As we do each year in our post-show reporting on Interbike, the biggest cycling trade show in North America, we will roll out our coverage over two issues, this week and next. We’ll start off today by giving you details on our Top 10 New Products from the show – Jim Langley‘s top 5 favorites, along with mine.
Next week, we’ll follow up with the Best of the Rest, a slew of other noteworthy products, trends and notes from Interbike. Enjoy! —John Marsh
John’s 5 Favorites
We’ll talk more about trends and impressions next week, but this week we’ll focus on those products that struck us as most noteworthy (useful, novel, ground-breaking, well-designed – all of those and more are what come to mind when considering my own favorites).
1. Oakley ARO Series Helmets
Every year at Interbike, I make a point of checking out helmets simply because there is no more important piece of safety equipment in cycling. Last year’s show was dominated by a slew of new “smart” helmets that integrate Bluetooth connectivity, built-in speakers and other decidedly “non-helmet tech,” while none featured MIPS or any similar tech aimed at making riders safer.
I’m much more focused on actual “helmet tech” that thoughtfully brings together the various aspects of a great helmet into one nice package. Which is why Oakley’s first line of helmets, dubbed the ARO line, tops my list. In short, right out of the gate Oakley has managed to produce helmets that tick off just about every possible well-thought-out feature imaginable in a helmet, and at price points that slot in well below some other major helmet makers.
The new ARO line includes three different models, dubbed the 3, 5 and 7. The 3 is designed more as air flow-maximizing helmet, the 5 is a more aero helmet yet still managing air flow, and the 7 is a TT helmet, which comes with 2 face shields, one clear, one tinted, that utilize a magnetized attachment system. Following from Oakley’s eyewear pedigree, the 3 and 5 both feature an integrated eyewear dock to stow and easily retrieve sunglasses in the helmet (for those who like to sometimes take off their sunglasses). The photos below are, in order top to bottom, the ARO 3, ARO 5 and ARO 7.
All of Oakley’s new lids feature an anti-microbial brow pad to keep the nasty funk at bay, along with MIPS – the predominant anti-concussion tech.
While I was quite pleased to see that Oakley employed MIPS right from the start, my two favorite features are those that I think really show the thoughtful approach to creating these helmets. The first, and a decidedly simple feature (that I remain surprised more helmet makers do not embrace) is a Y-shaped strap guide to keep the front and back straps at the correct angles and meeting in the proper place under the ears. Typically, the only issue I ever have with helmet straps is when one side or the other occasionally starts tobrush against my ear, which is just needlessly bothersome.
The other, the real standout, is a BOA fit system featuring a first-of-its-kind TX-1 braided textile lace retention system that fits snugly to your head and does not interfere with your sunglasses. BOA systems, now in almost all high-end shoes and a few other products, like Silca’s Seat Roll Premio, use a wire filament. Oakley and BOA worked together to employ this softer textile lace, which, when tightened, fits right up against the side of your head and stays out of the way. Where other helmets snug up a piece of plastic against your head on the sides and temple area of the helmet, these Oakley helmets have only that very thin BOA lace.
Starting February 2018, the ARO Helmet Series will be globally available, with a suggested retail price of $500 USD for the ARO7, $250 for the ARO5 and $180 for the ARO3. The full Oakley cycling offering will be available online at Oakley.com and at select Oakley retail and wholesale locations.
2. Focus “Y Project” e-Road Bike
If Robert Frost were designing an e-road bike, this would be it. The genesis of the “Y Project” name is the proverbial fork in the road. Focus has decided to take “the road less traveled by” and develop a true e-road bike – not just throw some road bike features on a more typical e-bike chassis.
In fact, you would never know the prototype Y Project bike is even an e-bike just from looking at it. Focus engineers have effectively carved out the bottom side of the massive down tube and, using an ovalized 3.8-kg (8.4-lb) battery/motor unit designed by Munich start-up Fazua that plugs into that space, created a profile that nearly completely hides the power unit.
Maintaining the same Q factor and offering three assist settings, the system is also unlike other e-bikes in offering no resistance when not using the power assist. The 250 watt/hr. motor/battery brings the total weight of the bike up to about 12.5 kg (27.6 lb).
