At the second day of Interbike's Outdoor Demo, we spent a little time with some folks as they rode through, coming off the downhill course in Bootleg Canyon outside Boulder City. As always the comments were insightful, interesting and as varied as the people we interviewed. The big noise this year seems to be 29'ers, fixed, hard tail, and suspended, but what appeared even more surprising was their fairly collective impression that mountain biking was on the comeback.
Chris Dowel, and Jeff of Beaver Sports, Fairbanks Alaska
Gary: Quite a trip down here for you, a change in the weather?
Chris: Yeah a little bit warmer
Gary: Your goals here this year?
Devon: Check out, see what's new, ride some 29'ers, experience the desert, soak up the heat
Gary: So 29'ers, getting to be a big thing in your market?
Abe: Yes, it's an upcoming thing that will become significant. Though, it might not replace the 26" mountain bike.
Gary:What's the focus in your shop?
Chris: 95% Mountain bike and 5% everything else. The mountain bike is the bike of choice for any rider in Fairbanks. Although there are 30,000 people inside the city limits and maybe another 50-60 thousand outside, the nature of the roads is not very good there, lots of chip and seal, lots of permafrost, lots of road construction in the sumer time, so the mountain bikes and then the 29'er lend them selves to be better commuters and all around bikes.
Even off road, the trails we have aren't super technical. They tend to be old logging or even gold mining roads with rolling hills. The 29'ers lend themselves very well to that. And for winter riding in Fairbanks the 29'ers win the bill with their bigger contact patch, a bigger footprint which means better float in snowy conditions. We are the dog mushin', cross country ski, and snow machine capital of the world, so the amount of trails in the winter time far exceed the amount of trails in the summer time. They create virtual highways for us winter bikers to ride on.
Gary: Is there much ice biking up there?
Chris: Ice and snow, yeah ice biking is more of a commuter type application wherever cars and roads are, studded tires are necessary. But if you are out recreational riding the dog mushin' trails it's mostly just snow pack. The bigger the tire the better, the larger diameter of the 29'er coupled with 2.3 or 2.5 (if your frame can fit it) is the best for that environment
Gary: Jeff, everything he said, truth or lies?
Jeff: All truth, we're here together from Alaska and I got his back!
Caleb Cambern, Fat Tire Cyclery, ride for The Fix out of Boulder Colorado.
Nick Simcik, High Gear Cyclery out of Longmont Colorado, ride for The Fix Bike Shop
Nick Moore, Mountain Works and Bingham Cyclery
Gary: Where is the market going in the year coming up?
Caleb: Our focus is high end cycling, Road, Mountain Downhill, everything, family oriented and family owned with entry level bikes as well. Then downhill scene, lighter, stronger, and with a better warranty.
Nick Simcik: I would have to say the new SRAM Road Gruppo, it's supposed to be a step above Dura Ace and nice and light. They have triathlon stuff and I see that as a big trend around here looking at the high end road stuff.
Nick Moore: We have quite a bit of family oriented stuff, BMX, Comfort and Cruisers, for family and recreation, we do trailers and that sort of stuff. A little high end Mountain mainly just in trail bikes, and then high end Road as well.
Gary: You look like you just came off the mountain, did you have fun?
Nick Simcik: Absolutely! Love it, good traction. I do trips out here every year from Colorado, so I'm used to it, it's good, and it's good for tire companies too because you absolutely destroy tires out here (laughter). My boss flew me out here to do some research, product testing, and to find out what we can improve the shop with and sell better.
Gary: What are you impressed with this year?
Nick Simcik: There's a new company that's called Tire Balls, they produce these small air packets that fit inside your tire that allow you to run lower pressure. It's pretty cool, I think it's a good concept, we'll see what happens under product testing. I got a beta testing application I'm dropping off to them today.
Nick Moore: I think everything in the bike industry is going to ride on the shoulders of the small companies. As the core riders get more specialized, we don't want to buy form the big companies. We want to buy from companies designing their bikes in the field, not on a computer. The smaller independent fabricators are going to be the new Mountain Biking. The younger generation is what is going to make this sport a more lucrative business for everyone.
