Category: Events

As the saying goes: we went, we saw, we were overwhelmed (as usual)…our Interbike 2013 coverage is drawing to an end, so we wanted to share our overall impressions and thoughts with you. This may be a bit long-winded, but bear with us; as the venue for Interbike is giant and the products on display are legion, so too is describing everything adequately.

(RL and Art getting ready to head into the belly of the beast)

First off, the venue: Interbike moved to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center for 2013. By most accounts, it was a mess — an oddly-shaped hall that was a bit smaller than its previous home at the Sands. Despite a mostly-working smartphone app AND paper maps, we got lost inside about a dozen times. Many others reported the same. Getting lost had its good and bad points; good in that we often stumbled across something we might not have seen otherwise, bad in that we had a very limited time on the show floor this year (one full day and two hours the second day before departing). Getting lost soaked up valuable time, and we wound up missing a lot of stuff we would have liked to see. It’s hard enough to cover the event in three full days…rushing around in less than half that time was a heroic effort for RL, Art, and myself.

Second was the outdoor “paddock” area, where a number of manufacturers were set up. We made it out there ONCE, and mostly by fluke. While the paddock area was clearly visible from outside the facility, once we were on the show floor, it was very difficult to find the access doors to that area. We missed a lot of the fun stuff going on out there…the test track for e-bikes, the race track for the U.S. Crits finals, etc. Our one positive experience was getting to lay our hands on the Motiv Shadow E-bike out there.

Let’s talk about some trends. First, camouflage clothing/accessories . It’s funny; while it popped into my mind that, “hey, there’s a lot of camo stuff this year”, it didn’t really register. Since my spouse is in the military and I live in a mostly-military neighborhood, I am surrounded by camo 24/7 and don’t even think about it. Luckily, our friends at Urban Velo spotted this trend, too:

Next, disc brakes for road bikes…holy cow, was there a ton of buzz for this emerging technology! Disc brakes started trickling onto the road scene last year, but this year the floodgates were wide open, especially with the development of hydraulic systems that fit into road levers.

How about fatbikes? Love them or hate them, they were EVERYWHERE and everyone was talking about them. We wrote about it here, and even got to try one out. Whether or not you are a fan, it looks like fatbikes are here to stay…at least until the next hot trend appears. And they are pretty versatile; they excel on snow, but they also do a fine job on other surfaces. Add some slick fatties on there and most would serve as a bombproof commuter rig!

(I love this photo and will post it every chance I get!)

You like bright colors? The bicycle industry has your back…and neons are about as big as they were in the 80s. Neon yellow and orange accents were everywhere, from sunglass frames to bicycle frames, from clothing to helmets. Orange was the really hot color this year…the brighter, the better.


If you’re into mountain bikes, the big news is that 27.5″/650b wheels are quickly replacing 26ers. Some brands have even dropped their 26″ bikes completely in favor of the new (old) size. And, since the wheel size isn’t as radical as 29ers, fewer compromises have to be made in terms of frame geometry…the 27.5″ wheel might truly be the ultimate wheel size for MTBs. Check out our sister site for the benefits of that size and lots more Interbike coverage.

As can be expected, lights are getting brighter and brighter and the prices seem to be going down as cheaper battery and LED technology is made available. We saw a lot of light manufacturers with lights for every purpose, and at dozens of intensities. Our friends at Serfas had a model that pumps out 2500 lumens — far more intense than car headlights!

E-bikes are continually growing in market penetration; it’s great to see this segment growing. We saw models with front or rear e-drives, but prefer the ebikes with rear wheel drive. Based on our experiences testing them, rear-drive models are easier to handle/ride and they look better too.

We really like that some of the manufacturers are sticking to the $500-$650 price range for a commuter bike. This price range offers a LOT to most commuters, with many of the models coming stock with fenders and racks and other commuter-friendly accessories. We also noticed (and greatly approve!) that commuter bikes were not relegated to the dark corners of displays…many builders had their commuter lines front and center along with their more racy bikes. That, to us, is the sign of a healthy market segment.

If you like using your phone as a GPS/mapping/ride data device, we noticed that there were a TON of phone mounts for bicycles…lots of new companies producing versatile and innovative mounts for many phones.

One thing we NEVER like: parts and even bikes are getting more and more expensive. It’s too DAMN HIGH!

Finally, after processing everything WE saw and after reading Interbike coverage on a host of other sites, we realize there was SO MUCH we missed. We simply missed a number of great new commuter products, especially Giro’s “New Road” line of casual cycling wear. I think that’s going to be a hit and we regret not getting photos and details to share with you.

For a really comprehensive look at what Interbike meant to seasoned cycling journalists, go no farther than Red Kite Prayer’s analysis of the event. It’s a thoughtful look from folks who are far more expert at analyzing the trends than we are.

