The once-a-year cycling smorgasbord that is the Interbike International Expo may have ended last week. But the show’s repercussions will drum on for months as companies ship goods for 2012 and new products roll into shops. As one of our correspondents last week on the Interbike scene, contributing editor T.C. Worley gives a few observations in this post on some of the show’s most stand-out items, electronic shifting, a neat stealth lock concept, and a “genre-bender” bike included in the mix.
Battery-Operated Bike Shifting — Electronic shifting for the masses! That’s what Shimano touts with its (somewhat) budget-conscious Di2 Ultegra groupo, a derailleur system that gives battery-operated, push-button control to riders who want to more efficiently rocket through gears. “It’s bringing the proven performance of our [pro-level] Dura-Ace electronic shifting to a much wider audience,” a company rep told me. Watch for Ultegra Di2 electric on mid-range ($4,000 and up) road bikes in 2012.
Genre-Bender Bike — All City Cycles’ new model, the Space Horse, is part road, part touring, and very beautiful. It has decorative frame lugs, custom dropouts, internal cable-routing, and hidden frame bosses to give this production bike a decidedly “custom” look.
Think of the Space Horse as a bike you might buy if you can’t afford a true custom setup — it’s that nice-looking and refined. The brand’s manager, Jeff Frane, said the Horse is “a light, fast, great-handling road bike that can carry small loads.” The frameset sells for $550; complete Space Horse bikes will be $1,350 when they roll to shops next spring.
Stealth ‘Bottle Lock’ — Cool idea: The Bottle Lock from Küat is a water-bottle-shape canister that hides a retractable five foot cable and key lock. It stores cleanly in a standard bottle cage and will cost about $35. Simple and smart innovation for city riders and commuters tired of fussing with cables wound around their frames.
Budget Buy Helmet Cam — The ContourROAM, a “point of view” or “helmet cam,” depending on your preferred nomenclature, is an entry-level option that costs $199 but offers HD video capture, laser-sight lens alignment, and a new 170-degree wide lens angle. The 5-ounce camera is waterproof to one meter without an underwater housing.
Surly ‘Utilitarian’ Bike — As bicycling for transportation continues to grow so do the number of utilitarian bicycles designed to meet that demand. Few brands do utilitarian like Surly Bikes, so it was no shocker to see the outfit’s Ogre bike, available in 2012, which has a steel frame, 29-inch wheels, as well as rack bosses on the frame and fork —the latter having the ability to run fenders, a rack and disc brakes all at the same time. The multi-use bike can be called upon to trailer a load, fire off some singletrack, or cruise a parkway all in the same day.
Magic Shifter — Gears are out, “continuously variable planetary transmissions” are in! At least that’s what Fallbrook Technologies Inc. wants you to believe in regard to its Nu Vinci 360 internally “geared” hub. The NuVinci system uses a set of rotating and tilting balls inside a hub to offer “continuously variable” shifting with no gear-to-gear jump. This year, the brand unveiled an Aftermarket Kit to let builders more easily add the Nu Vinci technology to bikes. Though much too heavy for racing use (it measures at about 5 pounds for the hub system!), Fallbrook Technologies’ self-promoted “easiest shifting drivetrain ever” is perfect for town and comfort bikes. The Aftermarket Kit will cost $399.
Wallet for Phone-Using Riders — The Mission Cycling Wallet from Timbuk2 fits over a phone and has tiny pockets on back for credit cards and some cash. There’s a touch-screen-functional window for phone control, and the three tiny pockets have room for the bare essentials you need on a ride. The Mission Cycling Wallet fits in a jersey pocket and while not fully waterproof it does have a sealed zipper stitched to its tough Cordura housing. The wallet offers weather protection and a barrier between your phone and your sweat.
Dream Ti Bike — Billed the “lightest, stiffest, finest-performing titanium race bike available today,” we nearly drooled on the Psychlo x RSL, a cyclocross build from Moots that has a tip-to-tip carbon fork, a titanium frame, a shoulder-friendly top tube, and all the subtle design touches expected from the high-end Colorado company. Framesets available this fall for a suck-your-drool-back-in price tag of $4,675.
—T.C. Worley races cyclocross and mountain bikes. He is a contributing editor for GearJunkie.com and a freelance photojournalist.