Tour time trial speed gear

Evans Canyon Speedmax CF Pro, helmets and more

Cadel Evans' special Canyon Speedmax CF Pro

ProTour time trial riders are among the absolute best in the world at achieving and maintaining a low, narrow and aerodynamic position on their machines. Cadel Evans' (Silence-Lotto) bar position is especially low however – his base bar sits just 60mm of so over the top of the front tire – and has presented some fitment problems in years past.

Last season, the Aussie's Ridley Dean sported an ultra-short head tube plus a pivoting stem angled sharply downwards to secure his Oval Concepts bar. This year's Canyon Speedmax CF Pro however uses a far more radical – and very clever – solution: instead of attaching the stem atop the head tube as normal, Canyon cut out about 40mm from the front of the head tube to make room for a custom two-piece fixed-position stem clamped to the middle of the steerer. Capping the top is custom aluminum bit that both seals the head tube and provides a way to preload the headset bearings.

Without doubt, the resultant creation isn't as slick looking as the front-end setups used by the likes of Giant, Specialized, Trek and Felt. But even those wouldn't allow for such an extreme position as Evans' and it's far more important to put a rider's body in an aerodynamic and efficient position as it produces the overwhelming majority of the total system drag. Remarkably, Silence-Lotto mechanics still managed to route the cables in a fairly clean arrangement, too.

The cutout in the head tube doesn't allow for a huge range of motion but given the speeds involved in time trialing we don't expect Evans will ever have to turn the bars very far.

Readers might be surprised to hear that Canyon plans to offer this frame configuration to the general public. Though one's intuition suggests otherwise, it's apparently safe to ride but the deleted material can't possibly do wonders for the front-end rigidity. However, given the UCI's recent rulings regarding the consumer availability of team race bikes, Canyon has no choice but to bring it to market in order for Evans to use it in competition. Interesting, indeed.

Agritubel looks within its borders for new team time trial helmet

Agritubel has switched its helmet sponsor this from Spain-based Spiuk to French outfit Ekoi. Though the team's specially painted bright gold metallic aero helmets were virtually impossible to miss during the team time trial, what lies beneath is surprisingly reasonably priced for the sport-level rider.

Ekoi sells its Chrono helmet direct from its web site for just €109 yet it offers a reasonable 305g weight, an easy-to-use dial-type retention system, plus an in-molded shell with a fully enclosed lower rear section, which multiple sources suggest notably reduces drag relative to an open design. In contrast to most aero markets currently on the market with a minimal number of vents such as Giro's latest creation and the Specialized TT2, the Chrono sports about a dozen openings to bring in cooling air – good for rider comfort but perhaps not the best for keeping drag to an absolute minimum.

The rear of the helmet is fully enclosed (proven in the wind tunnel by several teams to be faster than an open bottom) and the dial-type retention system looks easy to use.

That may be but given the everyman pricing it's hard to complain. Ekoi also offers the Chrono in four different colors including pink, a bright green, and white with either blue or red accents – but unless you land a contract with Agritubel, you can't have gold.

Milram mechanics go to the tape

Cycling fans generally think of ProTour race bikes as exquisitely tuned and white glove-clean with cutting-edge engineering and a good dose of black magic tossed in for good measure. For the most part that holds true (the top-level mechanics do truly extraordinary work that deserves more recognition than it receives) but even the best cared-for examples are occasionally shod with a few extra zip ties and electrical tape.

Milram's mechanics were surprisingly light-hearted just prior to the team time trial in Montpellier, their work completed in advance with everything checked and double-checked and everything generally in order. In fact, about the only thing left for the mechanics to do (apart from loading into follow cars in the event of a mishap, of course) was tape over the valve access holes in the team's Lightweight rear disc wheels.

Milram mechanics looked quite as ease prior to the start of the team time trial with all bikes fully prepped and ready to go.

Instead of just using fat pieces of white tape to match the disc surface's base color though team mechanic Filip [sorry, we don't know his surname and weren't able to obtain it prior to posting time] was hand drawing in the missing black lines normally seen on the rest of the wheel – an unnecessary extra perhaps but still a nice finishing touch.

More tape (this time black) was found covering up the mounting bolt for the rear derailleur hanger and the exit point at the top tube for the aft section of rear brake housing. Filip had disappeared by the time we noticed it so we couldn't ask what they were for but they're intriguing nonetheless. A fraction of a gram less drag? Cosmetics? We'll look into it and report back.

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