As a cyclist, the search for newer and better gear is constant — there's always something else out there. Premes, Picks, Promos will highlight both the next big thing and the sleeper deal.
For the amount of time racing cyclists spend on the bike — dealing with sun and wind and debris blowing around — I'm always surprised by the number of people wearing bad sunglasses. And by bad I mean ill-fitting with poor optics.
That doesn't mean you have to wear Oakley or Smith or Rudy Project or something expensive. But the lenses should be clear and the optics sharp. You shouldn't spend a four-hour ride looking through lenses that are even slightly blurry or dull. They should protect your eyes from not only the sun, but dust and bugs and anything else that's flying around out there.
I spent the bulk of the last two seasons wearing the cycling equivalent of a North Face jacket (as in "seen everywhere") — the Oakley Jawbone. The big lenses look fairly comical away from the bike, but while riding, they provide excellent eye coverage. And, surprisingly, the frames around each lens weren't obtrusive. After a ride or two, they weren't noticeable.
In the fall, I took delivery of two different Oakley models — Fast Jacket XL and Radar. The latter is the successor to the M-Frame of the Lance Armstrong days and has a big wraparound lens. The optics are good and they look cool, but they don't fit me the best.
On the other hand, the Fast Jacket is increasingly becoming my go-to option. I originally figured it would be the other way around. Having had a pair of M-Frames, I liked the wraparound lens and looked forward to going back.
Because of the bigger lenses on the XL version (regular version here), the eye-coverage area is almost identical to that of the Radar. Combined with a more curved frame than the Radar, that means a pretty snug fit around my eyes.
Fit is a personal thing, of course, but it's the main reason I've been spending so much time in them.
A slightly added bonus is that off the bike, since it's a slightly smaller size, the Fast Jacket doesn't look completely out of place. It takes a pretty cool kid to not look like a tool wearing Jawbones or Radars in a casual setting. I am not that kid.
Speaking of time spent on the bike, it looks like a bike design that I first heard about in the summer of 2010 has made its way out into the open. Trek announced its new Domane (dough-mah-nee) road bike this morning.
Basically, it's the Fabian Cancellara classics bike — similar to what Specialized built for Tom Boonen's runs at the classics with the Roubaix.
There are a couple of interesting design elements worth checking out. The first is called IsoSpeed. Basically, it's what makes the bike more comfortable. The seat tube junction isn't molded to the top tube and seatstays. Rather, there's a linkage with collar around it that allows for more flexion in the seat tube. Trek says it's double the compliance of the Madone. That's the part I heard about almost two years ago.
The chainstays are also slightly longer, which stretches the wheelbase slightly. Up front, a more curved fork means a smoother ride. The fork dropouts actually face slightly toward the rear of the bike, meaning handling shouldn't change.
Cable routing is different, too. Instead of the internal entry on each side of the downtube, both shift cables go into the frame on the left side of the headtube.
While the Domane is a race bike — the frame weighs about 1,050 grams, IsoEverything and all — most racers won't need the extra technology. Even on Omaha's roads, which range from not bad to pretty bad, I've never felt like I'm lacking comfort on my Madone.
But there are pieces of the Domane which could be interesting. One is the IsoZone handlebar from Bontrager. Basically, padding is built into the handlebar without making it thicker or heavier. You can eliminate the need for double taping but keep the softer feel. I'll probably check that out in the coming weeks.
The Trek website has videos, most of which are cool because they feature Cancellara drilling it down cobbled paths. Whether you need a new bike — or even care — Cancellara drilling it on cobbles is always cool.
In addition to being GamJams Tech Editor, Bryan Redemske has managed the Trek Bicycle Store of Omaha, is a professional writer and a Cat 3 racer. He drinks a lot of coffee.
Sheesh, some of that stuff is expensive. Good thing you get your frames and wheels at Pro Deal pricing. Wait — you don't? You might want to look at November Bicycles. They've got a new racer-specific model designed to strip unnecessary pricing out of the cost of your new bike. It's like a Pro Deal for everyone.
November Bicycles. Race Smart.