Tech

Our apparel explained – A Q&A with our experts

As some of you might know 2021 sees us launch an exciting project – to produce and develop our own tailor-made race apparel, specifically made to meet the highest demands set by our riders.

To learn more about the project, we sat down for a chat with the team’s Head of Science Narelle Neumann (NN from now on) and R&D Expert Piet Rooijakkers (PR).

Q: Narelle we’ll start with you, why have we decided to produce our own race apparel?

A (NN): As a team, we have the highest demands when it comes to equipment and material. This links into our Keep Challenging vision, where we always want to innovate and find ways to improve as a team. In short, we want to get an advantage over our competition by developing the ability to get more out of the potential of our team of gifted people on and off the bike, than our competition is able to do. For us, it was clear that being able to facilitate a customised clothing solution, would be the next milestone in stepping up in high-performance. As Team DSM, side by side with the big innovation powerhouse DSM, it is the moment to make it happen. The involvement of DSM’s science teams with their research facilities and laboratories all over the world, elevates the potential of this project to a whole new level.

Q: What are the benefits of it?

A (NN): Firstly, by stepping away from a traditional commercial partnership we have full control over the design and technology that goes into our kit. This means we can work closely with our partners DSM and Bioracer to ensure the kit meets our highest standards without any compromises. As a result, our race wear is purpose-made and performance-driven, as we seek to gain a competitive advantage out on the road.

Q: And that wasn’t possible through a traditional commercial partnership for race clothing?

A (NN): Yes and no. Of course, there are many brands out there who produce good cycling clothing, but with our new setup we have a unique position in the chain that enables us to manage the development process ourselves, deciding on design priorities and material use. More specifically, we have access to and are actively involved in the development of brand-new fabrics with different characteristics which make this clothing better performing. We can also approach aerodynamics from a blank sheet and focus on it from a much more focused perspective: of specifically the very best athletes, at their maximum efforts during the world’s most demanding races. Alongside that, Bioracer with their technical know-how of high-performance wear and their state-of-the-art facilities are an integral part of the development, so we’re able to actually translate inventions and new insights into real products. As a result, we’re able to simply bring more technology into the game, which as you can imagine is perfect for us. I’m sure Piet will be able to tell you more details and the research that goes into it!

Q: So Piet, how long have you been working on this for?

A (PR): It’s been a while in the making, and we’ve been working behind the scenes for several months now in close cooperation with DSM and our technology partner Bioracer.

Q: What does DSM bring to the collaboration?

A (PR): Let me give a few examples. The ongoing development of continuously better performing materials, and a wider range of those new materials for more and more specific on-the-bike circumstances, in which their fabrics are being integrated, such as Dyneema® fibres and purpose fit Arnitel® materials. This process will continue as we focus on making the best performance apparel that we can, with all of their latest technologies and innovations, and combine that in a highly sophisticated way with increasing the safety of our riders.

Q: And Bioracer?

A (PR): Bioracer bring to the table their technical know-how of high-performance wear as well as their incredible state-of-the-art production facilities. Both of which are an integral part of the development process to transform bright new science and technologies, into actual race wear products. We can be very comfortable that our apparel is made to the highest of manufacturing standards by utilising Bioracer’s knowledge of BioEfficiency, BioComfort and BioRegulation.

Q: And tell me about the three ranges, something about W. A. S.?

A (PR): Yes of course, we have three ranges in our apparel – Winter, Aero and Summer. All three are designed specifically to meet the demands of that area. For example, our Summer range has lighter and more breathable fabrics to help keep the riders cool in hot conditions, whereas our Winter range is all about keeping our riders warm in cold and wet conditions, but also meeting the challenge of them not overheating.

Q: That all sounds pretty cool! What do the riders think of it so far?

A (NN): They are very happy with it since they immediately noticed that their team wear has a great fit and feels good. Also, they are well aware that they’re in an exceptional situation where there is this incredible behind the scenes process to produce and develop the team wear. It’s a process consisting our team’s Science Team, the involvement of a global innovation powerhouse, and the end result being produced at the best manufacturing facilities with. Most of all, the riders are aware that this process will not stop; and it will keep pushing the boundaries of technology, aerodynamics and fit. The riders are in the comfortable but privileged place that they know that we will live up to our promise; that after A1 will come an even faster A2, and after S3 will come an even better performing S4 and so on. Overall, we’ve had some great feedback so far from the riders, and everyone seems to be really enthusiastic about the project. After everyone wearing the kit now in training for over a month, they’re all ready to take it out racing!

A (PR): Of course, that’s another advantage of the project – that we can get direct and instant feedback from the riders and implement that into new research and innovations. You’ll be able to see that when we upgrade our three ranges, so we’re always innovating with the latest tech to get the best fit, high-performance fabrics and aerodynamics.

Q: Thanks for the chat guys! I certainly learned something, and I’m sure those reading along will have too!