I spent my first day of Interbike, which was Tuesday, at the Outdoor Demo. It’s held in Boulder City on Monday and Tuesday. Dubbed the town that built the Hoover Dam, it’s about a half hour outside of Vegas.
Just for Interbike, the town built a bike park called Bootleg Canyon, where the Demo has been held for years. Here show-goers can actually ride many of the new bicycles to be displayed at the indoor show later in the week. So it’s well worth getting out there.
Before choosing a dream bike to ride, I took a look at the amazing Fuji SL 1.1, which was hanging from a scale reading 10.5 pounds. At $9,999, it has to be the most lightweight bang for your buck ever. The SL is 19% lighter than any model Fuji has offered before, yet it’s stiffer in all the right places for excellent performance. The frame weighs a mere 695 grams. For your $10K you also get a pair of $4,000+ Reynolds Razor carbon wheels! I wish I could have ridden it.
I then spent a couple of fun hours on a 44-mile paved bike path through the desert riding to Lake Mead and back (yes, Vegas has some incredible riding) on a Giant TCR Pro Advanced. I had seen a TV segment on it during the Tour this year and wanted to try their top-line race rig. At $5,500, with full Dura-Ace and Giant composite wheels, it offers nice value and a magnificent ride. I only wish it came in something other than black (see below), which seems to be what every company is going with now on their carbon uberbikes (I like colors).
After that long ride, I took a Co-Motion Siskiyou out for a shorter spin because I was running out of time. I’m interested in the new adventure road bikes with 650B-wheels and tires and disc braking. The Siskiyou is known for its lively ride even fully dressed for touring, and I loved how its Reynolds 725 chromoly frame and fat tires handled Bootleg City’s mix of gravel and blacktop. I see it as a great choice if you want a do-it-all bike with a fast and wonderfully comfortable ride.
On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I joined John and Paul at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center for Interbike’s indoor show. Even if you had a month, it’s so huge you couldn’t possibly see every interesting item. I talk too much, too, and that slows me down a lot.
But that’s how I found out about a few cool things that might interest you. Like the VeloFix mobile bike-repair franchise -- essentially a tiny shop inside a Sprinter van for making house calls, or setting up shop on a business or college campus. I get emails all the time asking about going into the bike biz, so I know this concept is appealing. They’ve already sold 31 franchises at a cost of about 25K and another 90K for the loaded Mercedes Sprinter (which Mercedes will finance). I did not get to talk to them, but there was another company like this at the show called Beeline Bikes.
All bike shops need qualified mechanics, and there aren’t enough to go around these days. Aaron Jacobs at Project Bike Trip explained that they’re working hard to help with their Bike Tech at School program, basically like the auto shop classes at school, but ones that teach bicycle mechanics so that skilled graduates can find jobs in bike shops. They’ve been doing it at six different schools is Santa Cruz, California, since 2006, and they were at Interbike to introduce the idea to other cities across the country. Great idea!
Next, Manuel Paliungas of Bicycle Angels (perfect name) told me how their non-profit organization loans road or triathlon bikes to any qualified charity ride participant. In this way, they make it possible for people who do not own bicycles to train for and participate in the charity of their choice. And by doing this, they introduce newbies to our awesome sport. Bicycle Angels partners with most well-known fundraisers, such as Team in Training, AIDs Lifecycle, MS Society, Diabetes Society and a lot more.
Back on the hunt for new products, I found the Mio Fuse ($149), an EKG-level wrist heart rate monitor for both activity tracking and health and wellness monitoring. With the Fuse there’s no chest strap because its electro-optical cells detect the heart rate by shining a light through the skin. It’s very clean and high-tech and a nice upgrade if you dislike wearing chest straps. I asked for a sample so I might test and review it later this year. In the meantime, here are some videos: https://vimeo.com/110916217
A couple of booths over was Redshift Sports, which was showing their Shockstop stem, one of the cleanest shock-absorbing stems I’ve seen. Designed to complement any fine road bike, you can hardly tell that it’s hinged and includes exchangeable elastomers to provide up to 1.5cm of vibration-damping travel. Made of 6061 aluminum and weighing a svelte 238 grams in a 9cm length, it retails for $140 and will be available by April of 2016. Redshift launched this new product on Kickstarter (click the Shockstop link above for more info).
Then, I watched a demonstration of the first bike repair iPhone app I’ve ever seen that actually adjusts your rear derailleur. Well, you do the adjusting but the app includes gauges that you mount to your derailleur and cassette. You then use the phone’s camera to sight markers on the gauges that tell the app what adjustments the derailleur needs to perfect the shifting. Your smartphone then talks you through the correct adjustments to make! The app with tools is called the Otto Tuning System ($39) by Otto Design Works, and I have a sample to test and will review it sometime soon because the concept is fascinating. In the future they will add to the app, with stem and seat centering tools, which I also can’t wait to try.
Speaking of cell phones, if you’re like me, you carry one on rides. If you do longer rides or multi-day events, you’ll need to keep your phone charged. This can be a challenge if you’re on a popular ride with hundreds of people looking for ways to charge theirs. No worries! Just set your bike up with two nifty products from Sinewave Cycles. You’ll need to build a wheel (or have them do it) around one of their Shutter Precision dynamo front hubs that generate electricity as you ride. And then add to it their Reactor, a cool stem cap-mounted USB port. Voila! With this setup you can keep your phone, headlight and anything else that needs charging fully powered and ready to go.
Having struggled with knee pain over the years, and knowing that widening your pedal stance (with spacers) can help some riders get past it, I was next drawn into Nikola’s booth. Their XP5 pedals boast 25mm of lateral pedal motion. But what’s unique is that your foot moves out at the bottom of the stroke and in at the top. Nikola believes that this dual-motion provides a more powerful and more ergonomic pedaling motion for some riders. I tried it on a bike on a trainer and it felt perfectly natural. They have a stainless-steel spindle model for $199 and a titanium version for $499. They are Look Keo-compatible.
To end on something more old-school or classic -- and because winter is coming in North America, check out Detours new-for-2016 Revenna Rain Cape. This waterproof cape packs into itself so you can always have it along for rides, sells for $88, has reflective accents and is made of coated nylon with sealed seams for excellent rain protection. (This product is not shown on their site yet as far as I can tell.)
Jim Langley has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He's the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check his "cycling aficionado" website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim's streak of consecutive cycling days has reached 7,935.
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