Swiss company, X-Bionic, were almost on home turf at Eurobike and certainly made themselves at home with a giant stand at the demo day and a ‘if-your-name’s-not-down-you’re-not-coming-in’ policy to their stand at the main show.
Luckily, ours was, and we were granted an early look at their take on crash protection.
Unfortunately titled, ‘Protect Your Ass’, X-Bionic have applied patches of ceramic beading to the outside of selected garments for protection in the event of rapid and unwanted contact with asphalt. Their claims for ceramic beading are grand (twice as resistant as leather to abrasion, temperature resistant to 500 degrees Celsius, the closest thing in hardness to diamonds etc), but as a company with a list of design awards as long as a Eurobike food hall queue, we’re inclined to give them a fair hearing.
The positioning of the beading in lines rather than an unbroken patch follows the company’s unique approach to cooling, which is worth recounting here before we move on to the jacket we were shown.
In a nutshell: X-Bionic believe that by allowing sweat to remain on the skin rather than wicking away, it serves its natural purpose of cooling the blood flowing through capillaries directly beneath, lowering the core temperature (37 degrees is the optimum, our Swiss friends tell us). X-Bionic combat any resulting clamminess with air channels cut into the garments.
Here’s the jacket (‘outer shell’) designed on that precise principle, with padded sections in the back and the collar to lift the fabric away from the skin, creating an air channel. The fabric in question is another X-Bionic design (the company’s stock in trade is textile research). It’s lined with tiny hairs intended to break the surface tension of moisture built up on the inside of the jacket, allowing it to escape through tiny holes in the fabric (a feature of all ‘waterproof’ and ‘breathable’ jackets) to the outside world. The fabric stretched convincingly (we pulled it about with our own hands) and has claims to be waterproof and windproof. More than that, we can’t say, but we have renewed our request for gear to test.