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Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, September 22-26, 2008
Part 16 - October 9, 2008: Dressed from head to toe
By James Huang
Shimano pushes Thermo-Form in Las Vegas
Its not hard to be convinced by Shimanos Thermo-Form argument once you have had the opportunity to spend some time in a pair of properly-fitted kicks. After all, the idea of a production, off-the-shelf shoe that can be quickly and easily custom-shaped around your foot is awfully compelling.
Even so, we were entirely unprepared for what awaited us as we approached the sizeable Shimano booth at Interbike.
From show open to show close, there was a line of show attendees easily stretching up to 20-deep waiting patiently for some Thermo-Form shoes of their own. Shimano offered special show-only pricing and had ovens and fitters at the ready, both of which appeared to be logging an uncomfortable amount of working hours.
Shimano wasnt able to provide figures on exactly how many pairs of feet it made happy during the three indoor days of this years Interbike show, but if this is any indication, even former Shimano North American president Kozo Shimano (and yes, there is a relation) was on his hands and knees fitting shoes in a fruitless hope of shortening the reported near two-hour wait times.
Pearl Izumi revisits high-end with new P.R.O. Octane line
Colorado-based cycling apparel maker Pearl Izumi aims to re-establish its position at the upper echelons of the market with its new made-in-Italy P.R.O. Octane line. As the Insanely Anatomical tagline suggests, the Garmin team-inspired fits are decidedly more oriented towards racers, compared to the mainstream cuts Pearl Izumi has more typically resorted to as of late. The garments will include a number of top-end features shared by some of its headier competition.
Shorts will include a new preshaped 4D Pro stretch chamois with fully welded construction, wide leg bands with laser-cut edges, minimal silicone gripper dots, and open mesh upper bib sections. The matching form-fit jersey will use strategically-placed mesh panels, a siliconised lower hem and asymmetrically cut sleeves for more even coverage on the bike. According to Pearl Izumi, the Meryl microfibers used also provide UPF50 protection.
Peal Izumi will offer the P.R.O. Octane pieces in both mens and womens-specific versions.
Pearl Izumis shoe range will also grow with the introduction of an Elite model that will slot in between the P.R.O. and Attack lines. The Elite will share the P.R.O.s carbon sole but match it with a more traditional three-strap hook-and-loop upper fortified with generous helpings of nylon mesh to aid ventilation.
Sidi gets formal
The shiny new Vernice finishes (think patent leather) on Sidis top-end shoes perhaps look better suited for a black-and-white ball but Interbike attendees seemed excited about them regardless. The road-going Ergo 2 will be offered in black or white versions while the dirt-loving Dragon 2 SRS Carbon will be available in an eye-catching red Vernice. If nothing else, we expect that the slick surface will be easy to wipe down after a ride!
XTerra racers finally get some attention with the new Terra which is purpose-built as an off-road triathlon race shoe. The two-strap multisport-specific upper uses a reverse-pull notched upper strap and generously sized finger pulls for faster transitions while a brushed interior provides sock-free comfort. The non-replaceable sole mimics Sidis Dominator tread and optional toe spikes can be fitted up front.
In other developments, the Genius 6.6 now sprouts a wider Mega variant complete with the standard versions full carbon sole and Heel Security System, while the more value-oriented Zephyr and Spark models get upgraded to stiffer Millenium 3 soles.
New looks from Capo(forma)
Capo, formerly known as Capoforma, knows that its garments dont fit everyone but its unabashedly unapologetic in its dedication to producing race-ready gear. For 2009, it continues with its proven formula of providing high quality bridge clothing that sits somewhere in between more US-centric kit and the ultra-pricey Euro brands but freshens things up with a wealth of new, co-ordinated colours.
The Modena range should appeal to those seeking a more subdued look with its bold black-and-white (or white-and-black) pattern and new Drop fabric while the Ronde kit suggests to onlookers that youd rather be sitting in the cold rain somewhere watching cross and eating frites. Alternatively, the new Verde kit isnt just green in color; its also made from 100 percent recycled materials so you can be green in spirit, too.
Women arent ignored, either, with the new Stella and Fiora kits. Both feature gender-specific cuts with full-length zippers and wicking fabrics on the jerseys plus six-panel Power Lycra construction and Cytech EIT (Elastic Interface Technology) chamois for long-term comfort.
Descente soldiers on
Descente has had a bit of a tumultuous year what with its break from the CSC-Saxo Bank team and the relicensing of its brand name to Nevada-based Veltec Sports. Even so, it found the energy to introduce a new Icefil fabric to its top range of clothing for 2009. Descente claims the fabrics Xylitol treatment absorbs heat from your body and also blocks IR rays from the sun, thus supposedly reducing surface temperature by up to five degrees Fahrenheit as compared to untreated fabrics. Icefil is not a permanent treatment but it is said to retain 70 percent of its effectiveness after 70 washes.
We were treated to a preview of the companys new Micro-Fuse chamois during last years show season but 2009 is apparently when we will actually see it hit the market. Unlike most high-end shorts where a welded chamois is stitched to the base fabric, the Micro-Fuse is directly welded to the short. As a result, there are fewer seams and the rider benefits from a more minimal feel.
Descente will use the Icefil fabric on the Optima Ice jerseys for spring/summer 2009 and the Micro-Fuse on the C6 short and bib short. Both mens and womens versions will be offered for both.
Not wanting to be left off the Euro bandwagon, Descente will also launch a bolder-looking Moda line. The Slipstream model will provide wearers with a more coordinated look top-to-bottom; for those brave enough to dare, there will be not one, but two shorts with white bodies. According to Descente, both will remain opaque even when wet. That's a relief.
Louis Garneau has the power
Louis Garneau will debut a new Carbon HRS road shoe for riders looking for the utmost in power transfer. According to Heidi Myers of Louis Garneau, the HRS Exo-Jet outsole is as stiff as the company could make it, and Kevlar-reinforced straps on the upper help guarantee a solid hold. Unlike the CFS shoe, there are no custom heat-mouldable panels but fore-aft vents on both the sole plate and in the upper should at least provide a similar level of cooling airflow. Claimed weight for a single size 41 shoe is 325g.
Louis Garneau will also continue to feature carbon on its uppermost range of clothing. The Pro Carbon ETS jersey features lightweight Carbon Ion and Power Mesh panels connected with flat-lock stitching. A full-length zipper offers flexible ventilation and the siliconised lower hem helps keep things in place.
The new Equipe bib short foregoes carbon for more supportive Lycra Power mated to a mesh bib section and Louis Garneaus most comfortable AirGel chamois. The eight-panel construction eliminates seams on the inner thigh completely for reduced chafing, and the wide leg bands should be more comfortable than traditional grippers.
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