Interbike Tech: Louis Garneau goes big, Pearl Izumi adds flair, and more

A day indoors is actually a relief from the 100-degree heat we faced outside for the Outdoor Demo. But the clothing, helmets, and shoes Zack Vestal saw are designed to perform outside, on the road, in all kinds of conditions.

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I can’t remember the last time I spent an entire day indoors. It seems supremely ironic that that’s exactly what happened today here at the Interbike trade show in Las Vegas. I walked from my room to the show floor and back again without once stepping outside the air conditioned confines of the Sands convention center.

A day indoors is actually a relief from the 100-degree heat we faced outside for the Outdoor Demo. But the clothing, helmets, and shoes I saw on the show floor are designed to perform outside, on the road, in all kinds of conditions.

Louis Garneau Vorttice TT helmet
Louis Garneau Vorttice TT helmet

Louis Garneau goes big

Italian clothing makers like Castelli and Moa Sport get all kinds of exposure from ProTour racers. Assos is hard to ignore with their super premium prices and unique look. But a company like Louis Garneau in Canada often slips under the radar.

That had better change for 2011, because the Canucks are ready to kick butt this year. With two new helmets, new shoes, and a new top end race kit, Garneau will be a big green blip on your radar when it comes to high-class clothing.

Garneau is calling the new X-Lite road helmet the lightest helmet on the market. It’s a bold statement, considering ultra-light lids available from Limar, Giro, Specialized and others, but at 188 grams they’re darn close. Louis Garneau achieves the feathery weight with patent pending U-Bar technology which uses U-shaped ribs in the outer shell to create a complex exoskeleton reinforcing the helmet’s structure. The Spiderlock SL, Garneau’s name for a retention system around the occipital lobe, is quite minimalist. “Super MSB Technology” rings the base of the helmet shell to further improve its protective capability while dropping weight. X-Lite helmets are priced very competitively at $170, and they come in 3 sizes (small through large).

For triathletes and time trialists, the new Vorttice helmet sports a unique look and novel features. It’s got gaping front ventilation port and large exhaust hole in the tail. Large internal channels flow air through the shell to keep the rider cool. The front of the helmet features dimples and a removable, vented eyeshade. Like the X-Lite, Diamond, and other helmets in the line, the Vorttice sports a ratcheting dial for rear retention on the head. Louis Garneau says their own testing reveals it to be faster in the wind tunnel than most competitors. The Vorttice is priced at $250.

The new CFS-300 shoes are repeatedly heat moldable by the wearer. That means you can do it yourself in a 150-degree oven, and you can do it over and over again if needed to accommodate your own comfort, thicker socks for winter, or whatever. They have offset Velcro straps and a ratchet buckle for closure and large vents along the toe. The 290-gram shoes come with a toe cover to seal off the vents for cool weather, and they cost $300.

Finally, the new Corsa jersey and bib sport features commonly found in premium clothing. They’ve got tight-fitting, dimpled mesh Speed Tech fabric on the shoulders and legs for aerodynamics. The sleeves and leg bands are finished with laser-cut Lycra to distribute pressure and maintain freedom of movement. In the bib shorts, the 4Motion chamois combines three dimensional pre-shaped wings and a deep split at the back. Its shape is meant to ensure great flexibility and range of motion. Multi-thickness perforated high density foam maintains shape while offering moisture vaporization. Corsa bibs cost $225 and the jersey is $200.

Taylor Phinney's custom Pearl Izumi shoes
Taylor Phinney's custom Pearl Izumi shoes

More flair from Pearl Izumi

Pearl Izumi is getting away from blocky prints (and possibly argyle, depending on the outcome of their relationship with the Garmin-Cervélo team) going into the 2011 riding season. Instead, look for clothing with more creative graphics and splashy colors. Leading the charge is the new PRO Sustain kit, a bright graffiti green outfit inspired by rock and roll, if not the original Rock Racing outfits from 2008. The fit and features are inspired by professional riders, with tight sleeves, checked aero fabric, and trim fit.

Also on the way from Pearl are modular insoles for riding shoes. They’re available now for $40 and they sport two different levels of arch support and two levels of forefoot wedge. Everything you need to fine tune the feeling in your feet while on the pedals is included in the kit.

Castelli's Body Paint skinsuit
Castelli's Body Paint skinsuit

Castelli grows Body Paint range

Last year, the unique Body Paint bib shorts from Castelli were on everyone’s list of hot products. Based on the success of the seamless, form fitting bib shorts, the Italian company has built a Body Paint jersey to match, a super-tight skinsuit, and Body Paint shorts for women. The Body Paint skinsuit is almost a bargain for such a simple but elaborate garment at $280. Body Paint jerseys are $250, the new bibs for women are $250, and half-shorts (non-bib) are $200.

Additionally, Castelli returns to the Italian national team at this year’s World Championships. Some ten years ago, the iconic blue team from the boot-shaped country helped make Castelli famous with their stylish azure outfits. The company is giving the world an early look at the new 2010 outfits here in Vegas.

An American in France

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