What's Cool In Road Cycling

Interbike’16 #2: OttoLock, Koo & Kask

 

Three of the coolest items I saw at Interbike 2016 were the OTTOLock cinch lock, KOO Open eye glasses, and KASK Protone helmet – all shared smart design features that warranted this closer look.

 

OTTOLOCK by OTTO Design Works
We first met the Otto Design Works crew from Portland at last year’s a show, when they debuted their very good gear tuning app OttoTune. I don’t know what’s in their water bottles, but they’re sprouting inventive genius faster than weeds grow in my lawn, and a one-trick pony they ain’t.

This year they introduced the OTTOLOCK – a lightweight (my tester weighs 104 grams), super strong, and super portable cinch lock that’s small enough to take on any ride because it fits into a jersey pocket, or straps onto your seatpost or frame with a simple stretchy rubber mount.

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It’s made of several stainless steel bands, and kevlar band, and encased in a tough Santoprene plastic coating. The lock mechanism body is compact and made of “smash proof aluminum”. The lock itself features a 3 x 10 digit combination, and a locking mechanism that clamps down on small ridges  moulded into the strap, that seem impossible to pull apart when the lock is secured.

How strong is it? They had a neat test set up where anyone there could take a set of big-ass bolt cutters to it. There were a few indents where folks (including me) had tried and failed to sever the strap- but no one could cut through it.  I tried it form a bunch of different angles, and noticed that the slippery outer casing could not get caught at a right angle in the bolt cutters.  They’ve also done a bunch of cool videos where a series of guys a lot tougher than me attempt – and fail – to cut through the lock.

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And it’s good for more than just bikes – offered in three sizes (18″ 30″ and 60″), which means you can use it to secure your bikes to a rack, or secure other stuff to anything else.

Maybe the best part is the $50 price tag – completely do-able for anyone wanting to buy some inexpensive insurance for their multi-thousand dollar ride.

Production in the USA is tooling up and delivery is expected in February 2017, but you can get in early with their rockin’ Kickstarter campaign on until Oct 11th. They’ve already raised over $250,000, which means they’ve got some some serious interest. And so they should – this one gets my vote for “best idea no one thought of until now” award.

• See more at OTTOLOCK.com

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KOO EYEWWEAR
The obvious answer is “of course not” … If the question is – “Can you ever have enough cool eyewear?”  No one chooses eyewear that they don’t think looks cool – and it’s fair to say the entire sunglasses industry exists because our own own vanities.  And I’m okay with that.

Kask is an Italian brand started just 12 years ago making helmets for cycling, equestrian-ing (?), skiing, outdoor and other activities.  They’ve already earned some solid cred since winning several recent Tours de France on the heads of Chris Froome, Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky.  That’s a big endorsement when you’re the helmet brand that gets to be colored yellow in the world’s biggest race.

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For reasons I’m not totally following, they’ve chosen to launch the eyewear brand under a different name – KOO – based on an acronym derived from “Kask Optics”.  But not wanting to get bogged down in semantics – the cool shape and colors of the KOO eyewear line immediately caught my … erm, eye, but I was really impressed by the number of cool features offered.

The initial model offering is a single style offered in a dozen color ways, as part of their “Open” collection – I assume the model name is also “Open”.

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Smart features abound in the Open model – and it seems they’ve covered off most of what a cyclist could want.   The lens is fully enclosed in a wrap-around frame design that works perfectly with Kask helmet straps on the sides, and slips easily into the helmet vents for quick storage – nice to see considering how many big name helmet brands overlook this most obvious feature.

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The arms are micro-adjustable through a large range thanks to pivots in each temple – and can be fully folded for easy storage.

interbike16-kaskkoo-glasses-inside  interbike16-kaskkoo-glasses-folded

The nose piece is adjustable for two positions – notable because not every brand offers this (even though they should).  It’s nice to see it built in  – and even nicer that every model will come with an additional bridge for smaller noses.

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Lenses are made by Zeiss (more kudos) and come in a variety of colors to match the variety of colors offered in Kask helmets, and are easy to remove by twisting the tab at each temple –  which allows the lens separate from the frame without bending or twisting.

interbike16-kaskkoo-glassesgreen interbike16-kaskkoo-glassesblue

They’ll ship with two lenses (another nice standard feature), while a photochromatic lens will be available to buy separately.  Prices will run at US$239 (not bad for an all-Italian made product) and they should be in stores in December.

While I could only try these on in the booth – (so no real world experience yet to report on), I’ll say they did feel quite good – the adjustable nosepiece worked well since for me this is an area where not all glasses work on my face.  They also fit well with the Protone helmet – as they’re designed to do – and with that segue – let’s take a closer look at this lid…

Keep an eye on the KOO Facebook page for more info.

 

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KASK PROTONE Helmet
I love how Italians love style – offering a helmet in just one color would be easy and simplify production & stock keeping immensely, but where’s the fun in having just one color?  That’s the only way I can explain the 19 different colors offered on Kask’s top line Protone road helmet – the same one Chris Froome wears.  I can’t think of any other hemet model offered in so many different color schemes.

First off – let’s observe the ‘designed to fit in the vents’ Koo Open eye glasses…  nice.

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There’s a certain minimalist styling that sets the Protone apart from other pro-level helmets – it’s pretty low profile and the chopped off back-end sort of goes against what we’ve come to expect as helmet brands evolve shapes to be more aerodynamic. (Not to worry – Kask offers a fully aero-for road helmet called the Infinity.)   And not that this is non-aero – the design cam from the windtunnel – but with a focus on getting air around your noggin while cooling it at the same time. The vents are big, and part of the internal skeleton has been shaped to direct airflow into the helmet to aid in cooling.

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The rear view shows big vents / exhaust ports that look like they’ve done their research in designing the helmet to get air in & through in a very effective manner.

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Inside, the channels aren’t as deep as some helmets we’ve seen, but then those helmets also present a larger external profile that naturally allows for deeper channelling.  I like how the channels are aimed to direct air neatly from the front vents through to the back, and then out again.  That means lots of cooling airflow for when things heat up.

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Retention is handled with a similarly low profile chin strap that’s attached directly to the one-size fits all side straps.  Head cinching is covered by a dial in the back, and the head cradle floats around the head to offer a fit that felt snug secure and comfortable when I tried it.

There’s ample padding made with antimicrobial fabric, and overall construction and finish appeared to be very high quality.  It’s offered in 3 sizes, and weighs 215grams for the Medium, 250 grams for the large.

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The Protone helmets will be US$299 and available on stores in December.

See more info at the KASK website.

 

Read the PEZ Interbike report #1 here.

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