When the Tour began, gears were a pipe dream and your regular amateur bike was two wooden circles and a iron bar. Since then the basic riding position has remained the same, but things have improved somewhat: today's Tour steeds have to be given a minimum weight allowance (a whispy 6.9kg) or they'll just start hovering. Here's five that have helped their riders to wear the yellow jersey.
La Française, 1903
The very first bike to win the Tour was ridden by Maurice Garin (aka The Little Chimney Sweep) and its heavy steel frame only had a single gear. It did have toeclips, though – an invention only a few years old at that time.
Roger Lapébie won the Tour on one of the first bikes sporting a Super Champion derailleur, which had only just been allowed under Tour rules and meant that riders no longer had to get off their bike and loosen their back wheel every time they wanted to change gears. (Image credit: theracingbicycle.com)
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Tour-winner Greg Lemond’s time trial bike was one of the first to pay close attention to aerodynamics with the addition of Scott aero bars, designed by ski coach Boone Lennon to mimic the position of a downhill skier. His time trial performance won him the 1989 Tour. (Image credit: pedalroom.com)
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Trek 5500, 1999
The 5500 OCLV (Optimum Compaction, Low Void – yeah, we don’t know either) was the first carbon fibre-framed bike to be ridden from start to finish in the tour, and it took Lance Armstrong to his first tour victory (Armstrong's title was later stripped, but the bike wasn't to blame). (Image credit: Rudi Riet)
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Pinarello Dogma 65.1
Ridden to victory by both Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, the Dogma has been the stand-out bike of the last few years. The frame is made from Japanese Torayca carbon, said to be the finest in the world, while the wavy 'Onda' fork smooths out the road vibrations that can plague a very stiff road bike. Consumer versions sell for comfortably more than £5,000 but you can personalise it with your own colours, using Pinarello's MyWay system.
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