2013 Interbike, Part 6

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Co-Motion introduced a new model, the Klatch, aimed at the emerging gravel-grinder category. This bike paired a Shimano drivetrain with TRP’s cable-actuated, double-cylinder hydraulic disc brakes. The frame easily has clearance enough for 32mm tires.

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Co-Motion has had a reputation for excellent finishes dating back to the 1990s. This Macchiato pays homage to the Gulf racing team. It was arguably one of the most beautiful bikes I saw at the show.

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It’s vaguely amazing to me that tandem companies have waited so long to do really powerful graphic treatments on their bikes.

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Stan’s introduced a new 29z-inch carbon fiber mountain bike wheel that showed impressive strength and stiffness numbers while maintaing weight low enough to make it raceable.

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Nalini, the Italian apparel manufacturer that is that seems to make more clothing for companies that it does under its own name, was displaying some impressive wool pieces. The construction techniques weren’t strictly old-school, though. The jersey had a reasonably long zipper—the longest possible given the chest pockets—and a gripper on the hem to keep it in place.

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They also showed a matching set of wool bibs that had a Lycra bib sewn into them.

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Even the pad looked like an old-school chamois. However, this is a current pad that is simply covered in a microfiber to make it look and feel like chamois.

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A few companies have begun to show rain jerseys that offer a bit of insulation and some sort of wind and rain-stopping fabric while sticking with short sleeves.

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The Nalini jersey featured grommets to allow water to drain from the pockets in the event of a Southern-style deluge.

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This Bianchi celebrates the 80th anniversary of Campagnolo. This is the bike that Bianchi will be presenting to Valentino Campagnolo.

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Not only does it sport an 80th-anniversary Super Record group, special decals call out the milestone as well.

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The combination of the matte finish on both the frame and the components gave it a very choice look.

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Honestly, this thing was so gorgeous, it was hard not to drool on the bike.

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The new Infinito CV takes Bianchi toward a much cleaner look with fewer swoopy tubes.

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The big news on this bike is the Countervail technology Bianchi is using. They are the only bike company using this vibration canceling technology. Based on a video demonstration they had, the materials are fairly effective at subduing vibration. I’m definitely interested to ride this bike.

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Speedplay has been making a special pedal for the cobbled races for some time. It forgoes the plastic body normally found on the company’s road pedals. The idea is that it will shed mud more easily should a rider have to get off and walk through some mud, but it is not meant to be a cyclocross pedal as it still uses the traditional Speedplay cleat.

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Scott introduced its first bike in the grand touring category, the Solace. It contains a number of visual cues that its designers aimed to make rider comfort a priority. The down tube is flattened near the bottom bracket and the seatstays join the top tube rather than the seat tube in an effort to make them as compliant as possible by increasing their length.

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The fork on the Solace uses a slightly unusual design, sweeping the blades slightly forward of the dropouts. The intent is to provide a bit more flex vertically to increase rider comfort.

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14 comments

  1. Alan Cline

    That Gulf paint job brings back fond childhood memories of the late 60′s Lemans races where the Ford GT40 whupped on Ferrari. It doesn’t matter that the homage will be lost on many – THAT is a cool paint job!

  2. Ransom

    If you have no interest in cyclocross, but do want to ride a bunch of gravel, I’m sure there are tweaks to make a bike more suitable.

    That said, I’m still a little baffled by the existence of this particular subgenre, apparently underserved by either ‘cross or touring bikes?

  3. LD

    I’m with you Ransom………. If you run out segments in which to sling bikes you gotta create new ones!….. I mean, after all, there is only so much you can do with some tubes in a double triangle formation. I defy anybody to say that there would be a more suitable bike to ride on gravel than a CX bike…… and not be on the payroll of a bike company.

    The problem I see in a consumerist society is that that we use technology to lower the bar rather than elevate our potential as humans……. but I digress. LOL

  4. Andrew

    Well, I can only speak to my own road, cross and gravel (salsa warbird ti). Anyway, like a lot of carbon road bikes, mine will only take 23s. Those aren’t much fun on gravel. The cross bike is perfectly fine on gravel, but it’s a super short wheelbase. The warbird is just more comfortable on gravel, and actually a very nice road bike too. So maybe the issue isn’t why gravel bikes are needed, but why all (ok, most) road bikes aren’t more flexible?

