Race Tech

Pro bike: Michael Matthews’ Giant Propel Disc for the 2017 Tour de France

The Australian's pre-production, disc-equipped aero bike

The build-up to the Tour de France typically sees a number of high-profile bike launches from some of the biggest brands in cycling. This year saw new bikes released from Specialized, Trek, Merida, LOOK, Orbea, Colnago, Lapierre and BMC. However, one bike to break cover at the Tour de France – but yet to be officially unveiled – is this Giant Propel Disc belonging to the green jersey holder, Michael Matthews.

Matthews arrived at the 2017 Tour de France as one of three sprinters with a disc-equipped bike at their disposal, along with Marcel Kittel (Specialized Venge ViAS Disc) and Alexander Kristoff (Canyon Aeroad CF SLX Disc). However, while all of Kittel’s five stage wins came aboard that Venge ViAS Disc, Matthews’ two wins to date have been on Giant’s all-round race bike, the TCR Advanced SL.

Michael Matthews (right) rode the Giant Propel Disc on stage seven of the Tour de France (Pic: Sirotti)

That may be because both of Matthews’ victories have come on medium mountain stages and he prefers the lighter TCR for that terrain. However, Matthews did use the Propel Disc on stage seven, a flat stage, when the Sunweb sprinter finish third behind Kittel and Edvald Boasson Hagen (pictured above).

Still, as a disc-equipped aero bike, Matthews’ Giant Propel Disc is one of the most interesting bikes at the Tour de France, so let’s take a closer look.

Giant may not have officially launched the Propel Disc but Michael Matthews has this pre-production bike for the Tour de France
The existing Giant Propel was launched way back in January 2013 - an eternity in bike terms - so the frame has been due an update. While Giant have teased us with this Propel Disc, we expect a new rim brake version to be on the way, too
With its airfoil tube profiles, the existing Propel is beginning to look a bit dated. The latest Propel adopts a more up-to-date design, with beefier, truncated tube profiles, most noticeable on the downtube, seatstays and fork
With no rim brake caliper and not a cable in sight, the front end of the Propel Disc is extremely clean, while the slim, hourglass headtube is also designed to reduce the frontal area exposed to the wind
Matthews uses 25mm tyres but there looks to be additional clearance for wider rubber
The flat-mount disc brakes keep everything tidy down here, too. Matthews' bike is equipped with Shimano's latest Dura-Ace Di2 R9170 groupset - the Japanese firm's first top-level groupset to be designed for disc brakes - with 140mm rotors and thru-axles at both ends
Giant say the Propel Disc was in development for two years and this integrated stem was part of that process, keeping the Di2 wires and hydraulic hoses completely hidden. While Matthews' prototype stem, which is 14cm long, is made from aluminium, the production version will be carbon fibre. Flaps at the base of the stem open when the sleek handlebar is turned, apparently to smooth airflow
This is a really neat piece of integration, with the junction box for Shimano's new Dura-Ace Di2 groupset housed within the end of the Michael Matthews' handlebar
This computer mount was designed for use with the stem, helping to place the GPS unit in prime position while also improving aerodynamics. Again, this is a pre-production model
While Garmin and SRM computers dominate the peloton, Team Sunweb riders use Giant's own Neos Track unit
Matthews' computer picks up a range of data, including speed and cadence transmitted by this integrated Giant RideSense 2.0 sensor via either Ant+ or Bluetooth
While Matthews' bike is pictured without a power meter here, Team Sunweb mechanics went on to fit Shimano's new chainset-mounted unit to this bike
Matthews switched from Australian team Orica-Scott to the German-registered Team Sunweb at the start of 2017
While the Propel Disc is the most eye-catching bike in the Team Sunweb mechanics truck, Matthews has in fact claimed both of his stage wins in the 2017 Tour de France on the Giant TCR Advanced SL
With Matthews set to win the green jersey and team-mate Warren Barguil triumphing in the King of the Mountains classification, while also claiming two stages of his own, Team Sunweb have enjoyed a fantastic Tour de France
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