While WorldTour teams do get the latest bike tech, they don’t always get the greatest. The UCI is notorious for its traditionalist equipment rules, which seemingly clamp down on all the good stuff.
Luckily, there’s nothing to stop bike brands from selling their innovations direct to the public, meaning you can get better gear than the best professionals in the world - if you’ve got the cash that is.
Here are five super-fast pieces of gear that the pros just can’t have.
Specialized has two versions of the Shiv – the one the pros ride, and the really fast version they can’t.
In designing the triathlon version of the Shiv, Specialized designers threw the UCI rules right out the window, and focused on making the fastest bike possible. The 3:1 length-to-width ratio is the UCI’s line in the sand; the fast Shiv has elements that are well over 4:1.
Okay, so this one is about to change with disc brakes soon to be allowed in the peloton. But for now, pros on carbon rims are still at a disadvantage on rainy days. They have to start braking well in advance of sharp corners, because – as everyone knows – braking on carbon just kinda sucks. Yes, disc brakes are heavier than rim calipers, but with the UCI imposing its minimum weight of 6.8kg / 14.99lb on bikes, there is still plenty of room to add in quality braking.
Merida 9000 LTD
Speaking of that minimum weight rule, the Merida Scultura 9000 LTD bike is a shameless lawbreaker. Well, it would be it if could make it past the UCI cops. As a ridiculously light 4.56kg / 10.05lb, the Merida 9000 LTD is now the world’s lightest production bike, just edging out the Trek Emonda at 4.65kg / 10.25lb that the Wisconsin bike company rolled out before the 2014 Tour.
Mavic rim strips
Why does the UCI hate a good time? Mavic’s Cosmic CXR wheels are already fast with a NACA wheel/tire profile, bladed spokes and aero hub flanges. But the wheels can be faster still with Mavic’s CX01 Blades that snap into place between the rim and tire, completely smoothing the airflow between the two. A faster solution? Too fast for you, pros!
Bont Chrono Aero shoe
The UCI banned this aero time trial shoe back in 2011, and hasn’t rescinded its decision since. In banning the shoe, the UCI quoted a couple of its technical rules about “non-essential items of clothing designed to influence the performance of a rider.” Um, yeah, heaven forbid that a racer would seek to use race equipment in a bike race to go fast. Meanwhile, aero road helmets forge ahead unabated.
Of course, the professionals still get a load of great gear. Check out some of the time trial tech we snapped at the 2014 Tour de France.