In the world of professional cycling, marginal gains count. Every millisecond that can be saved, is saved. After all, that millisecond could be the difference between gold and silver.
At British Cycling, each rider is trained day after day in order to ensure they arrive at a start line in the very best shape they can be. But training will only get you so far. At elite level, the bike you ride and the equipment you use can be the difference of winning or losing a race.
Shane Sutton, British Cycling’s Performance Director and Dave Parsons, Team GB’s equipment manager are responsible for ensuring that all aspects of the team are catered for allowing their athletes to stand at the start line of major competition with the psychological advantage of knowing that their equipment is superior to that of their competitors.
So when the announcement was that Lazer would be coming on board as the official helmet suppliers to the GB team, we wanted to know why that particular brand was chosen over the umpteen other performance brands on the market. Is it ultimately a financial decision, purely performance or a little bit of both?
Thankfully we had the ever frank and straight talking Shane Sutton on hand to provide some clarity: “I think this [the partnership between Lazer and British Cycling] is another step forward. You want to be the best you can be every day. When you go in with a product range you can measure it. We are really excited to go into partnership with Lazer on this with the mind that everything we do, we do it to the best we can do. We found them as a manufacturer, the same as we will do with the bike and everything else, we found them to be the best out there to produce the best for us."
On a psychological level, Sutton believes it is vitally important for an athlete to arrive at a start line knowing everything possible has been done to ensure they are in the best position that they can be. “I think psychology also comes into play. When you look at the product and then you look across the track or whatever else and you know you are on a better playing field or an equal playing field you feel really comfortable with it. So we haven’t gone into this lightly. We have done our homework. For us it is exciting. So for us I think we are going to be ahead of the opposition."
Lazer’s range is wide spanning offering everything from children’s helmets, to entry level adults helmets right up to elite level product. The British athletes will be donning the Wasp Air Time Trial helmet and the Z1 road helmet when competing, a deal which is set to run until the end of 2016 meaning this the is product of choice for the highly anticipated Rio Olympics.
Two new technologies in the brand's higher end helmets see the buzz term ‘wearable technology’ come into play. The first is the Inclination Sensor which will assist riders in maintaining their most aerodynamic position – every time they move from their optimum position the sensor picks this up and the helmet vibrates to raise the awareness of the rider.
The second is an inbuilt heart rate monitor known as the Lifebeam Monitor which is currently only available in the Lazer Genesis Helmet which uses pulses in your forehead to record your efforts during every session. A good option for those who find the traditional chest strap uncomfortable.
As part of the partnership between Lazer and British Cycling, special edition helmets will be available to the general public to purchase. Within this range there will be the Wasp Air (£249.99) and Z1 (£199.99), whilst adding two brand new helmets; Cyclone (£29.99) and Blade (£59.99). The full range will be in the distinct red, white and blue of the British Flag from February 2015 via www.lazersport.co.uk and from Madison's existing independent bike dealer network.