I love Interbike. Trade events are a chance to talk with smart people chasing their passions. Whether you’re speaking with pro athletes, number-crunching engineers or visionary branding experts, going to a trade event in the bike industry is a chance to talk with bike people about bike stuff. Ohmigod, it’s such fun.
That said, Interbike is not without challenges. I could spend hours talking to most of the different characters I see, but I rarely have more than a half hour and I never have any appointments that don’t suffer at least one interruption. It’s not the end of the world—I’m still talking to amazing people, right?—but I’m not getting as much time as I’d like.
For that reason, the PressCamp events are media nirvana. Okay, so our appointments are limited to 45 minutes, but you can stretch them to nearly an hour, and it’s a chance to look over a handful of products (rather than the whole line) and have a real, undivided conversation about a company’s work. Given that you can meet with six brands in a day, it’s a genius format.
This winter’s event is in Westlake Village, at the Westlake Village Inn, a place that has played host to a number of bike industry events as well as hosting training camps by Cervelo Test Team and Liquigas-Cannondale. We are 15 minutes from the Santa Monica Mountains and great riding to check out the products.
My day began with visits to Ridley and SRM. For 2015, Ridley has redesigned the Dean Fast and the Noah SL. The Dean Fast is Ridley’s TT/Tri bike and features some pretty compelling technology. The F-Splitfork features channels in the fork to direct air around the fork more smoothly. The front brake is integrated into the fork and uses the carbon’s natural flex as the brake’s spring. The F-Surface technology is a small crease that can be found in the down tube and the seatpost to help create a boundary layer for the air to move over.
Not a single cable shows on this electronic-only bike. With Di2, the battery mounts in the seatpost, while with EPS, the battery mounts in the top tube just behind the stem.
The frame set, which includes the frame, fork, front brake, seatpost, base bar and integrated stem, plus the aero extensions, goes for $5000. It can be built in a variety of configurations; the one show goes for $13k. Yeah.
The Noah SL is a complete redesign of one of the oldest non-Cervelo aero bikes currently on the market. Though the bike still uses the F-Split fork design, the frame has gone on a pretty serious weight-loss regimen; the medium (56.5cm top tube) frame now weighs in at 980 grams. It is also considerably stiffer than its predecessor.
I was able to ride the Noah SL on our morning ride. The F-Split fork is far stiffer than some might imagine. The feedback the André Greipel gave the team was that he was less concerned about having the lightest bike than making sure that his bike could be equipped with an SRM power meter and meet the UCI weight limit.
Feedback from team mechanics was that because riders would use the Noah SL out on hectic road stages, they wanted to make sure it could be serviced from the open window of a team car—no chewed up fingers. The same F-Surface technology found in the Dean Fast is present in the down tube and seatpost of the Noah SL.
SRM showed off the latest iteration of their Indoortrainer. This $5000 trainer features a new magnetic resistance unit and iPad control, along with infinitely variable fit. When asked just who they thought the target market was for the unit, they admitted lots of doctors and lawyers in very cold climates, but they also suggested that this was more appropriate for anyone hoping to do super-high intensity indoor workouts, particularly sprinters, thanks to its four-point base. Kinda ideal if you’re closing in on that 1400-watt sprint, which suggests I’m probably not what they were hoping for. Alas.
The folks at SRM showed off the PC8 head unit, which they first showed this fall at the trade shows. The $750 head unit is easily the most feature-packed computer on the market, a point they are proud to push. It’s a bike computer made for cyclists by cyclists, they say. They are finalizing the last details in the keypad and expect units to begin shipping in May. They’ve been taking preorders, so the first units shipped are spoken for. They suggest placing a preorder now if you want one before the meat of the season.
You may have noticed a few new flavors from Clif in their Bars, the Kit’s Organics and the Builder’s Bar. The addition of dark chocolate options broadens the flavor palette in Kit’s Organics. The Nuts and Seeds flavor takes the Clif Bar in a somewhat more savory direction. The bar that I’ve already found at retail and have tried is the Berry Pomegranate Chia, which is a delicious addition.
The big news from Clif is the new Organic Energy line. These pouches are aimed at the endurance athlete market. The two smaller pouches steer toward the sweet side of things with Banana Beet Ginger and Banana Mango Coconut flavors. The 90g pouch provides 100 calories, so the same number of calories as a gel, but at 1/3 the concentration. They are meant for people who can’t take the sweetness of a gel or have experienced stomach issues as a result of the high concentration of gels. There’s solid science to suggest that the higher moisture content of the Organic Energy pouches will make them not just go down easier, but quicker for your body to process into energy.
The two larger pouches head to savory territory with a little more robust profile. The Sweet Potato with Sea Salt comes in at 2oo calories in the 120g pouch. The Pizza Margherita pouches contain 160 calories, and both add a bit of protein (Sweet Potato with Sea Salt has 5g of protein) and are ideal for long events where entrants may be fed up with sweet flavors. I’m told there’s more texture to these, so while you don’t really need to chew them, you at least have the experience of a variety of textures as they go down. All four are certified organic. The 90g pouches go for $2.29 while the 120g pouches are $2.99.