Aaron Morgan (photographer) and Darren Croak: Darren is an outdoor writer featured in Bike Magazine, Bicycle retailer and Industry News, National Geographic Adventure, and Mountain Bike.com.
Gary: How many times at Interbike?
Darren: This is actually my second time, but it's been 5 years since my first.
Gary: So this is a new venue for the outdoor demo for you, how do you like it?
Darren: I love it, but I have to say it feels crowded. I mean it's great, it's a wonderful venue, the trails are really great to try out the bikes. You have short, you have longer, you have technicals, you have steep, you know climbs, but I just feel that you are kind of packed in there it's kind of hard to negotiate.
Gary: What do you think is happening in the bicycling industry?
Darren: Oh man, well I just did a piece for Bicycle Retailer and well, different high end bikes, like Turner, Titus, and those guys... We just rode the new SRAM Red which is the road component group this morning. It's the world's lightest, it's under 2000 grams for the entire group, and it's pretty incredible. They said it's all ceramic and carbon, and it's just the advancements in materials and technology are pretty incredible.
Chuck Christensen and Dawn Wafer- Dr. Jay's Bike Shop Buellton CA. (The home of Split Pea Soup. - Who knew?)
Gary: You just came off the mountain, how was it?
Chuck: The ride is great, a little loose but the bike are soakin it up. Right now I'm on a Intense with Shimano components, we like the Shimano stuff.
Gary: So what's your mission here today?
Dawn: We just wanted to test ride all the different bikes to see what we want to carry in the store and also personal, to have some fun. You know, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!
Wesley: American Cyclery, San Francisco Baby.
Gary: Tell me about you and the store, what do you do there?
Wesley: Sales, wrenching, and everything else. We're definitely all service, specializing in mountain bikes, road bikes. American Cyclery was opened up in 1941 by a six day racer named Oscar Juner. We carry on that tradition with Track bikes, various types of Road and Mountain Bikes. American Cyclery was central in the development of the early mountain bike as a lot of folks would come in to see Oscar for fancy imported parts such as triple cranks baby!
Gary: Industry wide, where do you think it's going?
Wesley: I think more people are cycling, and that's what counts. Everyday somebody buys a bike from us for commuting. Some of the highest gas prices and one of the best places to ride a bike, we cycle all year here, no problem.
First, I'm gonna ask them how much they commute. Then try to set them up with a bike that's gonna work and exceed their expectations. Everybody is different and that's why there is a million different bikes.
Amanda Riley, Jackson, Wyoming Development Director of Friends of Pathways, a pedestrain and cycling advocacy organization.
Gary: First time at Interbike, what do you think about it?
Amanda: People are letting us ride really nice bikes for free all day, so it's pretty awesome.
Gary: And your biking specialty?
Amanda: I'm a mountain bike racer. I did a lot of endurance bike racing this summer and a lot of short cross country races.
Gary: What about the Leadville 100?
Nicole: I came in second at the Leadville 100. Yep! Great race really fun.
Gary: How about the course here?
Nicole: No, we actually missed one because we were at our wedding. (laughter)
Gary: We'll give you a pass on that one.
Amanda: Aw, it's a blast! Oh it's such a blast! Reminds me a lot of Fruita, it's a real blast. We're here to do as much contact as possible within the industry to promote what we do. Jackson is a really active cycling community and we feel like what Friends of Pathways does definitely promotes and helps cycling businesses. If it weren't for us building good trails, good bike paths and making sure the roads are safe there wouldn't be bicycle shops selling bikes nearly as much as they do. We just want to make it known by all the dealers and retailers in the Jackson community that we are really involved in the cycling community and support what we do as well as support their shops.
Gary: What do you see as trend in the bicycling industry.
Amanda: You mean in terms of disciplines?
Amanda: Anything that's getting kids more excited about cycling is dead on. I think a lot of what's going on in dirt jumping and the BMX and the free ride stuff is definitely taking off. I think it should be up to everyone to look at what is getting the younger group of kids excited about cycling and help them promote that and make sure the communities are supporting what the kids want to do. I mean if the kids are into BMX, then the kids should have a BMX track, if they wanna ride and just cruise around pathways, then they should have paved pathways to cruise around on.