The cycling industry has traditions. Some of them have been going on for centuries and others, just for decades. And some of them probably started this year. For example, the cycling cap. A rather strange accessory, but it’s ours and we’ll hold on to it. The other obvious example is the self-loathing party known as Interbike. It continues to happen every year in September. Despite the fact that the industry has already released and shipped the next model year. Everything that is shown has already been seen. There isn’t any level of surprise left.
So why go? Great question, to which I have no answer. But it did seem that the new venue brought out more manufactures and more attendees. Whatever that means.
But let’s get right down to the good stuff, all that new stuff that revolutionized the cycling world this year.
The first noticeable trend was that everything got disc brakes. Road bikes with disc brakes are the new aero bikes which were the new endurance bikes which were the new road bikes and now we have disc road bikes. Every wheel manufacture had at least one set, every frame maker had at least one model and every fork former had something sitting in their booth that would allow the user to attach disc brakes to their skinny tire bicycle.
When I say everything got discs, I do mean everything. The above push bike was legit. It doesn’t come out of the box with the Formulas pictured, but for $255 you can purchase your little tyke the ability to strap on a disc brake. You know, just in case he starts to get way too rad on that push bike. Or you happen to live on a very steep street, either way Commencal has you covered.
But bake to disc road brakes, you all know how I felt about the Sram brakes that were released a few months ago. The hood is hideously huge and the lever is anything but comfortable when its in your hand. It feels kind of like your holding a 2X4. When Shimano announced they would be releasing a Di2 disc ready lever, I was excited. That makes a lot of sense. There isn’t much going on inside that lever, so there’s plenty of room for the hydraulic reservoir and what not. Then pictures surfaced with more detail and I was worried we were going to have the same obnoxiously huge hood.
Despite the way the lever looks, it feels awesome. It has the same shape as the cable-actuated lever, with a little bit higher end to it. So the part that you hold onto is, in fact, the same shape as the old lever.
The actual lever feel is similar to that of a set of XT brakes, positive with a good amount of modulation. Based on those two factors, I’m gonna say that Shimano has once again won the battle. It will be interesting to see how they refine it when they release branded Ultegra and Dura Ace lever brakes, but the starting point, I dare say is the bench mark for all road disc brakes going forward. If the industry wants us to buy into this idea, they can’t give us a set of levers that no one wants to hold onto, or brakes that need to be serviced all the fucking time.
As I was wandering around the Shimano booth, I was pleased to see the new Ultegra Di2 parts attached to multiple bikes. Not that these haven’t been plastered all over the internet, but rather I hadn’t seen it in person and they are pretty.
Shimano refined what needed to be refined. The Ultegra electric parts followed what they did to the Dura Ace. The new derailleurs seem to absorb the motors, making the setup look so much cleaner.
The second noticeable trend was the Fat Bike. You couldn’t throw a dead hooker in that convention center without hitting an obese bicycle. Everybody is making them. You have cruiser companies doing it. New start up brands that are shooting for the lightest, carbon fiber fatty and of course, rim manufactures are going nuts.
There were plenty of iterations of this “new” bike. I even saw a fat scooter, which means that you know this is probably dead in the water. I’m sure that these bikes are fun, at least I’ve been told they are, and I admit that if I had room in my shed I would probably end up with one. However, it feels like everyone is trying to get in on the ground floor of the next big thing (no pun intended) because they can’t figure out how to brand themselves otherwise.
Of course, I snapped a shot of the Phil Wood Fat V10.
There were 27.5 bikes splattered around the convention center, but the third big trend I noticed was eBikes. They were everywhere, every one is making one and there are some big outside names coming into the industry to make some money. Many of you will hate what I am about to say, but I think this is the one trend that probably won’t go away. We’ve grabbed just about every dollar the cycling enthusiast has to spend. We’ve convinced them they need carbon frames, carbon wheels, carbon fixies, carbon fat bikes, carbon 29ers, carbon 27.5 and road disc bikes. They don’t have much more money to spend without living out of their car that they sold for that last bike.
Nope, those poor bastards are about done purchasing bikes. However, the person who is concerned about the environment, wants to get some exercise and maybe would like a better way to get around town, that person still has some money and there are a lot of these people. Of course, this isn’t Eurobike and it will take at least a decade to see if I’m right or not, but I put money that the eBike is here to stay.
I did not take any pictures of any eBikes. Sorry, I suck.
Of course, the tradition of marketing to bicycle folk with automobiles is alive and well. Bicycling splashed across the side of a car. Seems kind of symbolic, doesn’t it?
P. L. and R.