Interbike is a fascinating place, and if you ever get the chance to stroll through the booths you will find tons of fascinating products. Jeff and I were both really impressed with some of the things we saw, and at other times we were thoroughly unimpressed by some of the downright-ridiculous designs. We made sure to swing by most of our usual stops to chat with folks such as e*thirteen, Fox, iXS, Spank, SRAM, Shimano, Intense, Santa Cruz, Osprey, THE, and Easton. Interbike is seriously the greatest when it comes to getting a sneak peak at the latest gear and talking with your favorite riders.
One of my first stops was at the e*thirteen booth. It’s hard to believe you can improve on such a great crank, but e*thirteen managed to squeeze 60 grams out of last year’s design by using an alloy axle and machining a little bit off the spider here and there. Not only did the crank just go through a weight reduction, but they also managed to change up the bottom bracket, making it more durable and easier to install.
Along with the cranks, there are two clever new pedals from e*thirteen: the LG1+ and LG1R. The pedals feature an alloy body, plates that attach to the pedal, and user-selectable 4mm or 7mm pins. The LG1R has titanium spindles and pins while the LG1+ features chromoly. The difference in weight between the two pedals is 88 grams (380g and 468g, respectively).
Race Face was at the show, but you had to look really hard to find their booth. Essentially the hard goods line-up has changed ever so slightly with the introduction of the Chester cranks. The Chester is basically Race Face’s entry-level DH crank, the Respond is their mid-level, and the Atlas is their top-tier DH crank.
Race Face is also getting ready to launch the SIXC, which is a new DH crank modified with a longer-than-average axle. The SIXC cranks will be lighter than the new XO DH coming out from SRAM and the rubber boots are a nice addition meant to save the crank ends from damage.
I spent some time talking with Wendy from Race Face and she was proud to show off some of the clothing and protection that will be offered for next year. It looks like the trend is toward simple colors with large contrasting logos and neat argyle prints (kind of like the Singletracks jersey). Needless to say, Wendy (who also does the design work) has done a great job at making gear that will look cool for both men and women.
The new trend in MTB armor is softer, more flexible pieces and Race Face is on the ball with their Flank line-up. This soft wrap-around leg armor features a ton of excellent elements such as D3O on the impact points of the knee and shin and a Terry Cloth liner.
Stay tuned for more from RaceFace in the near future.
A brilliant example of lighting at Interbike was Niterider. With all their lights out on display, this booth really was a beacon in a sea of bike gear. Niterider’s best and brightest, the Pro 3000 LED, uses 6 large Cree LEDs and a massive Li-Ion battery; the whole package retails for less than $700. Along with the top model, Niterider has a light for just about every budget, including both rechargeable and non-rechargeable units. I had a chance to talk with Tom, the founder of Niterider, and it seemed that we both shared the same passion for good lighting systems and the conviction that there really weren’t any good bike lights available when Niterider started out.
FSA was displaying all of their 2012 gear nearby and the smell of high quality, nicely-finished carbon saturated the booth. The K-Force and SL-K gear for the XC-Trail rider may be a good idea for those looking to save some weight. I really appreciated the extensive use of uni-directional carbon in the products that were on display. The cranks feature a spine of aluminum to keep things stiff along with the monocoque structure that you see. With other carbon goodies in the form of bars, seat posts and stems, FSA was out to impress.
Despite not being a big 29er fan, I just had to stop and stare a while at this beautiful 29er by Ritchey. For one thing, I owned one way back in the day that was made by Tom Ritchey himself, and my bike had the same “America F*$@ ya” paint job. I kinda miss that bike, and this beautiful ride, although very modern, still has that classic look to it. I found myself wishing I had the cash to pick one up.
From the integrated seat post clamp, to the adjustable rear dropouts that allow you to go either singlespeed or geared, to the highly-polished look, this bike really is a stunner. It’s a steel frame and has a projected cost of $999 (frame only). Depending how you build it up, you can get weights down to 21lbs for a single or 23lbs if you’re going with gears.
THE was showing off their new colors for this year’s T2, along with some cool armor and gear. There’s a decent mix of mild to wild color schemes for you.
Loaded Precision was showing off a few new components for this year with their signature series wheels and pedals. For those of you who are interested, they will have a 150mm rear axle available soon in addition to all the present wheel configurations… and in a variety of colors to really pimp your bike out. Anthony from Loaded also mentioned the growing number of products in their XC line-up, including some fire-red 29er wheels!
Topeak was there showing off their vast array of pumps and gear. Some interesting additions included a new chain tool called the Link Meister which is geared toward serious users and shops. The head on the Link Meister adjusts so that you can get the pins out perfectly straight without messing things up, thanks to an adjustable shoulder which cradles the chain in the link separator. A really robust set of mud guards for suspension bikes caught Jeff’s eye as well as mine. It may have been sheer fascination about the whole idea, but I have to say they looked pretty sweet. I was thinking about tossing a pair on my DH bike…
For the Apple fanboys and fangirls out there, Topeak showed an iPhone 4 (and now iPhone 4S) compatible stem mount. Unlike the other iPhone handlebar mounts we’ve seen and used, this one put the phone front and center and leaves a cut-out for the phone’s camera. Not only can you use your iPhone as a GPS/cycling computer, now you can use it as a POV camera. Brilliant!
