Are Giant and Canyon ready to showcase new bikes at the Tour de France? That may well be the case, with a new Giant Propel and Canyon Ultimate added to the UCI’s approved list of frames and forks.
In its latest update, the UCI has helpfully highlighted the Propel and Ultimate as newly added models, along with the Factor OG, which we believe to be the brand’s new gravel bike.
With the Tour fast approaching, we’re barrelling towards the height of road bike launch season, so it’s little surprise to see two key machines appear on the UCI website.
With Giant supplying Team BikeExchange-Jayco, and Movistar and Katusha-Alpecin both equipped by Canyon, will we see these new bikes at the Tour de France?
Details are scarce at the moment, but here’s what we know so far. We can expect to see more launches of key road models as the Tour approaches.
The Ultimate upgrade
The Ultimate CFR was added in 2020 as a halo model, but that was an under-the-bonnet update, with a revised carbon layup to drop the claimed frame weight to 641g, rather than any changes to the shape.
Most frames get updated every three to four years – seven years is a lifetime in bike design – but the Ultimate has aged well. During that time, it’s impressed continuously as a race bike with a well-balanced, mild-mannered geometry, clean lines and impressive comfort.
What will the new Ultimate bring? With the Aeroad in the Canyon range as the brand’s dedicated, fully-fledged aero bike, we’d expect the Ultimate to remain as a lightweight all-rounder.
The Aeroad itself was only updated in 2020 and is the bike of choice for Movistar and Katusha-Alpecin riders – including Mathieu van der Poel – with the Ultimate falling out of favour.
Despite the Ultimate’s all-round positioning, we’d bet on there being some kind of aero update and integration on a new model, even if it’s subtle tweaks to avoid stepping on the Aeroad’s toes.
With tyre clearance officially limited to 30mm on the current Ultimate, we’d also expect an updated frame to have a little more clearance, given the likes of the Giant TCR, and a number of other all-round race bikes, have clearance for at least 32mm rubber.
The UCI lists CFR, CF SLX and CF SL versions of the Ultimate in its latest update, suggesting Canyon will launch something new across three tiers.
We’ll keep our eyes peeled for any sign of a new Ultimate beneath Movistar and Katusha-Alpecin riders.
The UCI’s approval process was introduced in 2011 and requires all framesets used in UCI-sanctioned road, track and cyclocross events to be rubber-stamped by cycling’s world governing body.
Having launched with five bikes more than a decade ago, the list now covers hundreds of models. It’s updated periodically and gives eagle-eyed journalists the opportunity to spot new bikes before they’re launched officially by brands.
That’s not foolproof, though – sometimes bikes are launched but the list isn’t updated for a while.
One case in point is the new Trek Madone, which broke cover at the weekend but is yet to appear on the UCI’s list. The wild design, with a spaceship-like hole in the seat tube, is being given a pre-Tour shakedown by Trek-Segafredo riders at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
The UCI also allows the use of a prototype in competition for 12 months before it’s made commercially available. That looks to be what’s happening with the new Cube Litening, which has been in existence for the best part of a year now without any sign of an official launch or UCI approval.
What next for the Propel?
The Giant Propel first broke cover in 2012, back when it was all the rage for aero bikes to have whacky, proprietary brake designs, with the original Propel’s V-brakes hidden behind the fork.
The Giant Propel Advanced Disc then arrived with disc brakes in 2018, along with an integrated front-end.
There are two versions of the Giant Propel included on the latest UCI update, so we can expect Advanced and Advanced SL models, if and when Giant officially launches the bike.
Official details are non-existent, but we’d expect the Propel to stay laser-focused on aerodynamics, with any launch to focus on watt savings, with a sprinkling of additional stiffness thrown into the mix.
That said, the days of bone-shaking aero bikes are largely over, so we’d expect – and want – any new Propel to deliver an all-round ride enhanced by clearance for tyres bigger than the current 28mm maximum.
Team BikeExchange-Jayco uses the current Propel alongside the Giant TCR, which was redesigned in 2020.
The TCR is an outlier among WorldTour bikes, thanks to its oh-so-old-school exposed cables, but remains a firm favourite among BikeExchange-Jayco riders due to its low weight and ride quality.
Will a new Propel pull more of Giant’s sponsored pro riders back to an aero bike? Once again, we’ll share more details when we have them.