Interbike ’14, Part VIII

Interbike ’14, Part VIII

 

 

While I was at the show I had a minor ephiphany. The bike industry spends a lot of time talking about getting more people on bikes and the industry even talks about the next generation of riders, but honestly, the media doesn’t spend much, if any, time talking about the phenomenon of teaching kids how to ride, or looking at the options out there. Because I’m a parent, and because I’ve taught one of my sons to ride and hope to teach the other how to do it, I’ve made the decision that kid’s cycling products and education are going to become a part of RKP’s ongoing editorial mission.

The Ezee Glider is but one of a great many balance bikes I’ve seen hit the market. What struck me about this one was that it offered a place for the rider to put his feet. Most leave this part out, and admittedly, I’ve seen lots of kids just walk the things around, but there’s a slice of kids who are going to see a downhill and calculate what kind of fun that might be. Then they stick their feet out ahead of them, or behind them, or clamp them to the down tube, but many are never quite certain just what the right answer is. The pegs are narrow enough not to interfere with their stride and the low-slung down tube means that it will accommodate kids sooner than many other brands. The Ezee Glider is the smallest of the balance bikes Glide Bikes makes and is a solid unit for $99; my one question concerns the hand brake. While I understand that it’s never too early to learn about braking and control, my eldest soon still doesn’t really have the hand strength necessary to operate hand brakes, and he’s five.  IMG_9248

Joovy is a company that has packaged together a couple of different ideas that were all out there and brought them together into a single tricycle. So it’s a standard trike, but it’s got a little guard bar to keep kids with less than stellar core strength from toppling out. It’s also got some foot pegs for kids who don’t quite get pedaling, so they can rest their feet somewhere while their parents push them with the detachable handle that also steers the front wheel. It’s also possible to disengage the pedals so the front wheel can freewheel while you push the child. In effect, it can be both a tricycle and a stroller, and because it’s both, it’s better. And because no kid can leave home without a toy or three, there’s a big bucket in back to hold Hot Wheels and stuffed animals. The Tricycoo goes for $129.99.IMG_9250

Finding helmets small enough for little people is a challenge. Most kid helmets will only fit a head with a circumference as small as 50cm, though Bell and Giro each offer one that will fit a child with a 48cm circumference head. The Noodle, also from Joovy, can accommodate a child with a 47cm fit. It meets CPSC standards and goes for only $29.99. Also, that built-in visor is pretty handy for face plants. IMG_9320

Santa Monica-based Bonk Breaker showed off a new flavor, Cookies and Cream. Greg Leibert is their resident graphic designer as well as a well-known SoCal masters’ racer, who did the packaging, not to mention a buddy I’ve done tens of thousands of miles with. IMG_9319

He said he got a kick out of creating art for a sandwich cookie with the Bonk Breaker logo.  IMG_9321

Pella Sportswear was showing off some great Merino jerseys and even shorts.IMG_9322

The Cinzano jersey is killer, but the matching Merino bibs get me every time. (Every time being both events I’ve seen these displayed at).

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The latest evolution in Primal Wear’s high-end road collection is the Infrared QX5 kit. It features a Pro Tour fit for a flap-free experience. Among the materials is a fabric called Quantum Force that is said to receive an antibacterial treatment to increase blood flow and moderate surface temperature thanks to improved moisture transfer. The bibs receive a new laser-cut leg band to reduce bulk on the shorts and speed wicking. IMG_9325

The Modenza is a new mountain biking short that includes a detachable liner, so you can ride them as they come or easily pair them with your favorite bibs. They are gusseted for a full range of movement and have a combination of zippered pockets and vents so that you can carry a few important items and stay cool on a hot day. The ExoDura fabric should stand up to harsh treatment and survive diggers.   
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Primal showed off this new collared jersey, part of their expanding mountain bike collection. It bridges more casual-looking clothing with technical materials so you can still be comfortable while riding.
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BMC wasn’t showing much in the way of new road stuff, so the big news was that they’ve aggressively lowered their prices. This Ultegra Di2 TMR01 is now $6999 and while that ain’t cheeap, it is a significant reduction on a bike with more technology than some phones.

