Brussels Sprouts are where it’s at.
The former statement I overheard at InterBike last year. I think the latter was uttered by the same person. I didn’t see it as an indictment of kale, which has great blue-collar cred’ and even greater nutritional value, but how it’s been totally over exposed. There are plenty of vegetables out there that could knock kale off its perch. Some might even be better for you.
For all the important reasons not to pay attention to the large United States bicycle industry trade show, there are some good reasons. One of those is to grasp fads that go beyond the Tour de France product introductions and the luxury vacations for editors disguised as bike launches.
Orange is so over. Green is where it’s at.
While black, and all the black anodized, black carbon, nude black, glossy black, matte black, murdered out black is widely available, orange is still making an impact. But green, particularly a glossy, high-viz, fluo green, a few shades brighter than Cannondale’s green, is gaining steam. Italian shoe manufacturers, many of whom embraced orange last year, are now embracing green. Helmets are in green. Bikes are in green.
Native outsoles are so over. Vibram soles are where it’s at.
The Giro Empire VR 90 got lots of press for the laces. While laces might take another year or two to catch on, the sole, made by Vibram, is worth noticing. I looked around and realized that Vibram seems to be gaining popularity in cycling outsoles. Not only Giro, but Lake, which has been working with them for a long time, Gaerne, Northwave, Scott, Specialized, and even Shimano. Vibram shows eleven mountainbike soles on their website and it doesn’t even seem to include most of the soles Giro is employing. When I asked about it, I heard the utilization of Vibram was because they’re the market leader in soles, with great name recognition and are big in research and development and have proven high quality. BTW, correct pronunciation can be found here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9gK5-Qzg4Q).
Expensive power meters are so over. Inexpensive power meters are where it’s at.
Of course SRM, PowerTap, and Quarq were at InterBike. As was Pioneer. But Stages, the powermeter that works entirely off the left crankarm, had a bigger, better, and more polished presentation this year. They’re helping bring the price down. Two other upstarts were also on hand. Watteam came with their PowerBeat units. $499 for the setup, weighs 24g, and measures right and left independently, works with your cranks, and is ANT+ enabled. And you have to install it yourself. Another is the RPM2 insole-based power meter. $619 for the cycling version and $649 for the triathlete version—they have a running/walking version for $599.
Pinpricks for lactate testing is so over. Non-invasive lactate testing is where it’s at.
BSX Athletics came to InterBike with a wearable lactate tester. Their existence was the result of a Kickstarter campaign. Insert the sensor it into a compression sleeve worn on a calf and it sends lactate data as well as heart rate, cadence, pace, and calories to your phone. It works with iOS, Android, and ANT+. And then on to the cloud.
Locked in place helmets are over. Mips is where it’s at.
Mips, a new helmet technology from Sweden, was a topic of conversation last year, but I don’t recall seeing any helmets with it equipped. Poc, a Swedish company, was making a big deal about it, but they didn’t have one to show. The idea of Mips is simple: by allowing the helmet to rotate somewhat as it hits the ground with your head inside, can reduce impact forces, and thus lessen or spare the wearer a traumatic brain injury.
This year, it felt like Mips was everywhere. Fox, Giro, Lazer, Scott, Smith, SixSixOne, and others are on board. Giro even went so far as to purchase a small stake in the company. Not too many of the super-light, highly ventilated “pro” level helmets had it, but that probably will change.
In general, a good year for helmets. The aero road category is taking off, and as well as Mips, more mixed-material usage, which could lead to even lighter, more protective, better-ventilated helmets.
Bars are so over. Waffles are where it’s at.
Every year, there are new flavors of bars. Same goes for gels. But the category of snack food that can be ride food or vice versa is one that should have almost unlimited growth potential.
Waffles are the design of choice. Honey Stinger has been touting theirs for a few years now, and had some new flavors for tasting. But they were joined by Rip Van Wafels, a San Francisco-based company with a Dutch founder, and factory in Canada,
PowerBar is working a similar angle with their Performance Energy Wafer Bar. Theirs is a bit thicker, a bit less calorie dense, but they play up the science, while the others play up the taste.
Five-arm spiders are so over. Four-arm spiders is where it’s at.
Years ago, when Shimano debuted their four-arm mountainbike crank spider, there was lots of criticism that Shimano was merely interested in creating a new standard that would further wed folks to Shimano components. If the design was truly better, they’d eventually come out with a four-arm road spider. Which they did in 2012.
FSA came out with theirs this year. So did Campagnolo. At the moment, it seems like SRAM is staying put. They even killed off their four-armed Zipp Vuka crank, which, like the Dura-Ace 9000 crank was designed to work with both compact and standard rings, and debuted back in 2008. But the SRAMsters might be hedging. Their Quarq powermeter division debuted a four-arm powermeter crank to work with Shimano chain rings.
Integrated aero brakes are so over. Direct mount brakes is where it’s at.
