Prologo are launching a new range of saddles and, for the first time, gloves - using a technology they have dubbed CPC - Connect Power Control. The new line was unveiled earlier this month at Eurobike with much ballyhoo and some very tasty canapes. Both the gloves and saddles sport the unique CPC synthetic grip material first developed for the military which say Prologo will give the utmost control when on the limit - indeed Prologo reckon this new tech will give a performance advantage.
Prologo have dipped into the high tech world of military for their new gloves and saddles. Connect Power Control (CPC) is a unique material that among a number of properties gives incredible grip. First developed for military applications - for sliding down ropes dangling beneath a helicopter - very fast. This stuff was designed to enable troops to drop down the rope fast but to also allow them to stop fast too. What the military required was a material that was both extremely grippy, but that could also dissipate the large amount of heat built up by a fully laden solder accelerating down a rope very fast and then stopping.
This CPC technology has proved extremely effective in its military application and has other characteristics which on paper at least sound highly appropriate for sporting environments. No surpirse that it has since found its way into F1. And now cycling – Prologo have an exclusive license to use it.
And use it they have. Prologo will offer a CPC version in each of their existing saddle shapes, including the Scratch Pro - long distance race saddle, Nago Evo - distance saddle, Zero II - for those that like to change position a lot on the bike and Zero TT - as the name suggests their time trial saddle, all in a new blue colourway to help them stand out.
So just what is CPC? It's an elastic polymer, using what Prologo call Volcano technology - basically that means the polymer is moulded into a mat made up of tiny volcano shaped cones of varying shaft sized and diameters - they actually look more like power station cooling towers… but that probably doesn't have the same ring to it. When pressed against another surface the volcano shafts compress - absorbing vibration - while the tops dilate improving surface grip while the base also widens to absorb shocks. Clever. Prologo say that added in small sections to the main contact areas of the saddle, along the nose and in the sit bone zones, it provides a non-slip perch no matter the weather - because one of the polymer's other properties is that it's non-absorbent.
Prologo say that its vibration damping and shock absorbing properties, combine to reduce the effects fatigue while its heat dissipating qualities add to rider comfort. The material is non-irritating and non-allergenic too.
The list of claimed benefits for CPC don't end at reduced fatigue and incrased comfort - Prologo also say that CPC enhanced products will give you better control and handling of your bike, more startling still at the launch they claim that it will also boost a rider's power output - producing a slide showing results of their own testing that of the differing outputs of riders using their normal equipment and CPC gloves and saddle. Prologo's conclusion was that using their CPC products and 'maintaning grip in the optimum cycling position" improved the rider's power output by between 4.2 and 13.8 per cent. For a competitive cyclist that's a signiicant chunk of extra power so it will be interesting to see if those results are replicated.
Grippy saddles is an idea that stems from time trialling, where due to the UCI's rules, most time triallists perch right on the nose of the saddle. Many have sought to add grippy material to prevent them sliding forwards off the nose - some also add bits of grip tape around the bike's cockpit too, and at the Tour de France we saw plenty of solutions to this problem. That is until the UCI got a bit annoyed and slammed their rule book down on the table insisting that riders were not allowed to modify saddles, and handlebars - although to digress for a moment we can't see what advantage that gave if everyone was doing it… but then we don't wear a blazer.
Anyway this is Prologo's very timely solution to the problem, making a UCI legal saddle with a grippy material built into it. We've seen TT saddles before but this is the first time we've seen normal road saddles with the technology. As you'd expect Prologo have used different shapes and densities of CPC panel tailored to meet the performance characteristics of each particular saddle.
It's probably important to stress that that although it's very grippy the CPC polymer doesn't lock you in - we haven't tried the saddle but Prologo insist you can still move about easily and certainly micro adjust your position - it's just that you are in control. The way we understand it CPC is more about helping you maintain your optimum position on the bike. Sliding around on the saddle on our road bike isn't something of an issue in our minds, but if it is for you then here is a very smart solution. For those on the rivet moments, it has obvious advantages. We'll be very keen to find out how it impacts upon the very minute saddle positions you make while riding, often without realising it, is something we'll investigate as soon as we get one for testing - certainly if the gloves (which we have in for testing) are anything to go by combining grip and micro adjustment isn't a problem.
So, the burning question is, how much will one of these babies cost? Prices haven't been set yet but military technology doesn't come cheap and the word is the CPC enhanced saddles will cost roughly 25 per cent more than the non-CPC equivalent. To give you an idea a Scratch Pro Nack will currently set you back £169.99 - list price.
Not just saddes, Prologo make glove(s) now too
The Italian saddle company is spreading its wings and planning to offer products at all the main contact points. Their extensive saddle range of saddles is already used by many of the most famous cyclists in the sport (including Chris Hoy) and they produce a range of bar tape, so - if you're concentrating on contact points - gloves is the next natural step, especially if there's a grippy new technology you can apply to them.
So far Prologo's glove range extends to the one mitt pictured above. Small sections of the grippy material are placed on the fingers and around the palm. We can see this being a really useful product in the autumn when it's still warm enough for mitts but it's damp and your bar tape can get a bit slippery, and the extra control will be a clear benefit.
And it's not just grip all of the other properties Prologo claim for CPC: minimised vibration, shock absorbtion, heat dissipation, increased airflow are all equally beneficial in a cycling glove… and there's one more too - a massaging effect too. Prologo say that the varying densities of CPC polymer combine with the kinetic energy of the athlete to give a massaging effect that increases blood flow to the skin. Which all sounds very promising - although we would wonder if any glove, short or saddle wouldn't do something similar? Luckily we brought a pair back from Eurobike with us so we'll take a closer look (and feel) and reveal our findings soon.
And fresh from Eurobike, Prologo have picked up a new UK distributor. I-Ride.co.uk, who also look after Merckx, 3T, Fulcrum and De Rose, will be handling the brand throughout 2013. Check out their website at www.i-ride.co.uk
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.