Interbike: Clothing and shoes, Part 1

What's cooking from Shimano, Capo, Pearl Izumi and others

Interbike may have had a surprising number of bikes on show this year, but there was still plenty of interesting apparel waiting to be discovered on the show floor. We’ve gathered the best new offerings from Shimano, Pearl Izumi, Sidi, Capo, Descente and Louis Garneau to tickle your optic nerve.  

Shimano’s Thermo-Form shoes fire up Las Vegas crowds

Shimano’s Thermo-Form shoes are off-the-shelf shoes that can be quickly and easily custom-shaped around your foot.  

We know that it’s hard not to be convinced by Shimano’s argument for the £180 shoes once you’ve spent some time in a pair of custom fitted kicks, but – even so – we weren’t entirely prepared for what awaited us as we approached the sizeable Shimano booth at Interbike.  

From when the show’s doors opened until they closed, there was a line of show attendees that stretched from ten to twenty people deep out side the booth – all waiting their turn to grab some Thermo-Form shoes of their own. Shimano were offering special show-only pricing, with ovens and fitters at the ready, but both of these appeared to be logging an uncomfortable number of working hours.  

Shimano wasn’t able to provide figures on exactly how many pairs of feet it shod during the three days of this year’s show but, if this is any indication, even former Shimano North American president Kozo Shimano was on his hands and knees fitting shoes in a fruitless attempt to shorten the just under two-hour waiting times.  

Feel free to insert your ‘selling like hot cakes’ gags in the comments…

Pearl Izumi revisits high-end with new P.R.O. Octane line

Colorado-based apparel maker Pearl Izumi is aiming to re-establish its position in the upper echelons of the market with its new made-in-Italy P.R.O. Octane line. As the ‘insanely anatomical’ tagline that accompanies the garments suggests, the Team Garmin-inspired fits are decidedly more racer-oriented than Pearl’s more mainstream cuts, and the garments will include a number of top-end attributes as well.  

Features-wise, the line’s shorts 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 uses strategically-placed mesh panels, a siliconized lower hem and asymmetrically cut sleeves for more even coverage on the bike. The Meryl microfibers used also supposedly provide UPF50 protection.

Men and women-specific versions of the line will be available.

Pearl Izumi’s shoe range will also grow with the introduction of an Elite model, which occupies the gap between their P.R.O. and Attack lines. The Elite will share the P.R.O.’s carbon sole, but matches it with a three-strap hook-and-loop upper that’s fortified with generous helpings of nylon mesh to aid ventilation.  

Sidi gets formal

The shiny new ‘Vernice’ finishes (think patent leather) on Sidi’s top-end shoes might look better suited for a ball, but Interbike attendees seemed excited about them regardless. The road-going Ergo 2 will be offered in black and white, while the dirt-loving Dragon 2 SRS Carbon is only available in an eye-catching red. If nothing else, we expect the slick surface to be easy to wipe down after a ride!

XTerra racers also get some attention with the new Terra, which is a purpose-built 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, and a brushed interior provides sock-free comfort. The non-replaceable sole mimics Sidi’s Dominator tread and optional toe spikes can be fitted up front.

Upgrades to other ranges include the Genius 6.6, which gets a wider Mega variant that comes complete with a full carbon sole and Heel Security System, and the more value-oriented Zephyr and Spark models – both now fitted with stiffer Millennium 3 soles.  

New looks from Capo

Capo, formerly known as Capoforma, is aware that its garments don’t fit everyone, but is unapologetic about its dedication to producing race-ready gear. For 2009 Capo will continue its proven formula of providing high-quality ‘bridge’ clothing that sits somewhere between US-centric kit and the ultra-pricey Euro brands, but freshens things up with a wealth of coordinated colors.

The Modena range, with its black-and-white pattern and new ‘Drop’ fabric, should appeal if you’re seeking a more subdued look, while the Ronde kit suggests to onlookers that you’d rather be sitting in the cold rain watching cyclo-cross and eating frites. Alternatively, you could opt for the new Verde kit, which isn’t just green in color – it’s also made from 100 percent recycled materials so you can be ‘green’ in spirit, too.

Women aren’t ignored, either, receiving 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 lost its CSC-Saxo Bank contract in 2008, while having its brand name relicensed to Nevada-based Veltec Sports. Even so, it found the energy to introduce a new ‘Icefil’ fabric to its range of clothing for 2009.

The company claims the fabric’s 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. Unfortunately Icefil isn’t permanent, but is said to retain 70 percent of its effectiveness after 70 washes.  

Also due to hit the market in 2009 is the Micro-Fuse chamois, which we were fortunate enough to preview during last year’s show season. 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 you benefit from a 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 will have men’s and women’s versions.  

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 and for those brave enough to dare, there will be two shorts with white bodies. According to Descente, both will remain opaque when wet. Whew.

Louis Garneau has the power

Louis Garneau will debut a new Carbon HRS road shoe in 2009. According to Heidi Myers of Louis Garneau, the HRS’ Exo-Jet outsole is as stiff as the company could make it and the Kevlar-reinforced straps on the upper help guarantee a solid hold.  

Unlike the CFS shoe, there are no custom heat-moldable 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 also continues to feature carbon in its top range of clothing. For example, 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 siliconized lower hem helps keep things in place.  

The new Equipe bib short foregoes carbon for more supportive Lycra Power that’s mated to a mesh bib section and Louis Garneau’s most comfortable AirGel chamois. The eight-panel construction eliminates seams on the inner thigh for reduced chafing and the wide leg bands should be more comfortable than traditional grippers.  

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