This article originally appeared on BikeRadar
German strong-man – Marcel Kittel – has created quite the reputation for himself since his first Tour de France stage win in 2013. With a team-name change for 2015, the big, blonde sprinter is off to a flying season start with yet another win at the People's Choice Classic criterium, an opening event to the Santos Tour Down Under.
With Shimano stepping away as title sponsor, Alpecin has moved in to share the jersey space with Giant Bicycles. Alpecin are makers of caffeinated hair products, an incredible fit given Kittel’s well-known love for styled hair.
Just like Kittel’s bike we looked at last year, his 2015 team bike remains as Giant’s top-end aero road frame – the Propel Advanced SL in a size large. First launched at the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under and unchanged since, the Propel continues to remain competitive within the booming aero-road bike market.
For 2015, Giant-Alpecin has changed power meter sponsor from SRM to Pioneer. With this, the team has received ‘team-issue’ white and black colours for the Pioneer SGX-CA500 computers and white battery covers for the crank-mounted power meter.
Despite Giant now updating it’s Propel Mini-V brakes to an alloy model similar to those used by the pro’s since the bike’s 2013 launch, the team continues with its aftermarket Fouriers model brakes. It’s unknown whether this is because the team has a large stockpile of the Fouriers, or if they prefer the performance compared to Giant’s updated offering.
PRO, Shimano’s in-house componentry brand, remains as the supplier of the cockpit components, including saddles.
The PRO Vibe stem remains a curious one – with a four-bolt faceplate and 1 1/4in (aka OD2) steerer clamp. Since last year, PRO offers a 1 1/4in stem in the form of the Vibe 7S, however, the four-bolt faceplate of Kittel’s stem remains entirely different.
The rest of the build remains unchanged from last year, with a Shimano Dura-ace 9070 Di2 using an internal battery and sprint shifters for shifting from the drops.
Kittel continues to use a slightly larger than normal 11-28T cassette. We were told last year that this often saves him from chain crossing and having to use the edge of the cassette where other issues can arise if previously caught up in crash.
And grasping at differences from last year’s ride, Kittel is now using a lighter weight bottle cage in the form of the Elite Pase Custom Carbon. Unusually though, at the line of the pre-event criterium race, Kittel was back to using his old Elite Cuissi Gel bottle cages and a deeper Dura-Ace C75 rear wheel.
With a change in power meter and bottle cages alone, we weighed his 2015 ride at 7.23kg (15.94lb) including the Pioneer head unit. Compare this to 7.26kg (15.97lb) excluding the then-SRM head unit of last year’s ride and there’s a marginal weight saving.