Race Tech: Olympic Summer Games

Fox Racing Shox, custom Pearl Izumi shoes, carbon Ion jerseys

Fox reintroduces inertia valve-equipped forks in Beijing

Fox Racing Shox’ groundbreaking X-series line of inertia valve-equipped forks has been notably absent from the catalog since the 2007 model year but a trio of prototypes at the Beijing games strongly suggests that they’re on their way back. 

Americans Adam Craig and Georgia Gould, and Canadian Catherine Pendrel will all tackle the Laoshan mountain bike course on Fox forks fitted with new and improved inertia valve dampers that will likely offer a tangible performance advantage on the mostly non-technical course. 

“We have been working with athletes to develop the next generation inertia valve and some of the athletes felt it provided such a performance advantage they had to have it for the biggest race of their career.” said Fox Racing Shox race manager Mark Fitzsimmons in a company press release. 

While this development will undoubtedly come as good news to a number of Fox fans, there’s no official word yet on when they might be available to the public.

Custom Pearl Izumi shoes for German riders

Pearl Izumi’s Octane SL shoe is leading the company’s charge back into the forefront of the cycling footwear market with its stiff and thin carbon fiber sole, unique one-piece synthetic upper and ultralight weight.  However, up until now the most advanced features have been reserved exclusively for the road crowd as no direct analogue has been offered for mountain bikers.

However, that hasn’t stopped off-road star Sabine Spitz and her German national teammate, Moritz Milatz.  Pearl Izumi has outfitted each rider with custom-built shoes that mate an Octane SL road upper to a full-carbon P.R.O. mountain bike outsole, essentially creating a dirt-worthy version of the company’s once pavement-only speedster.

“We wanted to build Sabine the lightest possible MTB shoe for the Olympics,” said Pearl Izumi product line manager and shoe designer Tony Torrance.  “We researched lightweight material options and tried out some new construction methods.   What we eventually found was that the lightest set-up was to use the upper from our 200g Octane SL road model with the 100% carbon P.R.O. MTB outsole.  Then we added the German national colors.  She’ll have the lightest shoe in the race.”

We can’t verify Torrance’s claim of being “the lightest” but Spitz’s shoes are undeniably feathery with an actual weight of just 284g apiece for her sz40 slippers.  After already finding gold under Jan Frodeno (Germany) in the men’s triathlon with its Tri Fly II shoes, Pearl Izumi will undoubtedly be hoping for a repeat when the mountain bike events kick off on August 22.

Either way, the best part is that Pearl Izumi will offer a similar model to the public in spring 2009; you’ll have to earn your own custom national colors though.

Canadian team riders to combat the heat with carbon

Canadian mountain bike team sponsor Louis Garneau has outfitted its riders with its innovative Carbon Ion jerseys to help ward off the expected heat and humidity of a Chinese summer.  According to fabric manufacturer Resistex, the material yields a three-fold decrease in body temperature variation as compared to standard polyester jerseys in addition to other claimed benefits such as reduced respiratory and heart rates and decreased lactic acid production.  

Either way, Canadian team riders will get a little more airflow up top from the ultralight mesh material and Louis Garneau’s perforated Airgel chamois in the team-edition shorts.  In case the large block ‘CANADA’ logos and maple leaves weren’t enough to help you identify Geoff Kabush and company from the crowd, Louis Garneau has even written ‘Canada’ in Chinese down the sides out of respect for this year’s host nation (that is, assuming you can read it).

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