Friday, September 28, 2007

Interbike Show Day 2 Report

After taking care of business catching up with our main vendors all during the first day of the show, today I thought I'd just show you a little eye candy. Let's start by returning to Bianchi. Here's their top-of-the-line road bike, the 928 Carbon SL. With Campagnolo Record Carbon components, it comes in at just 14.3 pounds!
A bike shop called The Bike Nut in San Diego took the 928 Carbon SL frame and swapped out some of the components for even lighter weight options. This custom version is a complete, ridable bike at only 11.1 pounds!

Vicious Cycles is a small custom frame builder based in New Paltz, New York. They do amazing things with their paint jobs, as you can see from these two samples:

The two bikes above are mountain bikes that use the 650B wheel size, which is NOT the same as the 650C wheel size found on some triathlon and women's bikes. After reading all of my talk about 29er mountain bikes, you'd think that the last thing we need is another wheel size, but there are those out there who are always looking for an excuse to push the envelope. The original 26" mountain bike tire standard came about more or less by accident, as that was the only size tire available in a wide, knobby version when mountain bikes were first developed. There are those who think that the new 29" wheels force too many compromises in frame geometry, and that the 650B size (roughly 27.5") provides the best balance of traction, handling, and strength. As was originally the case with 29" wheels, there aren't a lot of options from manufacturers at this point for rims and tires. I asked the guy from Vicious how these bikes felt in their test rides, and he said "I don't know." They are brand new and these two in particular have never been ridden; they wanted to keep them clean for the show!

Quality Bicycle Products, one of the major parts and accessories distributors, is also the parent company of Surly and Salsa. For 2008, they are launching a new line of high-end commuter-oriented bikes called Civia. Most will feature internally-geared hubs, and lots of cargo-friendly options. Here's one sample:

Speaking of eye candy, here's a little more courtesy of O'Neal and SRAM:

After the show, we were treated to dinner by Raleigh, and then we all headed over to the Mandalay Bay hotel to watch the USA Crits Final race. Getting good pictures was tough, with the combination of my low-end digital camera, the evening lighting, and the speed of the riders, but here are a few of my attempts for your enjoyment:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Interbike Show Day 1 Report

Yesterday (Wednesday 09/26) was the first day of the indoor trade show segment of Interbike. Here's a shot of the restless hordes waiting to be let in the main doors at 9am sharp:

I headed straight to the Surly booth for to check out what was new for the coming year. Each year, they come up with a new product, sometimes something major like a new bike model, or sometimes not so major like a new component. This year it turned out to be a sort-of new bike, what they are calling the "Traveler's Check." It's the Cross-Check bike with S&S Couplers that allow it to be broken down and packed into an airline-regulation suitcase, perfect for the touring cyclist or traveling 'cross racer. Check out the sweet blue paint job. It comes with a new stainless steel seat post collar and new cantilever brake hanger. The new seat collar is smaller and more sleeker-looking than their old "Constrictor" seat collar, and will come standard on all of their frame models from now on, except for the Instigator mountain frame.

Next up on our agenda was a meeting with Bell Rehor to check out the latest lineup of Bell and Giro helmets and Blackburn accessories. We'll probably be carrying pretty much the same models as we did this past year; just look for updated color options.

Next we headed over to Raleigh, where Sean Burkey stepped us through their new '08 line. Nothing earth-shaking in the traditional road or recreational mountain bike line that we typically carry; just updated colors of course. The biggest change was that they discontinued the Cadent series of recreational drop-bar road bikes. However, they transferred the Cadent name to their line of flat-bar road bikes. The Cadent FT1 is similar in spec and price to the old Route 1, and likewise, the Cadent FT2 and Cadent FT3 correspond to the old Route 24 and Route 66. They really updated the design and graphics on the frames, however, to give them a much sportier look. And, for the flat-bar road enthusiast who wants a little bling, it also comes in a full-carbon version, the Cadent FC:

I mentioned the new Sojourn touring bike that I tried at the Outdoor Demo on Tuesday; here's an indoor shot of it--the fenders and rear rack are included with the bike:

By the way, for '08, they will also have the Brooks saddle and Brooks leather bar tape on their One-Way singlespeed road/commuter bike.

Of course, no report of mine would be complete without mentioning the 29er's. The Raleigh XXIX and XXIX+G are relatively unchanged for this year (other than color). However, Raleigh's Diamondback division has come up with two brand new 29er's. The first is the Overdrive, an entry-level model with Shimano Alivio drivetrain and RockShox Dart fork. At around $650, no other manufacturer can touch this value for a complete 29er:

The other DB 29er model is the Overdrive Pro, up-spec'ed with a Shimano Deore/LX drive train and RockShox Reba fork:

Next we headed over to Giant, where Larry Lewallen showed us their latest line. Just like with Raleigh, nothing out of the ordinary in their main road and mountain line; the same solid and reliable stuff that we've been working with.

One change is in the women's-specific road models; in the past, they felt that their compact road geometry worked equally well for men and women, but starting in '08, they are making adjustments to the frame geometry for the women's models.

