Four days, a few miles of desert trail ridden, press meetings, casinos, a major cyclocross event, and a dozen bikes tested. . . the Gear Junkie crew is back from Las Vegas and the Interbike Expo, an annual gathering of cycling brands, dealers, designers, media and enthusiasts from around the globe. We previewed a few new items earlier this week. Here below are a handful of additional gear picks that caught our eye on the trade show floor. —Stephen Regenold
PUMA Cargo Bike. Touted as a practical cargo bike “with a fashionable twist,” PUMA and Biomega unveiled the Mopion, which has a huge front carrier for heavy duty transport of groceries or other items. Made for city dwellers, the Mopion bike has an aluminum frame and weighs about 48 pounds. Available in spring 2011 in white, black and in the pictured magneta/blue/lime color combination. www.puma-bikes.com
Flat-Less Bike Tire. A Holy Grail? Hutchinson Tires, the oldest bicycle tire manufacturer in the world, introduced “no-flat” tires that have a solid core. You can run over tacks and nails and it can’t pop. The bike tire line, called Serenity, borrows design from a Hutchinson Industries’ automobile technology. (The company says its no-flat auto tires are used on the Obama Administration’s car and truck fleet.) The bike tires, which are made for urban cyclists, use a foam-like material inside a rubber outer tire. It provides the feeling of a pneumatic tire with about 50 pounds of air pressure, according to the company.
The Serenity tires will be available in 2011 and will come in 20-, 24-, 26-inch and other sizes. www.hutchinsontires.com
Belt-Drive Bikes. At the outdoor demo day during Interbike, the Gear Junkie crew tested several bikes that incorporate belt drives instead of chains. Specifically, the bikes use the Gates Carbon Drive, a strong, no-stretch belt made of polyurethane and carbon-fiber cords. Two lightweight sprockets are used in lieu of normal chainrings and gears. At the demo, we rode fixed-gear bikes, a sub-15-pound single-speed road bike, and 29er mountain bikes with internally-geared hubs.
A spread of brands — including Trek, Raleigh, Norco, Globe, Spot, Civia, Focus, Simpel, Schindelhauer, Koga-Miyata, Co-Motion, Seven Cycles, MaXcycles, Santos, Fixie Inc., Avanti, Nicolai, MTBCycleTech, Tout Terrain, Tank, Bernds, Veloheld, Armor, Poison, Independent Fabrications, Black Sheep, Dean, and more — now employ the Gates Carbon Drive. For 2011, the company estimates that at least 90 bike models will be offered with carbon belts instead of traditional chains. www.carbondrivesystems.com
Clip-In Sneakers. Mission Workshop introduced its SPD-compatible sneaker, The Rondel, which has a recessed pocket on the sole to attach a cleat. The San Francisco company touts the shoe as ideal for on- and off-bike use. It has vulcanized rubber construction and a full-length nylon shank to add rigidity for power transfer to the pedal. www.missionworkshop.com
Moots 29er. 29er bikes — mountain bikes with 29-inch tires (instead of 26-inch tires) — dominated at Interbike this year. Moots, a high-end bike company in Steamboat Springs, Colo., was no exception. The company’s Mooto X RSL is a lightweight hard-tail that is “developed to be the finest performing 29-inch titanium cross country race bike available.” The Mooto X RSL frame is a premium product with a premium price tag. $3,495 (frame only). www.moots.com
New SHOT. Clif Bar & Company’s SHOT energy gel got an upgrade. The company used Interbike as a mass taste test of its new gel, which is thinner (less viscous) than the current SHOT product. The secret is in a new ingredient base that trades the previously-used brown rice syrup for an organic maltodextrin. In addition to the thinner consistency, the new line includes multiple flavors and three levels of caffeine (25mg, 50mg, and 100mg). There are also caffeine-free SHOTs in the line. The SHOT packaging has been modified with a narrower opening on top and rounded-off corners so your gel pack doesn’t snag when you’re stuffing it away in a bike jersey pocket. Available in October. www.clifbar.com
Gore Jacket. W. L. Gore & Associates’ bike-wear line has a beefy new jacket for the mtb crowd. The Fusion AS Cross jacket has Kevlar-reinforced strips on the shoulders and arms for tear resistance and durability on the trail. The shell is made with the company’s windproof and water-repellent WINDSTOPPER fabric. www.gorebikewear.com
Snow Bike. Based in Minnesota, Salsa Cycles knows a thing or two about riding in the cold. The company’s new Mukluk is classified as a “snow bike.” It’s a geared monster that has super wide rims and wide tires to aid in better flotation when your wheels are cutting through the fluffy white. It differs from the Surly Pugsley, a similar bike, in a few ways: The Mukluk has an aluminum frame (instead of steel) and a different (non-offset) configuration of the rear triangle and wheel. It’s a beast at about 34 pounds. Complete bike is $1,499. www.salsacycles.com
Budget Bike Bag. Made tough and designed specifically for cyclists, Banjo Brothers’ new bags will fit the budget of the tightest of tight-wads. For example, for $60 you can get the bomber “Model #01153 Metro,” which has something of a cumbersome code name but is a great weatherproof bag with reflective accents and other features you’d see in products that cost three times as much. It is large enough to carry a bag of groceries. A roll-top closure with a flap lid keeps rain out. An exterior U-lock pocket makes this a sweet choice for commuters. If you thought you couldn’t afford a bike-specific bag, you need to check out Banjo Brothers. www.banjobrothers.com
Complete Interbike 2010 coverage on Gear Junkie. . .
> 2010 Show Preview
—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.