We’ll save the debate about e-road bikes’ merit for another day (trust me, we’ll be weighing in on it soon). Just know that its day is drawing ever closer. The technology is a trickle-down play from Focus; their e-mountain bikes just days ago set a new TransAlp record. According to Focus reps at the show, the Y Project bike could be a reality on the market within a year and, as one stated, “This bike gives you the best legs of your life every day.”
3. Garmin Vector 3 Power Pedals
Garmin introduced its Vector power pedals (among the first two power-measuring systems based in pedals) at the 2011 Interbike show, and they hit the market the following spring. Since then, Garmin has refined the Vector pedals twice. This new Vector 3 finally overcomes the “user experience” issues (the words of the Garmin engineer giving me the run-through, Ross Stirling) by including all the elements of the pedal inside the spindle.
The result is a pedal that looks and feels pretty much like any other high-end carbon Look-compatible pedal and weighs in at 320g for the pair. But packed inside are the strain gauges, comms, and two LR44 batteries (stacked one on top of the other) that power up to 150 hours of use on Garmin’s ANT+ communications protocol. The batteries sit at the top of the spindle and can be easily changed. The significant advantage power pedals have over other power systems (crank arm-based, hub-based) is that pedals can easily be transferred from one bike to another. And with all the “guts” inside the spindle now, it’s never been easier to do so.
About 1-1/2 years in development, the Vector 3 rolls out no later than early October. The new design increases the force-measurement accuracy and calibration, with up to a +/- 1% accuracy across a range of temperatures. The pedals remain both ANT+- and Bluetooth-compatible, utilize Garmin Connect mobile for setup and updates, fully integrate with all Garmin units and Garmin Connect, and connect with all the well-known trainer platforms, including Sufferfest, Zwift and the like. The price for the dual-sided pedal pair of Vector 3’s remains unchanged, at $999. However, a single-sided option (the 3S) is now available at $599. We’re looking forward to testing the new Vector 3’s in combination with Garmin’s new 1030 computer.
4. PI DRY Tech from Pearl Izumi
Most roadies can endure cold weather riding just fine with the proper apparel. But in the cold, any type of wetness can be a real problem, and possibly even a danger – getting splashed with snow melt, for example.
There are quite a few pieces of apparel these days that have some sort of DWR (durable water-resistant) coating on the surface, which works OK but over time wears off in the wash, works only on woven fabrics and needs to be heat dried to retain the effectiveness. Enter Pearl Izumi‘s new PI DRY technology, which is a hydrophobic treatment used on knit or woven fabrics that makes individual fibers repel water, without affecting the breathability or feel of the fabric.
PI DRY coats each individual fiber and maintains water repellency under stretch. It can be used on knit or woven fabrics, and treated garments will not saturate, keeping the rider dry and warm, even in less-than-ideal conditions. Now you can splash through a puddle and the wetness will simply run off. The treated garments do not need to be heat-dried to maintain effectiveness, and are rated to maintain 100% effectiveness even after 100 washings.
Pearl is offering the new technology first in a line of regular and thermal bib tights and shorts, as well as thermal arm and leg warmers.
5. Assos Mille Apparel Line
I will be the first to admit that, over the years, I’ve seen some of the ultra-premium prices attached to Assos and other premium apparel and have simply turned away. That said, as the years have worn on I have come to realize that some gear is simply better than other gear, and you typically do have to pay more for the additional comfort, longevity and other features that premium gear delivers. When that kit happens to cover a contact point (butt to saddle, foot to pedal), for instance, comfort, quality and durability become even more important.
All of those things are why fans of Assos swear by the brand. And they’re why Assos’ new “entry level” Mille collection caught my eye. I’ve got a pair of Assos bibs (the Equipe line) and like everything about them except the low-cut front end. They are, after all, made for a “racer’s body,” and I’ve got a little more going on in the front end than I’d like, so a little more forgiving cut, and price, appeals to me.
Assos decided it was time to offer apparel to riders who may want to try the premium features without paying the premium prices, and who may want that more forgiving cut as well. The new Mille bibs are dubbed “comfort fit” and feature a wider cut in the waist than Assos’ higher level bibs. And they sell for $159, which is, in fact, far below many other maker’s higher end offerings. (Remember, “entry level” for a premium brand.) The Mille jersey is available for $97 on the Assos website. So if you want to see what the fuss is about, here’s your chance.
