The bike tech world is really hotting up as the year progresses and we have loads of new equipment to show you, including eyewear from Oakley, helmets from Trek, and even a waterproof dry robe, believe it or not, but we’re starting with the most unexpected invention from Shimano that we’ve seen in ages…
Could Shimano be about to introduce technology that automatically moves your cleats on your shoes as you ride to take account of factors like your speed, the power you’re putting out, and the terrain you’re riding?
You’re sceptical? Understandable, but this isn’t a week-late April fools’ joke. Shimano has just been granted a patent (US 11,618,530 B1, if you’re brave enough to tackle it yourself; arm yourself with a coffee) for a cleat adapter system that attaches to your shoe and moves the cleat according to input from various sensors. This isn’t a tool designed for a bike fit studio, it’s intended for use out there in the wild.
“The cleat adapter system connects a cleat to a sole of a cycling shoe… [and] allows the position of the cleat to be adjusted on the sole,” says Shimano.
“The cleat adapter system basically comprises a first connecting portion, a second connecting portion, an actuator, a communicator and a controller,” says Shimano.
Okay, stick with it for a sec.
The first connecting portion is connected to the cleat and the second connecting portion is connected to the shoe.
The actuator adjusts the relative position of the first and second connecting portions, the communicator is configured to receive info from sensors relating to the bike or rider, and “the controller is configured to control the actuator to adjust the relative position based on at least one of the bicycle information and the user information”.
Geddit? All you really need to know is that the cleat can move automatically as a result of information received from various sensors.
What type of sensors would they be?
The cycling shoe itself is provided with one or more sensors “for providing the user information of the rider”. Temperature, humidity and pressure on the insole can all be detected.
Beyond that, the rider’s fitness monitor – a smartwatch that can measure heart rate, body temperature, blood oxygen concentration and blood lactate level – can wirelessly send data to the shoes. Bike sensors can send details like speed, cadence, power and GPS data.
The controller is configured to determine a target position for the cleat based on the data it receives.
“The target position [of the cleat] can be adjusted based on a formula such as the lateral target position is adjusted 2mm for each increase or decrease of 20W of pedalling input power once the forward speed is over 20km/h and the pedalling input power is greater than 200 W,” says Shimano.
That’s just one example. The cleat position could also automatically move forward as pedalling force or cadence increases and back when it decreases, or it could move to a predetermined position determined by GPS coordinates.
Shimano says, “In particular, the target position can be different for paved roads, unpaved roads, and off road.”
Shimano suggests that the cleat could move forwards from its initial position by up to 10mm in certain circumstances, and backwards from that initial position by the same amount in other circumstances, so we’re talking about 20mm of fore/aft movement here.
Obvious question; what’s the benefit? Is this just a solution looking for a problem? Shimano doesn’t explain; the patent tackles the how not the why. We can only speculate that it feels certain foot positions are better in particular circumstances.
We know what you’re thinking: stack height, weight, potential damage… stuff like that, right? Well, the existence of a patent doesn’t imply that a finished product is inevitable but we’ll certainly be interested to see if and how this one develops.
Oakley has dropped a whole new Bike Collection that includes Encoder Strike Vented glasses, along with helmets, clothing, footwear, and accessories.
“Encoder Strike (£210) features a lens shape enabled by PhysioMorphic Geometry, an industry-disrupting design methodology first introduced in 2021 with Oakley Kato,” says Oakley.
“PhysioMorphic Geometry allows for a lens design with an extended wrap and rigidity in key areas that mimic the structural properties of a frame. The shape of Encoder Strike’s extended wrap lens is inspired by one of Oakley’s heritage frames, Razor Blades. The sunglass is available with Prizm Lens Technology, which dramatically enhances detail to provide ultra-precise colour tuning designed for a variety of biking environments.”
Stay tuned for a review of the Oakley Encoder Strike Vented glasses on road.cc soon.
The 2023 Road Cycling Collection includes three helmets, including the aero ARO5 Race (£170), the ARO3 Endurance (£110, pictured) which is designed for everything from commuting to weekend rides, and the ARO3 Allroad (£127) that’s for gravel and has a tiny peak. All feature Mips safety systems.
Trek has launched new generation Ballista and Velocis helmets today that are said to have been designed with the Trek-Segafredo race team “to provide riders with an unprecedented advantage”. Previous versions were branded as Bontrager but Trek is now transitioning helmets to its own name.
The Trek Ballista MIPS (£229.99) is billed as the fastest helmet in Trek’s lineup in terms of aerodynamics.
“The aerodynamic efficiency of Ballista provides a 5.4-watt power saving versus the prior generation Ballista and a 10.1-watt power savings versus the new Velocis (below) based on a standard hour test at 45km/h (28mph),” says Trek. “This translates to a 17-second advantage versus the old Ballista and 32-second advantage versus the new Velocis assuming a standard hour test at 300 watts."
