Monday, March 25, 2013

Fun with Garmin

From top to bottom, left to right, the Garmin strap for my heart rate monitor, the Polar replacement strap for my heart rate monitor, the medical electrode gel, the Garmin heart rate transmitter, and the Garmin Edge 300 cycle computer. The straps are oriented to show the part that sits against my skin. the two shiny patches on the Garmin strap and the two patches of slightly different texture on the Polar strap are what actually detect the electrical signal associated with a heart beat. 

Last November I purchased a Garmin Edge 500 cycle computer ($250), a cadence detector ($40), and a heart rate monitor ($40). I have been wanting a Garmin 500 for some time, but what inspired me to finally put down my money was that I needed a heart rate monitor to be able to try Phillip Maffetone's Aerobic Training Plan, and this was one way to get one. One reason I had hesitated to buy it before was the mixed reviews this device received on Amazon, reviews subsequently reinforced by my experience. Although my expensive new Garmin would occasionally loose the data from a ride, I forgave it because the heart rate monitor seemed to work reliably, and that was the main thing I needed. So, when heart rate measurements became unreliable about six weeks ago, I was most displeased.

As above, but the other side of the strap and the back of the transmitter are now shown, revealing the snaps used to connect the transmitter both mechanically and electrically to the strap.

At first I wondered if the irregularity was an irregularity of my heart. I looked into this possibility and found a condition called "exercise tachycardia" that seemed to explain what I was experiencing. (Exercise tachycardia not dangerous.) However, as the results reported by the monitor became more and more erratic, it began reporting heart rates that were simply impossible, and I concluded the monitor was malfunctioning. In the Garmin system, the detection of my heart rate requires three pieces of equipment; the Garmin Edge 500 which acts as data receiver and recorder, the data transmitter which is a separate plastic object about the size of a pack of matches, and a strap. The strap contains two electrical contacts that fit against the skin of my chest, which are held in place by the strap,  and which pick up the signals that cause my heart to beat. The transmitter is also attached to the strap. The raw data from the strap is sent to the transmitter which then wirelessly sends it to the Garmin 500. To guarantee good electrical contact between the sensors on the strap and my skin, the instructions advise to me wet the contacts with water. This is not always necessary as sweat does just fine, but sometimes it is. The transmitter connects to these sensors as well as being physically held onto the strap via two metal snaps. In principle, the problem could be with the strap, the transmitter, or the Garmin 500.

As above, but with the transmitter connected to the Polar strap.

I did further research and found that erratic heart rate reporting is a known problem with this heart rate monitor (and perhaps others.) Solutions included replacing the battery in the transmitter, replacing the strap with one from a competitor (Polar) and replacing the water used to wet the contacts with medical electrode gel. I purchased a replacement battery ($2), the Polar strap ($17), and the electrode gel ($5). I first tried putting the sensor on the Polar strap, and went from erratic results to no signal whatsoever. This continued as I replaced the battery. I never even got to testing the gel. One final suggestion I found on the Internet was to "put the battery in backwards, take it out, and put it back in the right way again." This suggestion was viciously ridiculed by other posters on the blog where it was posted, and obviously I did not try it. The one bright spot in this whole picture was the reports on the Web that Garmin is quite good about replacing transmitters that stop working. Between one thing and another, it took me a while to try to get in touch with Garmin, but when I did, I found that actually reaching a person was a challenge. Once I got in touch with an actual person, she was quite cooperative. Appropriately, she walked me through the obvious fixes, like changing the battery ("I have already done that, thanks") and then she suggested "putting the battery in backwards for a few seconds, taking it out, and putting it back in the right way" followed by re-synchronizing the Garmin 500 to the transmitter. After picking my jaw up off the floor, I agreed to try that, and all of a sudden my Garmin 500 could see the heart rate monitor again. Unfortunately, said monitor reported an impossible heart rate of 200 beats per minute. I checked my heart rate with my Panasonic blood pressure meter which confirmed a more reasonable 60 beats per minute, so although things were better, they were far from functional. I then tried the Polar strap, and and first got no signal, but after fidgeting with the connection between the strap contacts and my skin, it too reported 200 beats per minute. Finally, I applied the electrode gel to the Polar strap, and at long last, all was well. (For those paying close attention, you may have noticed that I have not confirmed that there is anything wrong with the original strap or that purchase of the Polar strap was necessary, but at this point, I am not messing with success.)

