The small changes that pro riders make to their bikes for races over cobbles, gravel, and great distances can make a big difference to their comfort. By copying their techniques, you can bring a bit of practicality into your commute or training without too much of a sacrifice in speed!
Perhaps the most obvious thing that you’ll see in the summer classics is fatter tyres. If you’re getting off-road, this is probably nothing new to you, but going from 23 to 25 or even 28mm tyres (if they fit!) on your road bike gives a lot more cushioning, letting you run lower pressures and getting more rubber onto the road for different conditions. Changing your tyres and pressures has a huge difference on how your bike rides, and costs very little. Also think about thicker and more puncture-resistant tyres, to spend more time riding and less time standing around.
Mudguards are another surprising addition to the pro peloton. In races, of course, a tiny under-the-saddle affair is enough to protect the rider from a spray up the shorts, but for day-to-day riding, it’s not unusual to see the pro’s training machines kitted out with full mudguards. They keep you and your bike much happier, by protecting from road spray, even in the summer months when you can expect a shower or two. Your club-mates will also thank you if they have to ride behind you!
Going again to the pros’ training regimes, you’ll often notice a very practical looking pump and saddlebag. Again, this fits back in to the philosophy of having to stop as little as possible. In a race, you can swap to a fresh wheel if you puncture. Out on the road, having a proper pump and your spares attached to the bike keeps the weight out of your pockets and, just like before, lets you spend more time riding and less time messing around!
A modern road bike can take a real beating, and should be able to easily stand up to being ridden on rough roads. However, every year, we still see pro riders at the cobbled classics on cyclocross bikes. Why is this? They have much better clearance for wider tyres, and traditionally, cyclocross bikes will have a more relaxed geometry than road bikes for more stability.
Many riders also like to fit cross-top or interrupter levers to their handlebars. These also come from the world of cyclocross, letting you control your brakes from the ‘tops’ of the bars (the flat part near the stem).
Taking a look at what the pros are using in the situations when they might not be able to get support straight away is a great way to get some tips on how to make the miles go by a bit easier. So, if you want to spend your time riding instead of faffing, get to work! Head on over to our site and have a look at the range.