With the Tour de France in full swing, professional cycling is on the world stage. It is imperative that cyclists and teams lead by example for their global audience. Above all, the sport must operate responsibly and minimize its impact on the environment, which includes the cycling equipment the athletes utilize.
Cycling equipment must be manufactured with a low carbon footprint, and without unnecessarily amplifying the depletion of natural resources or using harmful materials that could endanger health. In addition, the equipment must be high performance to enable cyclists to deliver their best performance while keeping them as safe as possible. For example, rain jackets are the first line of defense against the elements. Their effectiveness in keeping riders warm and protected without causing overheating or compromising agility can make all the difference between winning and losing.
Cycling pro Team DSM, DSM Engineering Materials and cycling wear company Bioracer joined forces to design, develop and optimize a new cycling rain jacket, which is made of a stretchable laminate, incorporating an Arnitel® membrane. This polyester-based membrane is 100% fluor free, lowering its carbon footprint by 70% compared to PTFE membranes. It enables high levels of performance and protection from a range of cold weather elements, such as wind and rain.
As a monolithic membrane, Arnitel® consists of a closed surface with no pores that might become clogged or lower the performance of the jacket over time, thereby ensuring a long product lifecycle. The rain jacket has been extensively tested by Team DSM, demonstrating its high levels of functional performance and strong durability over time.
The stretchable laminate contains three layers: the Arnitel® membrane in the middle, surrounded by top and bottom layers made from other polyester-based materials. The stretchability of the jacket not only allows riders more freedom to move, but also ensures a tighter fit around the body, leading to a decrease in aerodynamic drag.
The Arnitel® membrane is designed on the principle of absorption and desorption. Unlike microporous or perforated membranes, Arnitel® allows moisture vapor to pass from the inside of the jacket to the outside, while remaining 100% waterproof at all times – keeping riders warm and protected in unpredictable weather without compromising their movements and athletic abilities. As for the performance of the jacket, it continues to function at a high level throughout its lifecycle. The rain jacket is UCI-approved, a requirement for all garments worn by professional cycling teams, and can easily be printed on without damage to the Arnitel® membrane.
DSM scientists are working closely with counterparts at Bioracer and Team DSM to develop the next generation of cycling rain jackets with improved breathability. Manufacturing rain jackets that are more sustainable and leveraging recycled-based and/or bio-based materials ensures the garments perform both for riders and for the world around us.
09 July 2021
Rain jackets made of a unique materials solution protect cyclists from harsh weather conditions
Alexander Stroeks is trained in chemical engineering and received his Ph.D. from Eindhoven University of Technology on a topic related to thermodynamics of polymer solutions and blends. After obtaining his Ph.D. he joined Envalior and was active in material properties related to R&D positions. He is currently principal scientist for functional properties of polymer materials. He is a material innovator based on solid material understanding. He is co-inventor of 50+ patents and examples of current interests are polymer barrier materials, advanced polymer modelling and polymer materials for novel energy solutions.
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