As a kid, I could never quite wrap my head around a visit to the toy store. On the one hand, everything I could ever want was there. On the other, I knew I couldn’t have it all, and so an ontological crisis ensued any time my parents asked me what ONE thing I’d like to take home with me.
Interbike is like that.
Even my jaded adult self has trouble quelling the rip tides of gear lust that drag me down every aisle of the show until I’m standing in front of some booth at the outer reaches of the convention center staring at glittery, fluttery grips for kids’ bikes. There, in that comical space, I can take a breath and do some not-wanting.
Last year, Padraig and I walked the floor together, shaking hands with friends old and new and trying not to let on how badly we wanted at least four of the things in their booths. I will confess now that the things that grabbed me last year were, in no particular order, Giro’s Empire shoes, Pegoretti‘s paint jobs, and the Chrome backpacks they were customizing on-site. This is the short list, the stuff I wanted to grab and make a break for the exit with.
My natural aversion to Las Vegas, or more specifically the Vegas strip, where America spills its banks so ostentatiously, does little to dampen my interest in the latest and greatest cycling finery. It is only fortunate that most of what’s on display is not for sale, and I am, by and large, able to drag my weary bones back out to the airport and doze quietly while some poor soul who didn’t get quite enough, deposits the last of his cash into a slot machine in the departure lounge.
This week’s Group Ride wonders what YOU are most interested in seeing from Interbike. What new products are on your horizon? What should we be looking for, bringing back pictures of, reviewing for the upcoming season? What toy would you pluck from the shelf, if you could only pick one?
The big news from Cervelo wasn’t exactly earth-shattering, but it was good news nonetheless. The company’s S5 model, their very quick aero road frame is now available in the company’s relatively recent VWD variant. The upshot here is that the S5 should now have a livelier presence on the road. Also, the company debuted any number of new finishes, which if there has been one thing about Cervelo that can get really old it’s that the company can go years without changing a paint scheme. Not only are the new finishes, well, new, but I think they are pretty good looking and some of them even forego the clearcoat that covers almost all of their work, which is another step in the right direction in terms of road feel.
Race-winning bikes are always fun to check out at Interbike and Cervelo didn’t miss the opportunity to show off Ryder Hesjedal’s rig from his recent Giro win. Take a moment, if you would, to look at the incredible amount of seatpost showing on this 56cm frame as well as the 14cm tiller keeping the handlebar in place. I couldn’t help noticing, either that with the Di2 batter in its spot, the seat-tube-mounted water bottle cage is too low to allow the water bottle to be fully inserted. That’s a small oops in an otherwise amazing bike and crazy PRO fit. How anyone can ride that low and still climb remains a mystery to me.
I saw a bunch of new bags at Lezyne (rhymes with design). Given the cost of a decent pair of bibs—let alone the cost of an amazing pair of bibs—I’m unwilling to use a seat bag that features a Velcro strap that wraps around the seatpost. My favorite designs that qualify are from Fi’zi:k and Lezyne and this new design shown on the white bag above uses a clamp that secures to the saddle rails and allows the seat bag to be removed as easily as some bike computers. No rattle, no Velcro.
Also new at Lezyne were a couple of smart phone bags that allow you to protect your smart phone while maximizing the space in your back pocket. In insulating the phone while combining a few pockets with the overall carrier, plus adding a loop of webbing for ultra-quick retrieval, they created one of the most useful and truly new products I saw at the show. Well done.
The Mega Drive light, shown above, foreground, is a 1000 lumens light that will last for 1.5 hrs. At 500 lumens it will go for three hours, while on the 200 lumens setting it will last a whopping seven hours. All for $200. I suspect this light and the many other new lights in Lezyne’s line will be cast in the roles of game changers. We pointed the light at the roof of the convention center while on the 1000 lumens setting; it was bright enough at that distance to reveal that the Sands could use a serious dusting above the 60-foot elevation. I’m just sayin’.
File this one under “Not Dead Yet.” The GF02 is a new bike from BMC. It takes the design concepts used in the carbon fiber gran fondo bike, GF01—such as the whispy, flexing seat stays—and translates them into an aluminum frame. Yep, aluminum. This Red-equipped bike weighed in under 16 lbs. The production bike will be sold with choices of Red, Ultegra Di2, Ultegra or 105 and will bring BMC’s work into a new, more affordable price tier.
Chrome has been the go-to brand for the urban commuter since essentially the brand’s inception. They’ve expanded their offerings over the years into clothing, some urban-oriented technical wear and now they even offer shoes. Everything I saw from them at the show seemed really solid, but the items that most impressed me were their new series of camera bags. The open bag on display here will carry a couple of camera bodies as well as lenses and has a pocket (note where the hand is slipping into the bag) that will fit a 15″ laptop. There are waterproof pockets for your SD cards and given that it zips open like butterfly wings, everything within the bag is easily accessible. I don’t really want to carry that much camera gear while riding a bike (I mean, I seriously don’t want that much camera gear on my body, ever, but if it was, I wouldn’t want to have to ride a bicycle at the same time) but I concede that there are times when nothing else would be as practical. In those instances, this bag looks as well-thought-out as any I’ve ever seen.
A Personal Note
For each of the last 20 years I’ve gone to Interbike with the stated intention of seeing the latest and greatest the bike industry has to offer. When I went to my first show, in Atlantic City back in 1992, it really was just to see the bike stuff. I was eager to see all the stuff the shop I worked for wasn’t carrying. Every time I could get someone to acknowledge me and walk me through their products it was a kind of victory. Heck, back then, I really didn’t even know what questions to ask.
