What's Cool In Road Cycling

Interbike ’14: Round #1 Gear

The PEZ Interbike 2014 coverage kicks off as the dust settles on another show season – but we’ve got lots to come, starting with helmets & shoes from Scott, socks from Defeet, and a brand new bike from Devinci Cycles.

With eleven Interbikes under my belt, I’m happy to report that I’m still finding ways to make being inside for 48 hours better each year. One of my tricks is to start the show meetings off with clients who are better classed as ‘friends’, thanks in equal parts to some solid working together, and a night or two of heavy drinking along the way. As the official supplier of PEZ Socks – DeFeet has been in this category for as long as I can remember.


By 9:30 Wednesday morning, their booth was already buzzing, and no wonder why as DeFeet have been knitting some of the coolest looking, most comfortable, and most durable socks for cycling, running, and hiking for years now – if they’re not already in your local bike shop, you need to find a new local bike shop.


While technical breakthroughs in the sock category may not be as frequent as bikes, or wheels, it’s the refining of what’s already an excellent product that makes a difference. The Eighties was one of my favorite decades (my version of “the good ‘ol days”), and with fluo colors in yellow, orange and neon cool again, seeing the big variety of solids & stripes offered across many of the best selling models like the Air•E•Ator made me want to break out my Joi Gel.


One thing that’s held me as a long time DeFeet customer is their ability to knit virtually any design I’ve been able to toss their way – but I barely scratch the surface of what their machines and technicians can do. From a custom sock perspective, there’s almost no logo or design that they can’t reproduce on a sock (give ’em a call for your team gear if you haven’t already). But this Sasquatch version (above) of their Levitator trail sock elevates the bar of sock design to art-like status. And yes – it still features all the comfort, durability and tech that makes a a good sock great.


The Duraglove does fer yer digits what their socks do fer yer toes – but with one handy extra on top of the warm protection. The tips of the thumb, index finger and middle finger are all woven with special yarn that allows you to operate a smartphone touch screen without removing the glove. For about a $20 a pair, that’s some pretty cheap convenience. The main yarn is plated with Cordura to add abrasion resistance, but the weave is loose enough to allow hands to breathe and avoid sweatiness. These are a great item for cooler days any time of the year, abut especially now as fall approaches.


Moving from toe to head, Scott showed their Arx Plus helmets with the MIPS Brain Protection System. MIPS stands for Multi directional Impact ­Protection System Brain Protection, and appears inside the helmet as a thin plastic liner that allows the helmet to better ‘float’ around your head, which ultimately aids in impact protection by allowing the helmet to move around your noggin, instead of dragging it along for a neck-snapping ride, which better disperses the forces of an impact.


This video from the MIPS website gives a good demo and explanation of the system:

Moving back down to where your power meets pedals, in an endless sea of names with no meanings, Scott gets right to the point with their Premium Road Shoe – and the name does say it all here.


As their top of the line, shoe, it gets top shelf billing in the booth, and is one shoe I’d like to take for a spin. Developed with input from French pro Thibaut Pinot, this one’s a racing shoe pure and simple, and that means keeping weight down. The dual zone Boa IP1 retention system is lighter than ratchet-style closers, and the two zones allow for different tensions to be set across the top and lower parts of your foot.


The synthetic upper has been designed to both add support where you need it – like in the heel cup – and more flexibility across certain parts of the forefoot so that long rides are more comfortable.


The sole is made from Scott’s proprietary HMX carbon, laid-up to increase efficiency by minimizing heel-to toe flex, while still allowing a small amount of twist in the rear part of the sole to accommodate the natural side-to-side motion of the lower leg as it travels through a pedal stroke.


Cleat adjustment no longer requires a manual, since all the markings you could possibly need are right there in the sole – fore-aft, side – side, and toe-in/ out. Finally – there’s a toe vent that works like a screen door to cool yer piggies – and keep the bugs out.


Something else that caught my eye was the pretty much completely redesigned LEO SL from Devinci Cycles, especially since I recently posted my review of the previous model LEO SL here.


The 2015 model is so different from the last that it’s easier to start with what’s similar to the previous model: while the silhouette still holds the same elegant but business-like curves of the original, the details reveal just how much this Canadian brand’s top line racer has evolved.


Overall frame weights have been dramatically decreased across all sizes, but it’s the visual changes that stand out on the show floor. The tube shapes have been enhanced to add improvements to key areas of lateral stability, power transfer, and long ride comfort. The sides of the top- and down-tubes are now flattened on the sides, but perhaps the most striking change comes at the rear stays.


You don’t need a magnifying glass to detect the missing rear brake – it’s been moved down to under the bottom bracket. This offers an uninterrupted seat stay rather than a bridged or wishbone required for a brake mount allowing for more tuned movement, while reducing a bit of wind drag, and adding a whole lot of sleekness to the lines.


The traditional chainstay / seatstay joint at the rear axle has evolved into one of the largest radius continuous curves I’ve seen on a road bike. The promise here is smoother transfer of vibrations around the axle – and I’ll be sure to report back when I get one of these for road test. Note also how neatly the rear wheel skewer tucks into the chainstay – a nice touch.


The Devinci marketing crew get a nod for slick paint application too – the metallic silver along the backs of the tubes really enhanced the new tube shapes. And one thing I really like about the LEO SL is the huge range of spec it’s offered in – with retail prices starting at around $2100 US for a Shimano Tiagra equipped bike, and climbing to a full DI2 equipped model for around $7500.

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