Once I got the heart rate monitor working, I went for a 17 mile bike ride with it and it functioned properly throughout the ride. So as of now, the problem is apparently fixed. We shall see how well this fix holds up.

Additional Observations and Conclusions

  1. Replacing the battery in the transmitter is a giant pain. One needs to remove the back which is held in place by four tiny screws which are difficult to replace when it comes time to put everything back together. My $40 Cats Eye cycle computer has a vastly better battery compartment. I am now using the transmitter with the original battery (which was never the problem) and the battery is supposed to last roughly four years, so perhaps this isn't a big issue. However, if this silliness of "putting the battery in backwards" needs to be done often, it becomes one.
  2. This whole system for which I paid over $300 seems very amateurish to me. The fidgeting needed to get the thing to work, the difficulty of replacing the battery, the need to invert the battery to reset the device, the fact that when used according to the instructions there is a widely observed problem with reporting of heart rates, not to mention the data loss by the Garmin Edge 500, makes this system seems more like a home made toy than a quality piece of sports equipment. If I had purchased an inexpensive no-name brand instead of the quality brand everyone recommended I would expect this, but Garmin seems to be state of the art.
  3. Garmin's system for communicating with their customers is a mess. I tried calling, and got a menu system which gave me two options, neither of which was to report a warrantee problem or to request an RMA. I assumed that this meant that I should stay on the line. Not so. If you stay on the line, it just repeats the two wrong choices over and over. At this point, I gave up and tried contacting Garmin via the email link on their website. This link is actually to a web form that requires you to select the name of the product your are asking about from a menu of possible products. Their heart rate monitor is not on the menu, so it is impossible to send an email (a deficiency their customer service rep confirmed when I finally talked to her.) I then returned to the telephone, selected the one of the two menu options that seemed less wrong, and sure enough, this eventually got me to the friendly, competent woman who solved my problem.
Although I want to like Garmin, I see this as a huge business opportunity for a competitor. As an experiment, I ordered a $40 bare bones heart rate monitor manufactured by Polar. It has no bells and whistles, it does not sync with my computer, all it does display heart rate on the included wrist watch and provide an audible alert me if my heart rate is higher or lower than values I input. My reasons for buying a second heart rate monitor were several. My wife was interested in playing with a heart rate monitor, I figured it could serve as a backup should the Garmin fail again, I was curious how well something this simple and inexpensive would work, and for reasons I will explain in a future post, it will be useful to keep a heart rate monitor next to my bed. In future posts, I will report how well the Garmin solution holds up and how it compares to the inexpensive Polar solution.

$40 Polar Heart Rate Monitor. The transmitter cannot be removed from the strap, the strap is stiffer and less comfortable, and the watch/receiver has an inexpensive, somewhat uncomfortable plastic band.

No MAF Test This Week

I am traveling this week so have not had an opportunity to perform any MAF tests in addition to what I posted last week.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tour de Houston

The 45 mile route of the Tour de Houston displayed in red on Google Earth. (Click on the image to see a larger version.) Downtown Houston, where the ride started, is in the top center of the picture, right under the label "Houston". The runways of Hobby Airport can be seen in the lower right corner.

Last Sunday, my wife and I rode in the Tour de Houston. Since 2005, this charity/fun ride has been sponsored by the Mayor of the City of Houston every year but one. It is a multipurpose ride, serving as a training ride for those who will be participating in the MS150 later this spring, it raises money for the Houston Parks Board (a non-profit partner of the City of Houston), and it shows off the wonderful variety of Houston neighborhoods. Each year the ride takes a different route to show off different parts of the city. Although the route is not "closed", e.g. we rode in traffic, there were police at each major intersection and all along the route facilitating our ride. In addition, for the $30 entrance fee we received the usual T-shirt, free parking at the start (which is a significant benefit in downtown Houston), snacks at various points along our ride, and a lunch at the end. A major attraction for me was that Michelob was a sponsor so that lunch included beer.

