Professional bike racing is one of the most dynamic sports when it comes to relentlessly pursuing technological advances. Today’s bikes are incredibly stiff, lightweight, and fast, making use of materials like carbon fibre that allow riders to fly up high mountains. Helmets are super-lightweight, ventilated, aerodynamic, and the safest they have ever been. Jerseys, shorts, and gloves offer sweat-absorption, protection from UV rays, and aerodynamic benefits. Food has come a long way for endurance athletes, with energy bars, drinks, and gels now the norm.
But until recently there’s been at least one area where technology was missing — a means for a team to get water bottles easily and safely from the support cars to the riders.
For the better part of a century, team helpers have had to awkwardly stuff their already tight jerseys with a half dozen or so water bottles, handed out from team cars, then ride back through the pack, delivering each bottle to thirsty teammates — hopefully without dropping a slippery bottle and causing a crash.
Now a company called Sportful has produced the “bottle vest,” which is worn by a designated team rider and loaded with up to seven bottles neatly and securely, as first reported by peloton. Once the vest is filled with bottles by support staff back in the team car, the rider puts it on and pedals back up to his teammates:
The helping rider no longer has to remove his hands from his handlebars to hand out bottles, which means he’s safer to himself and those around him since he’s less likely to lose control of his bike and cause a crash (something that’s happened countless times in the past).
He just lets his teammates grab a bottle while he rides along next to them. Care for a refreshing drink? Why yes — thank you!
The idea apparently came from a pro rider, Michael Rogers, according to his Tinkoff Saxo team. His team’s apparel sponsor, Sportful, produced the vest exclusively for the squad to use in this year’s Tour de France.
“It’s a really nice idea and no one has thought about it before,” said Italian rider Daniele Bennati. “The bottle vest is much faster. When I go to the team car, the sport director or mechanic has prepared it for me, I put it on and off I go. When I reach my teammates, they can just take the bottles straight of my back.”
A lot of technology comes and goes, but this handy bottle vest looks like one that might stick around. It’s inexpensive, easy to use, and safe.
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