How To Setup Your Bike For The Cobbles Of Paris – Roubaix

How To Setup Your Bike For The Cobbles Of Paris – Roubaix

– Riding over cobbles can
be a brutal experience. Watching the pros do it on TV doesn’t even come close to doing it justice. These things are rough. And the really cruel thing about cobbles is that the slower you
go, the rougher they feel. – But the good news is you can make things just a little bit more
comfortable and even faster by making a few small
adjustments to your bike. Now, we’re luck enough to have with us today this Trek Domane belonging to Yaroslav Popovych of Trek-Segafredo. It’s the bike that he rode
in last years Paris-Roubaix. And as you can see, it’s
completely race ready with FMB Paris-Roubaix
27 millimetre tyres, and even the Paris-Roubaix
parcours on the top tube. Now, we also have with us our very own Orbea Avant off the peg, a bike that’s perfect for the pave and
is gonna be ridden by Cofidis in this years Paris-Roubaix. – Does Yaroslav know you’ve
got his bike, by the way, mate? (jazzy music) – The most important equipment choice when riding the cobbles are tyres. They provide contact point with the road, cushioning, and grip. – Yeah, basically, the bigger the tyre that you can fit on your bike, the better. Bigger tyres need lower pressures, and then they’re much, much, better able to absorb the
vibration and the hammering coming up from the road, so
you stay more comfortable and you got much, much, faster. Then as an added bonus, bigger
tyres also have more grip and greater puncture resistance. – Now, for most races, the pros will ride 25C tyres running a pressure of around 110, 120 PSI,
sometimes even more. But for Paris-Roubaix
they’ll be riding tyres with a width of 27C to 30C,
but running half that pressure. So, the losses that they
make in rolling resistance on the smooth asphalt, will
be more than made up for at the games that they make on the pave. now, the amount of pressure
that you put in your tyre is dependent on your weight, but what’s really worth bearing in mind is that fact you increase the risk of punctures or pinch punches when
you’re running clinchers as apposed to the tubeless,
favoured, or used exclusively by the pros in Paris-Roubaix,
so don’t go too low. (jazzy music) You could also consider double wrapping your bar tape like Yaroslav
Popovych has done here, just to give you that
extra layer of padding. Now, it’s a very simple job, and combined with a good pear of track mitts, should you choose to wear them, can really may a fare bit of difference in relation to your comfort. (jazzy music) – Water bottle cages, probably not the first thing you’d think about when modifying your bike for the cobbles. And yes, they will not
give you instant speed or more comfort, but
they play a vital role. You will often see water bottles flying left right and centre
at a cobbled sportive or even at the Tour of
Flanders, or Paris-Roubaix, and if you lose your water bottle, then you’re not gonna
be able to stay on top of your drinking and
your fueling strategies. So, it’s for that reason
that pro mechanics will often either completely swap out carbon bottle cages and replace
them with aluminium ones that can then be compressed so they hold the bottle more tightly, or actually modifying carbon bottle cages, perhaps putting a little
bit of grip tape in there, or like these Trek ones here, they’ve added little rubber O-rings that mean that your bottle
is held really securely. And if you don’t have
little rubber O-rings, then actually, just zip ties
tied tightly around there will help to keep that
bottle held tightly. (jazzy music) – As well as bottles rattling loose, you’re gonna see plenty
of chains rattling off. So, first up, make sure that your front mech is indexed properly. And secondly, install a chain catcher. It’s a really handy simply bit of kit that is remarkably
effective and will save you from getting oily hands
at the side of the road, and worse still, the chain getting wedged between your chain set and frame, and possibly even
damaging the frame itself. (jazzy music) – It is definitely worth checking over every bolt on your bike for tightness, and preferably, with a torque wrench, because the last thing that you want is for all the hammering from the cobbles to them make your seat post slip, or your bars to rotate forward, or for the aforementioned
bottle cage to rattle loose. And then, likewise,
it’s not just your bike, the accessories that you put on it, make sure they are firmly attached. Whether that’s a saddlebag, or indeed, your head unit here. This one has a little screw underneath that means that you can lock it in there. (jazzy music) – Many pros also opt for
cyclo-cross style levers here on the tops of the bar. But whether you use those yourself will depend on how you ride the cobbles. Either on the tops or down on the drops. Although, they may actually get you out of a difficult situation, should you have to break suddenly whilst riding on the tops, because you won’t have to move your
hands ’round to the breaks. And they’re probably more relevant if you’re riding on an organised ride with a lot of people around you, but not so much if
you’re just riding solo. So, hopefully, those little tweaks will make your cobbled experience a little bit more comfortable, and maybe, a bit quicker too. – That’s right, and make sure you pack your best pair of legs before you set out. – Good point, Simon. Now, if you haven’t all ready subscribed to GCN, you can do so for free by clicking on the globe. – Yeah, and if you’re up for some more cobbled content, well, why not check out a very special Retro Versus Modern on the cobbles of Flanders. That one is just down there. – Or, for how to ride the cobbles with me and Lasty, we rode here in the rain, click just down here. – That was wet. – That’s pretty brutal, that.
– Very wet.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. 0.31…hate to say it but that's a madone he's riding not a domane! Sorry to call this out. I'm a big fan of the channel and your videos!