There were three choices for distance, 20 miles, 45 miles (which we chose), and 70 miles. All were out and back rides, all along the same route with different turn-around points. The riders going 70 miles left at 7:30 am, 45 miles at 8 am, and 20 miles at 8:30 am. This soon after the start of Daylight Savings Time, it was still fairly dark at 7:30 am and the neon clock atop City Hall showed nicely against the dark blue sky:

These are the 70 mile riders about to depart:

Use of cameras en route was strictly forbidden due to the large number of riders and resulting risk of a crash, so the next time I could take pictures as at the turn-around point. This turn-around was very well selected. It was at the "1940 Air Terminal Museum." It is a museum of commercial aviation history housed in the old terminal at Hobby Airport:

Typical of the items on display was this old flight attendant uniform:

After getting our snacks and gatorade, visiting the museum, and relaxing, it was time to turn around and head back the way we came. Back at the start, we had our lunch on the park in front of City Hall, and enjoyed the beautiful weather and the company of our fellow cyclists:

News Report of the Event

Unfortunately, the report of the ride in today's Houston Chronicle was dominated by the first fatality in the ride's history. The fatality was not accident related, but the result of "a cardiac incident." This tragedy was witnessed by many of the riders, including us, who were asked to walk over the bridge where it happened to avoid interfering with attempts by emergency medical technicians to revive the rider. One additional rider is in intensive care as the result of a heart attack and a total of four riders received emergency medical care, a below average number for this ride. As sad as this event was, it is perhaps not unexpected given the 5,000 riders who reportedly participated:

Despite the pall cast over the report by this unfortunate death, the ride was reported as phenomenal, with great participation and weather.


This ride provided a very nice change for my wife and I who normally ride by ourselves. The help of the police and the security provided by the large number of other riders made it comfortable to ride on busier streets than we might otherwise. Some of the neighborhoods used by this year's ride are very familiar to us, the route passed very close to our home, but other neighborhoods, especially as we approached the airport, were much less familiar and we were glad to be able to see them up close. I have posted before how grateful I am for the cycling infrastructure provided by the City of Houston and I was pleased to be able to support these efforts. Both of us finished the ride with a very good feeling about it and hope we will be able to participate in it for years to come.

Return of the MAF Test Results

Due to failure of my heart rate monitor, the last time I reported a MAF test was four posts ago. (My next post will describe the problems I experienced with my heart rate monitor and how I resolved them.) During these last four weeks, I continued aerobic training, but rather than use a heart rate monitor to govern how hard I trained, I used my subjective impression of effort. I have made other changes in my training regimen as well, which I will describe in a future post. That said, it appears that whatever I am doing is working. Now that I can again perform MAF tests, I find my fitness has continued to improve.

Monday, March 11, 2013

"Cycling Past 50" by Joe Friel

After have read "Total Heart Rate Training" by Joe Friel and finding it so useful, I purchased and read another of his books, "Cycling Past 50". In the same way that "Total Heart Rate Training" addressed so many of my questions about heart rate, I was hoping this book would address my questions about the effects of age on training. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Here are my reasons for disappointment:

  • Although nodding references to age are made throughout this book, only one brief chapter is focused specifically on the impact of age on training. Overall, I would estimate that less than 10% of this book has specific relevance to older athletes.
  • The content on aging that is present is not, in my judgement, particularly novel or enlightening. It is things like "see your doctor before starting a training regimen", good advice, but advice I suspect most of us have heard elsewhere before.
  • That content which is specific and novel is mostly directed towards persuading folks to keep riding as they age, rather than towards people like me who already failed at that and are looking for advice about getting back into the game. By the way, I have this same criticism of "Bike for Life", the other book I have on cycling for the elderly.
  • Similarly, the small amount of age-specific advice given is by necessity split between oldsters who are looking to race, and oldsters (like me) who are interested in other kinds of cycling activities, such as distance riding. In fact, most of the age-specific advice is directed towards racers, leaving even less relevant content for me.
  • This is one of the oldest of Joe Friel's books, having been published in 1998 as compared to "Total Heart Rate Training" which was published in 2006 and "The Cyclist's Training Bible" (which I have not yet read) which was published in 2009. As I was reading "Cycling Past 50", I noted some slight contradictions with advice given in "Total Heart Rate Training" which I attributed to "Cycling Past 50" being out of date.

