Last month, I spent three days reporting on the latest and greatest cycling items at the Interbike trade show in Las Vegas. The annual gathering is a peek at to-be-released gear, apparel, shoes, and bike builds from every major brand. Below are a few of my favorites, the top items that caught my eye. —T.C. Worley
Pearl Izumi X Project Shoes — With a shank that creates a slight hinge action near the toe, these shoes can remain rigid for pedaling but are somewhat flexible for off-the-bike sections of a trail. I’m excited to try these out while mountain biking. Cyclocross racers ought to consider the design, too, for barrier hops and run-ups. If the X Project shoe does not start a new trend in high-performance cycling footwear, I will be shocked. Here’s a video that shows the shoes in action. $160 and up, depending on model. Available for 2013.
HipLok Lite — I have a one-car family (myself, wife, two boys), and thus I ride my bike a lot for work and errands around town. This also means I lock my bike up a lot. The HipLok Lite is a new belt design security lock I could see being super convenient. It weighs about 2.2 pounds and sits comfortably on the hips, its thick chain hidden under a nylon case. The most common comment I heard about these locks at the show? “Why didn’t someone invent this sooner?” The Hiplok Lite comes in six colors and costs $65.
Giro Empire Road Shoe — I’ve got a magnetic attraction to vintage-style things. The Giro Empire fits that bill with its old-school lacing and leather-like upper. Professional bike racer Taylor Phinney co-developed this shoe to race the Giro d’Italia and for events in the 2012 Olympic Games. Its one-piece, synthetic leather uppers plus a carbon sole give a shoe that weighs just 225 grams a foot (size 42.5). Available in silver or black this fall for a not old-school price of $275.
Chrome Ike Windbreaker — Again with the vintage styling! This tasty number reminds me of the shop jackets that mechanics of my youth wore. The Chrome Ike jacket is made to look good and perform on a bike, too. Its brushed polyester face looks and feels like fine wool, and the jacket has discrete venting for airflow on the move. Urban commuters and anyone wanting to arrive in style should have a look at this piece. Available now in one color, a sweet slate gray. $125.
Bern Allston — If you like to commute like I do (fast!) most urban cycling helmets are not ventilated well enough for you. Enter the Bern Allston, which has urban good looks coupled with 16 large vents for airflow to the noggin. The 13-ounce helmet uses a molding process touted to have higher strength-to-weight ratio than EPS foam helmets, the company cites. Bonus: The helmet comes with an all-season insulating liner for year-round use. Available May 2013. $90.
Shimano Hydration Packs — In a veritable sea of hydration packs, Shimano launched a line this fall that lifted our eyebrows. Most notably, the Accu3D Unzen model with its unique cross-harness system had us itching to hit the trail. Its shoulder straps meet high on the chest, eliminating the need for a sternum strap. The result feels like a snug hug from the pack, which in theory should keep it close, stable and less likely to move around as you ride. We also love the flashy materials and the internal strap length adjustments. In stores now, the Unzen comes in three sizes and costs $90 and up.
Rapha-Focus Team CX bike — Since it is fall, we can’t help but be taken with cyclocross bikes. And of all the CX rides we saw at Interbike the Mares CX 1.0 Team Rapha-Focus was tops. Riding it you might pretend you are the U.S.A. ‘Cross Champ Jeremy Powers, who rode this rig to victory at the CrossVegas race this year. Why is it special? A flat-tube carbon frame gives weight savings. The wheels are Easton EC – 90SL tubulars. And FOCUS touts “the best CX fork you will ever ride” with this model. The limited-edition bike comes with pink bar tape and Rapha signature colors on the frame. We want it, but we will probably never get it in reality: The CX steed costs a bank-draining $6,440 complete.
—T.C. Worley is a contributing editor.