New Gear At The Ironman 70.3 California Expo

One-of-a-kind tri shoe teased, and other new tri goodies.

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Most of the new 2012 gear has been on display at races and trade shows for the past six months or more, but a few new pieces of tri gear are still trickling out. The North American Ironman season kicks off Saturday with Ironman 70.3 California and Ironman 70.3 Texas, and a new running shoe, component group and yet to be released cycling shoe were on display in Oceanside.

Zoot Kiawe

Ironman champ Jordan Rapp and ITU world champion Javier Gomez both recently signed on to run in Zoot shoes and the pair collaborated on a new shoe. They came up with the Kiawe and it’s a pretty big departure from the rest of Zoot’s designs. Instead of using an elastic rapid-closure system and asymmetrical upper, the Kiawe has a standard closure system with laces, either elastic or static. The interior of the upper is seamless—the entire inside of the shoe is lined with a single piece of fabric—and has few simplistic overlays. Its sole is similar to the popular Ultra TT and has a neutral sole with Zoot’s carbon midfoot span that extends under the big toe’s metatarsal. Most of the sole is covered in durable rubber. Both athletes were highly involved in the design process and plan to race in the shoe this summer.

Campagnolo EPS electronic shifting

Okay, so EPS has been displayed before, but Campagnolo has now confirmed that a triathlon shifter will be available later this summer. They released their own electronic groupset following the overwhelming success of Shimano’s Dura-Ace Di2 components late last year. Like the Shimano offering, EPS shift buttons are in the same locations as the levers on the mechanical groups. The battery—encased in a fireproof, waterproof box—is less than half the size of a water bottle. Not only is the battery waterproof, but Campagnolo says the system functions underwater, up to 1 meter below the surface. Thin wires stretch from the battery to the shifters and derailleurs. A trigger box mounted to the stem switches the system from ridding mode to adjustment mode. When in adjustment mode, the shift buttons move the rear derailleur in .25 millimeter increments to dial shift performance or when swapping wheels. We gave the components a quick try on a trainer and it shifts as quickly and smoothly as a $5,000 groupset should. Unlike the Shimano groups, this one has a little click feeling at the end of a shift that makes the throw feel a little more similar to cable shifting. Pressing the shift buttons require just a very light touch. Sadly, Campagnolo isn’t yet producing tri shifters, although they plan to have them later this summer. The road versions range in price from $5,500 to $4,800.

Boa tri shoe from Specialized

Although a physical sample wasn’t on hand, Specialized displayed a picture of their new triathlon cycling shoe. Instead of creating yet another tri shoe that is nearly identical to every other shoe—Velcro straps on top of a minimalistic upper—Specialized is using a Boa ratcheting closure system to secure the foot using a drop-down heel cup. When the Boa is loose, the heel folds backward to create a massive opening for the foot to slide in and the wire closure pulls it back into place. The shoe should start appearing in transition areas later this spring.

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