We’ve seen a whole host of aero bike updates over the last twelve months. There’s been the Trek Madone with its hole through the seat tube; the Giant Propel which has seemingly been on a crash diet, shedding grams and its tube depths; the more ‘traditional’ Scott Foil impressively managed to combine an even boxier profile with slightly lighter weight; whilst the Cervelo S5 got a more iterative update with slightly deeper tubes and an updated fork.
And, of course, who can forget the late comer to the party, the Bianchi Oltre RC and those infamous aero flaps…
But on the other hand, all these updates make predictions for brand new models in 2023 a little harder to land on. Still we’ve risen to the challenge and have a few strong contenders up our sleeves. Without further ado...
The Aeroad received a significant update back in 2020 but garnered more, albeit unwanted, attention a year later when Mathieu van der Poel broke the integrated handlebars while racing in Belgium. The bars were recalled and the Aeroad rolled on, continuing to play a leading role in WorldTour races.
At first it seemed unlikely that we’d see much change in 2023, given that the Aeroad line up was re-jigged just last year, with new build options offered to compliment the aero frame that’s available across three models - the top-tier CFR, the CF SLX and the CF SL.
But then photographs surfaced on the Dutch website Wielerflits of Van der Poel on a pre-season training ride aboard what looks like an updated Aeroad. The differences are hard to spot at first but the fact that the frame was both unpainted and unbranded suggested a prototype was in play.
Look a little closer and you’ll notice what appears to be a reshaped head tube, with new aero properties as well as what could well be a revised seat tube. The differences appear most prominent around the junction with the top tube, which looks a little beefier than before. Van der Poel’s tires look particularly plump in the images too, so perhaps clearance has been increased to accommodate the current preference for running wider tubeless tires.
Of all the aero bike headliners, Cannondale’s SystemSix might seem the most likely to see a few tweaks. The current model was released in 2018, which given the cycling industry’s propensity for change, is akin to a lifetime ago. That said, on release it cut a pretty futuristic shape.
The disc brake only bike features truncated aero designs on the down tube, top tube and seat tube, dropped seat stays, a fully integrated cockpit and clearance for up to 28mm wide tires - all of which you expect to see on any aero bike released in 2023. Cannondale also champions the SystemSix’s ability to climb and descend. It’s hard then to see where they might look for improvements, with any change likely to be a nip and a tuck rather than a significant facelift.
Ridley Noah Fast
The Belgian brand’s Noah Fast was released in 2018 and rose to prominence as the bike of choice for Aussie sprinter Caleb Ewan. It features plenty of aero advancements, including F-Wing fairings on the forks, a D-shaped seatpost and a grove in the NACA tubing that’s designed to help airflow move more efficiently along the tubes.
But stand the Noah Fast next to say the Madone or the Foil and you’ll see that the tubes aren’t quite as deep, especially the headtube and downtube. This could be something that Ridley looks to address in any update, especially as they can offer its pro riders the Helium SLX for lumpy stages and races. By beefing up the Noah Fast yet further, it would create further separation between the brand’s aero bike and its climbing machine.
Might we see a fully aero machine from the peloton’s most venerated marque Colnago? This may sound far-fetched, especially with the recent launch of the new V4Rs, but you can argue that of all the top brands, there’s a larger gap in Colnago’s range than most.
The Italian brand showed with the introduction of last year’s prototype, prominently ridden by Pog at the TdF, that was eventually unveiled as the V4Rs all-rounder, that it’s not resistant to change and is clearly listening to the needs of the UAE Team Emirates riders. We rode the V4Rs recently at a UAE Team training camp and it’s undoubtedly been built with this team - and winning professional races - in mind. It’s stretched out and stiff, with a more aerodynamic front end than the V3Rs.
Despite having this new aero-enhanced all-rounder as their ‘go to’ race bike, you could still argue a case for the introduction of another race bike to the teams quiver however unlikely that may be now that the V4Rs is here.
But perhaps UAE riders still hanker for a dedicated aero race bike for flatter stages and certain one-day races? Given that Colango makes the TT1 time trial bike it's not much of a stretch to imagine how they could use the experience of designing the TT1, alongside its current road bikes, to inform new aero tube shapes and the like.
While aesthetics can be a matter of taste, it’s easy to argue a case for BMC’s TimeMachine being the best looking aero bike out there. Naturally it features the Swiss brand’s signature dropped stays but there are a few less obvious details here that are just as interesting; now a disc-only frameset, BMC added an integrated, but removable, cover to hide the front disc brake caliper and improve airflow as a consequence.
The TimeMachine has been around since 2012, with the most recent iteration appearing in 2020 - so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that it could take another trip into the future sometime soon. If so, BMC will be at pains to ensure that it retains both its good looks and its reputation as being one of the more comfortable aero bikes on the market.
The Merida Reacto, Wilier Filante and Factor Ostro VAM all received new looks as recently as 2020 - which probably means that the only changes we’re likely to see will be to the available colour choices. Each of these popular aero bikes is currently ridden by WorldTour teams, with Sonny Colbrelli famously riding the Reacto to victory at the 2021 Paris-Roubaix - not usually the place to see a stock aero bike triumph but evidence of the move to riders using their aero bikes across a broader spectrum of races.
Both Specialized and Pinarello appear committed to an all-around race bike, certainly with aero properties but not as pronounced as some of the other brands.
Could this change in 2023? Given the continued success at the WorldTour level of both the Tarmac SL7 and the Dogma F perhaps not. But then again, the SL7 was released in 2020, making an update after three years a possibility. This gains further credence when you consider that since its release the UCI has scrapped the 3:1 rule, which would allow the Specialized engineers to develop deeper, more aerodynamically enhanced tube shapes for an potential SL8.
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