Paris-Roubaix Race: How do cyclists modify their bikes for one of the world’s oldest races?

Paris Roubaix

The Paris-Roubaix race is unlike any other in cycling as the professional cyclists that participate in the event will be given every chance to use as much technical innovation that they can to give them a decisive advantage when competing against each other.

The main reason why riders are able to modify their bikes as much as possible is largely down to the surface of the roads that are ridden on in the north of France. The cobbles are a match for the very best of racers, which is why some of the machines that are developed can be rather fascinating.

A brief history of the event

The Paris-Roubaix event is one of the oldest cycling races in the world and is considered to be one of the premier events on the European calendar. The very first race started in 1896 and until the 1967 event, it had started in Paris and saw racers compete against each other as they raced to Roubaix.

The first of the modifications that the race has experienced over the years was in 1966 when the start was moved to Chantilly, although this had only lasted for 11 years. 1977 saw the event begin in Compiegne, however, the race’s finish line has largely been the same since 1943; at the Roubaix Velodrome.

Typically held in the early parts of April each year, the 2021 edition is scheduled to take place on October 3, with racer Wout Van Aert made the favorite to win the event with odds of 3.25 being made available with the Unibet Betting platform.

A huge number of changes are generally made

As mentioned, this particular race event is incredibly different to many of the others that appear regularly on the calendar as it provides racers with a true test that will require them to be at their very best, whilst also being able to have the best bicycle when on the cobbled roads of northern France.

There are a plethora of different ways in which they use innovative techniques to prepare their bike to withstand the event and give them the best chance of being able to complete the race, with the hope of being the first man over the finish line.

Highlighted below are just some of the many different modifications that can be expected to be undergone ahead of the Paris-Roubaix race this October and in future events that will take place.

Special bikes

With the roads being cobbled, the bikes used are going to be taking a beating when the riders look to push themselves and their machines as hard as possible. Hence, it is no surprise why teams and participants have decided to add some special features to their vehicles, such as electronic suspensions.

Tap up certain areas

 As the race features 250km of pain-staking riding over cobbled streets, many cyclists involved will look to try and tape up many different areas of their bike to try and give them an advantage. Whilst it may not give them an edge in regards to their bike, it will help to give them a performance boost which could be vital in being able to finish the race as the winner.

For instance, many of the cyclists will look to double wrap their bar tape (or even triple wrap) to ensure that their hands, wrists and shoulders are as comfortable as possible for the duration of the event. Furthermore, some will look to place grip tape on their bottle cages to keep their bottles of liquid as secure as possible, whilst others may have bar tape on their pedals to ensure that their shoes remain fixed to the pedals and do not slip during the race.


Unsurprisingly, there are a number of modifications to the tires that are used for the Paris-Roubaix event, with many opting to use wider tires than they would usually use. Riders will typically opt for tubular tires that can be either 28mm or 30mm in size.

However, others may decide to use non-tubular tires as these will allow for lower pressure levels, thus achieving a more comfortable ride. There are also a number of different materials that can be used when selecting the wheels to be used, including those that feature either carbon or aluminum.

Photo by Simon Connellan on Unsplash

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