Paris-Roubaix sees the riders use unique equipment to get them over the cobbles. CW caught up with some of them as they previewed the route

Leopard-Trek has a new ride that has clearance for larger tyres and other design tweaks to give a softer ride. Longer and deeper dropouts allow for extra tyre clearance without needing a whole new mould, though a lay-up tweak should further increase the frame’s compliance. Named OCLV 600 yet still labelled as an SSL model, the feline sophisticats were tight-lipped over further details.

Leopard-Trek, Paris-Roubaix 2011 tech

Trek, Paris-Roubaix 2011 tech  Trek, Paris-Roubaix 2011 tech

Tyres (below)

First seen on Saxo Bank bikes a couple of years ago, FMB’s Paris-Roubaix tubulars were seemingly the go-to tyre for many favourites this year. We spotted them on bikes from Sky, Leopard, Saxo Bank and Cervélo.

Sky bike, Paris-Roubaix 2011 tech

Race day special, Paris-Roubaix 2011 tech

Pizza perfect (below)

Size isn’t everything – on finishing the recce ride, every rider’s tyres were checked. Mechanic Chris noted each Garmin-Cervélo rider’s preference using this very scientific torn-off pizza box lid.

Tyre pressure, Paris-Roubaix 2011 tech

Zip-fit fettling (below)

All Sky’s bikes had a TT shifter zip-tied to the handlebars, allowing gear changes from the tops – a godsend on the roughest stretches. Extra zip-ties helped prevent battery rattles or ejection. 

Sky zip ties on battery, Paris-Roubaix 2011 tech  Sky shifter, Paris-Roubaix 2011 tech

WHEELS

Leopard-Trek had a slew of Bontrager options including the Race XXX Lites usually used in the mountains and a pair of prototype, 25mm wide, 30mm deep carbon rims on Fabian Cancellara’s bike. A deeper V-shaped channel is said to offer greater support to wider tubs. 

Bontrager Race Lite, Paris-Roubaix 2011 tech  Bontrager Race Lite, Paris-Roubaix 2011 tech

Re-badged rims (below)

Despite the newfangled plastic trickery, most teams’ helpers were still equipped with swathes of traditional handbuilt wheels. As is expected, sponsors’ logos often cover the real manufacturer’s.

Re-badged rim, Paris-Roubaix 2011 tech  Re-badged rim, Paris-Roubaix 2011 tech

Zipp 303 (below)

Saxo Bank and Astana were both on Zipp’s tried and tested carbon 303, with the former running the virtually omnipresent rebranded FMB tubulars. 

Zipp 303, Paris-Roubaix 2011 tech

Carbon Classic (below)

2011 seems to be the year of carbon wheels gaining mainstream acceptance for the assault on the cobblestones. Mavic is using Paris-Roubaix as the official launch for the wheels that have become known as the M40s, with the Garmin-Cervélo bikes sporting the first production stickered versions during the Thursday recce. 

Cervelo wheel, Paris-Roubaix 2011 tech

Sky hoop recce (below)

Despite doing their whole recce ride on old alloy hoops, Sky’s mechanics were busy gluing 27c FMB Paris-Roubaix tubulars to Shimano C35s. 

Sky wheel, Paris-Roubaix 2011 tech

Tried & tested (below)

Cervélo brought out an update of its tried and tested Roubaix R3 variants – longer SL forks and a tweaked brake bridge provide clearance around the 27c tubs. 

Cervelo, Paris-Roubaix 2011 tech

Wiggins a handful (below)

Bar tape is often double wrapped for Paris-Roubaix, but this set-up on Bradley Wiggins’s bike was some of the thickest we’ve ever seen. The mechanics did talk of some riders choosing gel pads. 

Sky bar tape, Paris-Roubaix 2011 tech

This article originally appeared in the April 14 2011 issue of Cycling Weekly magazine