The bikes used in today’s race are the products of decades of development, space-age metals and intricate design. Most of them also are available at local bike shops.
Makeup of a professional road bike
Orange Peel’s Brock Webster provided this breakdown of the components of a typical BMC Racing Team bike:
■ BMC teammachine SLR01 frame, $3,499
■ Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 road group, $4,000
■ Easton EC90 wheel set, $2,750
■ Continental Sprinter GatorSkin tires, $159.90 (for two)
■ Easton road handlebar, $350
■ Easton carbon stem, $265
■ Selle Italia SLR saddle (seat), $269
■ Cinelli cork tape, $16
■ Arundel Mandible water bottle cage, $119.98 (for two)
■ PowerTap SL+ wireless hub, $1,349.99
■ Garmin Edge 500 bike computer, $369.99
8.4 percent sales tax: $1,104.50
Total cost: $14,253.36
2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge
Steamboat Springs To the average Steamboat Springs cyclist, the riders in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge may seem of another world, with their specialized training and top-of-the-line bikes.
The ironclad lungs and steel-piston legs that power today’s competitors may always separate the layman from the professional. The equipment, however, is something anyone with deep pockets can get their hands (or feet) on.
The bikes used in Friday’s race are the products of decades of development, space-age metals and intricate design. Most of them also are available at local bike shops.
“You could pretty much buy any of their bikes,” said Brock Webster, owner of Steamboat’s Orange Peel Bicycle Service. “It’s all top of the line, of course, with top-of-the-line parts, but realistically most of them are riding fairly stock products.”
The big difference between a top-notch racing road bike and the more typical Steamboat bike — you know, the $3,000 junker — is weight. Pro cycling rules dictate that a bike must be 15 pounds, and teams often must add weight to race frames to reach that mark.
The bike frame itself makes up the largest part of the expense. Tour de France champion and Pro Cycling Challenge competitor Cadel Evans rides a very customized frame available from Orange Peel via special order for $11,000. A stock version of that frame — featuring the same materials, just without Evans’ customizations — is available for much less, $3,650, and used by most of the rest of his team, including Stage 2 winner George Hincapie.
“Evans is very small and pretty particular. Lance (Armstrong) was very similar in terms of particularness. When you’re at the top of the sport, your wish is what you get,” Webster said. “Evans even has custom handlebars made from Easton, and they don’t manufacture those for other people. But he’s an exception. Andy Schleck rides a fairly stock bike.”
Schleck, a three-time runner-up in the Tour de France who trained for the Pro Cycling Challenge in Steamboat, rides a bike from his sponsor, Trek. A customer can order the exact same bike at Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare.
The frame starts at about $5,000, with the full setup for any of the pro bikes running above $10,000.
“If you don’t go with the carbon fiber wheels and all those components, you can get a bike pretty similar to what Andy Schleck is on for about $8,000,” Ski & Bike Kare’s Harry Martin said.
Those wheels are part of what makes professional bikes so special. They’re feather-light and super responsive. Top-tier racing frames are outfitted with the very best components, and that can do a lot to raise the price.
“The biggest difference would be in the wheel set,” Webster said. “Most average people aren’t riding around on a $2,000 to $3,000 wheel set. A really nice bike for an average person has a $700 wheel set.”
Webster said many of the competitive bikes also have $1,000 wattage meters, which record the power a cyclist generates and allows teams to carefully analyze every ride.
It all amounts to a luxury, and one a few bikers in Steamboat enjoy. Those who ride elite-level bikes swear by the differences.
“Anyone can tell the difference,” Martin said. “The bikes are lighter, more nimble. Because of the really light wheel sets on them, they roll a lot faster and easier.
“They ride really nice.”