When you go to Interbike, you will inevitably come across some oddities along with all the cool ideas. Below is one such product in the making (which type is it? that’s up to you). Still a prototype, this 4-wheeled pedal bike features full independent suspension using Rock Shox Monarchs. As Jeff and I chatted with the owners, we did see many places were weight could be removed. Presently this bike is pushing over 50lbs.
Azonic proudly displayed the Outlaw wheels, which have been their staple product for many years and are now available in a 29er version and in an expanded color line. Along with that were bars and stems in the same color patterns for that perfect match.
Azonic has partnered up with O’neal to produce some cool looking threads and skid lids. Their focus seems to be all about color and a mix of retro patterns with modern graphics.
Before the show started, I got an invitation to visit Twenty6. Twenty6 is a small, high tech company that machines kick ass gear. Not only is the gear super slick, but they also have some rich color choices.
Below is just a sample of different color options. I’ll have a review written up soon on the Predator pedals, so stay tuned!
Remember when I mentioned that Interbike offers access to celebrity riders? Well, great riders like Matt Hunter and Darren Berrecloth were at the iXS booth for a while signing posters and chatting it up.
I even got to spend a little while chatting with Matt. Having limited time, I just had to ask him how he did a particular jump in Seasons where he boosted off a kicker into a loose wall of dirt… it looked absolutely crazy! I got him to talk about how he felt going into it for the first time. It turns out a mix of confidence and fear with a bunch of adrenaline thrown in motivated him. I was really impressed to hear that he is human like the rest of us. Just in case you’re wondering, you can meet Matt in Whistler yourself during the summer months at the Summer Gravity Camp.
Speaking of iXS, they had a great line up of new 2012 gear on display. With a huge range of colors and improvements, I can’t wait to see when they will all be available. The new METIS shown below looks even better up close. The additional pad in back provides a perfect mating to a Leatt brace, and it provides excellent ventilation.
Not only does iXS make cool helmets, but they also produce a bunch of hemispherical goggles that really rock. They offer a dozen graphic styles to match or clash your helmets. iXS’s gloves and clothing are definitely something to behold. This is one website you must visit.
Spank had a bunch of shiny, new parts on display as well. They had a prototype stem that I thought looked absolutely amazing! The stem was beautifully CNC-machined, but I was told by Gavin Vos, the co-owner of Spank, that it is just a sample and that the final forged unit will be even stronger. The introduction of complete wheels from Spank also really peaked my interest. Even though I have no issues lacing up my own wheels, a complete solution with both hubs and rims is something I personally like.
The new Spike bar with another Spike stem prototype on display.
Speaking of Spike, stay tuned for a review of the new Spike pedals which, based on my initial rides, are excellent. These beasts have forged bodies with 20 pins on a true flat / thin body. How thin? 12mm to be exact. Not the thinnest, but in practical terms you can’t get much thinner without sacrificing strength.
In a previous post we talked a bit about wheels. Well, Spank has a few wheel sets bound to suit your riding style. The Spike and Spoon wheels look excellent with a bunch of innovative features like the BeadNip profile, the OhhBah inner wall, and zero eyelet construction. Again, Gavin explained why they decided to go without eyelets. They thought, “Why drill an extra large hole and add an eyelet, when precision drilling the holes with the correct angle will make a better interface and stronger wheel?”
Kore had a bunch of glossy parts out on display as well as a neat prototype of a new 35mm-diameter bar. They aren’t trying to set another standard just for the heck of it, but they reason that with bigger hit bikes, there is a real need for stronger gear that is more resistant to fatigue.
One of my last Interbike stops was with SRAM. I talked with Tyler Morland for a while, and he showed off all the goodies to me. SRAM knows how to deliver! For one thing they had celebrities there with their bikes. Can you name the rider pictured below?
You know you done good when you have a tire named after you, like Danny Hart. Danny was around with his Giant showing off all the SRAM gear.
SRAM had all their components on display with new colors like the XO Silver, and there were other new additions to the line up like the XO DH chainring and bashguard.
Jeff and I both agree that the new X5 Group could be a game-changer next year. It looks like X9 but at a much lower price point. Tyler pointed out that essentially these two groups are the same and that the reduced pricing is a result of changes in materials. You will probably start seeing these on bikes in the $800 range – nice gear at a cheaper price point.
Shifting looks very X9ish as well.
The biggest story with SRAM is that you will have two more choices on gear for a total of 4 gear ranges for the chainrings: the original 42-28, 39-26, and now a lower 38-24 and an even lower 36-22. Another important set of products that SRAM will be releasing are easy-to-get repair kits for all your forks, shocks, and other gear.
The final stop that I had to make was Santa Cruz bikes. Like SRAM, you couldn’t miss this gorgeous booth with wall-to-wall wood and bike porn. Not to mention that Greg Minnar, Steve Peat, and Josh Bryceland were on hand as well.
Below are three of my favorite Santa Cruz bikes from the show:
The new carbon Nomad. This bike already was made even stronger than the aluminum version of the V10.
The new Carbon V10.
I got all goose-bumpy when I saw this rig! And to think that you can literally jump an entire highway with this bike and it’s still lighter than some XC bikes. What a testament to the strength found in newer carbon structures.
Santa Cruz Tallboy.
I have a lot of respect for this bike; the Tallboy is the bike that really turned me onto 29ers. A few people I know have this bike and they work magic on it–it climbs like a billy goat!
Well folks stay tuned for more – I hope to get a few more Interbike pics posted of even more sweet mountain bikes!