The Outdoor Demo portion of Interbike, held in Bootleg Canyon just 21 miles off the Las Vegas Strip, brought together a healthy hybrid of bicycle dealers, media and distributors from all over the world.
Exhibitors as big as Specialized, Giant, Trek/LeMond/Fisher, Shimano and SRAM enjoyed huge crowds of eager riders both days, as attendees clamored for saddle time on the latest dirt and road bikes. Boutique brands like Pivot, Ibis, Tomac, Spot and Yeti were just as busy, with marketing and mechanical support people dialing in saddle heights, installing pedals, adjusting suspension, and generally enjoying the attention.
Tuesday morning began early with the Lake Mead road ride, a 24-mile out and back. BikeRadar's international editor John Stevenson and I stretched our legs with approximately 300 other riders, enjoying the hellacious downhill pace despite the headwind, then paying for it on the return. It was an ideal time to test the BH Speedum and Specialized Tarmac SL, and a good way to kick start our scheduled test rides (and pump blood through our hearts and oxygenate our bodies.)
Bootleg Canyon's mountain bike trail system is tight, smart and loads of fun. There was something for everyone: a dirt jump course, downhill-specific routes with scheduled truck rides to the top, and an extensive whoop-dee-do cross-country trail system that brought smiles to everyone with a pulse. Mixed in with the Santa Cruz's, Felts, Specializeds, Norcos, Salsas, Yetis and Niners were large-tyred trail bikes from Surly and curious belt-drive singlespeeds from Spot.
Even world cycling demi-gods were spotted heading out for a play in the sunshine, including world champ Julien Absalon and Luna rider Katerina Nash.
Temperatures were in the low to mid 80s, but a cool breeze (and plenty of free water, replenishing concoctions and energy bars) kept everyone level headed and happy both days. The more than 120 exhibitors and an estimated attendee crowd of 3,300 alike seemed very pleased with the Outdoor Demo, as Wednesday brings everyone indoors to the Sands Convention Center for three days of carpet, fluorescent lighting, and oodles of goodies, all served up the next few days by the stalwart BikeRadar team.
When Chris King's not cooking mouth-watering fajitas for a pack of hungry journalists, he's keeping tabs on the burgeoning big-hit market and launching a surgically precise 1.5-inch NoThreadset.
At 230g, the US$169 machined piece of art comes with a 10-year warranty and the new 85g King PreLoader, eliminating the need for a starnut. Headset colours are Black, Silver, Navy, Green, Mango, Pink, Pewter and Gold.
As sponsor of the Vanilla/Stumptown Coffee cyclo-cross team, King now offers the aluminum Classic Cross hubset, with optional stainless steel driveshell.
The 19.5mm axle is buttressed by wide-spaced, equal size flanges for a low-dish rear wheel. The stainless steel RingDrive engagement mechanism features 72 points of positive engagement for the familiar "angry like bee" sound that King devotees have appreciated for decades. The US$479 hubset is available in 28, 32, and 36-hole drillings, are warranted for five years, and are available in the same colours as the 1.5-inch NoThreadset. Weights are approximately 136g (front) and 278g (rear). Visit Chris King.
For the second year in a row, Crank Brothers has helped GT ambassador Hans Rey raise awareness and funding for his Wheels4Life charity. Through the sale of special edition rasta-coloured Crank Brothers 5050 pedals, a cheque for US $10,000 was presented to Hans by Crank Brothers partner Andrew Herrick on the second day of the Outdoor Demo.
Wheels4Life is a non-profit organization founded by Hans Rey, which provides bikes for people in Third-World countries in need of transportation to get to work or to school, including health care workers. Often these people live in very primitive and remote areas with no access or means to public transportation. In these cases, the gift of a bicycle can change a life.
Rey is sponsored by Crank Brothers and rides 5050 XX pedals in his travel adventures and trials shows.
The company learned of Wheels4Life early in 2006, and decided to make a special edition pedal to benefit the charity. The project was made even more exciting when they handed the creative design over to Rey. He designed the special-edition pedals in red, gold and green, with high-traction set screws. The pair includes extra black plates and pins, and a Wheels4Life logo gracing each pedal to show support for the organization.
"There are endless people who could greatly benefit from owning a bicycle or from having access to one," Rey said. "[For them], having a bike can make all the difference in the world. For us, bikes are usually luxury items, sports objects, toys, etc. But for many people bikes are existential - they need them to go to the far away school, get to work, or be reached by nurses and healthcare workers. I'd like to see Wheels 4 Life become big enough to make a difference." Visit Wheel4Life.
Chris Cocalis, founder of Titus Cycles, has re-emerged with a new brand called Pivot. The Mach 4 and Mach 5 models, offering four and five inches of travel, use the DW link rear suspension platform.
BikeRadar's John Stevenson tested the Mach 4 on the Boulder Canyon trails, and was quickly impressed with the bike's fast cross-country abilities. Current spec includes plenty of Shimano and Ritchey parts, with Fox shocks front and rear. Look for a complete review on BikeRadar in the coming months. Visit Pivot Cycles.