Peter Sagan is one of the world’s best bike riders. Competing in the Tour de France 2016, he’s riding £9,000-worth of lightweight, high-tech, Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS, tuned for improved aerodynamic performance. During the race, a GPS telemetry device is tracking him every inch of the way, while an SRM power meter monitors torque and cadence.
Judging by the cycling jersey-clad cyclists on our roads these days, riders like Sagan (along with Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish and Greg Van Avermaet) are inspiring thousands of people to pedal for fun and fitness. You can wear the same gear as these famous racers and, with a little help from the latest bike gear, use technology to help assess your performance and ultimately improve it.
The most popular way to track your rides is Strava and it’s not just an online service for amateurs. According to Cycling Weekly, a large number of Tour participants are using the sport-tracking social network this year, including Orica-BikeExchange rider Adam Yates. His Strava stats for Stage Two of the 2016 race showed him high on the leaderboards with an average speed of 40.9 km/h over the 183 km route.
Usefully, Strava can work with the smartphone you already own or with a range of fitness tracking devices including Fitbits, Garmins, TomToms, Microsoft Bands, Polar watches and ReconJet smart glasses. It doesn’t cost anything to get started either.
You might not be able to afford Sagan’s Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS ride, but there are some cheaper high-tech options. Team Dimension Data rides Cervelo R5 bikes in this year’s Tour (standard models start at £4,000); BMC uses Teammachine models (costing £3,000 and up); Movistar favours the Canyon Ultimate CF SLX (yours for around £3,500); while Team Sky’s Chris Froome rides a Pinarello Dogma F8 (£8,000+).
Of course, a Tour de France competitor doesn’t have to contend with road traffic. Amateur cyclists do. For the ultimate in safety, the latest high-tech helmets, like the Livall BH60 Bling Helmet, come with all sorts of extras — full-colour LED rear lights/indicator lights, Bluetooth speakers and a microphone, so you can answer calls as you ride.
It’s not the only smart crash hat available. The Lazer Genesis LifeBEAM helmet incorporates an optical heart-rate sensor and a 3-axis accelerometer, while the Classon Helmet has smashed through its funding target on Kickstarter with promises of motion activated brake/turn signals and cameras that can detect cars lurking in your blind spot.
Connect your bike to a Wahoo KICKR Turbo Trainer and you can train like the pros too. At £949, the KICKR is designed to increase/decrease resistant to replicate climbs/descents. Connect it to a third-party app that can automatically control the resistance levels, like Kinomap, and you can ride virtual courses and participate in racing challenges.
Finally, if pulling on a £70 Team Sky Replica Jersey doesn’t get you close enough to that Tour de France feeling, then you could always take Pro Cycling Manager 2016 for a spin. This PC game faithfully models over 200 cycling events (550 stages), including the famous Tour de France 2016 and La Vuelta. Unfortunately, while fun, this option won’t get you fit.