Which Tour de France bike pips it to the cool post?
The winner of the 2016 Tour de France is as good as in the bag as long as Froom can make it to the finish line in Paris. But one winner has yet to be announced and that is which team is riding the coolest bikes. There is no physical prowess or technical skill required for this, we haven't compared performance or even kit levels to any extent other than on a purely aesthetic basis. We have simply ranked the bikes in order of gorgeousness according to our own self-regulated definition of taste. We don't know why we like the things we do - it's not a conscious decision. Disagree all you like.
22: Look 795 Aerolight (Fortuneo Vital Concept).
We begin with an absolute stinker. Fair play to Look for sticking their necks out with this bull-headed neckless abortion of a bike. Who cares if it rides well? It looks like the cycling version of Ram Man. As the French say, "pas de points."
21: BH (Direct Energie).
Been around for an entire century and this is the first time we've heard of them. And judging by Direct Energie's standings in the pro peloton, they've still got a bit to learn. Direct Energie's highest placed rider is Sylvain Chavanel at number 48. What's happened to Thomas Voeckler (pictured)? An unremarkable bike for an unremarkable Tour performance.
20: Scott Addict Foil (IAM Cycling)
What is the matter with these people? Have bike designers lost all remaining traces of self respect? There are basic principles of bike design you know and making it look pretty should come into it somewhere along the line, or we might as well all be riding donkeys. This looks like something a five year old would come up with if let loose with a Meccano set.
19: Merida (Lampre Merida)
Proof if it were ever needed that you shouldn't really make snap judgements on bike brands. We thought Merida was one of those names that occupied the lower end of the bicycle industry spectrum and then it turns out they get great reviews and are rumoured to make bikes for everyone else from their Taiwan factory. Yes, that old chestnut. Whoever everyone else is, they didn't reciprocate by giving Merida any style tips because these remain barren in that respect.
18: Lapierre (FDJ)
Another style-bereft brand. We'd get more excited watching paint dry blindfolded than looking at one of these. What is that hole where the top tube meets the seatstay? Is that the hook with which to hang itself?
17: Trek Emonda (Trek Segafredo)
Over engineered and over here, the Trek Emonda is the flagship of the omnipresent US brand and they've put everything but the proverbial kitchen sink into it. There's probably even a cockpit in there somewhere for a teeny Trek pilot to sit in. Integrated to the point of obscenity, this looks like something you'd see in Tron. Mind you, they must be doing something right. Ridiculous looks aside, this is the bike being ridden by Bauke Mollema, number two in the overall.
16: Argon 18 Gallium Pro (Bora-Argon 18)
We soooo want to like this more but it's tough looking at it for any length of time without going dizzy. This is a shame because somewhere beneath all those graphics and dots and bits of red is actually a lovely looking bike. A nicely horizontal top tube, that aero seatpost that the wheel just cuts into. Then it's a bonfire of graphics. The wheels, Vision again, don't help, if we're honest.
15: Focus Izalco Max (AG2R-La Mondiale)
Black and blue just won't do. That's what someone with a gram of style once said and while there are occasions when this rule can be disregarded, this does not appear to be one of them. Which is a shame, because we like Focus as a rule. It's just that this one looks shit.
14: Scott Addict (Orica GreenEdge)
So we know this is also an Addict but it's not a Foil and looks all the better for it. The black colourway also bumps this up the style rankings but it still lacks something. Distinctly mid-table and average looking even though we love Dura Ace wheels.
13: Giant TCR Advanced (Giant Alpecin)
We're getting a bit warmer with our preferences here. Still mid-table, but not a bad effort from Giant, who are also rumoured to make bikes for everyone else. How they share that burden with Merida we'll most likely never know. The stylish touches are becoming more apparent, and that is essentially that less is more. Points lost for the black-blue factor, even if it almost works here.
12: Orbea Orca (Cofidis)
Gawd what have we bitten off? A whole 22 bikes to slag off with varying degrees of intensity and we're only up to number 12. This is like a grand tour of its own. OK the Orbea. Not bad, nice depth to the wheels, as in not too deep, reasonably restrained graphics until ... someone was let loose with the red. What? Why? Just leave it the hell alone. What colour is this bike anyway? Is it red? Is it black? What does it signify? A bull fight? Additional points however for at least making sure the frame went with the wheels, and the little white ends of the bars. Cute.