Am I sorry I purchased this book? In my first blush of disappointment, I did feel that way, but having considered it for a few days, I am not; I did find some useful information in this book. Ironically, none of the useful information I got from this book had anything to do with cycling past 50 (and the useful information I have gotten from Joe Friel about cycling past 50 all came from "Total Heart Rate Training".) To put this question into context, I purchased "Cycling Past 50" as a paperback for about $15. None of us like to waste money, but given the value I place on my time as well as the other costs of cycling, this is not a big expense; I would more reasonably complain about the time I spent reading the book than what I paid for it. That said, in return for the evening I spend reading this book, I obtained the following information:
  • This is perhaps trivial, but I had an "Aha!" moment over the following graph (redrawn, albeit crudely, to avoid violating copyright):
    What is plotted is fitness on the vertical axis, and time on the horizontal. At time point 1, a cyclist does a hard workout. At first, fitness is reduced because the cyclist is tired, reaching a minimum at point 2. By point 3, the cyclist has recovered to the level of fitness he or she had before the hard workout, but fitness continues to increase, which is the expected effect of training. Fitness reaches a maximum at point 4, and then starts to decline in the absence of further training, so by point 5, it is as if the hard workout never happened. The ideal time for the next hard workout is time point 4; points 2 and 3 are too early and will result in over training and point 5 is too late and will waste the initial workout. Joe Friel confesses that he cannot tell us when these points will occur because this will be different for every cyclist and will vary depending on what other things are going on in his or her life. However, by paying attention to how one feels and doing some tests, one can get a useful working estimate of how to space one's hard workouts.
  • There is an entire chapter devoted to how to train for century rides and touring. It contains detailed training schedules for preparing for a first century ride, preparing for a fast century ride, or preparing for tours of various duration. It is somewhat obscurely titled "Testing Your Limits", and its location, coming after "Advanced Training" but before "Racing", suggests how Joe Friel feels about the relative merits of different kinds of cycling, but for me, this was perhaps the best part, the reason I regret neither the purchase price of the book nor the time I spent reading it.
  • Joe Friel describes research on the impact of training frequency on fitness. This research indicates that cycling less than 3 days a week provides very little increase in fitness, that cycling 4 days a week provides significantly larger increases in fitness compared to 3, and that cycling 5 or 6 days a week is better than 4, but by very little. Cycling 7 days a week, as I had proposed to do, is almost universally frowned upon.
Perhaps the best indicator of how I feel about this book is provided by my level of enthusiasm for purchasing Joe Friel's "The Cyclist's Training Bible." As of this moment, I am undecided, despite the fact that this is the most up to date and comprehensive of Joe Friel's books. Contributing to my reluctance is that the (relatively small percentage of) negative reviewers of "The Cyclist's Training Bible" on Amazon complain that it is devoted almost entirely to training for racing, which is not my area of interest. Although I might purchase this book in the future, and although I have become a regular reader of Joe Friel's blog, I feel like I need to digest the training suggestions I have read to date and to gather some personal information based on my own training experiences more than I need new suggestions. That said, Joe Friel's books have already caused me to adjust my current training schedule. Future posts will describe in detail how my training ideas evolve in response to the reading I have been doing.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bicycle Evolution Seen From the Tour

Maurice Garin, first winner of the Tour de France, in 1903, standing on the right
(From Wikipedia:

In my quest to understand the little bit of bicycle history that impacted me, from what bikes I was riding and dreaming about in High School in the 1960's to the bikes I am looking at today, one of the things I researched was the bicycles ridden by the winner of each year's the Tour de France. As Grant Pederson would tell us with great passion (1), this does not necessarily tell us what bikes we should be riding, but that aside, it is one perspective on bicycle evolution, and like all perspectives from an extreme angle, one that is revealing.

Note: I refer to a lot of bicycle technology in this post. If this is unfamiliar to you, I promise to provide an introduction to bicycle anatomy in a future post. For the purposes of this post, I am hoping you can not worry about the details of what each of these technologies are, but just see them as names and concentrate on when they gained acceptance.


Besides Wikipedia, this article is derived from four sources I found on the web:

Winning Bikes Of The Tour De France by "CyclingFitness" (Liam Hallam) on
Tour de France Bicycles & Historical Bike Weights by Felix Wong on
Bicycles that have won the Tour de France by Stephan Andranian on
Tour de France winning bikes by James Huang on

Poor Man's Timeline

I am interested in the 50 years between 1960 and 2010. However, I thought it would be interesting to go back 50 years to 1910 for comparison. This is especially attractive because it takes us almost to the start of the Tour de France (TdF) in 1903. At the end of this post, I have a "poor man's timeline" of the bicycle technology used in the TdF from 1910 through 2010 created by incorporating the information from the four sources above into a table with one row per year, and will be referring to that table for the rest of this post.

