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Friedrichshafen, Germany, September 4-7, 2008

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Part 1 - Italian style from head to toe

By Ben Atkins in Friedrichshafen, Germany

MET redefines coolness

The new Sine Thesis wears unmistakably MET styling cues
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Suppliers to both the Cofidis and Liquigas ProTour teams, Italian helmet maker MET presented the all-new Sine Thesis (say 'synthesis'), which it claims "introduces a completely new approach to helmet construction". Instead of standard co-molded shells and internal skeletons, MET interconnects the ribs of the helmet with the semi-flexible composite skeleton to form what it calls an Integrated Composite Exoskeleton (ICE). MET claims the new construction method (supposedly inspired by scarab beetles and scorpions) maximises head protection and shock absorption.by linking all of the structural components together while still providing for large vents.

Unlike almost every other helmet out there, MET has also eschewed the usual interior pads in favour of a gel material. The "Gel O2" is said to be sweat-proof and also much cooler than the standard textiles and foam used virtually everywhere else. Each pad is deliberately small so as to have minimal contact with the wearer's head, but also heat sensitive to keep cool.

Because of its radical design features, MET claims that the Sine Thesis has less than 20 percent of its surface in contact with the wearer's head. According to MET, this is more important than simply counting the number of vents for keeping cool, even at lower speeds, as there is more room for air to circulate.

MET says that around one-fifth of its sponsored riders tested the new Sine Thesis at the Olympic Games in Beijing and feedback has been positive (as one would hope from a helmet that has reportedly been two years in the making).

Granfondo inspiration from Sportful

Sportful's Hot Pack jacket
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The two products that north Italian clothing maker Sportful is most proud of right now - besides being the official supplier to the Italian national squadra azzura - have been inspired by its involvement, and now name sponsorship of its local Granfondo. What has until now been known as the Granfondo Campagnolo will from 2009 on be called the Granfondo Sportful, starting as it does from Feltre, a town just a few kilometres from the company's base in Fonzaso.

The Hot Pack jacket is small enough to take up just half of a jersey pocket and weighs just 83g in the small size, yet is claimed to be both wind and rainproof thanks to its Schoeller Nanosphere fabric. To keep the weight and stowing size to a minimum, Sportful has not taped or sealed the seams and so it is not entirely waterproof. According to Sportful though, it's still the ideal companion for early season rides or rides in the mountains where there is a chance of rain or a cold descent.

Sportful has created the Total Comfort short to meet the challenge of the Granfondo Sportful, which will feature 5400m of climbing in 216km and is claimed to be the toughest endurance event in cycling. Based around Sportful's own multi-density insert, the shorts are made from Lycra Power fabric which, as well as being soft on the skin, Sportful claims minimises muscular vibration to delay the onset of fatigue. The shorts are constructed using flatlock stitches and feature an array of mesh panels on the back and even around the front to keep the wearer as cool as possible

Vittoria shoes go unidirectional

… but most importantly the sole has been upgraded
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At first glance, there appears to be little more than a change of graphics for Vittoria's range-topping Unique shoes. However, turning one of the patent black, pearlescent white or chrome shoes over reveals that the previous woven carbon sole has been replaced by a stiffer unidirectional version. The tricolore decorated carbon surface also now features a textured area to prevent cleat slippage. With all these changes, claims Vittoria, a single size 8 shoe weighs in at a flighty 195g.

The second string Premium shoes have been treated to a new set of straps, as well as the option of the same unidirectional carbon sole as the Unique instead of the standard nylon and carbon mix. A new lower budget Ace road shoe will feature the a similar three-strap closure as the Unique, but with the lower budget woven carbon sole as an option.

Off-road, Vittoria has added the new Supra MTB shoe to its range. With a similar micro-buckle and two-strap system as the Premium road shoe, the Supra is made from a Lorica synthetic and microfibre upper with a reinforced polyurethane injection molded toe cap. The aggressive polymer outsole promises good grip but also comes with removable toe studs for that extra bit of traction.


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Images by Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com

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