Speed cycling: Tour de force

Michael Oliveira-Salac and Martin Skegg get fit for the future with the latest hi-tech bikes and accessories. Photographs by Andy Barter
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Sport is increasingly reliant on technology to push back the boundaries of human performance. Cycling is no exception, with competitions decided as much by the design of the bike as the fitness of the rider. The big breakthrough has been in the use of composite materials which are light, strong and easy to mould. Originally only used by professional teams, these components have now found their way into the mass market.

MDT Time Trial Bike (Main photo) MDT is typical of the cottage-industry approach to high-end bike manufacture. Andy Sharpe (pictured), runs MDT and has been racing for 20 years. The frame is hand built by Reynolds, and the components are either by MDT or specialist manufacturers (brakes and gears by Shimano, pedals by Cinelli). The aerodynamic riding position, with arms out straight in front, was pioneered by Greg Lemond in the 1989 Tour de France. He won, so it's been adopted ever since. Because wind resistance is crucial, riders wear skin suits (pounds 79.95, made to measure by MDT) and sleek fibreglass helmets (pounds 125.90, MDT). With the bike, the outfit and a good set of leg muscles, you can expect to hit cruising speeds of 35mph. Approximately pounds 3,000. For information call MDT on 01242 511 506. Rudy Project Glasses pounds 56; Castelli Track Mitt Gloves pounds 18. For information, contact Yellow 01785 811 810.

Kona Stab Dee-Lux (Top left) The Stab is designed specifically for off- road downhill racing, which is short (averaging eight minutes), rough and very fast. It has a tough aluminium frame (strength rather than weight is of primary importance), and front and rear suspension systems to reduce shock from bumps and rocks. They also reduce the likelihood of the rider getting thrown. The hydraulic disc brakes work in the same way as car brakes, and are more powerful and less wearing than traditional rim systems. A very durable bike, but not much good for a trip to the shops - unless they happen to be at the bottom of a very steep, muddy hill. pounds 3,600. For information call Second Level Sport on 01784 251 000.

Accessories (Above left, clockwise from top)

Berghaus Paclite Jacket The latest and lightest Goretex available, weighing in at under 0.5kg, that will offer you the maximum protection under any biking conditions. pounds 240. For stockists and information call Berghaus on 0191 415 0200.

Clif Bar High-energy food with all the carbohydrates to keep you on (or off) the road for hours. Available in four flavours. pounds 1.50. For information and stockists call Raw Experience on 0131 467 6467.

San Marco Race Day Saddle A welcome development in saddle technology - the special unisex Gel 'Race Day' pad which provides extra comfort for men and women where they need it most. pounds 40 (plus p&p). By mail order from Raresports on 0870 240 1215.

Shimano Flight Deck Trip computer system that connects directly with Shimano gears, providing information on speed, distance and which gear the bike is in. pounds 40. Available from Condor Cycles on 0171-269 6820.

Elite 'Cioi' Thermal Bottle Hi-tech liquid storage. The inner aluminium chamber holds the liquid while the outer layer protects and creates the air gap insulation. The thermometer displays the liquid's temperature. From pounds 11.99 (plus p&p). By mail order from Raresports on 0870 240 1215.

Veloflex Pave Kevlar Tyre Hand-made Italian tyre for those who want to go seriously fast. It gets expensive if you have a lot of punctures. pounds 36. From MDT on 01242 511 506

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