Giant's take on the super-duty commuting/adventure touring market is the Trans Send and Trans Sport series. The Trans Send series has 700C hybrid-style wheels, where the Trans Sport is the 26-inch wheeled version. Here's the top-of-the-line model, the Trans Sport LX:

In keeping with the trend of fighting high gasoline prices, Giant is also coming out with a new line of electric bicycles, but don't look for them any time soon in our stores. Just to keep things confusing, they are calling these bikes "hybrids."

We chatted a bit and got autographs from Kelli Emmitt, pro racer on Giant's mountain bike team and two-time Iceman champion:

Next, it was on to Mavic the see their latest wheel technology. For the weight-conscious rider where money is no object, their brand new R-SYS wheelset has straight-pull carbon fiber spokes and come in at around 1399 grams per pair, at a price of $1,399.99 per pair. The only dollar-per-gram wheelset on the market!

Gary Thomas showed us how Electra always keeps things fresh with Townies and cruisers in a seemingly endless array of colors. New for this year is the Townie Balloon series, which come with even fatter tires in a retro tan color:

There's a Townie built for two:

The Amsterdam models will be available in new fashion colors:

My personal favorite of Electra's new models is the Amsterdam Sport 9D. Both the messengers and the soccer moms down at your local Caribou Coffee will be jealous of the retro-chic look combined with a modern 9-speed Shimano Tiagra drive train. To top it off, they jump on the Brooks trend, with a Brooks leather saddle and Brooks leather grips--purchased separately, you'd be paying $175 for those two items alone!

Finally, we ended the day with a visit to Bianchi, where our rep Kevin showed us their updates. Most of note to us was that they finally got rid of the Gang Green paint job on the popular Volpe cyclocross bike. Not that I have anything against the Gang Green; I own one myself, but after four years, it was due for an update. The new color is gold; the picture probably doesn't do it justice, but it looks pretty nice in person:

The rest of the spec on the Volpe is pretty much the same as the previous couple of years, from the reliable drivetrain that is a mix of Shimano Deore and Tiagra with a Sugino touring triple crankset, to the love-it-or-hate-it leopard-print saddle.

In Bianchi's road line, they have developed a new technology used in all of their carbon frames and forks called K-VID, which is a Kevlar wrap that helps enhance the vibration-damping qualities of the carbon fiber components.

In the mountain line, Bianchi has discontinued all of their 26-inch singlespeed models (recall the W.U.S.S., M.U.S.S., P.U.S.S., etc.). Their only singlespeed is the 29-inch wheeled Sok, which also comes in a geared version. Both have a suspension fork. In case anybody asks, "sok" is Italian for "stump."
In Bianchi's road singlespeeds, they will continue to offer the Pista track bike in Chrome, as well in a blue similar to the Sok shown above. The San Jose is relatively unchanged in British Racing Green.

At the close of the day's business, we gathered for a couple of frosty beverages courtesy of Mavic:

Later, a few of us headed over to a party thrown by Shimano in honor of the 25th anniversary of their Deore XT mountain bike component group:

Later still, a few of us took a cab over to the Rain night club at The Palms hotel and casino to catch the premier of the new mountain bike video "New World Disorder 8: Smackdown." Following the video, the crowd was treated to the musical melodies of the group "Nashville Pussy." Ah, Vegas...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Interbike Outdoor Demo Report

The Interbike Outdoor Demo was held at Bootleg Canyon in Boulder City, NV on Sept 24-25. I made it to the second day of the demo yesterday.

I rode this Salsa El Mariachi first because I was just anxious to get riding and it was the first thing that caught my eye. It's a steel-frame rigid 29er mountain bike set up with a 1x9 drive train (single chainring up front, regular 9-speed cassette on the back). It rode pretty well, similar to my Raleigh XXIX, but much lighter.

I didn't ride this bike, but I like the way they're thinking...

This is the '08 version of the Raleigh XXIX+G, their geared 29er mountain bike. We had the singlespeed version of the XXIX in our stores, but this was the first chance I had to see and ride the geared version in person. I was pleasantly surprised, as it did not feel as heavy as I expected. The RockShox Reba fork did a good job of smoothing out the rough patches of trail. The drive train is a mix of SRAM X.5/X.7, which is similar in quality to Shimano Deore/LX, and it worked flawlessly. As on the Salsa El Mariachi, the big 29" tires provided great grip on the trail for the climbs, descents, and swoopy banked turns. Two big thumbs up!

Brand new from Raleigh for 2008 is the Sojourn. A few of us at the shop have been eagerly following the sneak previews of this bike on Raleigh's blog. It's a steel-framed road touring bike, which would also be great for the heavy-duty commuter or messenger crowd. It's got the popular Avid mechanical disc brakes for good stopping power in all weather. Note how the rear brake caliper is mounted on the chainstay, rather than on top of the seatstay. This means you can use pretty much any rear cargo rack you like without worrying about the brake caliper getting in the way, a common problem on most other disc brake-equipped bikes. Also note the unique flared-out shape of the WTB Dirt Drop handlebars. The bar-end shifters may take some getting used to, but you'll learn to love their retro sensibility. Rounding out the retro-chic package is a Brooks saddle and Brooks leather bar tape--very rare on a stock bike! We expect to be selling a lot of these to customers who may have previously looked at a Bianchi Volpe or Surly Cross-Check or Long Haul Trucker.

