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Bioracer says it can make clothing that reduces the impact of crashes – but pro cyclists don’t want it

Belgian firm underlines protection offered by innovative fabrics and airbag tech, but says top riders prefer comfort and aerodynamics

Bioracer, the Belgium-based performance cyclewear brand, says it can make clothing that would prevent common racing injuries such as road rash following crashes – but adds that pro riders don’t want to wear it, opting for kit that prioritises comfort and speed over safety.

The company, which supplies kit to both the Belgian and German national cycling federations, insists that protecting riders against the effects of high-speed crashes is one of its priorities, including through producing kit using Dyneema fabric and the use of airbag systems within the kit it makes to reduce the severity of abrasions, but says there is a lack of buy-in to the concept in the professional ranks.

Bioracer’s Jurgen Van De Walle, an ex pro-cyclist who retired after the 2013 season, which he rode with Lotto-Belisol, said: “We are perfectly capable of producing protective cycling garments, but the reality is that no one in the pro peloton is willing to wear it unless they are forced to.

“Comfort and speed are what matter most with current cycling kits, not safety, because safety doesn't directly win them races.”

Despite that resistance, the company maintains that it is “committed to exploring cutting-edge safety technologies,” citing its use of Dyneema fabrics, which it says offers protection from abrasions sustained in high-speed crashes, as well as airbag systems, which it also claims can help prevent fractures.

Referring to some high-profile racing incidents within the past fortnight, Van De Walle said: “We've seen the painful consequences of crashes, like Wout van Aert's, Remco Evenepoel’s, and Jonas Vingegaard’s horrific incidents.

“While getting professional athletes to adopt safety gear has been an uphill battle, comparable to the friction around mandatory helmets, we firmly believe preventative measures can reduce injuries and recovery times.”

Earlier this week, we reported how former head of research and development at Bioracer, Sam Ratajczak, founder of SID Sport Innovation Design, has developed an airbag system integrated into bibshorts, through his company – but he too highlights opposition to the concept from teams and riders.

> Airbag bib shorts for cyclists are “a potential game-changer for safety, ”says inventor

“While airbags were already prevalent in other industries such as work, horse riding, and motorcycling,” he said,  “adapting them for pro cyclists presented unique challenges.”

He continued: “While our initial research showed promising results, gaining traction beyond proof of concept proved challenging,” says Sam Ratajczak.

“Despite reaching out to some of the wealthiest teams in the peloton, we encountered limited interest. However, advancements in technology and ongoing analysis of cycling accidents suggest that the concept of a cycling airbag could evolve into a smarter, more effective safety solution over time.

“Ultimately, the introduction of an airbag system in professional cycling could represent a significant leap forward in rider safety, potentially mitigating the severity of injuries in crashes. As the cycling community continues to prioritise safety and innovation, the prospect of integrating airbag technology into the peloton remains an exciting possibility for the future,” Ratajczak added.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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7 comments

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Tazwaz | 1 month ago
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Maybe the peloton is missing a trick. Yes initial speed and comfort is better 99% of the time but how much of that advantage is offset on the occasion that an accident happens? Let's face it accidents are a regular occurrence and so are retirements from races due to accidents, and riders being seen to have to continue in agony and dripping blood from road rash just to beat the cut off. Remove road rash from the equation and a lot of the time and most of the discomfort riding back on would be removed. Preventative maintenance is a pain in the arse but saves in the long run.

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NPlus1Bikelights | 1 month ago
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For a company with bio in the name they should be aware nature provides a self repairing layer already. Companies have to innovate to justify R&D and make themsselves distinct. Whether they should because they can is another issue. If this is a trick for publicity, then kudos to marketing. Disclaimer: I like their previous clothing.

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RM | 1 month ago
3 likes

Maybe Bioracer would be better to target amateur and commuter riders with their product?

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marmotte27 replied to RM | 1 month ago
2 likes

Amateurs only follow the pros, hence e.g.the appetite for the current overpriced nonsensical bikes and components.
And commuters in most countries don't dress up in special clothes for commuting (and like these pros, if for quite different reasons, are allergic to stuff that's uncomfortable, makes you sweat more than necessary and slows you down).

Anyway, as with helmets and other shit, that approach to safety comes from the totally wrong end and I hope no-one, except the usual suspects, will fall for it. It would actually only ever make sense in racing, the only place where cyclists deliberately do something risky - if it weren't so in contradiction with the object of that risk-taking.

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wickedstealthy replied to marmotte27 | 1 month ago
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Just enforce an airbag system and abrasive resistant clothing. It's utter bullshit if anyone has the same disadvantage. I severely crashed 2y ago due to a mech failure. I wished I would have had protective cycling gear like I always had when doing motorcycle races

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john_smith replied to wickedstealthy | 1 month ago
1 like

Who do you expect to "just enforce" it? The UCI? The CPA? British Cycling? UK Parliament?

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chrisonabike replied to wickedstealthy | 1 month ago
3 likes

Sorry for your crash but unfortunately that's everyone after the fact.  It sounds like: "After doing motoGP racing at speeds of 200mph and up on powerful motorbikes I switched to competing at hill climbs on my cycle.  A few years later I came off badly- now really wish I'd kept wearing the armour, boots, gloves, a motorbike helmet, a great helm and a Hovding airbag..."

Which is to say - horses for courses.  You can maybe mandate stuff for the pro peleton, to some degree (but that's a whole process), and amateur races (though they tend to just follow the pros).  For everyone else the evidence-backed consensus is the (current) best approach for overall population health and safety is "just recommend they take care and let them get on with it"*.

* With exceptions like must have (2+ independent) brakes, lights at night.  And separating the motorists from the cyclists and the pedestrians get their own space also.  Oh and not letting the market push 15.5mph - 30mph or more heavy mostly-illegal-to-use electric motorbikes ARE YOU LISTENING UK GOVERNMENT?

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