For all those of you who fell in love with the Castelli San Remo Speedsuit, this is the thermal ‘cross version. It features heavier-weight Roubaix Lycra for cold conditions and though the sleeves are longer, they are cut just to elbow length (just longer than) because Castelli’s research showed most racers were pushing up the sleeves on their long-sleeve skinsuits. Pricing on the custom San Remo Speedsuits is surprisingly good, though the number you buy will influence your final price. I have a covet.
Parlee showed a new frame set in the Enve booth. Long known for truly cutting-edge work in carbon fiber, the new Z0 rivals the very finest work any of the big guys are doing, while offering completely custom geometry. The frame will weigh in the neighborhood of 750 grams, depending on size and while the price hasn’t been announced, it will run upward of $5k.
Internal cable routing for either mechanical or electronic groups is one of the many, choice features of the frame.
The appearance of the new Z0 is as simple as it is elegant. Gone are the abrupt lug transitions of its predecessors. What you see now are the smooth lines of other monocoque frames. And that’s how Bob Parlee describes the frame—monocoque. Yes, it features eight tubes constructed by Enve, but what really brings those elements together in what appears to be an essentially seamless unit is Parlee’s incredible workmanship and skill. In a nod to what other companies have found regarding stiffness, the Z0 will feature a tapered head tube with 1 1/8-inch top and 1 1/4-inch lower bearings. That’s still not as big as most companies, but Parlee said it’s an effort to balance the needs of the all-day rider versus the need for performance. Speaking of the needs of the all-day rider, the z0 will accommodate 28mm tires. Yeah, it’s like that.
Parlee also showed this disc-brake version of the new Z0. They expect it to be a standard option soon. Making the bike all the more attractive was the powder blue with orange paint scheme that recalls the Ford GT40, arguably one of the more iconic cars ever created.
Stages Cycling introduced a new power meter that will go for $699 and is contained entirely within the non-drive-side crank arm. It is both bluetooth and ANT+ compatible so it can talk to any device you’re running, including your iPhone or Android. They’ve inked agreements with most crank arm manufacturers so nearly any crank you might be running is available.
The StageONE power meter has been in development for more than two years and while it might not do everything that an SRM does, the vast majority of us don’t need quite the level of detail that it provides. Honestly, I don’t care if I’m using a power meter that’s off by 10 watts, so long as it’s consistent, nor do I care that much about an imbalance in my leg strength; I have neither the time nor inclination to head to a gym to solve one relatively minor problem. I think the real genius in this is that: A) it adds only 20 grams to the bike’s weight and B) if you’re running the same group on multiple bikes, you can conceivably swap the crank arm from time to time so that you can enjoy wattage data from more than one bike while still enjoying your choice of wheel sets.
I can’t say that anything I saw at Enve was new. I couldn’t help but stop by their booth because of the number of cool bikes they had and I’m eager for a chance to ride some of the new Smart system wheels in carbon clincher. A chance just to look at them is too good to pass up.
Polar has a new wrist unit GPS. Okay, so wrist units strapped to a handlebar are sooo 1990s (they’ll have a handlebar-specifc unit for 2013), but the entry by Polar into the GPS game is pretty interesting. The genius of Polar has never been the units themselves, it was always the software and firmware. The company has always been fixated on helping users analyze their training so they get the most out of each workout. The RC3 GPS includes a full suite of GPS features plus Polar’s Smart Coaching software which provides a viable alternative to products like Training Peaks.
The RC3 GPS bike package includes a heart rate monitor chest strap plus cadence sensor and goes for $369.95. It’s also worth noting that while the usability of Polar units has long been in question (they can be more complicated to operate than a Rubik’s Cube), the RC3 GPS was terrifically easy to operate, with a minimum number of button presses to start a workout.
Also worth noting is that Polar is now selling a bluetooth compatible heart rate monitor chest strap. So for all of you out there who run Strava on your iPhone while it sits in your jersey pocket, this is a way to record heart rate data without a dongle. Not just cool, damn cool.
I got my first look at the Sufferfest videos over at the Minoura booth. Minoura has been making solid trainers for ages; I had one back in the 1990s that I put 1000 miles on in a single winter.
