We’ve got a whole lot to cram into this edition of Tech of the Week, including a whole load of cool clothing, Mark Cavendish’s new Oakleys, and the return of 3D violet to the Chris King range, but we’re starting with Shimano’s latest invention: cycling shoes that tighten automatically as you ride. No, really.
Could self-tightening cycling shoes be the Next Big Thing from Shimano?
Could cycling shoes that adjust automatically as you ride be the next innovation we see from Shimano?
Forget shifting and braking, Shimano has been doing a lot of work on cycling shoes lately, judging by its patent applications. A couple of weeks ago, we told you about Shimano’s plans to move your cleats automatically on your shoes as you ride to take account of factors like your speed, the power you’re putting out, and the terrain you’re riding.
The same team within Shimano has just put in a patent application (US 2023/0122485) for reel/dial-adjusted cycling shoes – think Boa – where the tension automatically alters based on sensors on your bike, your body, and within the shoe itself. Shimano suggests that the tension could automatically adjust if you go over 20km/h, if you move from road to off-road riding, or if your power goes beyond a set level.
Essentially, the shoe features a tiny motor, powered by a rechargeable or button battery, that acts on the dial closure. This motor is governed by an electronic controller that’s linked to:
Bicycle sensors that measure things like speed, cadence and power
User sensors that measure heart rate, body temperature, and so on, contained within a smartwatch
Sensors within the shoe that measure stuff like temperature, insole pressure and humidity
You can manually tighten the closure to a suitable level but the idea is that the dial tension alters automatically when certain conditions, based on sensor readings, are met.
Shimano even suggests that your shoes could tighten in response to your blood oxygen concentration and blood lactate level, although we get the impression it’s just covering all possibilities there.
Tightening force settings would initially be set by the manufacturer but you’d be able to override these by inputting new settings on a mobile phone, tablet or personal computer. These would be communicated wirelessly to the shoe.
“Various tightening adjustments can be pre-stored in the data storage device for adjusting the tightness of the upper on the user’s foot in accordance with various conditions based on the bicycle information and/or the user information,” says Shimano.
So you might have one setting for when you’re pedalling at under 100 watts, another setting for when you go beyond that point, another setting for when you hit 150 watts, and so on.
Shimano lists four levels of tightness beyond the initial setting but doesn’t specifically limit the number its system would offer.
What’s the point of all this? We can see that you might want to tighten your shoes at higher power outputs. Racers frequently turn their dials a few clicks before a big sprint, for example. Increases in heart rate, body temperature, insole pressure and various other metrics also indicate higher levels of effort.
Judging by the fact that there’s a lot of crossover between the information included in this patent application and in the one for automatically moving cleats that we told you about previously, Shimano has been working on a major shoes project here. As ever with anything patent related, though, we can’t say when – or even if – it’ll go into production.
Oakley launches Mark Cavendish Signature Series Oakley Kato glasses
Oakley has released its Kato glasses in a new Mark Cavendish Signature Series finish.
Cav has famously been wearing Oakley specs since the beginning of time – or thenabouts – and his deal with the US eyewear brand was at the heart of a dispute between Astana Qazaqstan and Scicon earlier in the year. Scicon ended up parting ways with Astana over the disagreement.
“This Signature Series Oakley Kato features a white frame with Prizm 24K lenses, symbolic of the many victories Mark has secured over the course of his 17-year career,” says Oakley.
“Cavendish was heavily involved in the design process of his Signature Series Oakley Kato. His personal design flair and passion for Greek mythology is incorporated into the frame through the “Cav” etching on the lenses in a design inspired by the gods.”
Hang on! Mark Cavendish has a passion for Greek mythology? Who knew? To be honest, here at road.cc our poor knowledge of Greek mythology has always been our Achilles’ elbow. #dadjokes #reallyolddadjokes
The Oakley Mark Cavendish Signature Series Oakley Kato glasses retail for £265.
Retro riders rejoice! Chris King brings back 3D Violet anodising
Chris King Precision Components – Chris King to its friends – is bringing 3D Violet back as a component colour for the 2023 season, 35 years after it was first introduced.
Readers of a certain age will likely remember that you got cool points aplenty for rocking this colour – and other purple-ish hues – in the 1980s and 1990s.
