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Tech

Accessories required

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Accessories required 1

Before the summer fads hit Italy, they were "red" and "out of breath", a disordered cluster that would run away "and then who knows what". Cyclists by improvisation and rebels by vocation, the Agostani cyclists who Francesco Baccini and Ladri di Biciclette sung about in their 1990 song "Sotto questo sole" ("Under the sun") were a carefree representation of the impromptu. Sort of a pop song, sort of a swing track, like an easy cycle but far less cool - in both senses of the word - than the counterparts of today.

In the context of general market growth in the EU, were the number of bikes has increased consistently since 2013 (from 11.4 to 13.1 million bikes in three years) as well as the number of bikes sold (19.8 to 20.7 million in the same period), an increasing number of specialist companies are investing in high-tech, high-design accessories which, alongside competitive prices, are helping amateur cyclists overcome their shortcomings, boosting their performance and adaptability in variable or adverse weather. Including "under the sun".

According to a report published by the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry (CONEBI) in 2016, Italy is the number one producer country for bike accessories and components in the EU, with an annual value of 474 million Euro and a 28% market share; Germany and Romania are next, each with an 18% market share representing 300 million Euro.

Italy boasts many flagship products, but the Selle Royal Spa is a global award winner in the saddle sector; in 2002, it acquired its British competitor, Brooks, followed by the American Crank Brothers five years later. At its factories in Pozzoleone, one of the company's most talked-about saddles, the Respiro Athletic, is produced: the cool cover coating reduces the saddle's temperature by 25 degrees in sunlight, while the ventilation channel - a tube with a special filter at the end - facilitates air flow.

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During the warmer months, this air flow makes all the difference - and the same is true of helmets and cycling shoes. When it comes to helmets, the Flemish have been top of the game for almost a century: the Z1 from Lazer (a Belgian company which was recently taken over by the Japanese giant, Shimano) has 31 air vents and weighs between 200 and 260 grams depending on the size; it offers perfect ventilation, even at speeds only slightly faster than 10 km/h. If you're willing to make sacrifices in terms of air flows but still want high standards, smart helmets are popping up all over the market: from the Coros LINX, which comes equipped with a microphone and bluetooth, to Lumos, with LED arrows and an accelerometer built-in; both of these were created following crowdfunding campaigns.

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From head to toe, this technology is a breath of fresh air. As for shoes, there's nothing more summer-friendly than uppers made of laser-perforated microfibre, in high and mid-range products. If it's high-end you're after, look no further than the Fi’zi:k R1B Uomo; for mid-range, Gaerne G.Motion, both of which are made in Italy. The Pearl Izumi Pro Leader III is also worth a mention: the upper isn't perforated, but it is made of ultra-thin 9 mm fabric. Arm and leg coolers also need to be made from thin fabric - if they're white, all the better - with an IceFil surgace that absorbs the skin's heat, thereby reducing your temperature by around five degrees: some high-flying producers include the Japanese company Sugoi, and Louis Garneau, from Canada.

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And of course, this whistle-stop tour of innovations wouldn't be complete without a look at backpacks: from the Osprey Radial 26, which uses AirSpeed technology to raise itself from your back while you're cycling to help stop you overheating, to the Timbuk2 Especial Messenger, which has a rear cooling panel.

And to stay cool right until the end, use the Fabric Cageless Water Bottle to get rid of your bottle cage once and for all. Stopping it from running out of water, though, is something we're still working on. At least until the next breakthrough.

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