8 clothing innovations to look out for in 2017

Highlights from new players and the old guard

This article originally appeared on BikeRadar

Reticulated foam. Laser cuts. A breathable rain jacket that weighs as much as an empty water bottle. A vest that packs down to the size of two gels. These are but a few of the highlights of the road clothing shown at the massive Eurobike trade show in Friedrichshafen, Germany last week. Here we take you through some of our favourites.

1. 7mesh

Founded by seven former long-term members of Arc'teryx, 7mesh makes cycling clothes with an emphasis on the tech. Some of that is the materials — as Gore and Castelli battled back and forth for the lightest rain jacket using Gore's new Active fabric, 7mesh trumped them both with the 97g Oro Jacket (in size large!).

Some of 7mesh's tech story is in construction. For instance, the G2 Jersey features a high-loft, low-Lycra material with a unique back pattern that forms into the cycling position. "We are trying to get away from Lycra, as that is what holds moisture," said 7mesh director of marketing Brian Goldstone.

7mesh isn't a flashy brand, nor one with any pro-team sponsorship. But the hyper-techy clothing is worth a look

The Highline jersey is an ultra-thin jersey with welded seams, and the Merino jersey uses polyester fabric around the pockets to prevent sag.

7mesh divides its clothing into 7-Day and 7-Hour, the former being cycling-specific and the latter being clothing that works on the bike but doesn't scream bike nerd for other uses.

2. Ashmei

Unlike most larger cycling clothing companies that have good/better/best levels, Ashmei has a singular approach. "We are all about being the best on the market," said product developer Elliot Welland. "There is no tiered system. We focus on performance, quality and style — in that order."

Look out Rapha and Assos. Ashmei is hoping to position itself as the ultimate luxury brand

Prices are high; the bib shorts, for example, are £235 / US$340.

The Bib Short uses woven rather than knitted material, and forgoes stitching in favor of sonic welding (heat + pressure) for low-profile junctions. The lazer-cut hems don't use grippers of any sort.

The chamois is made with closed-cell foam, which Ashmei claims absorbs less moisture and compresses less than standard foam. The chamois also features a modesty panel up front.

Much of the range is 3 Season — with a DWR treatment to deflect water — including a jersey, bibs, gloves and warmers.

The Short Sleeve Classic Jersey uses a merino-carbon blend. Adding carbon to the wool accelerates wicking and drying, Ashmei claims.

The Ultimate Softshell Jacket has a waterproof front with a merino/poly/spandex back, with details like a waterproof phone pocket and reflective stripes.

3. Pearl Izumi

The new Pro Escape Bib short uses a two-piece chamois. The lower portion is reticulated foam — think tiny tubes — and the upper, skin-facing portion is completely smooth. The two pieces are only attached at the top and bottom, similar to how Assos formed its top-end pads recently.

Instead of thermobonding the chamois for shape — "When you take foam and compress it with heat you make plastic," said Pearl's Andrew Hammond — the company cuts the lower pad to form, retaining the foam's flexibility. While the end result doesn't look high-tech, we salute Pearl for designing for comfort and not for appearances.

The Pro Escape bib short uses reticulated foam that is cut, not heat molded

Another interesting tidbit about the Pro Escape bibs — Pearl uses a measure-measuring device called a Kikuhime to ensure that compression at the leg grippers matched the rest of the short.

4. Castelli

The Vela Vest is windproof and water-resistant, big deal, right? But the notable bit is this: at a claimed 59g for a size large, it packs down so small you could nearly hide it in your fist.

Castelli uses a material called Dyneema, initially used as a sailcloth for its impressive strength-to-weight ratio. Specialized recently used Dyneema for parts of the upper in the S-Works 6 shoe, because it is light and flexible but doesn't stretch.

Castelli's new Vela Vest weighs a mere 59g (claimed) and packs down to the size of two gels

On the Vela Vest, the clear Dyneema portions are waterproof, and the rest are DWR-treated stretch fabric. Cost is US$199 / €169 (UK and Australian pricing not immediately available).

Castelli also had two notable bib shorts on show. The US$150 Omloop Thermal Bib Short is insulated and runs just over the knee — not quite a knicker but certainly more protective than a standard thermal short. And the US$250 Premo Bib Short is more forgiving than typical Castelli bibs, particularly around the waist.

5. Sportful

The £240 / US$299 Stelvio rain jacket won a Eurobike award this year. Two years in the making with sponsored teams like Tinkoff, the Stelvio is the answer to the pros' request for a lightweight, packable rain jacket that was relatively aero.

"We talked to Gore and eVent, but ultimately we went with our own RainWick Stretch fabric from a Japanese vendor," said Sportful's Daniel Loots. "It is rated 20,000/50,000, which is pretty much unmatched." (Click here for a good explanation of waterproof ratings.)

The jacket has some stretch, and also cycling-specific tailoring for minimal flapping

The 165g packs down to a small pocket size. A few details set the jacket apart. Dual elastic bands at the wrists keep the rain out, but allow the jacket to be easily pulled off and on while riding. And while the jacket does have some stretch, which is special for a rain jacket, Sportful tailors the arms for on-bike fit, so flapping is kept to a minimum.

The R&D Cima is a hot-weather kit, featuring mesh legs without silicone or elastic, and the jersey is made essentially from a single piece of HexLight Stretch — a woven material with great wicking properties.

In line with Sportful's normal pricing, the Cima jersey is £95 / US$159 and the bibs are £90 / US$199.

For a more relaxed road fit, Sportful has the new Giara (Italian slang for gravel). There are reflective panels that don't look reflective, a thicker chamois and DWR treatment on the outer short. The idea is clothing that is technical for riding but acceptable for the coffee shop or pub, too.

6. GripGrab

Another Eurobike award winner, the GripGrab Racing glove is made for cross-country MTB racing, but it could work well for road, too, with its minimal construction. The noteworthy thing here is the silicone dots on the inside. "Many gloves work well for grip between the glove and the bar, but sometimes the hand can slip inside the glove," said GripGrab's Marti Richter.

The Racing gloves have silicone dots on the inside of the palm as well as on the outside

7. Bioracer

The Sirio SS is named for the Sirio fabric used on the shorts of this new-school take on the skinsuit. Bioracer claims that the aero sleeves made of Airstripe have been knocked off by other companies, but the brand's expertise in cut and seam placement still provides the maximum aerodynamic benefit.

8. Vermarc

New from the Belgian brand is the Sportline Aero line that can be made custom for clubs and teams. The fit is the same as PR.R, but at a better price. There is no carbon woven into the material, but there is still flatlock stitching and long, aero sleeves.

Vermarc is one of a few companies using eVent's impressive breathable waterproof fabric. Its Rain Jacket eVent only comes in two colors — yellow and gray — because Castelli and other brands had dibs on other colors, Vermarc said. The price is also fixed at €350 because of eVent.

Vermarc is one of a few brands with an eVent rain jacket

Check out the huge gallery above for a closer look at the new road gear from Eurobike. 

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