Commentary on the Timeline

By the time the Tour de France started in 1903, many of the main features of the modern bicycle had been invented; the "safety bike" features of two reasonably sized wheels (compared to a Penny Farthing) with the front wheel used for steering and the back wheel driven by gears and a chain to provide the higher effective gear ratio without a huge wheel along with pneumatic tires resulted in a bicycle most of us could ride comfortably. From 1903 through 1936, I have not been able to find much change in the bicycle technology used in the TdF. I considered deleting the years before World War II (WWII) from my timeline for that reason, but decided to leave them in to illustrate this point. Interestingly, part of the reason that technology did not change is that the organizers of the Tour resisted such change. Both metal rims and derailleurs were banned from the Tour until 1937 despite the fact that both derailleurs and internal hub gears (e.g. "three speed hubs") had been invented by early in the 20th century. In fact, in this case, the of variable gears from bicycle racing slowed their adoption in the consumer market. A similar negative effect of bicycle racing policy on bicycle technology advancement is seen in "Recumbent's Darkest Day", April 1 1934, when recumbent bikes were banned from bicycle racing. This effectively ended recumbent technology until the 1980s when it was rediscovered. The most recent regulation impacting bicycle technology is the rule instituted in 2005 TdF that bicycles cannot weigh less than 15 pounds. Before that, bicycle weight was on a rapid downward trend. Who knows how light TdF bicycles would be today if it were not for this rule?

When I started compiling this timeline, I expected that the fact that "cost was no object" for bicycles in the Tour would make TdF bicycles a leading indicator of new bicycle technology. Although that occurs to some extent, conservative forces in the bicycle racing world are so great as to make TdF bikes more of a trailing indicator. The two main conservative forces are the regulations limiting bicycle innovation, discussed above, and the conservative, almost superstitious behavior of the racing teams. As an example of that, I note the almost universal use of Campagnolo components from 1976 through 1998, even though most experts believed that the Japanese components (e.g. Shimano) were technologically their equal if not superior. It was not until Lance Armstrong "won" using Shimano components in 1999 that this changed. ("Won" is in quotes because Lance Armstrong was retroactively stripped of his victories in 2012 for drug use.)


What inspired me to study bicycle history, this timeline of the Tour being a part, was my shock at the change in bicycle technology between 1973, when I bought a "road bike" for my future wife, and 2008, when I again began shopping for new "road bikes". The changes I noted were:

