#whatimwearing

Whether you like to admit it or not, fashion and selecting and coordinating one’s cycling wardrobe is a big part of cycling. Especially if you follow professional cycling, jerseys, bibs, gloves, helmets, glasses, socks, shoes, arm and leg warmers, and any other accessory you can think of, are carefully and strategically chosen, although the end result and actual appeal of the “coordination” can certainly be debated.

Love it or hate it? The Mapei kit has both admirers and admonishers. Which group do you belong to?

Love it or hate it? The classic Mapei kit has both admirers and admonishers. Which group do you belong to?

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No comment.

Let’s be frank. For some reason, there are is a lot of ugly cycling clothing out there. Interestingly though, while we can all agree that a great deal of ugly cycling clothing exists, it is much harder to come to a consensus on what is ugly and what isn’t. For example, ask greazypanda his opinion on “team x’s kit” and be prepared for a lengthy rant. However, ask another cyclist about the same kit, and you will hear the complete opposite opinion. Therefore, all we can safely conclude is that it’s tricky to put together a team look that is appealing, catchy, and unique, while also providing any team sponsors appropriate advertising space. Our Kokanee Redbike team, in my personal opinion, has an exceptional looking kit that achieves this blend of requirements nicely. Made by Champion System, our shorts and jerseys have a great fit and are comfortable for those long days in the saddle. The colours have been carefully chosen and paired well – no garish or unflattering combinations – and our sponsors are well advertised on our kit. Sticking with a tasteful combo of blue, black, grey, and a bit of white also makes it easy to match all our other equipment with our kit, which is really what we’re being judged on at the start line.

The fine Kokanee Redbike kit being modelled by Josh.

To really top out and polish our team look, we are lucky to have Giro on board again this season as a sponsor for all our other essential wardrobe components. I feel very lucky to have Giro as a supporting sponsor, especially since their full range of cycling wear is stylish, fits amazing well, and is durable. It’s not often that a company’s full line of products works; often you find that while a company’s helmets may fit great, their shoes or gloves don’t work so well. This is certainly not the case with Giro; their gloves, helmets, shoes, and socks are all solid items for whatever type of cycling you’re into. In particular this year, we’ll be sporting the new Giro Synthe helmet and the Giro VR90 shoes, both in colour schemes to match our kits and to also add a little flair to our look. Up top, we will be protecting our noggins and greazypanda’s exceptionally well-maintained haircut with the matte black-blue Synthe, a lightweight racing helmet that is also designed with aerodynamics in mind. Down low, our feet will be looking extra flashy this season with the silver/yellow VR90 lace-up mountain bike shoes. I’m eager to try out a lace-up shoe this season, which proponents claim offers a more precise fit and eliminates the problems of Velcro strips and buckles that wear out quickly. The soles on the VR90 also promise to be significantly grippier than our previous team shoes – the Vibram sole should provide some much needed stability when it comes time to clamber by foot over loose or wet un-rideable sections of trail.

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New this year on our noggins – the Giro Synthe helmet in the perfect colours to match our kits!

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Super snazzy kicks down low. The Giro VR90 mountain bike shoe is sure to impress the ladies and the gents.

I think you’ll agree we’re going to be a pretty good looking team this year. I’m not sure there’s any scientific proof that having an awesome looking kit makes you any faster, but nobody remembers results anyways, so as long as we’re winning the cycling fashion battle I think we’re doing alright.

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Lids and Kicks and Sh!ts and Giggles – First Impressions of the Giro Synthe and Empire VR90 Shoes

I’ve had a bit of time now to use the Giro Synthe helmet and Empire VR90 shoes whose arrival I professed to keenly awaiting a while back, so here’s a quick review of my thoughts so far on the two.

Giro Synthe Helmet

The Giro Synthe is an expensive lid, but fits amazingly and is exceptionally light. To quote Ned Flanders, “It’s like wearing nothing at all”. I cannot profess to the aerodynamic claims of the helmet as I don’t road race or typically participate in events where aerodynamic savings come into play, but it sure looks fast, so I’ll take Giro’s word for it. The helmet’s retention system is designed in a way that allows the helmet to levitate a bit and not squish directly against your skull, and as a result the aeration and venting is outstanding and almost too good – on a couple of chilly rides I was secretly wishing for a cap.

