Gear Highlights: Road Helmets to Kid Push-Bikes at Interbike Trade Show

Day one of the 2013 Interbike trade show is done, and with that we bring a few favorite items we saw on the show floor. —Thomas Puzak and Stephen Regenold contributed to this report

Road Helmet by POC Swedish brand POC has roots in ski helmets. For next year, the brand, which was recently acquired by Black Diamond, goes full bore into road cycling gear. Its Octal helmet stood out: The low profile hard hat has increased coverage over competing models for extra safety in a crash, POC cites. It’s got lots of venting and fit great in our booth test. Sub-200 grams weight. Svelte look and fit comes at the high price of $270.

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No-Dirt Drink Valve — It seals closed with a click. Then, when you need a drink, the lid pops open to reveal a clean valve. The Avex Pecos insulated bike bottle is double-walled to keep the water inside cold. It weighs 22oz., is drip-proof when closed, and it costs just $12.99.

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Retro Italian Cycling Wear — De Marchi makes high-style cycling apparel that is also functional. Its sister company, Cytek, makes chamois for about half of the cycling industry. New for Interbike, the limited-edition Bottecchia jersey has a retro look and connection to the brand history: Mauro De Marchi, the current CEO’s grandfather, managed the Bottecchia team in the 1950s, and his mother hand-stitched the letters, numbers, and graphics. This jersey is a replica, and it’s a 100% merino wool piece that’s an example of traditional Italian cycling wear, new for today. $249.

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Diamondback All-Terrain MTB The full-suspension Mason FS Pro by Diamondback offers a unique ride. The frame’s slack front end crushes the downhills yet the bike pedals efficiently on the trail. The dirt-jumper inspired 29er is set up with a SRAM X1 X-Sync 11-speed drivetrain and 140mm of travel front and rear. Crank Brothers Kronolog dropper post, 142×12mm thru axle, and lots of goodies for a plush-but-fast ride. $6,000 gets you onboard.

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High-End Push Bike — Giving kids a “solid, safe and smooth ride” was a founding premise with Bixbi balance bikes, which are touted as mini versions of adult mountain bikes. Granted, there are no pedals or brakes. But the push-bikes have aluminum frames, spoked wheels, and overall weight of around 7 pounds. Near-adult prices, too. $225.

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‘Nude’ Phone Case (mounts on bike handlebars) — We have been fans of Lifeproof’s phone cases for some time now. The company showed us its latest Nuud line this week, which lets a user touch the actual screen, no covering needed. They are the first and only company to offer a waterproof, dirt-proof, snow-proof case without a screen cover. Gaskets seal the case on, but leave the screen exposed. The cases fit into bike mounts, arm bands, and belt clips for using apps when active. Available for iPhones, Ipad, Ipad Mini, and Samsung’s Galaxy phones.

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Giant Makes 27.5 Commitment — Some brands are shying away or easing into the 27.5-inch wheel size. Giant, in contrast, is going full-embrace, and with its 2014 line the company cites that “No other bike brand in the world has such a commitment to this superior new wheel size” of 27.5 (also called 650B). The company continues, “Through years of testing, Giant engineers determined that 27.5 is the perfect size for mountain bikes that are now lighter weight, more efficient, and provide riders with better control.” Here’s one of the brand’s to-be-released models, the slick Trance Advanced 27.5, in the photo below.

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Bern Unlimited MTB With its 2014 Morrison Helmet, Bern drops into the mountain biking world. The company keeps its signature profile and look, including a detachable hard visor. But inside are nylon ribs molded into the polyurethane foam under a PVC shell for safety on the trail. Not a bad price, to boot, at 99 bucks.

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SRAM Upgrades —We hooked up with the SRAM crew for a two-hour ride here under the hot Las Vegas sun. The guys from Chicago are trickling down their world-beating XX1 mountain components and Red road components to slightly more affordable price points for 2014.

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Before and after: SRAM’s cassettes are cnc’d from solid blocks of steel

When SRAM eliminated the front derailleur with its XX1 components last year, it quickly spread to all top-end bikes from XC racers to downhill champions. For 2014, X01 gets all of the same technologies and design of XX1, simply built with less exotic materials — a bit less titanium and carbon, a different coating on the cassette, otherwise it’s the same. Single front ring shifting is simpler and way lighter, which helps you ride faster, so it’s something every rider should consider.

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Studio shot of SRAM Force 22 components

Similar to the mountain component trickle down, SRAM Force 22 road components get flagship RED technology in 2014. Force 22 components get improved ergonomics, reach adjust on the shifters, yaw front derailleur (the cage always aims at the center of the rear derailleur), and our favorite technology of the test ride, its new hydraulic rim brakes. SRAM claims the power and precision of hydraulic brakes allow riders to brake later and with more control. We tested them on the hot Vegas road and can confirm they felt solid.

Ti Vamoots —We’ve seen a number of riders we respect choose titanium over today’s carbon fiber bikes. Some because of environmental reasons, others because titanium can be more comfortable and durable, and others because they want their bike to be made in the U.S. by people with whom they can develop a relationship. We appreciate all these reasons, especially when you can find such a bike equipped with the modern lust-worthy equipment.

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The Vamoots DR frame is built for hydraulic disc brakes and Shimano Di2 electronic shifting (with seatpost-mounted battery). We would love to climb aboard this gorgeous bicycle for our next long road ride. Hand-built in Steamboat Springs, Colo., the frame weight is 3.15lbs with an msrp of $3,350 (frame only). Component spec and pricing of full build is dependent on what you choose from your local dealer.

Vintage-Inspired City Bikes (start at $399) — Pure Fix Cycles is known for its single-speed and fixed-gear bikes. But this year the LA-based company launches into geared city bikes with a subsidiary brand, Pure City Cycles.

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Five models in the line, the bikes come in an 8-speed, 3-speed internal, and a single-speed option. For sale starting in November at Purefixcycles.com.

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—Editors Thomas Puzak and Stephen Regenold contributed to this report.

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