LAS VEGAS, Nev. (VN) — As always, Interbike was full of rideable hard goods, but it is equally home to wearable items. Here are some of those that I found to be most worthy of mention.
Unobstructed vision, no need to look down
Sport-iiiis mount to a rider’s eyewear and provide data from ANT+ cycling computers and eliminate the need for the rider to look down at a handlebar-mounted computer. Sport-iiiis communicate data to the rider via a speaker by the ear and by colored-LED displays visible at the lower edge of the glasses lens. You can program it with your own computer to, say, light up green when your power output is between 400 and 425 watts and to light up orange when higher, yellow when just below, and red when way below. You can also have the display turn off until power (or cadence, or speed, or heart rate) is no longer in your designated zone. And you can have it tell you in your ear your exact power output (or cadence, or speed, or hear rate), or turn off audible data alerts.
Besides the obvious advantage that in a time trial you can peg your planned power output without looking at your computer and breaking form or concentration, there are tremendous safety considerations to mention as well. Sport-iiiis inventor and founder of 4iiii Innovations Ian Andes had an “aha” moment when running (yes, on foot). His wristwatch Garmin told him he was running seven-minute miles, a significant milestone for him, and while fixating on his watch, he tripped over a curb and injured himself badly. Similarly, riders doing intervals or other hard efforts can be assured they are working at the proscribed level without losing view of any obstacles they may be quickly coming up on.
I immediately thought of my friend and coach Peter Marshall of FasCat Coaching in Boulder who spends a good part of every day motor-pacing cyclists on a moped. He is often pacing world and national champions at a very high rate of speed on open highways, yet his task is to ensure that the rider is working at a predetermined effort level. He does this by glancing down at an ANT+ computer on his handlebars, but when motorpacing a potential Ironman champion tucked in on his aero bars down a long grade at 65mph, there is not a lot of room for error if a car or dog suddenly pulls out in the road. 4iiii’s Sportiiiis could offer a larger margin of safety by allowing him to keep his eyes on the road and on the rider’s effort level simultaneously.
Cyclocross riders long ago discovered that some of the 150 or so styles of gloves that Glacier Outdoor makes for diving, paddling, fishing, rescue, etc. are great for keeping the hands warm in a chilly, muddy ’cross race. Now the company has six new cycling-specific neoprene Glacier Gloves.
Interbike abounds with aero wheels and bikes, but the fact remains that the rider accounts for over three quarters of the wind drag he or she is fighting. So it makes sense that clothing could make more aerodynamic difference than a change in bike or wheels, and it could be argued that riders can get more speed difference in dry or rainy road races from two new products from Castelli than from any hard-goods maker.
When we first reported on Castelli’s San Remo Speedsuit before Milan-San Remo, we had no idea that it might make the difference in a solo victory at Paris-Roubaix. But when race favorite Fabian Cancellara caught Maarten Tjallingii, Grégory Rast, and Lars Bak with 4kmk to go, Garmin’s Johan Van Summeren, wearing his San Remo Speedsuit, held a 30-second gap ahead of them. That gap shrunk to 19 seconds over Cancellara by the finish, but had Van Summeren been only hanging out 15 seconds up on the trio when Cancellara caught them, I think you can bet the big Swiss would have found it in himself to close that gap.
And if you can believe Castelli’s data, the suit easily could have made 15 seconds worth of difference over the 15km of Van Summeren’s solo ride. Castelli claims that a rider wearing the San Remo Speedsuit has the same drag when sitting up with his hands on the top of the bars as he does with a standard jersey and shorts when riding in the most aero position on the brake hoods (low and with the forearms level).
Two patents pending on the Castelli San Remo Speedsuit make it harder for others to copy this idea of attaching a full-zip aero jersey three-quarters of the way around to a pair of aero shorts. The large-tooth YKK Vislan zipper is easy to open and close with one hand (unlike the tiny hidden zips of most skinsuits) and the ventilation with it open is almost the same as an open jersey with bib shorts, yet the sides won’t flap and the back won’t swing along with stuff weighing the back pockets down. The back is also non-stretch to prevent the pockets from sagging. A rider can still pee while riding — an issue in a skinsuit — and the sides, where airflow is laminar and faster, won’t bunch up as any jersey will, no matter how tight, since hips are wider than the waist.
The Castelli Body Paint shorts that comprise the bottom of the San Remo Speedsuit are seamless, yet they fit like a glove. They are made of a single panel that is produced to shape with finished leg edges at the fabric mill; it is wrapped around and stitched in the back, then given a single front seam (or it would be a skirt). The chamois pad is two layers, with the bottom layer in the shape of a saddle and simply stitched down the middle so that its thicker foam sections and three perforated gel pads sit under each sit bone and the perineum. Not being stitched around the edge, this thicker layer won’t restrict the stretch of the shorts, and a second pad layer, the Skin Care layer, is shaped to the saddle and to the human, stretches easily, and is very soft. Instead of sticky silicone leg grippers, the seamless lower edge has more elastic Lycra in it to tightly hold its position.
The Castelli Gabba rain jersey has a breathable and waterproof Gore membrane, yet is very stretchy for a snug fit. Castelli claims that it saves 40 watts versus a rain jacket. If that’s true, that could make a tremendous difference come crunch time at the end of a rainy and cold race. The Gabba’s YKK Vislan zipper allows easy body-temperature adjustment based on atmospheric conditions and effort level.
New and old technology
De Marchi’s Countour Evo jersey has welded, non-chafing seams, is bacteriostatic, and has built-in inelastic back suspenders to stabilize the rear pockets. The Counter Evo bib short is also bacteriostatic and non-chafing, including the dense, pressure-managing chamois pad with perineal groove. Finally, De Marchi is re-issuing its own jerseys, all worn by world champions, from the 1940s to the 1970s, utilizing the same patterns, materials, and construction methods.
No size change
Gore wants consumers to know that fit of layers will never be compromised with its clothing, even if the layers are not bought all at the same time.