Jim’s 5 Favorites
Even though it was the smallest Interbike Show ever, there was good energy in the booths and aisles and some nice new products you might like. Here are my five top picks from Vegas. Note that some are so new they won’t be shown on the websites yet and that prices and specifications may change slightly.
1. Pure Cycles Adventure 1
For the last few Interbikes, a common conversation among showgoers is the rapidly escalating prices of road bikes. So it’s great to see that some brands are still striving to offer major bang for the buck. Check out Pure Cycles‘ Adventure 1, which at a mere $650 is a super-affordable way to expand your riding horizons to dirt roads and touring or bike packing.
It has every feature you’ll find on machines costing thousands more, such as a lively and light chromoly frameset with clearance for 700c (what comes on the bike) and wider 650B wheels/tires, plus Shimano Claris components with STI shifting and disc brakes. You also get super-wide gearing, with a 48/32 crankset driving an 11-34 cassette, a comfortable Selle Royal saddle and braze-ons for attaching racks, bottles and everything else for that great escape.
2. B&W Bike Case II
Speaking of adventure, if you want to fly to your next one, you need a quality bike case to ensure your two-wheeler arrives safely. Just the ticket was parked in the B&W booth. Made of tough ABS plastic and weighing only 23.4 pounds, B&W’s Bike Box II makes bike packing easy and safe by sandwiching the bike between the wheels, with layers of foam on all sides.
Its angular profile (shaped like a frame and fork, angled in on both sides) and sturdy casters on the bottom make for easier handling. That’s nice when you’re lugging a case through airports and in and out of public transportation. Best of all, this German-designed, Chinese-manufactured cycle suitcase is only $299.95.
3. Silca Pista Pump
To celebrate its centennial, Silca has introduced an updated version of its classic Pista Pump, which was THE floor pump of choice for decades with professional mechanics and roadies due to its reliability and excellent pumping. The new version has improvements over the original, including a more precise gauge (+/- 3% accuracy), a reinforced base and a beautiful Ash wood handle that retains the original pump handle’s grooves for securing the pump hose. This allows the pump to lay as flat as possible for easily carrying it or packing it in a race bag.
The new Pista boasts full metal construction, linear guide bushings for super smooth pumping, and the same leak-free and replaceable leather plunger washer. You also get a push-on Presta head with a built-in bleed valve for fine-tuning pressure, a stout hose and a wide, stable base. Cost is $125; or for $200, you can get it with a dedicated carrying case with room for your cycling gear and tools.
Also from Silca, I am currently testing their new Bluetooth mini-pump, the Tattico. You can see it in the photo to the right of the Pista. Watch for our review soon.
4. Darn Tough Socks
I’ve heard of Darn Tough Socks for years, because I used to live in Vermont, where they’re made. But I didn’t know they made cycling socks, and I had no idea that they come with an unconditional guarantee that reads, “If our socks are not the most comfortable, durable and best fitting socks you have ever owned, return them for another pair. No strings. No conditions. For life.”
So, as long as you don’t lose them, these could be the last socks you need!
What’s more, they’re made of Merino wool for excellent moisture transfer, quick drying and comfort – wet or dry. They come in different lengths and are naturally antimicrobial to fight bacteria and odors. You’ll also appreciate the reinforced heels and toes, ribbed arch support and seamless toes. Prices range from $15 to $22 in Men’s and Women’s styles.
5. Praxis Zayante Carbon Crank
You can have whatever gearing your heart desires now and in the future with Praxis’ versatile Zayante Carbon crankset. With its 3-bolt direct-mount and removable 160/104 BCD X Spider, you can choose 38, 40 and 42T single rings or 48/32, 46/36, 50/34, 52/36 or 53/39 doubles. Cost is $325, with your choice of 1X or 2X rings setup.
For precision shifting and durability, Praxis cold forges the chainrings, while the oversize 30mm diameter spindle maximizes power transfer. The Zayante Carbon is available in 170, 172.5 and 175mm arm lengths and weighs from 580 to 610 grams.
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He 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 out 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 more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.
John Marsh is the editor and publisher of RBR Newsletter and RoadBikeRider.com. A rider of “less than podium” talent, he sees himself as RBR’s Ringmaster, guiding the real talent (RBR’s great coaches, contributors and authors) in bringing our readers consistently useful, informative, entertaining info that helps make them better road cyclists. That’s what we’re all about here—always have been, always will be. Click to read John’s full bio.