On this windy and wet day at the Ghost of Gravel race, the Synthe and Empire VR90s made the suffering a little more tolerable

On this windy and wet day at the Ghost of Gravel race, the Synthe and Empire VR90s made the suffering a little more tolerable (photo credit: E. Bakke)


Greazy Panda - always testing manufactures claims for the benefit of others.

Greazy Panda – always testing manufactures claims for the benefit of others.

On the safety side of things, unselfish as he is and clearly for everyone else’s benefit, Greazy Panda made sure to test the safety and impact protectiveness of the helmet by launching head-first into a tree the first time he wore it, and the helmet did its due diligence by taking the full brunt of the collision and leaving the rider uninjured and unscathed. It can be a worry for some that a helmet this light and racer oriented may not be sturdy enough to provide proper head protection, but this is clearly not the case with the Giro Synthe. Superb helmet! Order now! Redbike phone operators are standing by to take your call!

A Giro Synthe Haiku

So comfortable

Light and aerodynamic

My head is chilly

Giro Empire VR90 Mountain Bike Shoes

I’m really enjoying the Empire VR90 shoes so far. Even though I’m not one for attention, I really like the eye-catching colour scheme, and I will admit to slightly enjoying the “ooohs” and gawking the first time I showed up to the start line in them. They feel just like my most comfortable walking shoes, but while maintaining the stiffness and performance needed for a race-level cycling shoe. There must be some wizardry and sorcery in the design and manufacturing process somewhere. I wasn’t sure how laces on a cycling shoe would pan out; however, the ability for laces to fine tune the fit and snugness exactly where you’d like is not just an empty claim, but actually a very true and really beneficial feature. As with other high end Giro shoes released in the past, they come with three different arch support inserts so you can further fine tune the fit based on your foot shape. On the outside, the lace holes are nicely reinforced and laces don’t slip once you’ve cinched them to where you want them, and there’s a cozy little elasticized snuggy to stow the extra tied laces. I’ve worn them in both uncomfortably hot conditions and rainy/windy/cold conditions, and my feet were comfortable in both, which I can only assume is due to more secret mystery ingredients.

There's magic inside this shoe bag...

There’s magic inside this shoe bag…

The Vibram sole is wondrous, and unlike other mountain bike shoes I’ve worn actually provides traction when you need to scramble on your feet, unlike most mountain bike shoe treads, which typically make it more dangerous to walk than ride. Like the Synthe, the VR90s are also on the expensive end of the spectrum for gear, but with the fit, looks, and features, I don’t even hesitate to say they are worth the investment. Did I mention they come with a snazzy Giro shoe bag and an extra set of laces?

A Giro Empire VR90 Haiku

A glass slipper fit

Maybe made from unicorns

I’m Cinderella

Kokanee Redbike p/b Giro's Magical Unicorn Ingredients

Kokanee Redbike p/b Giro’s Magical Unicorn Ingredients (photo credit: M. Higuchi)

Giro Code MTB Shoe Review

I have always believed that there is a very fine line separating something
from being resplendent or garish, and when I received my Giro Code mountain
biking shoes in a florescent green/yellow color, I found myself treading
that rather tenuous line.

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The Code is the top of the line mountain bike shoe from Giro that uses
Easton¹s EC90 carbon to provide lightweight stiffness for racing purposes.
It uses the common cycling shoe tightening system that employs two lower
Velcro straps with a plastic strap buckling top strap. Giro seemed to have
decided to keep things simple as opposed to competing designs where the
Velcro straps have been replaced by Boa or other mechanically
tightening/adjusting systems that Sidi and Specialized have favored.

I have been cycling with the revered Sidi Dominator for five years so I was
relatively incredulous about trying something new, and not because they were
infallible, but because Sidi was ³The² Italian shoe company that made flashy
cycling and motorcycle shoes for the elite racers of the world. It was the
common denominator with all the local Edmonton racers who fancied themselves
serious, much like the bandana colors of the Bloods and Crips. Well, not
really, but it was what everyone donned at the time.

