Sometimes it really is just the little things. Amidst the overload that is Interbike the wisdom of the market place quickly tells all. This year, that wisdom said the new kind of took the year off. A large portion of the offerings from the bigger players remained essentially similar to last year. There may have been paint and model changes but for the most part the bikes, trailers, carriers, wheels, and all the rest kind of remained, well... the same. Retailers and trade agreed that the one radically new item for this year's Interbike was the SRAM Red Groupo (the "in name" for shifting and running gear components).
Red is now officially the lightest and most high tech component set, and it achieves this weight supremacy through the use of carbon fiber and titanium parts, as well as ceramic bearings for component functions. Designed exclusively for race applications, early reports say it operates as smoothly as Mario Cippolini in a Vegas club and shifts quietly even under hard acceleration of pro race conditions.
So what then was the buzz for the show? Green! Many major brands are now seeking to identify with and produce products that fall under the environmental friendly category. Led by Pedros (the bicycle tool and lube company) whose early offerings of biodegradable lubes and cleaners came early and whose line continues to expand their green foot print with products like their ethic line of recyclable bags, the outdoor bicycling industry is attempting to embrace and protect the environment in which we all live. Their entire booth is built to be recycled and re-used and incorporates plyboo (plywood from bamboo) in its construction. What's so great about bamboo? It's part of the grass family, so if properly harvested, it doesn't contribute to deforestation. Bamboo "crops" are back at the same level of production four years after harvesting.
Zoic Bike Wear was among the first to show us their new Cordura and Bamboo fiber blends. Fully expecting scratchy and abrasive material our staff was pleasantly surprised at the subtle, slippery comfort of the fabric. Woven to keep the Cordura on the outside of the fabric, the inner bamboo is truly comfortable against the skin. While serving the traditional tight aero fit of the road bikers, they also feature a line of off-road and casual gear for mountain bikers or emerging cyclists which they aptly term ride and wear.
Helios Sports is featuring a great line of environmentally friendly socks, manufactured in Italy for performance athletes, their technically driven line of comfort and endurance reinforced socks go to every sports application. Their cycling socks feature fabric made from bamboo, wood (Lenpur cultivated wood fiber) and a totally new one, milk fiber. They use milk proteins and break it down to the amino acids and chain them into fiber. Brilliant eco-friendly materials combined with extra padding and support form a performance enhanced athletic sock.
Responding to the growing commutation/transportation market many utility products are being offered. Burley and many others are expanding their trailer lines for cargo purposes as well as child carriers. Continuing in last years trend, they designed more fun trailers like the new Tiger.
New anti-theft devices created a buzz around many booths. Integral rim locks are being built into many designs such as those found on the Breezer line of bikes. Joe Breeze, the founder and designer of this expanding niche of transportation bikes, is quietly building wolves in sheep's clothing. This former bike racer is incorporating fairly aggressive frame geometry hidden under a relaxed upright cockpit. If you look closely at the Finesse (Brand new for 2008 and one of the few completely new bike designs for the year) and the Uptown, you will see a racing frame hidden under the cargo carriers and townie fenders.
Who's a PinHead? Well, literally Linda, president of Pinhead Skewers and UrbanBikeTech.com as she dances around her booth with the pinhead head in place. But her product is far from frivilous. Specially designed and keyed alike, locking skewers and clamps secure your removable bike gear and eliminate theft by rendering them non-removeable without the special key. Number coding allows you to begin with one pinhead product and then expand. Since you can order new product to work with your present key, If you were to replace your QR wheel skewers with pinheads, you could add on a pinhead for your seat post or to your other bikes. Additionally, Pinheads are far more aero than the QR levers will ever be and they're finding their way onto trials bikes. Lastly, with all the bruhaha going round in Jersey and other states, the Pinhead provides a non-quick release solution for skewer based wheels for concerned parents.
Kinetic trainers by Kurt Manufacturing have a new and very interesting trainer. Instead of rigidly locking the bike in a vertical position, their trainer pivots to allow turn simulation. As the front wheel turns the front support banks the bike and the rear trainer portion banks as well. While still holding the rear axle firmly in the trainer, the entire trainer leans into the turn keeping contact with the flywheel and providing a core building workout for the rider. Their magnetic drive (not magnetic resistance) works the fully sealed impeller in a thermodynamically neutral silicon resistance fluid for totally even resistance through out the work out.
In the realm of the different? We have the Never Reach, a hydration reservoir system for the bike... Just place the tube on your bars where your head normally winds up and suck the tube for your beverage instead of messing with a water bottle. Kinda like a hydration pack for the bike.
And then there was a unique new method of hydration and electrolyte replacement. A product called enlyten is delivered in a pack of those melt in your mouth strips, this product delivers electrolytes through direct epithelial absorption through the cheek and gum, you just stick this in your cheek like chewing tobacco and the electrolytes are delivered the same way you'd get the nicotine from the tobacco, absorbed through the lining of your mouth rather than the stomach like swallowed electrolyte. The strips are currently available in 3 flavors, Grape, Orange and Vanilla Berry.
The last event of the day was by far the most important and most inspiring of the entire Interbike week. The Wounded Warrior Project's Soldier Ride completed their ride from Phoenix to Vegas. These Wounded Warriors rode through the desert and up the hills across Boulder Dam and down through the traffic of downtown Vegas. They rode into the Sands Expo Center to promote the fantastic work of the Wounded Warrior Project and as an inspiring and healing activity for the wounded vets. These men and women who sacrificed their bodies in defense of our country, hand cranked or pedaled their bike with one leg, steered with one arm, or overcame whatever disabilities to enjoy and participate in a sport we take for granted and spend literally billions of dollars on every year. Take a second and think about throwing down the price of a hydration pack, or maybe a jersey in support of these brave men and women.
To donate now, or for more info, click here:
The Wounded Warrior Project