I am riding the last but one model of the Suzuki 650 V Strom. It’s the smallest capacity bike among the stills photographers who mostly ride 1200cc BMW GS bikes.
There are two examples left of the classic BMW K75 (as ridden by colleagues above), both supplied and one ridden by Guy de Vuyst from Wevelgem. The 750cc triple is long in the tooth but is very smooth at low revs, which is one of the essentials for a stills bike.
The 650cc V twin in the V Strom makes half the power of the GS but it is a lovely motor which can trickle along at 8mph or less in first at just under two thousand revs. That’s what you need when following riders up steep climbs, without having to dip or drag the clutch. The bikes get very hot too, but the Suzuki runs sweetly and doesn’t throw out a lot of heat when the fan comes on.
It’s light and the power deficit encourages me to ride smoothly and pick the same lines as the cyclists on the descents.
The Tour is hard on the bikes despite the relatively low speeds. The suspension has to be top quality for two-up work and I have a £600 replacement rear shock. There is a speaker attached to the fairing which blares out the race radio and is powered by an amp plugged into the bike. A scanner radio picks up the signal.
Panniers are essential for wet weather gear, water and a banana.
The photographer takes the right side, always, and may have a lens or laptop in there.
A narrow bike is essential as we work in tight conditions. Rory Humphrey (All Car Welding) cut and shut the right-hand pannier frame to get the box sitting as tight as possible on the raised exhaust.
Tyres are Michelin Pilot Sport Trail, fitted new before the start. They have been great and worked well on the dry cobbles of stage nine.
Our tank bags are probably the most precious thing as they contain phone, wallet, documents, accreditation, scanner, amp, shades, pills, sunscreen etc. It would be unthinkable to lose it. Everything goes in its place, as when you are tired it’s good to have a little system.
Rest day yesterday. We spent the morning at the Sky hotel shooting Thomas and Froome, then Sky training, and then hung about for another interview with the pair.
G is looking a bit hunted and Froome’s smile is predatory, like the lead cartoon character of the Gorillaz. After over 100km riding I got back to our hotel mid-afternoon and slept till after five.
I like watching the mechanics and was interested to see one unscrewing the front wheel skewer a long way to get it out. They are not allowed to file off the tabs on the fork ends these days, he said, the bikes have to be standard. Must add a few seconds to every front wheel change. It also took him a lot longer to thread and tighten the through axle on the disc version of the Pinarello F10.
Luke Edwardes-Evans is working as a motorcycle rider with a team of photographers from L’Equipe, the French daily sports paper, in this year’s Tour de France.