Yet, as everyone was covetous about the Dominators, there were many
complaints about them that were quite consistent by most, if not, all
owners. The first thing was the horrible afterthought of a shoe insole that
you received with the shoes. It was like Sidi had extra cardboard laying
around the factory, decided to paint it blue and cut into insoles to put in
their shoes. There was no midfoot support, metatarsal arch support or any
corrective hindfoot valgus or varus wedges included, and considering the
price of the Dominators, I¹m surprised that we were all beguiled into buying
a pair. Everyone bought Specialized, Superfeet or custom made insoles to
spare themselves from the hotspots and foot pain due to the unsupported foot
structures. Secondly, the buckles would not release if mud got into them and
dried up. I remember having to drive home from a race in my cycling shoes
because I simply could not get the buckle to open up. You would have to use
a sharp object to chip off the mud to get the buckle to eventually release.
Lastly, and my most frustrating problem, was the Velcro straps just ceasing
to hold. Bizarrely, Sidi decided to put a red plastic piece in the middle
of the straps, allegedly to prolong the Velcro¹s ability to hold, but
ironically, it just prevented more contact between the fabric and made the
straps almost non-functional. After five years, the middle one just releases
and flaps in the wind whenever I going biking. In retrospect, the Sidi
Dominators have been disappointing. Why everyone bought them will remain a
mystery.

Getting back to the Code shoes, I had those Sidi faults in mind so I wanted
to see how Giro would have potentially addressed those now glaring problem.
They had developed the Supernatural fit insoles where they claimed that once
you decided which of the interchangeable arch supports worked best for your
foot type, it would prevent hotspots, numbness and cramping. I found that
the insoles did not provide adequate metatarsal arch support, for me at
least, and it did not address the hindfoot valgus/varus issue that is
associated with talus pronation that would effect the power transfer from
the leg/ankle to the pedals. As a chiropractor for the last 15 years, I
could be more critical of their claims, but I understand that the insoles
are not custom made orthotics and in comparison to the Sidi insoles, they
are significantly more effective in addressing foot biomechanics and
comfort. As a matter of fact, the Codes were immediately more comfortable
than the Dominators, and not just because of the insoles, but because the
toe bed is slightly wider therefore there seemed to be less wedging of the
toes. The insoles came with the medium arch support as a default so I went
for my first ride with them. After a two hour ride, I did develop some
forefoot hot spots and notice that my midfoot arch was not supported enough.
The next ride I switched the arch support wedges from medium to high and
noticed the difference right away. The wedges seemed like it wasn¹t just a
marketing ploy, but it did change my biomechanics by supporting my pes
planus and providing slight rearfoot varus. The next time I wore the
shoes, I raced the local Tuesday night race, and it was a long race so it
was a good test for shoes¹ performance. Simply put, it felt great with no
hot spots or cramping. Considering it was my second time out, this bolds
well for my communion with the shoes.

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The buckle system is a very simple functioning ratchet system seen in the
majority of cycling shoes. You lift one side to pull the plastic strap and
tighten the shoe, then you push the other side to release. I can only
surmise that once mud gets into the mechanism, it will prevent proper
release just like the Dominators, but we can only wait and see.

I would have thought that Giro would have heeded to the Velcro complains and
developed a better system. But at first glace, it seems like they didn¹t
address the issue at all. Perhaps the most obvious difference is that the
Velcro strap loops at the top of the foot instead of the more medial loop
that was in the Dominators. The most concerning issue is the design of the
transition of hook side to the loop side of the Velcro strap. The hook side
stops far too early, and so when you pull the strap and push down the end,
there is not a lot of actual hook and loop surface contact. Most of the
contact is the loop to loop, therefore not contributing to the hold at all.
It seems like an obvious design flaw because if Giro would have just
lengthened the hook side just another centimeter, there would be double the
functional contact. This would have perhaps increased the lifespan of the
Velcro straps. Now, it may never be an issue and the Velcro straps may
always hold, but I think a simple change would drastically prevent the
Velcro strap from being nonfunctional in the future.

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Despite some minor and perhaps prognosticating issues, my initial response
from the Giro Code shoes have been very positive as they feel comfortable
and transfer power effectively to the pedals. With two races done, I hope
to race many more and look resplendent in them in an 80¹s way.

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