The 2023 UCI World Championships are underway, and it's a particularly big year for pro bike tech, especially inside the velodrome. With Paris 2024 looming ever closer, the Glasgow World Championships mark the deadline for track bikes due to be battling it out for gold medals to make a public appearance.
Add to that arguably the biggest road bike release of the year, the Specialized Tarmac SL8, and the asphalt outlook is just as bustling as on the boards.
So what are the headlines so far? Here's our pick of the bunch.
2023 World Championship bikes: Road Bikes
Fred Wright's Merida Reacto
As a member of the Bahrain Victorious World Tour team, Fred Wright has the choice of two Merida race bikes: the Scultura and the Reacto. More often than not though, the classics specialist will be found on the brand's aero bike, and it was no different in the men's road race last weekend.
The British National road race champion is powered by the latest and greatest Dura-Ace r9270, and uses the ever more common setup of a 54/40 chainring setup at the front, and an 11-34 cassette at the rear.
It's down by the cassette though that things get a little less standard than the average Merida Reacto.
The rear mech hangar is fitted with a 3D printed insert, which looks like it is designed to keep the Di2 cable out of harm's way of what is a pretty sharp-edged derailleur hangar.
There is also an intriguing insert just inside the chain stay, which looks to be a custom-fabricated chain catcher - we took a deeper dive into the 3D-printed parts on Fred Wright's bike, and think there could be more to it than just avoiding dropped chains.
It's a sleek front end on Wright's bike too, with fully internal cable routing being taken care of by the Vision Metron 5D bar and stem. This angle shows too that Wright does slightly turn in his hoods to get a little bit narrower on his 40cm handlebars.
Lizzie Deignan's Trek Emonda SLR
Lizzie Deignan is still searching for her first victory of 2023 - as she builds on her return to racing after welcoming her second child - and eyes will certainly be on her at this year's World Championships.
Riding with Lidl-Trek at trade team races means Deignan has the choice between the Trek Emonda and the American brand's aero bike, the Madone. For this punchy course, however, the 2015 World Champion looks to have opted for the lighter-weight option.
Like the rest of the Lidl-Trek squad, Deignan uses a SRAM Red AXS groupset, with 50/37 chainrings up front, and a 10-32 cassette at the rear. 50t may sound on the small side for a World Tour pro, but due to the smaller 10t sprocket at the back, the 50-10 gear is actually slightly larger than a 54-11, which many Shimano-sponsored teams are using.
The Bontrager Aoelus RSL 51 wheelset brings this climbing bike to the all-round market, providing some aero gains for the British classics specialist. Deignan has opted for tubeless Pirelli P Zero race tyres in a 28mm width, a smart choice for the slick roads that put Mathieu van der Poel in difficulty at the weekend.
Luke Plapp's Pinarello F
The Australian road race champion and Ineos Granadier Luke Plapp has a pretty special custom Pinarello F. A dazzling white frame is complemented by sleek yellow and green lines on the fork, a subtle hint to Plapp's success back in his home country.
Pinarello's F frameset isn't the lightest at a claimed 996 grams for a size 56, but it is aero, which certainly suits Plapp's riding style. A younger rider, at just 22-years-old, Plapp has certainly jumped on the narrow-bar bandwagon, riding a 140x360mm setup.
These bars aren't for sale, and the Australian team mechanics confirmed to us that Most, Pinarello's component division, has custom made these bars for Plapp - quite the champion's privilege.
Plapp also rides a Fizik Argo Adaptive, which is the Italian brand's line of saddles made using a 3D printing manufacturing process. Besides looking cool, this saddle also weighs a claimed 196 grams, with full carbon fibre rails.
Groupset duties are handled by Shimano, and just like the rest of his Ineos Grenadiers team mates, he is riding the full compliment of Shimano Dura-Ace r9270 - wheels included.
Plapp opts for a 54/40t chainring setup at the front, alongside an 11-34 cassette at the rear, giving him a large gear range for the tough climbs around Glasgow.
Gripping the road is handled by Continental, specifically GP5000 TR setup tubeless in a 28mm diameter.
As the reigning French ITT National Champion, Kerbaol’s Orbea Ordu OMX is custom painted accordingly. But the eye-catching colour scheme is far from the only noteworthy detail.
It's an interesting setup from a position point of view. Relatively high bars at the front are coupled with a saddle position which is slammed all the way back - a fit philosophy that aims to achieve a high, yet narrow stance on the bike.
A super aggressive looking head tube and single extention support finish off this low profile front end.
Cable routing is all pretty neat too on the new Ordu, with the junction box being hidden discretely down towards the bottom bracket.
Kerbaol rides a Dura-Ace r9270 groupset, but there are a couple of deviations from the Japanese component brand. An FSA Powerbox power meter can be found at the bottom bracket, complete with carbon cranks and a 56t Vision chainring.
The drivetrain is polished off elegantly with a KMC DLC 12 speed chain in red, a stylish touch to a blinged out bike.
2023 World Championship bikes: Track bikes
Team GB's Hope x Lotus
After a horror crash that left Team GB with an Olympic headache in the first round of qualifying, we weren't able to get any pictures from the velodrome of the new bike, but we do have pictures from the bike's launch, and they are certainly worth a look.
The second generation Hope x Lotus track bike builds on the foundations of the bike that was raced to 3 Gold Medals in Tokyo 2020 - but there are still some interesting changes.
The ultra-wide fork legs and seat stays both make another appearance in the new Hope x Lotus bike, but the bike now has an alien-looking split seat post design. We went into more detail about the reasons behind the strange design when the bike was first released just over a week ago.
The handlebars too are new for 2023. In the new design, the bars account for any stack from the head tube to the top of the bars, as opposed to using a generic stem. This, we think, is in the name of stiffness as the the whole setup can be formed from one carbon fibre component.
Chloe Dygert's Canyon Speedmax CFR Track
German bike giant Canyon is claiming the new Speedmax CFR Track is the fastest bike they have ever made, and it's already been ridden to a win by now nine-time World Champion Chloe Dygert in the individual pursuit.
In collaboration with Swiss Side, the frameset has undergone 442 supercomputer computational fluid dynamic runs, 312 wind tunnel analyses, and 155 hours of real-world track testing. Interestingly, the result is a somewhat tamer design at the rear seat stays, when compared to the Team GB Hope x Lotus track bike.
Eight-time World Championship gold medallist and current US champ on the road Chloe Dygert was heavily involved in the design process, helping to evaluate prototypes alongside the Danish national track cycling team, who know a thing or two about quick team pursuits.
The Development Lead for the new Speedmax CFR Track bike Lukas Schuchnigg told us: "The velodrome demands perfection, and our collaboration with professional track cyclists was crucial to achieving that".
Team France's Look P24
The French Track Cycling Team has been using an unreleased track bike this week in the Chris Hoy Velodrome, and it's decidedly strange in appearance.
Two seat posts can be found at the rear of the bike, along with super wide fork legs and seat stays front and rear which bare some resemblance to the Lotus x Hope bike used by Team GB.
This photo of the rear end tells a more descriptive story of the 'seat mast' design, which Cycling Weekly understands is an effort to hide both seat stays and seat posts in the wake of the rider's legs, therefore reducing drag.
Though the front end profile looks pretty similar to the Team GB bike, there are some differences - most notably a more conventional head tube, and only single crown fork.
We were lucky enough to get hands-on with the Look P24, which had us gasping at the sheer weight of the bike. Although the mechanics didn't allow us to put a number to this metric, the bike felt in excess of 9kg, presumably to keep it stiff enough for some of the world's best sprinters.
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