The European version of the Trek Ballista MIPS (helmet manufacturers often make different versions to comply with differing safety standards) is said to weigh 255g.
The Trek Velocis Mips (also £229.99, below) has more venting and is designed to be versatile enough “to meet the everyday training and racing needs of Trek-Segafredo”.
“A redesigned ventilation system improves cooling by 38% and structural aerodynamic improvements make this Velocis faster than its predecessors,” says Trek. “This helmet sets the standard for podium-topping performance and is the ideal choice for riders who demand a lightweight, airy helmet that's more than capable in a breakaway or sprint finish.”
The Velocis is the lightest helmet in Trek’s lineup, the European version hitting the scales at a claimed 235g.
Free-to-use virtual cycling platform MyWhoosh has announced the extension of its Australia and Colombia worlds, which will launch in-app next week. This takes the total length of MyWhoosh’s virtual roads to 983km (611 miles).
“Four new Australian routes will be added to the MyWhoosh map, taking riders through six regions: Sydney, Cambewarra, Great Barrier Reef, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Uluru,” says MyWhoosh. “Covering over 80km [50 miles] of new road and nearly 1,000m [3,280ft] of elevation, the routes traverse diverse biomes and terrains, including dry shrublands, savannas and rainforests.”
The Colombia world is gaining five new routes and expanding three others.
In addition to the new routes, MyWhoosh has also added new in-game features: voice chat, which allows you to talk to other riders, and emotes, which allow you to send reactions.
Komoot has announced a new ‘Send to Device’ feature that allows you to start navigating Tours on your Garmin at the tap of a button; there’s now no need to browse the route list on your Garmin.
The new feature is available on Garmin smartwatches and GPS cycling computers that can run the Komoot Connect IQ app, downloadable via the Garmin Connect IQ Store.
“Whether it’s an after-work ride, a trail run at the weekend or an epic multi-day hike, users that navigate with a Garmin device can stop scrolling through routes trying to find the right one,” says Komoot.
“From now on, all they need to do is open the Tour they want to use on the Komoot mobile app or website and click ‘Send to Device’. When users then go to the Komoot Connect IQ app on their Garmin device, the Tour will pop up, and the adventure can begin.”
If you use a use a Garmin smartwatch in Komoot’s navigation mode, ‘Send to Device’ also allows you to adjust, switch, and update your route mid-Tour without ending and restarting the current activity.
We’re a bit off the pace on this one because it just missed the last Tech of the Week but Shimano, owner of the Pro brand, has issued a safety warning relating to alloy versions of its Pro Vibe stem sold since May 2020 and says that continued use poses a risk of injury. If your stem has cracked in the week since Shimano published its warning... um, sorry.
Shimano says that certain batches of the alloy Pro Vibe Stem can develop cracks in particular conditions.
“Shimano is issuing a stop riding and recall notice on all Pro Vibe Stems (Alloy) sold since May 2020. The products affected by the recall are identifiable by the prominent silver ‘V’ branding on the faceplate of the stem and the forward-facing mounting bolts,” says Shimano.
“If the crack is not detected by the user in time, it could grow until a complete separation of the stem. If this happens while riding, the user could lose control of the bicycle and fall, posing a risk of injury to the user in a crash.”
Shimano has provided a complete list of affected products that you can access by clicking the link below.
Other Pro stems, including the Vibe Carbon Stem, are unaffected by this recall.
Feedback Sports has unveiled a new version of its Pro Mechanic repair stand – and Feedback makes some ridiculously good repair stands.
“With upgraded clamp jaws, clutch components, and mast hardware, the Pro Mechanic is more durable, more stable, easier to use, and even more reliable,” says Feedback Sports.
“Like the Pro Elite on which it’s based, the Pro Mechanic is lightweight, compact, and portable for travel. As always, our signature telescoping tripod design is stable on a uneven surfaces and suited for a range of bikes.”
It comes with a three-year warranty. Although we know that the Feedback Sports Pro Mechanic repair stand is $395, we don’t yet have a UK price.
Dryrobe has introduced a new Dryrobe Lite changing robe that’s aimed at triathletes and other endurance athletes – so we’re guessing that covers (thank you) cyclists who want to get out of sweaty kit at the end of events.
“Developed with high-performance eco fabrics, the Dryrobe Lite is super lightweight and easily packable in a stuff-sack that measures just 38cm (15 inches), making it the perfect changing robe for exploring remote locations, or for athletes travelling to events where luggage space is a premium,” says Dryrobe.
One of the key features is a waterproof outer, which is 100% Repreve recycled polyester. You also get a hydrophobic Polartec lining.
The downside? It’s £280.
In case you missed it earlier in the week...
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.