This is Giant's TCR Alliance 1. The bikes in their Alliance series use a combination carbon fiber/aluminum frame to give you some of the ride benefits of carbon at a reduced price. Look in early 2008 for details of a road bike demo program that we'll be offering using a similar bike from Giant, the OCR Alliance 1. Before arriving at Interbike, I just finished a 9-day 600-mile bike tour in New Mexico. After hauling my 50 pounds of camping gear on my bike, this bike seemed to pedal all by itself. The combo frame didn't dissappoint, providing reliable stiffness without feeling too harsh. The Shimano Dura-Ace drive train performed well, as should be expected.

Big Wheels Keep on Turnin'...Very few people in the world really need a Surly Pugsley, but once you ride one, it's such a blast that you'll want one anyway. The 26x4-inch tires on custom Surly Large Marge rims provide traction for any terrain you can throw at it. With that much rubber and air between you and the ground, who needs suspension!??!

This is the latest incarnation of Giant's Trance 1, their full-suspension 5-inch travel trail bike. The patented Maestro suspension system performed flawlessly. However, that certain undefined "magic" just didn't seem to happen for me with this bike; I seemed to not be able to keep it on track as well as I wanted. It was a personal thing, though, and I would find no reason not to recommend this bike to anyone who is looking for this style of ride.

Here is Raleigh's 2008 version of the Prestige, one of their line of full-carbon road bikes. It's the big brother of the less-expensive Supercourse that we carried in our stores for 2007. What can I say; light, fast, responsive, top-notch Dura-Ace drive train; nothing to worry about but the wind in my hair.

The Diamondback Mission 3 gave me my second pleasant surprise. It's a 5-inch travel trail bike, built beefy to take the rougher stuff, but it handles amazingly light. The RockShox Pike fork up front and the proprietary KnuckleBox link suspension in the rear smoothed out the bumps and rocks, while the wheels hugged the trail very nicely. While pushing the limits on a downhill section of trail, I suffered my only crash of the day, doing a double tuck-and-roll and gaining a nice coating of desert dust on myself. Purely rider error...

Here I am on my final ride of the day, on a Niner Bikes R.I.P. 9. As you may have guessed, I've become a big fan of the 29er concept. This is one of Niner's full-suspension models. Me like!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fun Bike Factoid from Tracey

File under: Useless Bike Trivia

This trivia question was on my son’s tube of Yoplait Go-GURT this morning: What is the fastest speed ever reached going down a snowy hill on a bike? Possible answers were 215 mph, 80 mph, 185 mph, and 132 mph.

Once you ate all the “Rad Raspberry”-flavored yogurt, the tube revealed the answer to be a whopping 132 mph. Unfortunately, neither the Go-GURT website nor Google revealed any more details about bike records set on snowy hills.



If I'm not mistaken, this was shown on some show like "Sport Disasters." The guy had a little problem with his front wheel when he hit that speed. And if you multiply a small problem times 132... well, I'm sure you can Youtube it. The guy is okay, but he proved why you should ALWAYS wear a helmet. Believe me!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Join Us in (Virtual) Vegas!

Coming up on Sept. 24-28 is Interbike, the annual bicycle industry trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada. We'll be sending our usual contingent to check out the latest bicycles, clothing, and accessories from our manufacturers. I know many local cycling enthusiasts would love the chance to window-shop at what essentially amounts to the world's largest bicycle store. Some of the cycling trade shows outside the U.S. have days open to the public, such as Eurobike in Germany and ExpoCycle in Canada, but unfortunately, Interbike is only open to bike industry employees.

However, I'll be posting daily updates from the show, with photos of the new bikes for 2008 from Giant, Raleigh, Bianchi, and Electra, and and any other stuff I come across that is cool, unusual, or innovative. If there is anything in particular that you'd like me to check out, feel free to drop me a note, and I'll do my best to fit it into our schedule.

Here we are checking out the latest technology from Shimano at last year's show:

If you like to check out more pictures from our past Vegas adventures and misadventures, use the links below:

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Der Schlauch-o-mat

Here's an interesting concept from Continental, the tire company--vending machines for spare inner tubes! A handy solution to the problem of what to do when you need a new tube and the bike shop is closed. Still, it begs the question of what to do if you get a flat miles from the bike shop or vending machine. There's no substitute for being prepared by carrying your own spare tube, a pair of tire levers, and a patch kit, all of which can easily fit in a decent seat bag.

If you're unfamiliar with how to change a flat tire yourself, it's a pretty simple process once you get the hang of it. There's a handy how-to guide on our web site. Try it at home a couple of times, so you don't have to panic when you're out on the road or trail!