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Shimano's neutral service bikes: What's under the blue paint?

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Shimano neutral support

Shimano was tight lipped, but we believe its neutral support bikes at last year’s Tour Down Under were repainted Pardus Robin SL frames (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Shimano neutral support

The neutral support bikes had full Ultegra mechanical drivetrains (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Shimano neutral support

Most teams would be downgrading from the Dura-Ace cranks (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Shimano neutral support

Of the bikes we saw, there were options with all three major pedal systems represented in the World Tour but this one, in particular, had Shimano Dura-Ace (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Shimano neutral support

The Pardus frame uses single bolt dual-pivot rim brakes (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Shimano neutral support

While there are a few spacers under the stem, the Pro Vibe bars have plenty of drop (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Shimano neutral support

It’s odd to see mechanical shifting in the World Tour nowadays, but it also prevents grabbing a bike for a panicked rider only to find out it has a dead Di2 battery (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Shimano neutral support

When you’re asking for a neutral support bike you’re stuck with the saddle that’s on there. The Pro Falcon is likely to get on with a lot of riders without too much discomfort (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Shimano neutral support

The long, flat saddle is paired with an offset seatpost (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Shimano neutral support

Even though it’s a neutral support bike, you won’t have rattily valve stems (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Shimano neutral support

Rolling stock comes in the form of Dura-Ace C60 carbon clinchers… (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Shimano neutral support

...the rim brake carbon clinchers have an alloy braking surface and a carbon fairing (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Shimano neutral support

WorldTour mechanics need stickers and name tags to differentiate between riders' bikes, so too do the Neutral Support team (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Shimano neutral support

Even the bottle cages come from Shimano (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Shimano neutral support

Despite the lack of shrink wrap, the front end is pretty clean (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Shimano neutral support

53/39T chainrings are always a safe bet… (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Shimano neutral support

Though the 11-30T cassette is a bit bigger than we usually see on WorldTour (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Shimano neutral support

In case you had forgotten whose bike you were riding (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Shimano neutral support

When setting up these bikes, it would be no small task to try and figure out what the middle of the road handlebar height that any given rider will be happy with (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Shimano neutral support

Pro Vibe 7 alloy bars on the front with cleanly finished bar tape (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Shimano neutral support

Maxxis road tyres aren't always the first that come to mind, but the Relix are pretty quick on the road (Image credit: Colin Levitch)

After a year of hard times for legacy outfit Mavic, earlier this week the ASO announced Shimano would be replacing the French outfit as the neutral support provider for its WorldTour, Continental, and Women’s races, including the Tour de France. Shimano and its fleet of blue cars and bikes have already been providing this service at races all around the world, one of which is the Tour Down Under. At the 2020 edition of the race, we managed to grab one of the neutral support bikes in the pits to take a closer look. It just so happened that this bike, in particular, had been used that day in the race, and the mechanics had not had the chance to clean the day’s race off the drivetrain.

It’s a safe bet that the bikes you see at races in Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Oceania will vary slightly based on what frames that region's Shimano HQ come up with, but for this rim-brake equipped model, under that blue paint is a Pardus Robin SL. Shimano AU’s connection to Pardus came through the St George Continental Cycling Team, which races in Australia's National Road Series.

Shimano neutral support

Shimano had Ultegra mechanical on the neutral support bikes at the 2020 TDU (Image credit: Colin Levitch)

This frame, in particular, is a size 54, with a 547mm top tube, 510mm seat tube, and has a stack and reach of 555mm and 378mm. All up, the bike tipped our scales at 7.89kg.

The bike is built up with a full Shimano Ultegra drivetrain with 53/39t chainrings and an 11-30t Ultegra cassette at the back, and 172.5mm cranks. This particular bike had Shimano Dura-Ace pedals screwed into the end of the cranks. We had a peek into the Shimano container in the pits, and there were bikes with Look and Speedplay pedals too. 

The cockpit, unsurprisingly, comes from Shimano’s in-house component brand Pro, with a set of 400mm Vibe 7S alloy handlebars connected to a +/-6 degree, 120mm Pro PLT stem. Given that there was three cars' worth of identical blue bikes, taped to the top of the stem is the car assignment to ensure it ends up in the right place. 

Shimano neutral support

Even the neutral support team needs labels to tell the bikes apart (Image credit: Colin Levitch)

With the frame relying on rim brakes, Shimano has specced a set of its Ultegra callipers, which wrangle a set of Dura-Ace C60 carbon clinchers. All of Shimano’s rim brake carbon clinchers are still a laminate design that uses an aluminium braking surface and a carbon faring. 

The Pardus frame uses a round seatpost, so Shimano could slot in a PLT seat post with a 20mm offset. The Pro Falcon saddle perched atop the seat post has light padding and a pancake- flat profile with a pressure relief channel that runs the entire length of the saddle. 

The only components attached to this bike that doesn’t come from Shimano (well, except for the frame itself) are the 25mm Maxxis Relix tube-type tyres. These come with a 170 TPI casing and the brand’s SilkShield puncture protection.

Shimano neutral support

The only non-Shimano component comes in the form of Maxxis Relix tyres (Image credit: Colin Levitch)

Shimano Neutral Support bike full specification

  • Frameset: Pardus Robin SL Shimano edition, Size 54
  • Front brake: Shimano Ultegra R8000 Dual Pivot
  • Rear brake: Shimano Ultegra R8000 Dual Pivot
  • Brake/shift levers: Shimano Ultegra R8000 Dual Control Lever
  • Front derailleur: Shimano Ultegra R8000
  • Rear derailleur: Shimano Ultegra R8000
  • Cassette: Shimano Ultegra R8000, 11-30T
  • Chain: Shimano Ultegra 
  • Crankset: Shimano Ultegra R8000, 53/39T
  • Wheelset: Shimano Dura-Ace C60 carbon clincher
  • Tyres: Maxxis Relix clincher 25mm
  • Handlebars: PRO Vibe 7S
  • Handlebar tape: PRO Sport Control Team LTD
  • Stem: PRO PLT alloy 120mm
  • Pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace
  • Saddle: PRO Falcon
  • Seat post: PRO PLT Alloy
  • Bottle cages: Pro Bottle Cage Alloy
  • Total weight: 7.89kg