11: Cannondale SuperSix Evo (Cannondale)
This has only been given this score because we like Cannondale better than most of the brands that precede it, and that shouldn't be taken as a compliment. In terms of style there is nothing that excites us about this colourway. It is again guilty of being too busy, with all those unnecessary stripes and graphics on the frame. The Cosmic Carbones just compound the overall sense of clutter, not helped by the superfluous yellow Mavic flashes. All they do is highlight how godawful that kermit green is on the forks.
10: Bianchi Specialissima (LottoNL-Jumbo)
Aw Bianchi, this was our first bike you know. Well not this one, a far inferior one. That was before every wideboy within spitting distance of the M25 got one and the brand took on a similar image to that of Burberry in its Daniella Westbrook era. Mind you, it has a heritage that will always command respect and it will also always have celeste. No one can take that away.
9: BMC Team Machine (BMC Racing)
Lots of elements here that we dislike, such as the weird seatstays that attach halfway down the seat-tube. Yes we know there's a reason for this and that we've scored other similar bikes lower, even the Orbea which has similar unnecessary red bits but the BMC gets added points for the matt finish and because it's a BMC and it's Swiss. Plus our mate Andre rides one.
8: S-Works (Astana)
The first and lowest scoring of the S-Works, which we have put together because they are all the same bike really and none of the paintjobs are godawful. Could possibly have scored lower on account of this brand being so ubiquitous that it's a surprise the word bicycle hasn't been substituted for Specialized, as in the case of Hoover for vacuums.
7: S-Works (Etixx Quickstep)
... this is clearly why no less that three teams are riding S-Works. At least that puts them on a reasonably level playing field. This Etixx-Quick Step one is black and that's fine with us. If a little chunky.
6: S-Works (Tinkoff)
Winner of the S-Works colour schemes, if there's one thing that Tinkoff-Saxo does well other than have Peter Sagan on its team, it's colours. That air-force blue, that floro. It shouldn't work, but it so does. And it looks nothing remotely similar to any other pro team colourway. That's also a good thing.
5: Pinarello Dogma F8 (Team Sky)
We can hear you all now, spitting, frothing, "what do mean it hasn't won?" A few reasons for this. First, the F8 might be an absolute beast to ride and perfect in every respect but it's all a bit too much. It's in danger of going down the Trek road and becoming over-engineered. We like, a lot, but is it the best looking bike in the peloton? No.
4: Canyon Ultimate CF SLX (Katusha)
We have a similar situation to S-Works here so again we've ranked the Canyons on looks. The Katusha Canyon Ultimate CF SLXs are red, and we don't like red.
3: Canyon Ultimate CF SLX (Movistar)
... as much as navy. With a matt finish, with little green flourishes. Lovely colour scheme. The bike is verging on overdoing it but just manages to redeem itself for not being too far out in the design stakes. We like the navy bar tape, too. FWIW.
2: Ridley Helium SL (Lotto-Soudal)
So what exactly is the difference in looks between the Lapierre and that of the Ridley? If you have to ask such a thing you are clearly devoid of any trace of style and therefore undeserving of even the remotest hint of reasoning. Because the Ridley is lovely. Just a teeny flash of red, for the most part black. And then there's the name. It's Ridley. It's Belgian. There isn't enough kudos in the world to heap on this bike for that reason alone.
And the winner is ... The Cervelo S5 of Team Dimension Data. Christ on a bike. We would happily go to bed with this absolutely jaw-dropping weapon of a machine. Just look at it. Matt black all-facking over, from the frame to the Enve wheels and the Enve stem and the Enve bars and then the little touches of white, like a reverse panda, a monotone marvel.
Cervélo is the bike rider's bike, it's the brand favoured by those who know a thing or two about cycling in style but quickly. It's no coincidence that the now defunct Team Garmin Sharp rode Cervelo because they were the coolest team in the peloton in their day. Far too cool to ever actually win a grand tour, they were content with a couple of stages.
To hammer home the point, this is Cervelo in its prime but it's not just the bike. The graphics are sparing and simple, there are no unnecessary colour flourishes, everything is restrained. They have nailed it on every point. If we were a bike, we'd be an S5.