  1. Frames, which had all been made of steel and mostly constructed using lugs to join the steel tubes, were now available in aluminum, titanium, carbon fiber, with steel being only one choice road bikes, and a relatively uncommon one at that. Lugs had almost vanished from the marketplace, being replaced by "TIG welding", a process that did not even exist in 1973.
  2. The standard wheel size had gone from 27 inch to 700C, and was available with a wide variety of unusual spoke patterns, rim profiles, and rim materials (e.g. carbon fiber), and widths. Also, sew-up tires had vanished from retail outlets.
  3. Freewheels had been replaced by free hubs, and the 5 gears on the back wheel which had been universal in 1962 (when I purchased my first road bike) and 1973 (when I purchased my last road bike for 37 years) had been replaced with 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 gears.
  4. The number of different kinds of bikes (e.g. mountain, hybrid, cyclocross, touring, racing, club). I had trouble figuring out which of these corresponded to the road bike I was looking for.
  5. The brands of bikes and bicycle components (e.g. derailleurs) available had changed. French derailleurs, the economy choice of my youth, had vanished. Campagnolo, the quality choice of my youth, still existed but was hard to find in a local bike shop. A new vendor, Shimano, seemed to have taken over.
  6. Frame geometry had almost universally changed. In my youth, the top tube of the frame was always parallel to the ground. Now, on most bikes, it sloped down from the handlebars to the seat.
  7. The way the handlebars were attached to the fork had changed. In my youth, we did not even know the term "quill stem", as that was the only way to attach handlebars to the fork. This had now been replaced by the threadless headset and associated stem.
  8. In my youth, racers used toe clips to hold their feet tightly to the pedals. These still exist, but "clipless pedals" are now de rigor on better road bikes.
  9. Alloy cotterless cranks, the mark of a quality bike of my youth, had become universal. Also, something called a "compact crank set" had been introduced.
Looking at my timeline of Bikes of the Tour could not explain when all of these changes happened, but it could speak to some of them.
  1. Lugged steel frames were apparently used in the TdF through 1992. By 1999, carbon fiber had replaced steel in the Tour.
  2. Interestingly, sew-up tires have been universal in the tour from 1903 to the present. What has changed is their availability to the consumer. In the 1960's, when you purchased a top of the line racing bike, you got the same sew-up tires that were used in the Tour. Today, even at the very top end, these have most likely been replaced with clincher tires. (In retrospect, I think this is a good thing.) Since this switch did not take place in the Tour, this post can shed no light on when it occurred.
  3. None of my sources provided much information on the number of rear gears used in the Tour. Based on the component groups, I can infer that 5 gears in the rear was probably used through about 1985 and that the number of gears increased to 6 then 9 and then 11. I do not know if the increase from 6 to 9 was direct, or if 7 and 8 gears were ever used.
  4. Since this is a post about the Tour de France, only racing bicycles are discussed. It was the case in the 1960s and is still the case that the same bike ridden in the Tour might be ridden on club rides or charity rides or even on brevets, and to some extent this remains true today, but today there are more choices and so many riders will choose a different bike than what racers in the TdF use.
  5. As noted above, when it comes to the rise of, e.g. Shimano, as a supplier of bicycle components, TdF riders have trailed behind the market. What does show up in the timeline is the disappearance of the French bicycle component manufacturers starting in about 1980.
  6. Sloping top tube frame geometry appears to be more common in the consumer market than in the Tour, but starting in about 1994 Tour riders experimented with sloping top tubes. The main reason sloping tubes are used in the commercial market is to simplify fitting frame sizes so the manufacturer can save money by producing fewer sizes. Sloping top tubes are used in bicycle racing to increase stiffness.
  7. Threadless headsets and their associated stems are an innovation which developed in the mountain bike community and spread to road bikes. Although some (2) decry this change, others (3) see threadless headsets as a technical improvement. Tour riders switched from quill stems to threadless headsets in 2000.
  8. Although I am certain that Tour riders switched from toe clips to clipless pedals some time between the 1960's and the present, my research was unable to uncover when this switch occurred.
  9. I have not been able to determine what kind of cranks the first Tour riders used. I believe that cottered steel cranks were used in the Tour immediately after WWII, but I am not certain of that. Alloy cotterless cranks had become standard by the 1960s and continue relatively unchanged through today. Compact crank sets are a feature of consumer bikes and, as best I can tell, not common in the Tour. Similarly the replacement of steel cottered cranks at the low end of of the market by alloy cotterless cranks is a marketing move pushed by Japanese component vendors that has little to do with the Tour.
In summary, the bicycles used in the Tour changed very little between the 1960's when I started bicycle racing until the 1980's, and that change in technology I found so unfamiliar had essentially finished by 2000. Although there has been evolution since then, e.g. the increase in the number of gears on the back wheel from 9 to 10 to 11, these changes are neither revolutionary nor shocking. However, in the last couple of years (past the end of my timeline), Tour riders have been switching to the new electronic derailleurs, a change I find both revolutionary and unwelcome. I am sad to say that we retrogrouches (4) should continue to expect an increasingly hostile future.

In a future post, I am going to trace the history of the technology used on some more mid-range commercial bicycles, such as the Bianchi Volpe and the Trek 520. Hopefully, this will fill in some of the gaps left by this post.

