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06/07/2018, Tour of California Tech

Pro Bike Breakdown: Marcel Kittel's Aeroad CF SLX

A deep dive into the Katusha-Alpecin sprinter's ride.

How different is a Tour de France sprinter’s Aeroad from your own? As it turns out, it's really not that much.

Marcel Kittel of Team Katusha-Alpecin has the ability to explode off the wheel of his last lead-out man and put out anywhere from 1500 to 2000 watts in the last 200 meters of a stage. Quite often the end result for the German powerhouse is a stage win. So his needs are quite specific; a stiff drivetrain for maximum power transfer, and a bit of aerodynamics.

Enter the Aeroad. While it’s light enough for mountain climbs (evidenced by the fact that Kittel chooses it for mountain stages as well), it’s a true aero road bike. With a true CFD-engineered and tunnel-proven aero design that results in our Trident 2.0 aero cross section on the downtube, the Aeroad helps Kittel slice through the wind in those last meters.

But of greater importance to Kittel is that stiffness; the Aeroad’s tubeset design inherently lends to added stiffness, which means every pedal stroke isn’t lost in frame flex; the stiff platform propels him forward. And while the Aerocockpit CF saves 5.5 watts at 45 kilometers per hour versus a conventional bar/stem setup, it’s one-piece design truly ties the front end to the rest of the frame.

We had a chance to disect Kittel’s bike at the end of the Tour of California in Sacramento, Calif., and found setup is about as stock as it gets. While the Katusha-Alpecin team issue livery is reserved exclusively to the team, the frameset is exactly the same available to customers. Zipp Speed Weaponry PR manager Declan Doyle also confirmed that his Zipp and SRAM drivetrain setup featured the same off-the-shelf offerings, with Zipp's 454 NSW tubular wheelset (a wheelset that debuted under Team Katusha-Alpecin at the Tour of California a year ago) and SRAM RED eTap groupset being stock offerings.  

This year, there was but one small change to the drivetrain on Kittel's bike. Early in the season, Kittel had been running the disc brake-equipped Aeroad CF SLX Disc. But mid-May at the Tour of California, he opted for the rim brake version of the Aeroad. With that, he was running the stock SRAM RED eTap groupset, but one that also featured SRAM's newly-debuted S-900 direct-mount brakeset. he went with the Zipp 454 tubular but also the newly-debuted S-900 direct-mount brakeset, a set of stopper sthat completes SRAM’s brakeset offerings, and pairs up nicely on the Aeroad.

What he’ll be running at the Tour de France is anyone’s guess, but we suspect the Aeroad CF SLX will be his go-to throughout the month of July.

Frameset: Canyon Aeroad CF SLX, size medium
Cockpit: Canyon H11 Aerocockpit CF
Seatpost: Canyon
Wheels: Zipp 454 NSW tubulars
Drivetrain: SRAM RED eTap 11-speed
Powermeter: Quarq DZero
Crankset: SRAM RED, 130BCD, 53/39T, 175mm
Pedals: LOOK Keo Blade Carbon Ti
Tires: Continental Pro Ltd tubular, 25mm
Saddle: Selle Italia SLR, Team Edition
Cassette: SRAM  PG-1170,11-26
Bottle Cages: Tacx Deva
Computer: Wahoo Element Bolt