltre Vacansoleil Ultegra Di2

£5,500
bianchi.comcycleurope-uk.co.uk

The pale turquoise celeste colour of Italian bike maker Bianchi has been a distinctive presence in the pro ranks for decades. This year it’s riders from the Dutch Vacansoleil-DCM team who are campaigning on the company’s bikes and they couldn’t ask for a more cultured yet calmly superfast machine than the semi-aero Oltre.

Read the full Bianchi Oltre Vacansoleil Ultegra Di2 review

Pros
+ Chassis is smooth, with fast confident handling and low weight
+ Di2 shifting and aero tweaks make it a fatigue beater

Cons
– Di2 cable routing is snag prone and battery mount is  unsubtle
– Lighter wheels would let it show its true sprint potential

Verdict
Mid-level spec, but no doubting the sublime composure, class and easy speed of the frameset at the heart of this modern classic

Performance 5/5
Value 3/5
Overall 4/5

 


 

Giant TCR Advanced SL RabobankGiant TCR Advanced SL Rabobank

£5,999
giant-bicycles.com

Giant are is one of the most experienced carbon fibre frame makers in the world. While its Trinity aero bike is one of the most radical around, the TCR Advanced SL used by the mighty Dutch Rabobank team is all about power and ride management, not wind dodging. Don’t think that makes it slow though!

Read the full Giant TCR Advanced SL Rabobank review

Pros
+ Stiff steering and power delivery in an ultra-light chassis
+ Immediate handling backed up by instantly responsive kit

Cons
– Fixed seatmast can cause traveling and reselling complications
– Feedback is phenomenal but it’s not docile enough for tri-bar dozing

Verdict
This is a state-of-the-art performance race bike. Precise responsiveness delivers effortless acceleration and speed with little punishment

Performance 5/5
Value 3/5
Overall 4/5

 


 

Look 695 SR IPACK Cofidis Team ReplicaLook 695 SR I-Pack Cofidis Team Replica
£6,999.99
lookcycle.comfisheroutdoor.co.uk

French firm Look is one of the most innovative carbon bike builders in the world. The 695 frameset being used by the Cofidis team sets a whole new benchmark for component integration. Despite being tested alongside some of the best bikes in the world, it’s also reset our smooth yet superfast performance expectations in the course of the test process.

Read the full Look 695 SR I-Pack Cofidis Team Replica review

Pros
+ Light frame and fork and uniquely adjustable carbon chainset
+ Surprisingly smooth and comfy despite impressive power delivery

Cons
– Poor shifting with the current rings – make sure yours has Praxis fitted
–  Unique headset preload needs careful adjustment

Verdict

Look’s 695 is a blend of lightweight, surefooted poise, power delivery and impressive comfort. An outstanding, competitive ride

Performance 5/5
Value 4/5
Overall 4/5

 


 

Felt F1 Di2Felt F1 Di2
£7,499
feltbicycles.comsaddleback.co.uk

The most aesthetically stealthy bike on test here, Felt’s ultralight F1 all-rounder is as easy on the road as it is on the eye. Its smoothly rounded performance certainly leaves the Argos-Shimano team with no excuses not to put in a good performance.

Read the full Felt F1 Di2 review

Pros
+ Smooth and light chassis creates fatigue-free all-round friendliness
+ Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 transmission and tubeless ready wheels

Cons
– Power delivery isn’t as direct as the stiffest bikes
– Short stem and steep angles give handling wobble when pushing hard

Verdict
Not a gear-masher’s muscle bike but a good choice if you want a light, efficient, smooth cruise that sucks the sting out of serious miles

Performance 5/5
Value 3/5
Overall 4/5

 


 

Colnago C59 Italia Europcar Team ReplicaColnago C59 Italia Europcar Team Replica
£8,000
colnago.comwindwave.co.uk

Often described as the Ferrari of bikes, Colnago has put its entire heritage and experience into the hand-built Italian C59 flagship used professionally by the Europcar team. Traditional building methods allow a vast range of stock and custom sizing for a truly tailored fit.

Read the full Colnago C59 Italia Europcar Team Replica review

Pros
+ Hand-built frame allows for a vast range of sizes and custom options
+ Good handling and forgiving construction – safe on-road feel

Cons
– Not as bright and quick in feel as some of the other bikes here
–  Relatively high frame weight for the super-bike category

Verdict

Colnago’s traditional construction has advantages but it isn’t as sharp, punchy and quick feeling as the lightest modern monocoques

Performance 4/5
Value 3/5
Overall 3/5

 


 

OVERALL VERDICT

As much as we’d like to rank these bikes, the truth is that each of them could be perfect for someone. The Colnago oozes heritage and honed handling. The Felt is a flowing featherweight ride with state-of-the-art shifting. The Bianchi is an absolute beauty that mixes smooth buoyancy on long days with powerful acceleration, easy semi-aero speed and pitch- perfect handling. The Giant is slightly less subtle, but still a very rideable and rapaciously rapid race machine that excels in every aspect.

While the Look’s looks might not be everyone’s cup of tea, the level of integration and ingenuity does deliver some real advantages in terms of rider positioning and fit as well as long ride comfort – all in a package that’s as light, well balanced and near effortless to ride as you could wish for. For the ultimate performance bike, however, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that the Canyon is the most responsive bike here – an outstanding all-rounder for less than most of the framesets in the test.

For more road bike reviews, check out our Best Road Bikes For Triathlon round-up.

 

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Posted on Thursday, June 28th, 2012 at 5:30 am under Bike Reviews, Bikes & Cycling Gear, Gear. You can subscribe to comments. Comments are closed.

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