  5. Pat O'Brien

    So, gravel bikes, where ever you ride them, are road bikes with more relaxed geometry and room for bigger tires more powerful brakes, and perhaps a little mud too. I ride a SOMA ES on the road. So, if it had a little more room for tires like maybe 700-35s, and disc brakes or canti mounts, then it would be a grave bike, right? Then you could ride it on forest service roads, including gravel, with relative comfort and good traction and handling. Currently, I use my mountain bike, a 29 inch steel hard tail for that duty. I guess racers need more bikes than I do. I was at 3, but with the ES, I am at 4, including a townie, touring, road, and mountain. Any more and my wife would send me for a competence hearing.

  6. The Potato Man

    I agree with Andrew. I have had a bike very similar to the gravel bikes in mind for quite a while now, not as a gravel bike but as a road/race bike with extra capability. Not sure why 23mm tyres are the standard for road when larger volume tyres are proving to have lower rolling resistance, are more comfortable at very little extra weight (for instance, the Grand Bois Cypres extra leger weighs 230g).

    How many people actually need a full blown TDF rig anyway?


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Everyone: Thanks for your comments. The gravel grinder (not sure I like that monicker but we’ll go with it for now), as pitched to me, is a bike distinctly different from a road bike, a touring bike or a ‘cross bike. Imagine for a moment that you’re a talented frame builder and want to build the perfect bike for the kind of riding you want to do. A variation on this theme has been going on for years at Hampsten Cycles with the Strada Bianca. Ideally, the bike will have fairly typical road geometry except for a bit more trail to calm the handling a bit. Some will build it around a lower BB and longer chainstays as well. And then there’s the extra tire clearance. All of that makes sense to me. That design will differ from a ‘cross bike in that ‘cross bikes are still, uniformly, built with a fairly high BB. You don’t really want that in this sort of bike. And touring bikes, if built properly, will have very similar geometry, but will be built from tubing that would jackhammer your pelvis into powdered sugar if you chose to ride it off road. In my mind, I’ll add that I think a touring rig needs a longer wheelbase to allow for panniers front and rear.

      Do we need that bike? That’s a separate question. I suspect that the answer is no for most folks, but I think if you tried to build one bike to be a touring bike, a ‘cross bike and a gravel grinder, it would be like those Nordic skis that were meant to allow you to do either skating or diagonal. It turns out they sucked at both.

  7. brian

    I’ll vote for gravel grinder as a terrible moniker. No I don’t have anything better but the internet is for complaining so there. My super x does a great job at that tho….crits, road races, ultracx, xc single track…..and funny enough no actual cx races. That said im having a black cat built that will take over most of the rougher stuff. It will be nice to have more options when I inevitably break the super x.

  8. swellls

    I don’t know if he originally coined it, but Dave Wages (Ellis Cycles) has been building “DRB’s” (Dirt Road Bikes) for a few years.

  9. bigwagon

    Some of the newer CX bikes are starting to adopt more road-like geometry (Ridley X-Night being one example) and some road bikes can take bigger tires than people might assume. I have a few friends who have fitted treaded 28s to Cannondale CAAD10s and used them on gravels rides. So I guess my point is that there is starting to be a lot of overlap between established categories and usage.

  10. ha

    that’s a great memory you have.

    probably the only time the word “ford” has ever been said in the same phrase as “ferrari”.

  11. Rod

    My house operates now in a strict bike inventory. One enters, one leaves.

    I am fortunate enough that my LBS/Team can commission reasonable custom bikes from its current manufacturer for its own brand. So a couple of years ago I “designed” (mostly adopted the traits and geometries of bikes I liked) to commission a Ti frame for CX racing and lots of rough-road riding (my favourite rides and races in the region include these).

    It was a reasonable experiment. The bike rides well, but my inexperience in design resulted in a few innacuracies: bit of a steepish seat-tube for my needs (it’s a 73, but then I needed a 35 mm setback seatpost), and a bit “softer” in the sprints than what I prefer. BB drop was more than a normal CX bike since I prefer the stability in rough gravel and we don’t really have deep mud in our local races.

    So yeah, there’s a lot of crossover. This thing can take 45 mm tires, or 32′s with fenders. Two bottle. It’s not as light or nimble as a dedicated, race only CX frame. And that is ok. I was very tempted by the Salsa but I got this option to design my own bike. Now I want to update it to try disc brakes :) (I consider it my duty, as a former mechanic and employee of that shop, to keep pushing them to the newer tech as test subject).

  12. brndll

    Ha, not so with Ford and Ferrari, there is a history there. The reason that Ford built the GT40 was solely to beat Ferrari at the racetrack. The story goes that Ford tried to aquire Ferrari at one point and when the deal fell through, Ford decided that they could make and compete with Ferrari on the racetrack. It took a couple of attempts but they did. It is significant because Ferrari lives by one mantra.. we build cars and sell them so that we can go racing. It is the exact opposite to the reasoning of most car companies.

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