It’s a winter I don’t wish to repeat. However, if I had to, the Sufferfest videos with their funny copy, imperative instructions and first-rate race footage could make an hour go by like 15 minutes, and anyone who has ever spent time on a trainer knows that the world usually works the other way around. It doesn’t hurt that if you buy a Minoura trainer you get a Sufferfest DVD with the unit. I can say that the only way I made it through that aforementioned winter was by watching VHS tapes I had recorded of any/all racing that appeared on TV. The Sufferfest video boils the action down into crafted workouts that are both structured and fun to watch, if not to do.
Which is the point, I suppose.
This would be a detail from a Pegoretti frame. ‘Nuff said.
Giordana and DMT have gone big on neon yellow. For everyone who has associated the color popularized as “Screaming Yellow” by Pearl Izumi as the mark of a new cyclist, get ready to have your assumptions nullified like so many Florida votes. If Giordana has any say in it, you’re going to be seeing a lot more of this seemingly battery-powered color on the road. Whether it’s an offense to your eyes or your aesthetics (or both) having a few more of us out in this color can’t help. We might be seen with more frequency and if your average texting driver gets the idea that free-range cyclists are more common, then they might thumb-LOL their friends a bit less. Which would be good for our survival, huh?
Let’s see, it’s corporate and smacks of the kind of branding tie-in that results in Jack Daniels’ BBQ sauce at chain eateries like T.G.I. Friday’s. But dude, something about this screams summer day and, “Have a Coke and a smile.” Which it did. Make me smile, that is. The folks at Nirve are no dummies. It’s a Coke crate on wheels screaming with the Dopamine bliss of ice cold sugar and caffeine. I don’t just like this bike, I want it, but only if I can get it complete with the banner.
There’s a reason why companies like Trek, Giant and Specialized are working hard to squeeze lines like Focus and Felt out of their dealers. They are offering killer values. The Cayo Evo 6.0 in the foreground retails for a measly $2150 and features the exact frame as its more expensive Cayo Evo counterparts. The drivetrain is Shimano 105 with an FSA crank and Fulcrum wheels. Its big brother, the Cayo Evo 1.0 goes for $4500 and comes equipped with Campy Chorus and Vision wheels.
When I was a kid going to Catholic school, before our first confession we were told that every priest had heard every sin, that nothing we could say to them would be new or surprising, so we should just get over our embarrassment and misguided ideas that we were somehow committing rare or special sins and get on with the business of confessing our misdeeds. What they were really trying to instill in us was the belief that there is nothing new or unusual we might do. I didn’t buy it.
I get the feeling that designers in Italy responsible for Castelli’s many innovations had a similar childhood. I’m sure they tired of being told there were no new ideas. How else could you labor as a clothing designer for years on end if you didn’t believe that the world was big enough to hold a few surprises yet?
It is into such a void that Castelli thrust the San Remo Speedsuit. The first couple of times I saw it I didn’t appreciate just what it was. Watching guys on TV I couldn’t tell that what I was seeing wasn’t just another ultra-tight Castelli jersey paired with a set of Body Paint bibs. Oh, but the San Remo Speedsuit is nothing ordinary. But just what is it, if it isn’t ordinary?
In broad strokes, it is the skinsuit for the 21st century. Or maybe it’s the traditional jersey and bibs rethought in as aero a manner as possible. That’s the thing: The skinsuit family tree forked a few years back. The traditional skinsuit used in a time trial has become an ever more aerodynamic garment, with fabrics that make normal Lycra seem as slippery as sandpaper on skin. Long sleeves and integrated gloves have helped ratchet up the aero-ness of an already speedy outfit. The San Remo Speedsuit heads in the other direction. It takes the skinsuit as the starting point and makes it more functional, providing the wearer with a skinsuit that is more comfortable and practical than the Lycra jail that is the traditional skinsuit.