At a certain point in my education I began to understand how to ask the right questions, questions that showed I not only was interested in the product at hand, but understood the challenge of creating a competitive product within that category, which would lead to questions like, “Why did you decide to go with the full zip rather than the 3/4 invisible zip?” It was an opening for someone to talk about who they were as a company.
It took a while but there came a point when I realized that no matter how many of those questions I asked, I really hadn’t built a relationship with any of the staff at those companies. It wasn’t until we allowed the conversation to veer off-topic, into the riding we did, the traveling that’s not for work, where we live or family and heritage. These days, those are the conversations I live for. That’s where the magic happens, where you can really have a laugh. Robot and I spent some time in the Gita booth talking with creative director Jenny Tuttle. Gita is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, which gave us a chance to talk about the South and Southern Vernacular, in particular the obvious difference between saying “y’all” and “all y’all.” And we may have even bonded over the insane usefulness of a statement like, “All y’all are full of shit.” I didn’t know Jenny before that day, but I walked out of their booth convinced she’s my kinda peeps.
When I was young, I used to think that talking family was kind of a copout, like you had run out of more important stuff to talk about. Some years passed between when I understood what talking family meant and when my son was born and with the advent of Facebook, there was a lot of talk of kids at the show. Crazy what kind of fun that is. That said, the most memorable and even most visceral conversation I had at the show was with a group of guys in the Enve booth where the talk of the number of kids inevitably turned to talk of controlling the number of kids. Yes, the big V. And I don’t mean victory. One among us had done it and I can assure you no talk at the show caused anyone to to squirm more or laugh harder than I did that morning.
The garage looks as a garage should. A phalanx of bikes hung across the back wall. A repair stand with half-ass repair in progress. A tool chest with bike stickers, drawers in various states of openness, the hex keys to the fore. Then a big plastic parts bin, too random to catalog, as well as another bin with lights, fenders, mismatched pedals, frame pumps, old shoe covers, water bottle cages, flotsam, jetsam and bric-a-brac. Two floor pumps. Three sets of orphaned wheels. A pile of tires. A shelf of lubes. Another shelf entirely dedicated to inner tubes needing repair. By the door, a rack with helmets, road, mountain and BMX.
Enter the basement. An entire coat rack devoted to cycling hats, wind vests, rain gear. A basket with seldom-used gloves, more hats, warmers, arm, knee and leg, and a few u-locks. Vintage cyclocross poster by the door. Posters from local races. A product poster with Cippolini on it, riding, laughing, text in Italian. The trainer, Kurt Kinetic, slung over by the TV. A pile of unwashed kit by the washing machine. That post-ride tang hanging in the air from when, last weekend?
Climb the stairs.
The living room offers up only a couple subtle clues. An RKP water bottle, half empty/half full. The kids use all my best water bottles to stay hydrated after obscenely large bowls of movie popcorn. On the bookshelf, a few cycling DVDs, Stars and Water Carriers, Overcoming, the 1994 Paris Roubaix.
On the kitchen counter, a brand new, tags-on Castelli cyclocross beanie, in gray. Also a copy of peloton, issue seven. Nearby, the bowl that holds the various and sundry on-bike nutritional products, ShotBloks, GUs, Lara Bars.
The half bath is a veritable trove. Copies of Cycling Plus, Road Bike Action, Velo, as well as the Colorado Cyclist catalog. A large framed poster from the 1943 Volta Cataluña, a smaller frame with the cover of the 1893 Columbia Safety Bicycles catalog. Two square canvases with original stencil art, one of the great Coppi, the other of Raymond Poulidor. It’s a half bath, but it’s all-cycling.
The dining room is littered with more evidence. My courier bag, Chrome Metropolis, black, ‘ROBOT’ stenciled across the back, a three-way flasher bolted through the top flap. Also, a small pile of gloves from Descente, Capo and Giro. The rest of the Castelli order, still tagged and cosseted in plastic; two thermal skull caps, one red, one black; a pair of Pavé bib tights; a smart, gray wool jersey; a pair of Diluvio gloves. Also, a pair of well-worn Sidis, tucked under a chair.
Up the stairs and into the bedroom. Lycra hung on door knobs and hooks, mostly to dry out before going into the hamper. Half pairs of nice wool socks on the floor, the other halves eaten by the greedy-ass dryer or simply hiding in another load. Beside the bed, another pile of cycling magazines, Patrick Brady’s “The No-Drop Zone”, for reference, and the inevitably large bedside “Journey Through Hell” that I never manage to finish reading, mostly because I only look at the pictures.
The bathroom keeps its secrets pretty well, but for those with the temerity to breach the medicine chest, there are multiple tubs of embrocation, Cream of Courage and Mad Alchemy’s Madness, as well as an Icy Hot balm stick, for when you just need that old, medicinal burn.
There’s a pair of wool RKP socks on top of the stairs, too. Who left those there? I did.
We could peek into the kids’ room. There will be more water bottles there. The little thieves.
The attic is cycling-free. Only insulation up there.
Look, I don’t know how all this happened. Credit cards were swiped. Gifts were given. SWAG was had. I traded for some of it, and because of what I do, much of it just washed in on the tide like so many broken clam shells and bits of sea vegetable.
In a court of law, I’d be easy to convict. I’m a cyclist. At some point you don’t have to be caught red-handed. The weight of circumstance is enough. The truth is, if you hang around long enough, it just gets all over you.
Follow me on Twitter @thebicyclerobot.