Easily the big news regarding the day one of the 2017 Interbike is that the Outdoor Demo venue in Bootleg Canyon was half the size it was in previous years. And that’s being generous. Companies that traditionally brought dozens of bikes and have been stalwarts of the event didn’t just downsize their display, they didn’t even show up. There was no Giant, no Fuji (no ASI, Fuji’s parent, so none of the related brands). The smaller companies I expect to see, like Litespeed, were absent as well. And while Shimano is still present, they cut their footprint. So far as I could tell, SRAM had a single 10X10, meaning their presence literally couldn’t be smaller and still be present. Literally.
Right now I’ve got no way to know if the companies that aren’t displaying didn’t come because they plan to sit out a year and attend in 2018 in Reno, or they have just given up on the show altogether. The departure of so many brands I’m accustomed to seeing in bike shops meant that a number of brands I’ve never heard of decided that this was the perfect time to make their run on trade show supremacy. Okay….
It would be one variant of weirdness if only the number of exhibitors was down. But that’s not the case. There were noticeably fewer dealers in attendance, not to mention a noticeable drop in journos.
It’s as if a memo went out suggesting everyone stay home.
Someone is going to think I’m criticizing the show. I’m not. This is basic reportage—what I saw. I just can’t make sense of it. It’s as if I’m watching the Hindenburg burn. I can’t believe what I’m seeing.
The show may not be as interesting to me so far (who knows what the show floor will be like?), but I still love the event. There are so many great people who work in the industry I’m always guaranteed a number of fascinating conversations, and between you and me, with fewer dealers and shop staff present I get more time to talk to smart people like 3T’s Dave Koesel or Masi’s James Winchester. Product managers like those guys are the lifeblood of what makes a new bike interesting.
With the drop in exhibitors, I didn’t see many new bikes that I felt desperate to go ride. As a result, instead of trying to give a survey of a bunch of new stuff, this time I just want to show off a handful of bikes that caught my eye.
Marin dropped the Cortina bikes from their line last year, but they return this year with some great updates. This is the Cortina AX2, a 1×11 SRAM Apex Hydro-equipped bike. The frame is butted aluminum to give a comfortable ride without a weight penalty.
Marin in working with Naild and have spec’d their Navit fork and locking thru-axle on the Cortina AX2.
To manage heat with 140mm rotors and a carbon fiber fork, Naild produced this aluminum heat sink to make sure that the fork isn’t compromised under hard braking.
The Cortina features a geometry that is more gravel than cyclocross. With more BB drop than you’d see in a traditional ‘cross bike, the bike should handle well on long descents. Brazeons give riders a choice between racks and fenders, so you can commute in the rain or do loaded touring, or light bike packing. The AX2 packs a lot into a package that’s only $2099.
Marin showed another bike that really grabbed my attention. The Hawk Hill Jr. is a 120mm-travel bike made for pint-sized shredders. The aluminum frame is built around 24-inch wheels, but in a stroke of genius that recalls bikes that can run both Plus tires/wheels and 29er sets, the Hawk Hill Jr. has clearance enough to run 26-inch wheels, which should give parents who make the investment in this bike another couple of years of use.
The Hawk Hill Jr. comes spec’d with an X-Fusion Velvet RL fork.
The shock is X-Fusion’s O2 Pro R shock. The bike has 120mm travel both front and rear, which probably feels more like 160mm of travel for someone who is less than five feet tall.
For anyone who might live in a place where the mud recalls peanut butter, the Hawk Hill Jr. provides terrific clearance whether you run 24 or 26-inch wheels. The bike goes for only $1499.