Cycling Innovations for the Race and the Commute
With the 2022 Tour de France fast approaching, we take a look at the innovations in the cycling market that offer new opportunities for athletes and commuters alike.
With the Tour de France around the corner, brands and athletes alike are considering how they can upspec their kits for better performance. In our previous article on marginal gains we took a look at how coaches and athletes were seeing the opportunity of well designed kit as a key way to gain microseconds through tiny marginal improvements. In a race which relies heavily on endurance and is often neck and neck till the last moment, a well performing kit and the potential to increase those marginal gains is key.
From aesthetics, to comfort and safety, the areas of importance are wide ranging for a race that spans almost a month. At LTP, we’ve collated some of the latest innovations across fabric, trims and performance in our latest 360° Innovation book and delved into some key highlights for the cycling industry below.
Taking note of the range of specific needs in the cycling industry, Alex Ingildsen, CCO at LTP group explains;
“It’s just as important for cyclists to stay visible as it is for them to stay fast, at LTP we work on understanding the needs of both the athlete and the commuter to create products which perform whatever the end use.”
Standout Fabrics and Finishes
With standout kits an essential part of any cycling race, prints that get noticed in the crowd are becoming more innovative than ever. For the 2022 Tour de France, the Dutch Jumbo-Visma team moved away from their classic yellow jerseys, instead embracing a collage of the Dutch Masters, reworked with the help of AI to celebrate the teams heritage. These innovative effects are something we anticipate seeing more of. Reworking the idea with a contemporary edge, technical fabric manufacturer Olmetex have created a collaboration with graffiti artist Zoow24, who's already worked with brands like Moncler and Balenciaga. Olmetex are able to apply the artwork as a sublimation print on wovens.
LTP works with a number of mills who create fabrics that are suitable for sublimation prints, including MITI, SITIP, Sofileta, Fieratex, Sportswear Argentona and Manufactura Effepi. For a more technical approach to printing, Olmetex have also created a printing technique that alters in response to its environment. Their newest technique changes to reveal layers to the print when it comes into contact with moisture or heat. Although it’s best suited to woven polyester fabrics, this effect has the potential to draw attention on the race track. As well Hyperbola, famous Taiwanese supplier, can offer similar alternative prints.
If heat transfers are more appropriate, Laurema is a key partner who creates bio-based and regular transfers which can be applied to any surface, including high stretch jerseys. It’s also worth checking out their newest item, rubber tags made from post industrial waste. Along with the previously mentioned mills, LTP also works with Carvico Group who offer a number of bases for different techniques, though the heat transfers work equally well across trims as shown below.
Staying Seen - Safety and Visibility
Equally applicable for commuters as it is for the Tour de France, visibility is a prerequisite of any safe cyclist, particularly those dealing with adverse weather conditions or night rides. Reflective details are being built into fabrics and prints, in addition cutting down on the extra weight of bulky transfers and trims. JRC, famous for their reflective tapes, have created a high stretch reflective fabric that’s both water repellent and windproof making it ideal for paneled bibshorts. However, it’s worth bearing in mind the heavier weight on the fabric (350gsm) when it comes to considering usage.
Olmetex have also made strides in this area, and with notably lighter weights. Their glow in the dark woven qualities are ideal for packable commuter jackets, and offer the option for brands to introduce their own patterns. By adding light capturing pigments to yarns, Olmetex are able to create a number of luminescent effects or all-over glow in the dark finishes.
When it comes to trims and print effect, there continues to be plenty of newness in the area. Taiwanese Wingers International have recently introduced glow in the dark tapes and cords, allowing designers to bolster their high-vis statement, or opt for a more focused approach to visibility. In addition, Italian based heat bonding specialist Framis have created a glow in the dark film which is ideal for applied logos and laser cut edges.
Ergonomic Comfort and Grip
Meeting the needs of endurance rides, a lightweight and comfort focused kit underpins any team's performance. Fabrics need to grip the body, but at the same time allow unrestricted muscle movement and breathability. An area of constant innovation, Sportwear Argentona have worked to increase blood circulation, and in turn muscle recovery, through their jacquard knits. Penn Italia are also worth considering when it comes to personalized compression performance wear, like Sportswear Argentona they work with brands to create ergonomically designed jacquards.
Last but by no means least, one of the most important features of any team kit is an ergonomically designed chamois. Able to eliminate discomfort, adding to those all important marginal gains, pads like those by TeoSport offer lightweight performance while reducing pressure, increasing blood flow and moving moisture away from the skin. With plenty of innovation coming through in bike seats and chamois, from 3-D printing to body mapping, it’s worth keeping an eye out for this in our next innovation book.
LTP is a Danish owned garment manufacturer for +60 premium brands within active sportswear, cycling, outdoor, urban performance, performance running and organic & lifestyle apparel. LTP was established in 1991 and now spans two continents - Europe and Asia with 6 fully owned factories. Our European Innovation Centre is located in Kaunas, Lithuania and our Asian Innovation Centre is located in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. We have a bluesign partner factory in all 4 countries where we operate (Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus and Vietnam).
LTP consists of two divisions; LTP Garment and LTP Furniture producing in eleven fully-owned factories.