Bradley Wiggins, winner of the 2012 Tour de France
(From Wikipedia,

Timeline of Bicycle Technology Used in the Tour de France, 1910 - 2010

Year Bicycle Component Group Set Weight Notable
1910 Alcyon One speed, wooden rims.
1911 Alcyon
1912 Alcyon
1913 Peugeot
1914 Peugeot
1915 No TdF: WWI
1916 No TdF: WWI
1917 No TdF: WWI
1918 No TdF: WWI
1919 Consortium (1)
1920 Consortium (1)
1921 Consortium (1)
1922 Peugeot
1923 Automoto
1924 Automoto
1925 Automoto
1926 Automoto
1927 Alcyon
1928 Alcyon
1929 Alcyon
1930 Generic (2)
1931 Generic (2)
1932 Generic (2)
1933 Generic (2)
1934 Generic (2)
1935 Generic (2)
1936 Generic (2)
1937 Generic (2) Metal rims, multiple gears
1938 Generic (2)
1939 Generic (2)
1940 No TdF: WWII
1941 No TdF: WWII
1942 No TdF: WWII
1943 No TdF: WWII
1944 No TdF: WWII
1945 No TdF: WWII
1946 No TdF: WWII
1947 Genial-Lucifer Simplex Tour de France
1948 Legnano Campagnolo Cambio Corsa
1949 Bianchi Simplex Tour de France
1950 Frejus Simplex Tour de France
1951 La Perle Campagnolo Gran Sport
1952 Bianchi Campagnolo Gran Sport
1953 Stella Huret Competition
1954 Stella Huret Competition
1955 Mercier Huret Competition
1956 Mercier Campagnolo Gran Sport
1957 Helyett Simplex L. Juy 543
1958 Learco Guerra Campagnolo Gran Sport
1959 Coppi Campagnolo Gran Sport
1960 Colagno
-Midpoint of the Timeline-
1961 Helyett Simplex Juy Export 61
1962 Helyett Simplex 22.4 lbs
1963 Gitane Campagnolo Record
1964 Gitane Campagnolo Record
1965 Bianchi Campagnolo Record 24.2 lbs
1966 Geminiani Campagnolo Record
1967 Peugeot Simplex Prestige 22.9 lbs
1968 Lejeune Campagnolo Nuovo Record 19.1 lbs
1969 Masi Campagnolo Nuovo Record
1970 Masi Campagnolo Nuovo Record
1971 Kessels Campagnolo Nuovo Record
1972 Kessels Campagnolo Nuovo Record 21.1 lbs
1973 Motobecane Campagnolo Nuovo Record 18.7 lbs
1974 Kessles Campagnolo Nuovo Record
1975 Peugeot Simplex SLJ 5000
1976 Gitane Campagnolo Super Record 18.3 lbs
1977 Peugeot Simplex 22.0 lbs
1978 Gitane Campagnolo Super Record
1979 Gitane Campagnolo Super Record
1980 Raleigh Campagnolo Super Record 22.4 lbs
1980 Gitane Campagnolo Super Record
1982 Gitane Campagnolo Super Record
1983 Gitane Simplex
1984 Gitane Campagnolo Super Record
1985 Look Campagnolo C-Record 21.1 lbs
1986 Look Campagnolo C-Record
1987 Battaglin Campagnolo C-Record 21.1 lbs
1988 Pinarello Campagnolo C-Record 21.6 lbs
1989 Bottecchia Mavic
1990 TVT Campagnolo C-Record 20.0 lbs
1991 TVT Campagnolo C-Record
1992 Pinarello Campagnolo C-Record Last year lugged frame
1993 Pinarello Campagnolo C-Record 22.7 lbs
1994 Pinarello Campagnolo C-Record 19.8 lbs Last year steel frame
1995 Pinarello Campagnolo C-Record 17.9 lbs
1996 Pinarello Campagnolo Record 19.8 lbs
1997 Pinarello Campagnolo Record 19.8 lbs
1998 Bianchi Campagnolo Record 17.8 lbs Last year non-carbon frame
1999 Trek Shimano Dura Ace Still Quill Stem
2000 Trek Shimano Dura Ace Now Threadless Stem
2001 Trek Shimano Dura Ace
2002 Trek Shimano Dura Ace 18.0 lbs
2003 Trek Shimano Dura Ace 15.8 lbs
2004 Trek Shimano Dura Ace 14.5 lbs
2005 Trek Shimano Dura Ace 15.0 lbs Minimum bike weight 15 lbs
2006 Pinarello Campagnolo Record 15.0 lbs
2007 Trek Shimano Dura Ace 15.0 lbs
2008 Specialized Shimano Dura Ace 15.0 lbs
2009 BMC Sram Red 15.0 lbs
2010 Pinarello Sram Red 15.0 lbs

(1) After World War I (WWI), bicycle manufacturers were struggling to recover from the damage of the war so banded together into a consortium to provide bikes for the Tour.
(2) From 1930 through 1939, in an effort to eliminate commercialism from the Tour, riders were issued generic, unbranded yellow bicycles. The effort to eliminate commercialism has obviously been abandoned.


1) "Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike" by Grant Petersen (ISBN 978-0761155584)
2) "Fit, Sizing, Position (our thoughts)" by Grant Petersen
3) "Threadless Headsets" by Jobst Brandt
4) "Bike Snob Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling" by Bike Snob NYC, ISBN 978-0-8118-6998-0, page 76