If you ride a road bike, you know very well that the thin layer of Lycra and nylon or polyester you’re wearing offers scant protection from injury. Witnessing pileups from this summer’s Tour de France is an unwelcome reminder, in fact.
And while there’s little you could wear to protect from breaking bones, Scott Sports, with help from a fabric developed by Swiss brand Schoeller, will introduce clothing later this year called RC ProTec that is engineered to prevent road rash in the bulk of serious crashes. The shorts and jersey have panels on the shoulders and hips (where you’re most likely to make contact with the ground) that wear something like iron, although they’re made from carbon fiber and ceramic.
A coating is added to the base fabric; the carbon is literally impregnated into the fabric using heat and pressure, and the result is cycling wear that feels just like what you’re used to, but that is all but impervious to tearing.
In lab tests, ITD ProTec barely saw any damage after an entire minute held against a harsh grinding wheel — if you were in a crash that lasted that long, you’d have much more to worry about than road burn.
Two alternate benefits include an obvious one: The clothing won’t wear out nearly as quickly. And the less plain one: Carbon has a natural antibacterial property, so typically stinky exercise garb won’t retain post-wash funk. And, yes, Scott is also thinking about applications for other sports (the company is active in everything from running to snowsports), but no announcements have been made yet.
[Jersey: $125; shorts: $145]