2016 Triathlon Gear We’re Excited About
Our round-up of the gear and tech you’ll be coveting this year.
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We glimpsed the future of all things cycling at last year’s Interbike tradeshow and bring you our round-up of the gear and tech you’ll also be coveting this year.
SRAM Red eTap
SRAM’s new electronic shift system stole the show as the most talked-about product at Interbike. While not yet completely wireless for time-trial bikes (a “BlipBox,” which holds the electronics, is required), eTap represents a leap forward in electronic shifting and will be a game-changer for triathlon and time-trial bikes. Riders have the ability to place the shifters (or “Blips”) anywhere on the bike, and manufacturers are freed up to design bikes without the need for cables. The product—available in spring 2016—comes in two different packages: $1,580 for a wireless upgrade or $2,835 for a complete group including all of the necessary mechanical parts. In comparison to a Dura-Ace Di2 upgrade, Red eTap is nearly $500 less expensive and 135 grams lighter. Sram.com
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Speedplay Zero Aero
Developed in conjunction with the new Aero Walkable Cleat, the Zero Aero is a worthy upgrade for riders looking to squeeze out every last second of aerodynamic efficiency from their equipment. The Speedplay Aero slices through the wind and reaps the benefits of Speedplay’s system: micro-adjustable or fixed float, independent adjustment axis, a very low stack height and unmatched cornering clearance. The one caveat of the Aero model is the lack of dual-sided entry, so some may choose the Zero Aero as a race day-only pedal. The Zero Aero comes in two different spindle models: stainless steel ($275) and titanium ($399). Speedplay.com
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Vittoria’s new Graphene compound is generating considerable buzz. Graphene is a special type of carbon fiber that’s both harder than a diamond and stronger than steel, and Vittoria is using a type called G+. Compared to the company’s ISOgrip technology, which was featured on most tires prior to the 2016 line, G+ cuts rolling resistance by 12 percent and drastically increases the puncture resistance of the tires. G+ has been implemented throughout Vittoria’s line, from the time trial-specific Corsa Speed ($90) to the high-mileage Rubino trainer ($32). Vittoria.com
RELATED – 2015 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide: Wheels
New GPS computers
In a space that has historically been ruled by Garmin, smaller brands Lezyne and Wahoo are getting some attention for their GPS offerings. Lezyne’s top-tier device, the Super GPS ($200, Lezyne.com), not only delivers basic metrics via ANT+ and Bluetooth (power, cadence and speed), but also can connect to a smartphone. With this connectivity comes the ability to display incoming calls, texts and email messages.
Wahoo Fitness introduced the Element, a new device in the same realm as Lezyne’s Super GPS. It features both ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity for phone calls and messages, and is configured entirely through a smartphone app, which makes set-up and customization a breeze. The Element also houses LED lights surrounding its bezel that light up for left or right turns when using navigation, or notify the rider when he or she exceeds a target heart rate. At $330 (Wahoofitness.com), the Wahoo Element is a multifunctional, powerful device.
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Solos Smart Glasses
Kopin, one of the companies leading the way in wearable technology, has created cycling-specific smart sunglasses, Solos. The display, which measures only 4mm in height, casts a 5-inch virtual screen, which shows real-time data like heart rate and speed via an ANT+ or Bluetooth connection. The Solos also connects to a smartphone, providing alerts for incoming calls and messages. With the use of voice extraction technology, the glasses can receive voice commands to control the display settings, and with its near-ear speaker system, the glasses can provide performance cues that are audible despite the noise of the road and wind. The price and release date have not been announced. Solos-wearables.com
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PowerTap P1 Pedals
While power meters have been around for years, many athletes have been seeking a single power meter for training and racing use on both a road and time-trial bike. The first device to truly deliver this is PowerTap’s new P1 pedal system. The pedals can be mounted on any crank, and they do not require calibration or installation angle setting, allowing an easy swap between bikes. They also feature both Bluetooth and ANT+ to connect to any device, provide left and right power balance data, and house a AAA battery for easy replacement. With a retail price of $1,200, the P1 system is a smart option for riders wanting power on multiple bikes. Powertap.com
RELATED: Affordable Power Meters For Triathletes
Giro Silo Compostable Helmet
Ever wondered what happens to your helmet after you toss it in the trash? The EPA foam in conventional helmets can take thousands of years to decompose, but using a new plant-based foam technology known as E-PLA, Giro has created the first compostable cycling helmet. The foam interior is totally compostable, and the plastic shell is recyclable. While the Silo ($50) may just be a commuter helmet, Giro hopes to completely phase out EPA and employ the new foam in its entire lineup. Giro.com
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Vision’s Aero Offerings
With a 20-year history in triathlon, Vision has a proven track record for creating quality aerodynamic components, including stems, cranks, aerobars, brakes and wheels. From the new Metron TT Crankset ($800) that the company claims is 7.5 percent faster than its predecessor, to the Metron Aero Stem ($300) that has 18 percent less drag than any of the company’s other stems, Vision has created a lineup of aerodynamic products that can help you save precious seconds. Along with components, Vision’s arsenal of aero wheels includes the Metron 81 clincher wheelset ($2,600), Metron Disc ($1,500) and Metron 3-Spoke ($1,100 per wheel). Visiontechusa.com
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Quarq Race Intelligence
While the hype surrounding the SRAM booth may have centered on eTap, Quarq also launched an interesting new athlete tracking technology known as Quarq Race Intelligence. It involves two components: the Qollector device and QuarqRace software. The Qollector can be installed on a bike, placed in a jersey pocket or attached to a race belt, and it connects to various devices via ANT+ and Bluetooth. The data output from the Qollector is presented via the QuarqRace software, which provides real-time tracking, biometric data, time gaps and race leaderboards. This technology, which all pro athletes were required to use at the Ironman World Championship (pictured at left), can provide spectators with a more accurate, detailed and insightful picture as the race action is unfolding. Quarq.com
Garmin Varia Smart Lights and Radar
Each year, more than 700 riders are killed from car-related accidents, with 40 percent of these crashes happening when a rider is struck from behind. With this in mind, Garmin has developed two products to help riders and cars interact more safely: the Varia Radar and Smart Lights. The Varia Rearview Radar ($200) detects cars from up to 150 yards away, and when detected, increases the intensity of the taillight and sends an alert via an Edge computer to the rider. The rear operates in solid and flashing modes, and it gets brighter when braking is detected. It also features turn signals controlled via an Edge computer or a Varia Remote. The front Varia Smart Light works by projecting light at various distances on the road ahead, depending on rider speed. The lights are available as a bundle for $300. Garmin.com