“Inspired by BMX culture of the ’80s, 3D Violet became a runaway success for King and launched the coloured anodisation programme that has been a cornerstone of the company’s aesthetic ever since,” says Chris King. “3D in the colour’s name refers to a specific, stock anodisation colour. It has no actual three-dimensional effect, nor will it cause the user to shift into a third dimension (probably).”
It’s good to be clear on that.
3D Violet will be available in all of Chris King’s current product offerings for 2023. Product will begin shipping in June.
In more colour-related news, Unior has decided to go all in with red from now on.
In fairness, the Slovenian brand has been selling tools with red elements in the UK and certain other markets for a number of years, but it has decided that its bike tools will be exclusively red from now on.
Anyway, Dangerholm has had this rear derailleur cage custom-made by US brand Kogel for an aero road bike he’s doing (is it really a cage if it has solid sidewalls? But you didn't come here for philosophy). He says:
“Do we know for a fact that it’s a lot faster and more aero? No.
“Does it look absolutely incredible? Yes.”
We can't disagree with that. And don’t be boring and say it’ll show dirt, grease, scratches, and so on. Shiny is cool and that’s all there is to it.
Nopinz unveils its “fastest skinsuit setup to date”
British cycling apparel brand Nopinz has released what it’s calling its “fastest skinsuit setup to date”: an all-new Hypersonic TT skinsuit that’s specifically designed to be used with the company’s new aero base layer. This combo takes over from the Flow Suit as the brand's flagship model.
“After extensive market research and wind tunnel testing the suit itself has been designed from specially chosen fabrics that maximise the effect of the aero base layer, designed to be worn underneath the Hypersonic suit,” says Nopinz.
“This combination will save between 11 and 19w over the Flow Suit at 49km/h (30.4mph) across yaw angles of 0, 4 and 7 degrees.
We can confidently say that the Hypersonic Skinsuit and Base Layer sets the precedent for high-performance, aerodynamic kit in the time trial market. This is reflected in not only our own testing data but also when independently tested by one of the leading UCI World Tour teams.”
Nopinz doesn’t give any more info on that team.
The Hypersonic speedsuit, available in men’s and women’s versions, is £275.
An aero base layer might sound weird but there are a few out there from various brands.
Nopinz says, “The super stripe arm texture and the dynamic seam placement of the base layer trip the boundary layer of air flowing over the cyclist, resulting in significant drag savings over a range of speeds and yaw angles.”
The Mirage jersey – also available in men’s and women’s versions – is another interesting one for the summer using both Polartec Stretch and Polartec Delta fabrics. It comes in a slim fit – which isn’t as skinny as the sleek fit – and is priced at £90.
Vielo and Classified partner up and release a new Vielo R+1 road bike
It’s not Tech of the Week without a mention of Classified! This week, Classified and British bike maker Vielo announced their partnership and desire to “make the ultimate modern road bike”, and we already have our review of the Vielo R+1 Alto Classified up here.
Vielo is already known to only produce bikes with 1x crankset and Classified launched their Powershift Technology with the headline ‘The end of the front derailleur’. We’ve seen the Powershift hub already at the pro peloton, and its availability of it is growing among bike and wheel manufacturers.
“When we launched Vielo, we knew we wanted to be brave and the first adopter of a 1x-only dedicated gravel bike and road bike frame. We have built our brand, style, and reputation around this, and so far, no other bicycle brand has gone down this route. All the press reviews we have received prove we are on the right track. It took a while to convince some traditional cycling fans to accept this, especially road cycling fans.
Many insisted they need a wider range and more gears than the current 1x 12 or 13 speed. We watched with interest when Classified launched their ‘virtual front derailleur’ Powershift Technology in 2021, to see how long it would take for cycling fans to ‘get it’ and start requesting the system to be built onto Vielo frames,” said Ian Hughes, founder of Vielo.
This partnership was announced at the Sea Otter bike show with a new edition Vielo R+1 road bike. The bike is equipped with SRAM Force D2 groupset, Quarq power meter crankset, Classified R50 wheelset and Powershift Technology and retails for £6,999.
MAAP has launched a new set of kit to its Alt_Road adventure and endurance collection, and this time it’s teamed up with outdoor photographer and adventurer Chris Burkard.
