This week we’ve got launches of helmets which take advantage of the same physics that help when hosing down a bike. There’s new gravel kit from Assos and lightweight wind shells from MAAP, plus a mini book review of The Midlife Cyclist by Phil Cavell – a great read exploring how far the middle-aged body can be pushed in training and how fast it will go as a result.
And, in case you missed it, we take a quick look at Tim Wellens’ unconventional bar setup that circumvents the UCI rule book.
New MET Trenta 3K Carbon Mips
MET’s most advanced road cycling helmet has now been given a upgraded rotational force management system, with the addition of Mips AIR technology.
This sees the padding of the helmet lining given 10-15mm of relative movement between it and the shell of the helmet, helping to reduce the rotational energy transferred to the brain in the event of a crash.
There are few things which aren’t improved by carbon, with MET holding firm that helmets are not amongst the exceptions. Taking advantage of carbon’s elastic modulus, MET is able to reduce the density of the EPS foam by 20% – without affecting the capacity of the helmet to absorb energy.
There’s a growing number of helmets applying the Venturi effect and the MET Trenta 3K Carbon ranks is one of them. Essentially, it takes the same principle of how water from a hose sprays more strongly if you cover it partially with your thumb – but here it’s air being expelled from the vents at a higher velocity. The idea being you get both cooling and aerodynamic efficiency.
But of course, perhaps the most important feature is the dedicated sunglasses port with rubberised grips for stowing your shades
The helmet is available in sizes small medium and large, with the size medium weighing a claimed 225 grams. Pricing stands at £280 / $380 and you can visit MET’s website (opens in new tab) to view the full range.
Assos Mille GTC gravel kit
Assos has a high reputation for durable performance kit with an exceptional attention to detail (few brands can match the thoughtfulness of integrating a “KuKu Penthouse (opens in new tab)” into their chamois, which, to be fair, does make the shorts exceedingly comfortable).
And it’s with this spirit that the Swiss brand has applied itself to its new Mille GTC range of gravel specific gear.
First in the range is the Mille GTC Kiespanzer Bib Shorts C2. Priced at £210 / $270. These aren’t treated to the delights of a Kuku Penthouse, but the plush 3D Waffle chamois does comes with 11mm of Superair Microshock Foam for sounding out bumps. The each leg has a generous mesh pocket that can store a phone and there’s another two on the lower back.
The Mille GTC Jersey C2 comes in at £110 / $160 and features a very relaxed fit, more in the line of MTB style baggies than roadie Lycra. It has a quarter length zip and eschews the traditional three rear pockets for one smaller zipped pocket on one side.
Finally, there’s the Mille GTC Zeppelin Cargo Shorts C2 at £140 / $190. These again take their inspiration more from mountain bikes than road, with a loose – although still slim – fit. Whilst you might be hesitant to sit down for an evening meal mid-bikepack in skin tight Lycra, the more modest cut of the Zeppelins perhaps makes this more of a possibility. As you’ve expect, they come bedecked in pockets and zips, with an elasticated waistband removing some of the faff of set of bibs.
You can check out the full range at Assos's website (opens in new tab) over here.
The Midlife Cyclist by Phil Cavell
Grow old. Get fast. Don’t die. That was Phil Cavell’s first choice of strapline for his new book The Midlife Cyclist but his editor overruled him, replacing it below the title with a slightly more life affirming “the road map for the +40 rider who wants to train hard, ride fast and stay healthy.”
However, Cavell still managed to sneak in a chapter called “Will I die?” Spoiler alert: yes. But he’s not trying to avoid getting old and dying as much as meeting it on his own terms, he says. His goal would be to increase health span not lifespan; to load the dice in favour of better, not necessarily more.
There’s more to it than just staying healthy – Cavell wants to find out how far the middle-aged body can be pushed in training and how fast it will go as a result. Because, he says, we are the first generation in history to want to continue to train for performance past the age of 40 or 50, which means there’s surprisingly little research into what happens if you try to race-tune a body which at any other time in history would probably have been dead for years.
Cavell, who is one of the two founders of CycleFit and a familiar face on the domestic racing scene, has done a frankly incredible job of rounding up all the research there is and breaking it down into readable chapters with a sprinkling of graveyard humour. Each chapter looks at a different aspect: there’s a mini-biology lesson to explain what’s happening to the ageing body at a cellular level; there’s one on what cycling does to it (and doesn’t do); there’s another about biomechanics and injury avoidance; eating, sleeping and even mindfulness, exploring the connection between physical mental health.
Cavell is clear that this isn’t a training manual, but it’s packed full of the latest training science - such as understanding heart rate variability (HRV) and tracking it to assess our stress inflammation burden – that’s there for the taking.
OK, under-40s might think none of this applies, but one day there will be a ‘V’ next to your name on the startsheet and it’s never too early to start learning about how your body will change or how you can, well, grow old, get fast and not die.
Cavell embarked on a mini book tour last month and we caught the one hosted by Pearson in London, hosted by owner Guy Pearson, which you can listen to in a podcast (opens in new tab).
MAAP Draft Team jacket
MAAP’s lightweight Draft Team Vest (gilet) has now grown sleeves, evolving into what’s now the Austrailian brand’s lightest stowable jacket yet.
The new Draft Team jacket is constructed from a windproof fabric that offers a degree of mechanical stretch, for a more comfortable and conforming fit. Laser cut ventilation panels help to boost the breathability during hard efforts.
With a nod to more inclement weather, reflective print transfers are present on the chest and back for enhanced visibility, whilst a DWR coating offers an extra guard against any sudden showers.
The claimed weight is 150g and pricing stands at £130.00 / $155.00 and can be bought on MAAP’s website (opens in new tab) here.
Tim Wellens’ aero handlebar hack
A long time proponent of the “puppy paws” or “invisible aero bars” position – where a rider rests their forearms on the tops of their bars – Tim Wellens has had to go back to the drawing board since the UCI banned the practise (opens in new tab), citing concerns over rider safety.
The solution Wellens appears to have come up with is placing a couple of inserts underneath his bar tape to help the “aero hoods” position – where a rider holds the hoods with their arms parallel to the ground – more easily.
For the full story on Wellens’ bike set up (opens in new tab) and all the details, you can find that over here.
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Starting off riding mountain bikes on the South Downs way, he soon made the switch the road cycling. Now, he’s come full circle and is back out on the trails, although the flat bars have been swapped for the curly ones of a gravel bike.
Always looking for the next challenge, he’s Everested in under 12 hours (opens in new tab) and ridden the South Downs Double in sub 20 (opens in new tab). Although dabbling in racing off-road, on-road and virtually (opens in new tab), to date his only significant achievement has been winning the National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Bike Championships in 2019.
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