Urban PressCamp 2011: Product highlights, part 1

Cateye GPS, Lazer city lids and a flax fiber bike from Schwinn

Typically the phrase “cycling trade show” elicits images of sweetly shaped carbon components and high-end bikes with almost unimaginable price tags. At Urban PressCamp, however, the emphasis had nothing to with Tour de France-worthy steeds and everything to do with affordable — and sensible — two-wheeled transportation options.

The setting for the first edition of this two-day powwow of human-powered transport was the elegant House of Sweden in Washington DC, home to the embassies of both Sweden and Iceland, set just a stone’s throw from the Potomac River and within easy bike-riding distance of many of Washington’s great landmarks.

“The bottom line is that everybody here loves to ride bikes and we want to make it easier for other people to ride,” said Brian Fornes, marketing man for Raleigh, who were showing off a half dozen commuter bikes. “We feel like anyone can produce an $8,000 carbon road bike. But getting people to start choosing bikes as an affordable transportation option in big cities is a much bigger, more important and difficult challenge.”

To kick things off, we offer three products that stand out, and we’ll have continuing coverage in the coming days.

CatEye Inou, US$250

Cateye’s Inou GPS with built in still and video camera            

What it is: A deck-of-playing-cards-sized GPS data logging, video and still camera that attaches to your handlebars and records rides, then allows users to share their experiences with others via a CatEye-branded website. Think GoPro-equipped GPS and you’re on the right track.

Why you want it: In this age Twitter and Facebook, the Inou is a fun way to track and share your two-wheeled adventures. It also captures speed and elevation data, and when downloaded, all the info displays on an easy-to-navigate website. Think of it as another way to brag about how far and fast you rode.

Lazer City Zen helmet, $60

The Lazer City Zen, in plaid           

What they offer: Lazer have a full line of affordable and fashionable helmets geared toward commuters. The brim-equipped City Zen comes in two sizes and five colors, including a favorite among the hipster set — plaid! Lazer also offer kids' helmets with detachable shell covers, meaning one day little Johnny can be a fireman and the next he can be an astronaut.

Why you want it: You’re riding down Broadway in New York City with a city bus on one side and a yellow cab on the other; it’s a situation more dangerous than a 70kph alpine descent, so why wouldn’t you want a helmet? Throw in the fact that the City Zen has an easy-to-use TurnFit system and a stylish fabric cover that will keep the rain from mussing up your businessman hair gel, and this is — wait for it — a no brainer.

Schwinn Vestige, $1,299 (available in June)

Schwinn's Vestige eco bike           

What is it: A slick looking, eco-friendly 1x9 cruiser bike with bamboo fenders and grips, recycled rubber tires and frame tubes made from flax fiber. What the heck is flax fiber you ask? It’s a biodegradable plant material that’s also used in all those flax seed elixirs you see in the health food aisle at your local grocery store. It’s also a material, according to the Schwinn marketing folks, that offers a ride very similar to carbon fiber. If that doesn’t grab your attention, check out the translucent frame, which lights up when ridden courtesy of a Shimano dynamo hub that powers an internal LED light.

Why you want it: Number one, you need a city bike, and this is a pretty cool one. Number two, the Vestige is reasonably priced, made of environmentally friendly materials, and a conversation starter, even in bike commuter meccas like Portland, Oregon, San Francisco, California and Boulder, Colorado.

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