Interbike 2009

Hannah and I made our way to Vegas last week for Interbike 2009.  For those that don’t know, Interbike is the largest bicycle trade show in North America, with over 1,000 brands and 10,000 buyers (contrary to what they were thinking, attendance was not down, we heard there were over 3,500 bike shops attending).   It’s where cycling (and now triathlon) companies come to show off and pitch their new product for 2010 to wide-eyed, eager bike and tri-geeks like ourselves.

Walking to the Sands convention center from our hotel on Wednesday morning, it was hard not to get excited.  The glitz and glamour of Vegas combined with hoards of road, tri, and bmx cyclists briskly making their way to the show.

It's hard to grasp the size of the show. Even with 3 days there, it was impossible to see everything.
It's hard to grasp the size of the show. Even with 3 days there, it was impossible to see everything.

Upon entering the convention center (a mass rush through the doors at 9am) it’s easy to get excited about everything because all the displays look great, and the salespeople are all fresh and at the top of their game.   I found myself getting caught up in the madness, as all the $10,000+ TT rigs were on full display under the shiny lights.    It took me a few hours to get a grasp on reality and be able to start nit-picking the features and bang-for-your-buck factor of the new products.  Because although there is a lot of things that are exciting to look at:

The Plasma 3 is sexy, but a bit unrealistic (and unavailable) to most of us.
The Plasma 3 is sexy, but a bit unrealistic (and unavailable) to most of us.

many were out of reach to the average consumer.    So what did we find you ask?   Here is a list of the top items that we liked (and could possibly carry at the store) coming away from Interbike.

1.  Wetsuits.  2 wetsuits stood out to me, the new Blue Seventy Helix suit, and the De Soto T1 Water Rover.   Both are doing something quite unique in their high end wetsuits to differentiate themselves from the dozens of other companies entering the triathlon wetsuit market.  Blue Seventy is doing 2 different Helix suits, one designed for “swimmers” and one designed for “bikers”.  The main difference between the 2 is the amount of neoprene thickness and flexibility in different areas of the suit to help with bouyancy in the legs (biker suit) and flexiblity and feel in the arms (swimmer suit).

The Desoto T1 Water Rover and the Blue Seventy Helix
The Desoto T1 Water Rover and the Blue Seventy Helix

The De Soto T1 Water Rover is causing quite a stir among the slowtwitch crowd.   Most triathlon wetsuit manufacturers have abided by the ITU (International Triathlon Union) rules and capped their wetsuit neoprene thickness at 5mm.  Emilio De Soto recently determined that USAT rules do not limit neoprene thickness, so he came up with the idea for a suit with neoprene thickness up to 10mm (he even sent a Water Rover sample to Charlie Crawford – USAT head official – for approval).  This is double the thickness of any other triathlon wetsuit out there.  He also claimed to me that it was 4-7 seconds faster per 100 meters than the standard T1 suit (which is in turn 4-7 seconds faster than a normal swimsuit).    Big claims indeed.   It’s got Quintana Roo founder Dan Empfield talking too.    For me, I would need to swim in it before I make any judgements, but it definitely peaked my interest.

2.  The Metrigear Vector Powermeter.    This could be the new evolution in powermeters.  It’s a powermeter that measures force throughout the pedalstroke.    It’s integrated into select Speedplay pedals, will be available in Q1 of 2010, will be ANT+ compatible, will be less than $1000, will be less than 50 grams, will be as accurate as any other powermeter out there, and will be easily interchageable between bikes.    Barring any unforeseen problems, I can’t imagine this is not be the next big thing in cycling power measurement.

The Vector Powermeter
The Vector Powermeter

3.  NuVinci cycling transmission.   Not much in cruiser and hybrid bikes to get excited about you say?  Think again.  The NuVinci continuously variable planetary hubs allows you to switch nearly any bike to an internal hub continuous variable shifting.  It’s almost hard to imagine without actually riding, but imagine infinite gearing possiblilities with the twist of your wrist.  Or the fact that you don’t have to be pedaling to shift.   This could be the next big thing in hybrid and cruiser bikes… I hope more mainstream bike manufacturers start using this on their stock bikes.  Right now, you can upgrade your current bike for about $450 + labor.

The shifter makes it easy by showing you a steep hill when you're in a low gear...
The shifter makes it easy by showing you a steep hill when you're in a low gear...
Or a flat road when you're in a high gear
Or a flat road when you're in a high gear
4.  Cyclops Joule vs. Garmin Edge 500.    These are 2 new powermeter display units that I was excited to see.  The highlights of the Joule are that it allows you to see 8 fields of data (of your choice) at any one time.  New metrics include TrainingPeaks measurements such as TSS (training stress score) and Normalized power, which take into effect spikes in power to calculate a more real-life ‘Average Power’ for each ride or race.   It also allows for more in depth on-the-bike analysis of intervals and comparisons to previous rides.   The Joule comes in 2.0 nad 3.0 models.  The 3.0 allows for even more data to diplay and is meant more for indoor cycling.  The biggest downside of the Joule is that it is relatively expensive at $500 for the Joule 2.0.  The Garmin Edge 500 is basically a pared down version of the 605.  It has almost the same functionality of the 605, minus the mapping features.    It doesn’t have quite the interval or power analysis of the Joule, but it does have GPS (which the Joule does not) and it runs a couple hundred $$ cheaper at $249.99.
 
The Cyclops Joule 2.0 and the Garmin Edge 500
The Cyclops Joule 2.0 and the Garmin Edge 500

5.  Electronic Assist Bikes.    Hannah test rode some of Trek’s new electronic assist bikes at Trek World back in August and came back completely sold on them.  I wasn’t sure quite where I stood on them until I test rode one at Interbike.  Wow.  These are awesome.  Whisper quite and variable “help” up to 350 watts (around 20mph).    This could completely change the way people think about bike commuting or running errands on bikes.  You can for instance, let the 350 watts ‘carry’ you TO work so you don’t get sweaty, and then get your ‘workout’ in on the way home by not having any power assistance.  You could strap on a big-ol trailer to your bike and do all your grocery shopping and haul it home no problem with a little wattage assistance.   I could go for a hard ride with my wife and not have to slow down at all as she cruises along at 20mph.

There were literally dozens of companies with electronic assist bikes on display
There were literally dozens of companies with electronic assist bikes on display

Please comment if you think we should carry any of these items in the store.  We’re always looking for feedback.

More cool stuff we saw:

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