The San Remo Speedsuit begins with Castelli’s top-of-the-line Body Paint bib shorts. They are mated to a full-zip Aero Race jersey. To look at the garment is to see something that appears utterly obvious, but it takes a bit of explaining. The rear hem of the jersey and its accompanying gripper are removed; the jersey is sewn directly into the short. Consequently, the bibs are discarded. Also, unlike the Body Paint bibs, the front hem is brought up higher, making the Speedsuit more comfortable than Body Paint bibs for people who aren’t running 4 percent body fat. The front of the Speedsuit features a full zip but the fabric is anchored where the bibs would begin their run from the belly to the shoulders. What that means is that when you unzip the front of the Speedsuit, you realize two benefits. First, you don’t end up with a disco-style V-neck design running to your navel, you end up with real ventilation. Second, you also end up with a garment that doesn’t require Houdini-like powers to remove.
Let’s back up a sec. A few years ago I had the opportunity to try one of Castelli’s Body Paint jerseys. It was like a Lycra condom for my torso. Someone is reading this right now and thinking—”Perfect! That’s just what I’ve been looking for.”—but my experience was one of claustrophobia. I couldn’t have been more surprised by my reaction. Somehow, the fact that the garment wasn’t integrated into a skinsuit made the jersey intolerable. So I didn’t review it.
Whatever wasn’t working for me then has been sorted. It’s worth mentioning that the jersey portion of the Speedsuit uses more polyester which helps eliminate the whole ohmigod-I’m-covered-in-latex-in-public thing. The front up to the shoulders is Lycra, but the sleeves and back are poly. In the pits a textured material is used to help speed air flow in what tends to be a fairly turbulent area.
Of this garment’s many selling points is how it offers three usable pockets. It’s impressive because the pockets lie flat—as they should—but they aren’t so snug that it’s difficult to get your hand in or out while holding a gel. With pros wearing their jerseys snugger, this has caused jersey pockets to sit higher because all you’re really doing is wearing a size smaller, and that makes the pockets harder to access. Well one of the added bonuses of the Speedsuit is that the pockets sit lower than they would with a similarly cut jersey, making them really easy to access.
There are those ultra-hot days when all a base layer does is absorb sweat. Ditto for bib material. Imagine a garment that is useful enough and comfortable enough to ride a century in but eliminates as much bulk as possible. It’s amazing how comfortable the shorts are given there’s only a single seam running up the inside of each leg. Despite reading about all the science that went into these things I’m still amazed that they can fit so well.
The ends of the legs are lazer-cut and receive just the barest treatment for a gripper to prevent them from riding up. My one knock on them is that there isn’t enough pad in front to protect shifting equipment, and even if chafing isn’t a problem, modesty can be. However, the Progetto X2 pad is very comfy and does a great job of offering support without staying wet with sweat.
Having just finished a ride in the Speedsuit I’m reminded of just how much easier it is to open the dam for a controlled flow than with a traditional skinsuit. It’s also better than a skinsuit in that you needn’t be the human equivalent of skim milk (fat-free) to look good in it. I’m not at all sure how they pull that off, but maybe that’s part of why they patented the design.
I reviewed a large Speedsuit, just as I wear when I don a pair Castelli’s bib shorts. Now, I normally wear a medium in Castelli’s jerseys, but that wasn’t a problem with the Speedsuit. As I mentioned previously, the top was snug without being vacuum-chamber tight. I suspect that riders who normally wear a large jersey would still be comfortable in the large Speedsuit. I really only see there being a sizing issue for those who actually have a real upper body and wear a size jersey larger than their bibs; those riders will be faced with either loose shorts or an ultra-tight top.
Castelli claims this thing has a temperature range of 53 degrees to 95 degrees. Yeah, maybe if you slather your entire body in some Mad Alchemy Madness, but honestly, I won’t wear this thing out if the temperature is much below 80. As to that upper temperature recommendation, I’m of the opinion that if it’s not too hot for you to ride, then this is a suitable answer. I’m going to RAGBRAI soon and I’ll have this thing along with me. If it’s as hot as it was last time I rode the event, I might be washing it in a sink at the end of each day. Temperature aside, the material used in the back of the Speedsuit is ventilated enough as to be practically see-through; I was able to a buddy’s chest strap through his. On bright days wearers would do well to apply sunscreen to their backs all the way from their shoulders to the waist.
Some folks will flinch at the $350 price tag. Given the quality of the bibs, the incredible fit and just how functional it is, the San Remo Speedsuit is worth every cent. Maybe not a bargain, but I once had a bargain skinsuit and I can say that was a waste of $120.