Aero road bikes and time trial bikes have been getting integrated brakes, usually a variation of a v-brake design, for a number of years now. On the positive side, the brakes are small and can be hidden from the wind pretty well. On the negative, wheel changes are hard, adjustments are hard, modulation can be problematic, the under the bottom bracket location is problematic due to frame flex, and the under-the-bottom-bracket location is prime real estate for accelerating the process of rusting metal.
Direct mount brakes could well take over from integrated brakes. Currently only Shimano and Trek’s Bontrager division make them, but they are lighter than standard brakes, offer most of the features of standard brakes, and thanks to being closer to the frame, carbon shaping can almost hide the brake as well as integrated brakes. Is this enough to erase the marginal gains that integrated aero brakes provide? I haven’t seen any data, but I’m guessing it’s probably very close to doing so, enough that the marginal loss isn’t worth it for aero road bikes. Canyon and Campagnolo sponsored Movistar this year, and Movistar was running Shimano brakes on their Aeroroad bikes.
Canyon doesn’t export to the US. But Trek is running these on several bikes. Fuji has them on their Transonic. Quintana Roo had the direct-mount front brake on the PR-6’s they brought to outdoor demo. Their engineer explained that he can make the front brake more aero than a seat stay mounted rear brake thanks to the real estate he can devote to the trailing edge.
Another plus of the direct mount design is better tire clearance. I’m wondering if this is enough to stem the tide of disc-brake equipped endurance road bikes. Another limiter at the moment is that with only three options available (Bontrager, Shimano Dura-Ace and Ultegra), bike companies might be reluctant to spec the brakes because they don’t want to lock their customers in to a design where there is so little choice.
Safety bracelets that lead to the cloud are so over. USB bracelets are where it’s at.
I don’t really understand the identity bracelet trend. Most people carry basic identification with them when they ride, and a piece of paper in a bag can do a great job for pennies. I don’t think folks are trained to look for an identity bracelet on an unconscious stranger. I could be wrong. But if you’re going to wear a bracelet, the idea that folks will see it and go to the cloud to retrieve your information seems to be asking quite a bit of strangers. The Epic ID is much simpler; it’s a bracelet with a build in USB-enabled flash drive. That way, the emergency responder can just plug it into a working computer rather than connecting to the cloud.
High tech manufacturing is so over. Low tech manufacturing is where it’s at.
Chrome brought an Eastern-bloc sneaker-making machine to InterBike. I guess it makes the shoes they produce on it more authentic.
26″ wheel are over. 29″ is where it’s at.
29″ wheels are so over. 27.5″ is where it’s at.
Mountain bikes are so over. Fat bikes are where it’s at.
Fat bikes are so over. Motorized fat bikes are where it’s at.
The tire size debate is getting supplanted by the tire width debate. And that debate could well be supplanted by the motor debate.
I took out a fat bike with RockShox front suspension at OutDoor Demo. It felt about as you’d expect, slow uphill, and confident downhill. As I was grinding up a climb, I heard someone catching up. I sped up, embarrassed for the catch. I heard from behind me, “don’t worry, it’s not you. I’ve got a motor.” I kept going. Eventually he passed. On a motorized fat bike.
I told some friends about my experience. One said, “I don’t know…The bike industry might have just jumped the shark with that one.” Another, different time, different place, “is it Fonzie, is it the shark?”
There were many motorized fat bikes both to ride at OutDoor Demo and check out on the show flow in the e-bike section. Felt even came with a camo’-painted motorized fat bike with racks and a trailer.
E-bikes are a big issue. E-bikes for hunters brings out conflicted feelings. One person didn’t want yahoos going further out into the woods with guns. Another thought he might consider trying hunting just to have an excuse for that kind of e-bike.
InterBike is so over … InterBike is where it’s at.
Both sentiments resonate. InterBike, thanks to the explosion of media outlets and the way the web allows manufacturers to interact directly to the public without the filter of bike shops has changed the position of the trade show. Products are introduced year ’round, with launches getting timed to fit with lulls in the calendar, piggyback off other events, and clear space for the manufacturer so they don’t have to compete for attention as hard. The result is there isn’t as much “never before seen” stuff on hand: it’s been used at the Tour, it’s been deliberately “leaked,” it came out at DealerCamp, PressCamp, a launch event, an invite to a journo. Companies are conscious of how the glare of the show can blind the media to their wares and many want to hedge their opportunities for press exposure or bypass the press and go direct to the public. And as the riding population can find these things without bike shop employees filtering for them, and can read about them online, the opportunity for finding what’s new and incredible at InterBike isn’t quite the same.
But, still, people go, people want to know. And InterBike’s exhibitors often deliver. Rarely will it seem earth-shattering, because of the accumulated knowledge widely available. But if that’s the consequence of a greater interest in the industry and the freedom to develop products without a timetable, the public and the press benefit for the increased insight, while the manufacturers and shops have to work harder to make production and purchasing decisions.