There’s a certain amount of activity at Interbike, a portion of the wares displayed at Interbike that are necessary to the general feel of the show but aren’t really critical to the actual commerce of the show, stuff that helps to make Interbike a cool place to visit even if you don’t particularly need the item at hand. After all, cycling trades on nothing so much as passion, that promise of a good time.
I swear to something or other that these orange sparkle Stingray-esque grips by Electra were absolutely one of my favorite things I saw at the show. When I was a kid, one of the first ways I inspected a bike was to check out the grips, and few grips were as cool as the ones on Schwinn Stingrays. I kinda want a bike expressly for the purpose of installing these grips. Say what you want about the cart and horse—a man has to have priorities.
This A. Homer Hilsen frame was used as a prop for SKS products, such as their fenders. It would be easy to be bummed that such a magnificent piece of artisanal frame building was slumming it with plastic fenders, but I’m really glad for it. Had the guys at SKS not had the good sense to do this, one of the prettiest bikes at the show would simply not have been at the show. I could have spent an hour staring at this bike, rather than the two minutes that I devoted to it.
I’m so glad that the head tube badge has not just made a comeback, it is in what can be rightfully termed as its golden age.
Dario Pegoretti always shows off a bunch of really gorgeous bikes, but this one takes the art of what he does and elevates it into a truly unique plane. This bike is a tribute to John Coltrane. That’s right, a bike pimping ‘Trane!
It’s one helluva a way to honor the man who has sometimes been called the defining voice of jazz.
So what do you put on the down tube of a bike celebrating Colrane? How about some fake book changes?
He finished off the treatment with a quote on the down tube that speaks to the real nature of craft. I’d forgotten this one.
I love the bike industry and the people therein. It’s always fascinating for me to take note of who is talking to whom. On the left Greg Bagni, a guy who has done more to define and occasionally turn around brands than any six agencies working in the bike biz. On the right, Joe Parkin, the man leading the vision at Paved magazine. Two guys who really get it. I felt a pang of envy not to be a part of that conversation.
Bike people are not without a sense of humor. I caught this in the Surly booth.
I wouldn’t have caught the “Rapha Free” sticker in the Surly booth had it not been for the stuffed raccoon with the cap, corn-cob pipe and mini of Wild Turkey, also in the Surly booth.
I’m not sure what led the folks at Canari to turn their booth into a family affair complete with kids in Bumbos, but it served as a nice reminder of the world outside and made me slow down for a moment to say hi to the little people. And on a day that was pretty delightful, I had a bit more of a smile as I walked away from their booth. I love the gear, but it’s the people who keep me coming back.
Press Camp is both the best and most difficult aspects of of a trade show rolled together. It’s the best of a what a trade show can be because you had the ability to receive the complete attention of whoever you’re meeting with. And it’s a chance to pick up anything you’re interested in and really look it over, also without the worry of being interrupted by anyone. But it’s also challenging in that every conversation you have could go on for at least an hour longer than you have time for. At Interbike I’ll schedule a 15 minute meeting with someone and not have enough time to find out what the new products are. Here at Press Camp, I have 45 minutes and we end up digging deep into the first half-dozen products and end up not having enough time to get through the others. No matter how much time you have, it seems never to be enough. Thankfully, I consider this to be a happy problem.
I’ve been meeting with people who aren’t necessarily core to what RKP is about, such as Hayes. Yes, they offer this amazing forged cable-actuated cyclocross disc brake shown above. And ‘cross bikes are firmly in the wheelhouse of RKP. But really, I stopped by to learn more about their suspension forks and many brakes. Anyone who does that much good work I want to check out; after all, their brands also include Answer and Manitou.
Years ago, I reviewed plenty of Canari clothing and used it in photo shoots. It was fairly inexpensive stuff and good price points. Since then, the quality has risen noticeably and the price hasn’t increased that much. It’s nice to see a company invest in Southern California manufacturing, while offering many of the high-end features you see elsewhere, such as digital printing, full zips and hidden seams. While there I saw what was one of the more intriguing pairs of sub-$150 pairs of bibs I’ve encountered in a good 10 years. Expect to hear more on those.
I first used a Camelbak in 1996. Back then, the product was good, but had plenty of issues, many of which I can no longer recall. As the company has improved and evolved, their packs have become more sophisticated and the bladders stronger, better fitting and less likely to impart any taste. Above are just a few of the different bladders they produce at their own facility. For where I live, the pack mule approach to spare gear is never necessary. There are no lightning-laced afternoon thundershowers and the temperature won’t drop 20 degrees as dusk approaches, but my mountain bike won’t carry more than one water bottle and I don’t go out for mountain bike rides on the weekend that aren’t at least three hours, so hydration is an issue. I encountered some new packs from Camelbak that I’ll be trying as soon as I’m back.
Assos is here and this was a chance for me to see some new products on the way for 2013. There have been some revisions to base layers that should make them noticeably more comfortable than most, if not all, their competition. And with four different weights, they produce something perfect for whatever conditions you’re riding in. Above is the jersey that will be worn by the Swiss team at the Olympics. I can already see Cancellara killing it in this jersey. Inside the jersey collar I noticed a little inscription.
My German is beyond rusty (think Yugo in a junk yard and you’ll get an accurate picture), but the inscription suggests that the jersey is to be used by the nation’s heroes in pursuit of the top step of the podium. Not bad.
I also had meetings with Clif, where I received a few new samples and we spent time discussing just how cool a life Gary and Kit lead (yes, I’m envious), and Cannondale. Honestly, I wanted to get more familiar with their mountain bike line, just because I find them interesting. (It has either helped or not helped depending on your personally outlook that I’ve been sharing a room with Richard Cunningham of Pink Bike and he’s had a Claymore here in the room that I continue to eye with fascination; at 180mm of travel, it’s a park bike and something I must admit, I have no idea how to ride.) Alas, they’ve got some cool stuff going on with road and that’s all we really had time to discuss. The big news on the road are a few new models of the SuperSix EVO. They are now offering a women’s model, and in five different sizes. And as is to be expected with any truly conscientious work, each size not only receives a full set of its own molds, but the layup schedule changes for each size, giving each bike a consistent flex pattern for the riders. There’s also a new SuperSix EVO made with intermediate modulus carbon to bring that model down to a more affordable price point, as well as a new layup of the SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod in which they’ve done a bit of judicious refinement in the layup schedule to shave another 40 grams or so from the frame and they say become the undisputed leader in the weight game.
We spent a lot more time discussing their ongoing work with aluminum and how much bike they continue to deliver even with an entry-level bike like one of the CAAD 10s. Watch for a pair of reviews of the CAAD 10 and SuperSix EVO in the near future.
It’s worth mentioning that one of the most-discussed products here yesterday was the just-announced Giro Air Attack helmet.
Even though the helmet won’t be available until spring of next year, it had most of us talking. And while the press materials make a compelling case for why it will keep you just as cool as any of today’s helmets, what had everyone’s curiosity, of course, was its shape. The helmet is said to offer a significant aerodynamic advantage, but many of us, and if I’m honest, that group includes me, struggled to get past the look. It’s worth noting that we’ve come to accept and even champion some head-ware that has no real analog in nature. Put another way: We’ve come to accept a pretty strange looking device—even like it. The strangeness of the look of the Air Attack says more about what we accept than what it truly is, which is a lot closer in shape and look to other sporting helmets.
I’ll do my wrap-up of today’s meetings this weekend as I leave here before lunch for a flight to an undisclosed location for the introduction of a new Specialized S-Works product. It should make for some great photos.