As the festival-like Passportes du Soleil event grows each year, so to does its expo area in the heart of Les Gets, France. This eighth year featured 60 booths to keep a claimed 5,924 participants occupied in between their rides, and even provided test bikes to many for at least parts of the 80k course.
In addition to the participant-specific expo, two companies offered product launches specifically for media at the event: SRAM and Lapierre. BikeRadar previewed one especially interesting piece of equipment on Ross Schnell’s custom Trek Remedy ‒ a new Rock Shox Reverb ‘Stealth’ dropper seatpost.
What's missing? No exposed hydraulic line, no annoying rub on your calf, scratched frame or getting it caught in the tire
The new Reverb solves many of the issues that accompany a dangling remote housing. The internal design puts the hydraulic line out of harm's way on the post itself, as RockShox has inverted the system’s hydraulics and run the housing inside the frame’s seat tube.
According to Tyler Morland, RockShox’s media manager, the new Stealth will be available as an OEM option for certain Trek and Scott models in 2012. “Obviously the frame needs to be designed to have an internal hydraulic housing run through it, so for now it'll only be available from these two companies,” he said.
The post is in early prototype phases, and Schnell’s Remedy frame, which is also a prototype, uses a simple piece of inner tube and zip-ties to keep the muck out until the proper frame plugs become available.
The line comes out under the seat tube and routes up the down tube
Schnell said he plans on running the prototype Reverb in the Megavalanche enduro downhill next week, which leads us to assume it’s working well already, since he’s comfortable racing it at such an early stage.
Power to the people
The most impressive sight at Passportes was the number of bikes that were offered up to participants to take out for a test ride. Companies like BMC, Canyon, Giant, Lapierre, Santa Cruz, Scott, Specialized and Trek were allowing test rides of current models, with fleets averaging between 20-30 bikes for each company. Most models leaned heavily towards an all-mountain target, appropriately for the Passportes event.
Scott offered guided tours with their demo bikes
While some companies like Scott ran guided tours of approximately 10 test rides per hour for their demo fleet, many of the companies simply allowed Passportes participants to check out a bike (with a driver’s license and a credit card) to test on their own.
Trek’s French marketing manager, Yannick Le Moing, said that they were averaging 50-60 test rides a day out of their 20-bike demo fleet, which was down a bit from last year. Le Moing assured us it was still enough to make the event worthwhile, though. “There are more participants [at Passportes] this year, but many of them aren’t French, so they brought their own bike to the event,” he said. “That said, we were still very busy and will be back next year.”
Wood ramps into an air bag; what can we say? Looks like fun.
As the Passportes du Soleil grows in popularity from riders and industry, it'll be interesting to see if its expo area turns into more of a showcase for new product as well.