This was my very first trip to Interbike. After years of seeing the reports from across the Internet I was delighted to have the chance to attend in person. I arrived just in time to make the last shuttle of Day One to the Outdoor Demo in Boulder City, a 30-minute drive outside Vegas.
When I got there, the wind was blowing hard. The exhibitors were using their own people as tent weights at times, grabbing hold of the canopies to keep them on the ground. Despite this, there was a very relaxed vibe to the place. Although the majority of the riding there was being done on mountain bikes, there were many high-end road bikes available for demo. I took a look around, made a plan for the next day, and then headed back out on the earliest possible shuttle on the second day to demo some of these bikes.
I was fortunate enough to test two bikes from the Argon 18 lineup: the Nitrogen aero bike and the Gallium Pro. In the strong wind, the Nitrogen proved to be a handful for me on the descent to Lake Mead, with the bike moving around in the wind. At the turnaround point, everything changed and it proved to be a comfortable, stiff and capable climber as I headed back toward the demo area.
The Gallium Pro proved to be more suited for those conditions. Where the Nitrogen was noticeably affected by the wind, the Gallium tracked completely predictably. Climbing back after the turnaround was, if anything, even easier on the Gallium. The Nitrogen seems like a superb bike for the right conditions, but the Gallium seemed like a superb bike for almost any conditions.
One of the other standout bikes, and one that I knew nothing about previously, was the Open U.P., highlighted in last week’s Newsletter by Jim Langley. I got more intrigued as the bike was being described to me.
This is the best reason I have seen yet for the use of disc brakes. By that I mean that you can swap out wheelsets to transform the bike. The wide seatstays and fork allow for many different wheel widths to be used, allowing you to,in effect, change the bike from a road machine to a gravel grinder to a cyclocross bike. I tested it with 650b wheels and was able to keep up with the mountain bikes riding alongside me on the trails.
Alto Velo, a startup wheel company, ably demonstrated their new wheelsets. Bobby Sweeting, the CEO, invited me to hold the wheel by the axels and spin it around. I’ve never felt smoother and freer-spinning hubs before. On the demo ride, I was amazed at how quickly the wheels would spin up and would then hold their speed. According to Alto Velo, they have developed tolerances that exceed anything else in the industry. I will be reviewing a set of these new wheels soon.
Interbike, the Indoor Show
As John mentioned leading off, the show itself is immense. Finding your way around even with a very specific idea of what you want to see is hard to pull off successfully — there’s always something to catch your eye. Here are a handful of my highlights. And look for some of these, and other, products to be the subjects of RBR product reviews in the coming months.
Bolle has entered the road bike helmet market. The company’s soon-to-be-released offering, called The One, was very interesting to see, with a built-in “sunglasses garage,” a rear light and a comfortable liner for winter riding. The helmet will sell for $129.99 in standard trim. Adding removable aero shields in the premium version increases the price to $169.99.
Kali Protectives is the only helmet maker we saw (there may be others we are not aware of) offering an alternative to MIPS, using a licensed system they call BumperFit 2.0. The idea is the same – to mitigate the impact forces on your brain in the event of a crash. Kali also uses a system called Composite Fusion Plus to meld together the shell and the foam, with additional softer and harder foam layers for better protection. This complete system will appear in their Kava time trial helmet to be released before the end of 2015.
Blinded by the Light(s)
High-power self-contained LED lights were everywhere at the show, and we will be conducting a roundup of many of these lights soon.
Offerings suitable for typical road riding in dark conditions range from 600- to 1200-lumen models. Rather than just throwing light down the road, however, manufacturers are starting to consider how to tune lenses for peripheral lighting, illumination from the side of the light, accelerometers to detect when the rider is braking and to increase the output of the rear light, plus many more features.
In our roundup review later this year, we will be covering models from (at a minimum) Lezyne, Knog, CatEye, Niterider, Serfas, C3 Sports and SeeSense.