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Personalized Tour bikes

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If you follow the tech sections of the big cycling websites, you know that quite a bit of new or prototype equipment gets tested during the Tour. On any given stage, different riders on a team are not always using the same equipment from the sponsors. From stage to stage, individual riders might even be trying out new products that they were not using when the race started. Sometimes, the new products are very obvious, like the electronic Dura-Ace components that were spotted on select bikes in last year’s Tour. Other times, the differences between bikes are harder to spot. I probably would not have noticed that Fabian Cancellara’s yellow Saxo Bank Specialized S-Works Tarmac was a new 2010 SL3 and not an SL2 if it had not been pointed out to me. The new SL3 doesn’t look all that different from the previous flagship model from Specialized, but there are some fairly significant changes. It is fun to watch the race coverage and look for subtle differences between the bikes from the various teams. Well… it is fun for me at least.

Increasingly though, the cosmetic differences between the bikes are not very subtle at all. I have mentioned Armstrong’s custom painted bikes a few times. Mark Cavendish’s Scott Addict with fighter pilot graphics has been getting a lot of attention as well. As CyclingNews pointed out in a tech article today, personalized bikes at the Tour are becoming more and more commonplace. I have heard a little bit of talk about this trend lately. Some people enjoy seeing the variety of paint jobs and graphic schemes. Others believe that team bikes should look like team bikes… with identical graphics and paint, unless the rider earns the right to ride a custom painted bike (yellow to match the maillot jaune for instance). Personally, I enjoy seeing some of the team leaders on different looking bikes, but I can see how the trend might get out of hand. If every rider in the peloton had a bike painted with his national colors, or just favorite colors for that matter, it would probably get pretty confusing. So what do you all think? Is the personalization of bikes in the pro peloton a good thing, or is it just a distraction?

Photo via Limited Hype

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  1. hannah July 14, 2009 at 8:44 pm -  Reply

    I enjoy seeing some diversity. The national champ jerseys have already provided lots of that. Personalized bikes add more texture. One of the nice things about cycling is that it's not the NFL.

  2. Steve Fuller July 14, 2009 at 9:04 pm -  Reply

    I can see the team leader's bike or someone with one of the leaders' jersies having something special. Everyone with their own paint scheme would be distracting and take away even more from the team aspect of the sport.

  3. Dan Mc July 15, 2009 at 12:05 am -  Reply

    I see this akin to the goalie's mask in the NHL. One person on the team gets something a bit unique. There needs to be a bit of similarity amongst the team – moreso than just spandex.

  4. gantxe July 15, 2009 at 3:11 am -  Reply

    It is nice to see new paintjobs, but I am agree when you point that "the trend might get out of hand" I think that the Team and the Bike suppliers must get an agreement, because otherwise some bike companies can stop supporting teams.
    Imagine that the custom paintjob erases all the bike company identity, it is good for marketing because people talks about that or not ¿?

  5. B. Nicholson July 15, 2009 at 3:58 am -  Reply

    Differing paint schemes would diminish the chance of picking up the wrong bike after a crash scrum; while uniform colors allow easier team management. There are also competitive considerations: camouflage!

  6. neil July 15, 2009 at 5:41 am -  Reply

    There was a time when a rider would ask for 'this seat tube length, with that top tube length and this amount of setback on the seat tube.' If he was a star rider, he got it. It mattered most the bike would fit well and looks were secondary.

    Riders can't do that these days, so personalised paint jobs are the only option riders have to express their individuality and assert their position in the team hierarchy. It seems to do the trick as far as the riders' egos are concerned – custom paint jobs are the new drugs.

  7. Astroluc July 15, 2009 at 11:49 am -  Reply

    I do agree that there has to be SOME uniformity between team members, but the bikes don't need to be where that "sameness" is. Uniforms should be same/similar, the bikes don't need to be.

    just my $.02

  8. Coach Levi July 16, 2009 at 8:41 am -  Reply

    I always thought it would be cool just to have your name on the bike.

    I could see getting a little extra graphic on the seat mast to go with the rider's name on the top tube, but everyone having custom painted bikes is going overboard.

    If it gets out of hand, surely there will be some new rules to prevent it, sort of like the regulations for jersey colors, sleeve stripes, etc.

  9. gantxe July 16, 2009 at 10:17 am -  Reply

    And common users… do you think that people would pay more for a bike if it is personalized, and not only with the name in the toptube, if he can define the graphic or part of the graphic, change colors, decals design…

  10. Murray Elliot Breen aka ‘surf-the-arts’ July 17, 2009 at 2:25 pm -  Reply

    This design expressionism is 'very now'. Personal art is on everything. Graffiti and Tatoo Artists seem to be art gods. I think it started with painted cows:0 Obama poster art, Skateboards, Mountain Dew Green Art Bottles, etc., etc. It's the bike's turn.

  11. Ed July 18, 2009 at 6:59 pm -  Reply

    Personalisation rules. The paint job I'd want on my bike would be the DNA double-helix. James, is there another competition to be had in this? 🙂

  12. Ron July 20, 2009 at 10:25 am -  Reply

    Hi James. Hows your bike tour coming along? 🙂

  13. James July 20, 2009 at 11:00 am -  Reply

    Thanks for the comments everyone.

    Ed, good idea, but I am not sure if I am ready for another competition just yet.

    Ron, bike tour? I don't know what you mean. I have been in the Blue Ridge Mountains for a couple of days, but I am not on a bike tour. Sounds like a good idea though…I could use a break from work.

  14. Ed July 20, 2009 at 5:03 pm -  Reply

    Understood James :). The Blue Ridge Mountains eh? Man, I am so envious.

  15. redhotchilly12 July 21, 2009 at 12:39 am -  Reply

    Nice looking painted bike. This bike has a unique features and I had fun seeing photos here.

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