From drool-worthy carbon-fiber bikes to state-of-the-art power meters, the Tour de France is a movable feast of cycling technology. The best part? Much of this high-end tech trickles down to the consumer level, letting us mortals shave a few seconds off our Gran Fondo times. Here are five pieces of gear you can buy now that’ll be tearing it up on the French roads next month.
The Bike: BMC Teammachine SLR01—Tejay van Garderen
American cyclist Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) narrowly lost the Criterium du Dauphine to former Tour de France champion Chris Froome (Team Sky), but as BMC’s captain, he offers the United States its best chance at a yellow jersey.
When van Garderen vies for that top spot, he’ll be riding a stock BMC Teammachine SLR01, which we awarded Gear of the Year in 2014. “Some of the components—stem length and wheels, for instance—are customized to his specifications,” says Sean Weide, communications manager at BMC, “but anyone can purchase the same BMC with all the [same basic] components.”
According to BMC, the company tested 34,000 prototypes before settling on the final bike, paying attention to carbon thicknesses at various junctions to create a stiff, responsive frame that’s both snappy and comfortable. Buy just the frame for $4,999, or go up to $11,999 for the top model.
The Kit: Castelli Aero Race 5.0 Jersey and Free Aero Bibshort—Andrew Talansky
Castelli, which traces its roots to 19th-century Milanese tailor Vittorio Gianni, has kitted out the world’s finest bike racers, from Alfredo Binda and Fausto Coppi to Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault.
Look for the Italian suits on U.S. Pro National Road Champion Andrew Talansky and teammate Ryder Hesjedal (both racing for Cannondale-Garmin), as well as on former Tour stage winners Tyler Farrar and Matthew Goss (racing with Africa’s MTN Qhubeka). Riders will wear the same Aero Race 5.0 Jersey and Free Aero Bibshort, emblazoned with Castelli’s distinctive red scorpion, that you can buy in your local bike shop.
Patterned on Castelli’s record-beating San Remo skinsuit, the kit was wind-tunnel tested for a body-hugging, energy-saving fit. Coming in at just under 3.5 ounces, the jersey is made of fast-wicking polyester. A compression band around the pockets keeps accessories organized and stable. Castelli’s bestselling bibs have been completely reengineered for 2015 and feature a dimpled-texture pattern that allegedly reduces air resistance.
The Pedals: Look Kéo Blade 2 TI—Alberto Contador
French company Look invented the clipless pedal in 1984. Thirty-one years later, three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador will race on the company’s Kéo Blade 2 TI—an ultralight, aerodynamic carbon fiber and titanium pedal—in the 2015 Tour.
The carbon-spring design allows for extremely quick entrances and exits, and the large surface transmits energy well.
The Helmet: POC Octal Raceday—Ryder Hesjedal
Swedish company POC will outfit the Cannondale-Garmin team with its Octal Raceday helmet. The dramatically oversized vents are eye catching and dump heat in hurry; they also proved to be aerodynamic in POC’s wind-tunnel tests. The Octal’s outer plastic shell wraps underneath the EPS foam liner to provide better protection. The Coolbest padding system creates a comfortable fit for most riders and doesn’t collect sweat. The entire package comes in at 200 grams.
Look for the lids on the heads of Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, who won the 2013 Giro d’Italia, and New Zealand sprinter Jack Bauer.
The Shades: Oakley Prizm Road Jawbreaker—Mark Cavendish
Oakley worked with superstar sprinter Mark Cavendish to develop the Cavendish Prizm Road Jawbreaker for July. The interchangeable-lens sunglasses feature vents along the frame to reduce fogging. They’re built with Oakley’s proprietary High Definition Optics Prizm lenses, which boost contrast and color. The grippy nose piece and temples keep the glasses solidly anchored.
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