Unlike most endurance sports, cycling is driven by technology. And there are plenty of shiny new toys you’ll want to play with this year.
Whether you’re looking to be safer or just want to go faster, we’ve got the inside look at the latest and greatest in tech.
4iiii Precision Power Meter
While power meters aren’t new, the 4iiii Precision is proof that perhaps this technology hasn’t been fully developed just yet. For 2016, the company has released its own version that is lighter (25 grams) and less expensive than just about every other unit on the market.
Compared with previous models priced near the $2K mark and with an overall weight reaching 150 grams or more, those kind of bottom lines are quite impressive — especially for a unit that measures power output for the left and right sides. On the downside, you will have to send your crankset to 4iiii and have it professionally installed (no additional cost).
Garmin Varia Rearview Radar
Whether you worry about a vehicle approaching from the rear or just want to know when it’s a good time to scoot over without having to look over your shoulder, the Garmin Varia Rearview Radar might be the solution.
By wirelessly connecting to Garmin Edge cycling computers, the Varia Radar will detect the speed and threat level of vehicles approaching from behind up to 153 yards away. As a vehicle gets closer, the notifications will display on your screen and automatically increase the brightness of the Varia taillight to attract more attention. (A Varia head unit is also available.)
Price not yet available
If there’s one new product that screams the future, it’s the smart eyewear from Solos. By using a display arm in front of the lens, a 5-inch virtual window is projected in front of the eye so you can see metrics such as power, heart rate, cadence and distance without actually having to look down at your computer.
And why is this so important? Because head placement during a time trial or race is a big deal, and the more you look down at your computer to monitor your pace, the more wind drag you’ll create. When you can monitor your ride metrics constantly without effort, you can adjust your pace more precisely to avoid huge spikes and drop-offs in your power. Display screens are also voice-activated, and dual microspeakers can be used to notify you of incoming calls and texts or to warn you when you veer off-pace.
SRAM RED eTap
A few years ago, electronic shifting was a big deal. Now SRAM has taken this trend to a whole new level by announcing the RED eTap, its top-of-the-line electronic groupset that also happens to be completely wireless.
That means no more threading cables through the frame and no more wires sticking out everywhere. You’ll get a clean-looking bike with perfect shifting. And the lack of cables means you’ll have more options for shifter placement, fewer performance issues from cable stretch and battery packs that are much easier to charge.
POC Light-Flex Vest
Price not yet available
POC is a company known for innovation and trendsetting. On display at Interbike 2015, the new Light-Flex Vest garnered plenty of attention. By incorporating a light system into their garments (which are not reflective), POC aims to significantly increase visibility to approaching traffic when lighting is limited.
Though it will run on a small rechargeable battery that will need to be stowed in a jersey pocket, the light itself is flexible and can be washed without risk of damage. The company claims a 2016 launch, but the exact dates are still unknown.
Trek Madone 9 Series
Triathlon bikes were the first to introduce the superbike category. In 2016, expect to see plenty of aero road bikes break into the category as well.
Designed for supreme aerodynamics, the Madone 9 from Trek integrates everything — the cockpit, brakes, seatpost and headset. While all this speed usually comes at a price, Trek claims to have struck a solid balance by keeping an eye toward comfort. This means you’ll be able to ride this beauty all day if you can afford it.
Rapha Shadow Jersey
Racing in the rain is never enjoyable. And during the spring and fall when the weather can change in an instant, you pretty much always need to be prepared for the worst. Fortunately, the new Shadow jersey from Rapha will keep you prepared for the elements without having to carry a closet of rain gear in your jersey pockets.
While waterproof clothing is notoriously hot during hard efforts, the breathability of the Shadow jersey along with its revolutionary DWR (durable water repellent) fabric is what makes it different from all the other options available. It’s also form-fitting and features a stretch-woven fabric that’s similar to what you’d find with other aero road kits.
Cannondale Slate Force CX1
A new kind of road bike, the Slate Force CX1 combines elements from a mountain bike for use on the road. While the extra-wide tires, 650b rims, left-sided suspension fork and SRAM CX3 drivetrain with a single-front chain ring may seem odd at first, this much should be clear: This bike is about having fun over all else.
Out on the road, you’ll get the freedom to explore all the beaten paths you come across, whether they’re made of gravel, dirt, rocks, mud or just about anything else. And when you’re cruising on the pavement, Cannondale promises that the Slate will offer a smooth, plush ride that won’t hold you back on your weekend group ride.