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BMC introduced a new mountain bike in the trail category, the SpeedFox SF01. This SRAM XX1-equipped 29er has five inches of travel and goes for $6999. There will be an XTR version for $8999, but you’ll be waiting a while if you want that model. The SF01 is said to have fairly slack geometry and is perfect for less technical riding. IMG_9315Clif introduced a couple of new Clif Bar flavors, not to mention numerous other goodies. This Berry Pomegranate Clif Bar was pretty tasty. I must have sampled it twice a day throughout the show, which is both a measure of how much I liked it and a confession that I don’t stop for lunch.

 

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9 comments

  1. August Cole

    I saw that Wishbone had a new model or two; we had good success with one of their bike/trikes. It lasted through two kids with plenty of life to be passed to a friend. Their son rips down the street now too. High “wheee!” factor and led to my youngest daughter riding a bike a lot earlier than I ever thought possible.

  2. Hoshie99

    One of the things I like about Clif products besides that they show up at races and seem to really support cycling, is that compared to many of the large brands you find in a general chain grocery store, they really seem to have high quality ingredients. I think you can taste the difference.

    J

  3. Pat O'Brien

    Getting more kids on, and staying on, bikes is important for a bunch of good reasons. Good on ya for making it part of RKP.
    I love Clif bars and their granola crunch bars. The mini bars are really good for jersey pockets on longer rides. Their business model, explained in the owner’s book and on some wrappers, is an example for any company to follow. Too bad most don’t.

  4. Drago

    I had my son riding a fixie from Belgium that my brother loaned me. He’s still, at 12, one of the smoothest riders I’ve ever seen.

  5. Tom in Albany

    I love the idea of kid’s biking as part of RKP’s mission. Count me in!!

    I like the idea of the Tricycoo but, at $129, I’d never buy it.

    Questions for all of our experts here:

    I have a neighbor with a seven year old son. They’re all overweight. The boy’s desperate to ride his bike without training wheels but neither parent can actually run alongside him to hold him up. I tried to do it for them but the mother refused to let go of the bike. So, the boy probably weighs 80 lbs (my estimate) and I only weigh 130 so, while I’m strong enough, if caught out, I probably would easily drop him given the ‘closeness’ of our weights. I suggested that the neighbors get him to learn to balance on his Razor scooter. I was going to suggest that they take the pedals and training wheels off. Do you think that’s the right approach?


  6. Author
    Padraig

    Tom: The Razor scooter is a great starting point. Philip started with one of those because he was too small for a balance bike. The alternative is, as you mention, to take the pedals and training wheels off the bike and lower the saddle so his feet are flat on the ground. Doing both of those things is best. Kids get bored and having both a scooter and a balance bike is good. He’ll begin to feel the transfer of skill from one to the other.

  7. Byron Henry

    My kids are now 12 and 14, and quite accomplished riders (mostly in the mountain biking realm). In fact, they’re much more skilled than I am, which I attribute to two factors: they have much less fear than their 50-something Dad; and they learned to ride at what seemed to me to be very young ages. Roughly 3 to 5.
    What struck me about watching them progress as riders, and catch on so quickly to fairly skillful techniques, was the difference between their experience of learning to ride and my own. When I was a kid, you had to be at least 7 or maybe even 8 before you could go from three wheels to two because that’s how big the standard CCM bike was at the time (think Schwinn in the U.S.) I just missed the Mustang/Stingray smaller bike craze.
    The advantage of being older, though, was that I was mentally older, too. It was easier for me to be car-aware, and to be more vigilant/careful about crossing roads or, eventually, riding on them. So my biggest bike-related fear for my kids turned out not to be about them hurting themselves on the various crazy mountain trails they soon began to ride, but for their road-awareness. A 5 year old is still just… a 5 year old, with all the in-the-moment, forgetfulness, and unpredictable behavior that comes with it.
    I still think it’s great that kids learn younger now, but there are some added risks.
    Thanks so much for your blog. I am not an accomplished cyclist, or even a terribly active one, but the articles and standard of writing here are very enjoyable.
    Cheers from North Vancouver, BC

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