MAAP says Burkard promotes the preservation of untamed places everywhere by capturing stories that inspire us to think deeper about our relationship with nature - which is the ethos that aligns with the essence of the Alt_Road collection.
The new MAAP ambassador took the new Alt_Road pieces to the roads in California to highlight some of the standout items. The Alt_Road Tee 3.0 has had a revamp, now featuring a redesigned cut, Polartec Power Dry construction that offers faster evaporation by pulling moisture away from the skin.
In addition to the more relaxed t-shirt, the collection includes long and short-sleeved Alt_Road Jerseys made from Natural Match fabrics that claim to provide the optimum ratio of natural, breathable merino wool fibres paired with durable man-made yarns.
There is also outerwear for the colder and wetter conditions: the 10K waterproof Anorak has made a return alongside the heat-adaptive Polartec Alpha lined Thermal vests and jackets and of course, a very matchy bunch of accessories to complete your Alt_Road look.
POC, the Swedish apparel and helmet brand, has shared details of its 2023 cycling collection. The new items are led by POC’s Aero initiative, which introduces new apparel styles for the performance-focused rider.
The new collection complements existing road, gravel and mountain bike styles with various seasonal colours tuned to their environment. There are also more women-specific styles and kit for younger riders!
Here are some of the highlights…
The Raceday collection is all about performance with aero-optimised jersey, bib shorts, gloves and shoe covers available in both men’s and women’s fits. The materials are designed to improve compression and disrupt airflow allowing a rider to slip through the air efficiently.
POC has focused on expanding its women’s apparel offerings and this season includes a new Women’s Essential Road Jersey Print, Women's Essential Layer Vest, and Women’s Thermal Splash jacket and Thermal Jacket.
Supporting the launch of the Omne Ultra helmet, POC has introduced new relaxed items to the gravel collection, including the Women’s Ultra Tee, Men’s Air Tee and a Hip Pack Hydro 4L hydration hip pack.
There are plenty of new colourways on offer from the new 2023 collection as well, and without making statements, it seems purple (or violet, whatever you call it) is really the colour of this year…
MymonX AI smartwatch offers non-invasive glucose monitoring and ECG
Glucose monitoring has made headlines as it’s banned by UCI in races, but that doesn’t mean it’s still not technology that helps athletes… And Deep-tech AI technology company AITIS has just launched a new MymonX AI watch that monitors key health indicators in real-time, using the sensor-based data with other data items to drive AI models that are able to identify other vitals. No pads attached to your skin, or blood pricks.
The device, which for now is available as a watch but later possibly as an armband or clip-on, monitors the user’s glucose, heart health, blood pressure, heart rate, oxygenation, respiratory rate, body temperature, sleep and activity all through AI technology.
The watch battery should last a week after a three-hour charge, and it’s waterproof with an IP68 rating so you don’t really have to ever take it off (except for charging). The device itself costs £249 and you need a monthly subscription that costs £9.99 to access all the features and data. Aitis says this includes a monthly personalised doctor-reviewed health report, detailed insights and analytics about health metrics are provided, which, over time allows users to track their progress, and set goals and reminders.
Pearson Launches Spring Summer 2023 Cycling Apparel Collection
Pearson, the world’s oldest bicycle business, has a new batch of spring and summer clothing. The drop includes both road and gravel apparel, and according to the brand the core of the collections is: “vibrant styling meets practical storage for every cycling adventure, whether on gravel or road”.
The range covers both men and women and includes bibs, jerseys, unisex gilets, base layers and accessories.
The collection features premium Italian fabrics and quality finishing, such as raw edge and bonded hems, making the pieces race-ready yet comfortable. Both the road and off-road collections feature a lot of storage solutions: the bibs feature mesh pockets on the thighs and there are gel loops found on the jerseys.
The Level Best Road jerseys also feature front pockets for those that might find it difficult to reach for the back pockets - and the Adventure range offers a whopping 11 pockets.
Pearson says it has committed to making the range as sustainable as possible, meaning creating products from quality fabrics for long life. The Men’s Road Race Day Bib-shorts and Men’s Road Race Cargo Bib-shorts have recycled materials, and both the men’s and women’s Far Out Adventure T-shirts are made of half recycled polyester and half merino wool, a naturally antimicrobial material that resists odours for longer and requires less washing.
Check out the full details of the collections from Pearson’s website.
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