  2. Also, swapping out your seatpost to a more flexible one (like the canyon vcls) makes a massive difference

  3. Are there shorts with extra padding for cobbles? Do shorts with normal amounts of padding get a bum wrap?

  4. Usually avoid cobbles even on 29+er hardtail =P Absolutely horrible, rather take the grass/gravel next to them

  5. Why would anyone wanna ride cobbles for fun ? Lol the pros are getting paid to do it . Smooth roads for me 🙂

  6. I'd love to see a comparison of a 650b rando bike to the bikes used in paris roubaix. maybe ride both at the same power over cobbles and see the times.

  7. My tip for cobbles: Pay really close attention to your weight distribution. If you put too much weight on your saddle, you will be bouncing around a lot. Try to focus more on absorbing vibrations with your legs. Also, if you put too much weight on the handlebars, your hands will go sore or numb as well as your arms, but worst of all, you will also loose traction on the rear wheel.

  8. Why don't they use a cyclocross bike for the pave and a road bike for the road, so that they can change?

  9. Can someone please recommend me a good forum where I can ask for buying advice? I took a look at a bunch of bikes, but I just cant decide.

  10. rubber bands instead on o rings worked for me mtb-ing, loop through itself and tie off. you can put them anywhere on the cage frame that you like….

  11. Is it cheating to use a cyclocross bike? Put a big chainring on front for speed, and you can have some fun with 32mm tires 😀

  12. Another trick is to use friction paste at the bar/stem interface, because if you hit a good one when you're on the hoods, your bars could shift down a cm, from the impact. Try to ride the tops or drops when going over the "rough stuff".

  13. I've never ridden the cobbles but if I ever did, a full suspension MTB would be my weapon of choice and leave my road bike in the garage.

  14. Matt and Simon pointed to wrong directions for additional videos and the Globe too at the end of the video. Did anyone else notice this?

  15. #torqueback I have never heard of a chain catcher until now (yes I am a newbie)…why wouldn't you use a chain catcher all the time, instead of just when riding on cobbles?

  16. Did Matt say the pros normally run 20c tires @120+ psi? Is he referring to pro career in the early 90s?

  17. Now preparing your body:

    1) get someone to kick you in the nuts for several hours
    2) repeat this till completely numb
    3)reap the rewards of numb nuts

  18. My bike setup is always for comfort. I use tubeless tires: 28 front (5-5,5 bar) and 25 rear (6-6,5 bar), both with coffe latex inside. It's a great solution.

  19. Here's a suggestion – buy a cage that's from the same manufacturer as a water bottle… I have Elite cages and bottles and there's no way in hell they fall out.

  20. 1:32 ; they'll be running 700 x 20c tyres, will they Matt? You might have, back in the antediluvian day, but most current pros ride the tubular equivalent of 23 or 25mm x-section on smooth roads, old bean. It's a bit cobbled together, this one . . .

  21. How do you make it more comfortable when your hands are on the hoods? I thought bar tape doesn't work to dampen vibration on the hoods. #torqueback (Is there an option to put foam pads under the hoods? Does it work?)

  22. Tried those Conti 4season that Simon is running in this video, and they seem too hard to me (I am quite light though). Vittoria Corsa G 25c running really low pressure are pretty good on cobbles/bad surface.

  23. Did you say for most races the pros will run 20c tyres? I thought 25c is now the new average width in the pro peleton.

  24. GCN, please note. You say "this is the bike he rode" (a domane) and immediately cut to a picture of a madone (see front brake calipers). Conspiracy?

  25. Mat did you say that the pros are using 20c tires in normal races? Your aware that things have changed in the almost 20 years since you've been racing? Their using 25c tires these days

  26. 00:30 is a picture of a Madone, not a Domane…you can see the front brake cover, and the single piece bar/stem…

  27. Still dont understand why riders use CARBON WHEELS for cobbles…then are now adding suspension to a CARBON frame…thats the best joke yet!

  28. Played Simon's quip at 0:52 5-6 times and have no idea what he said. Completely indiscernible to the American English ear.

  29. I've used King Ti cage for nearly a decade on my road and CX (or gravel when ridden on dirt roads) I've never lost a bottle on even of roughest of roads.

  30. loving the national champion details on your sleeves Matt. also are pros still running 20c tyres? i thought everyone was on 25c.

  31. Thanks fellas. I've just signed up for the 2018 version of this madness. Can't wait! I know from experience of other big rides that small changes can make a huge difference.

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