We hope you enjoyed our coverage of Interbike 2013…and we plan on bringing you more coverage next year. With luck, we’ll be able to spend more days on the show floor next year so that we can cover more territory.

And, of course, we’d like to thank our sponsors for this year’s Las Vegas Trip. Black Tiger Jerky was very generous in allowing us the funds we needed to travel. Like what you saw here on our coverage? Then PLEASE SUPPORT Black Tiger…they make delicious jerky, and with Christmas coming up, their flavors make great stocking stuffers!

Interbike 2013 Coverage Proudly Sponsored by Black Tiger Jerky
Black Tiger Jerky

We had a chance to swing by the Ergon booth while we were in Las Vegas. Let’s take a look at some of their new offerings, shall we?

First off, Ergon has greatly expanded their saddle line…with saddles for road and mountain and disciplines in between, there’s one for every butt out there! The new road saddles (SR3 series), new cyclocross saddles (SRX3 series), and enduro-racing saddles (SME3 series) were getting all the attention. I had the chance to test-ride one of the very first SR3 saddles in the U.S., and I can say it was VERY comfortable for a racing saddle.



There were plenty of grips to choose from…ergonomic styles in rubber, cork, and the really stylish leather ones, a collaboration between Ergon and luxury cycling shoes maker Quoc Pham:


Ergon has expanded its range of backpacks, too. While these were developed for the mountain bike/marathon bike market, they serve admirably in a commuter capacity. You may remember that we have a BX4 pack on test right now (review coming soon):


Of great interest was the display of products from Phorm, a subsidiary of Ergon’s parent company (RTI Sports). Using ergonomic and comfort features developed for Ergon, Phorm is aimed at the recreation/urban/commuter market with a wide range of saddles and grips:



Interbike 2013 Coverage Proudly Sponsored by Black Tiger Jerky
Black Tiger Jerky

Axiom Performance Gear is probably not a household name in U.S. bike circles…but it should be. They make a HUGE variety of bike products and accessories, but may not have the same brand recognition here in the U.S. as other bike accessory companies. That’s a bit of a mystery to me; for as you will see, the products they make are well-designed, stylish, and readily available through the major bike shop wholesalers like QBP and Seattle Bike Supply.

Prior to our trip to Las Vegas, we’d be Facebook-chatting with Andrew Belson, the product manager and designer behind a lot of Axiom’s products. He gave us an extensive tour of Axiom’s display, focusing on commuter-friendly items we could share with you.

Axiom specializes in products designed to fit a wide range of bicycles, particularly their panniers and cargo racks. Let’s take a look at some of them first:

From the modular Grandtour Series, these panniers feature a host of high-tech features like adjustable pannier hooks, load management straps, and streamlined shaping. The best part of this series of bags is that they are totally modular, with a main bag and detachable accessory pockets. Strap on tent and toiletry pockets for long overnight or cross-country tours, then strip off everything but the main bag for errands and commuting. What a great setup!


The Grandtour Series comes in three sizes: 60 liters, 45 liters, and 30 liters, with accessory pockets that bump up the cargo capacity.


Here’s Axiom’s “Journey” series…panniers for front and rear, grocery bags, rack-mountable briefcases and even a handlebar bag for your iPad!


Need a rack to carry those bags? Axiom has you covered with a wide variety in both expedition-grade steel and aluminum flavors:


A LOT of thought went into the mounting hardware for Axiom’s racks. Most had offset mounts to prevent heel strikes, and they all had a huge range of adjustability to accomodate bikes of several wheel sizes. Take a look at their Uni-Fit mounting plates, which I referred to as “dial a size”. Find the appropriate holes for your wheelsize and bolt into place:


That’s pretty cool right there, and is a perfect example of the details sweated out by the folks at Axiom. With their mounting options, one would be hard-pressed indeed to find a bike these racks wouldn’t fit!

Axiom also makes a line of travel and floor pumps…some of the best-looking ones I’ve laid eyes on, and packed with great features.


These pumps have knurled aluminum bodies, extendible hoses and the “ReValver” that twists to adjust for Schrader and Presta valves. Slick!

Perhaps my very favorite thing I spotted at Interbike was this gorgeous floor pump called the Annihilateair G200A. It was a work of art, with a mirror-polished aluminum body, Headrush dual-valve head, replaceable MTB-style grips and traction pegs on the base. This pump just oozed quality, and if I had a spare $135.00, I’d run out and buy one right now! RL can attest to my interest in this pump…sort of an odd thing to get so excited over, but hey, I’m a bike geek with a serious tool problem:


Axiom showed us so much more…other waterproof panniers with ultrasonic-welded seams, great commmuter accessories, etc. We really had an enjoyable time with them in their vast display. And, we may be able to get our hands on some of Axiom’s products for the purposes of reviewing, so please stay tuned. In the meantime, swing on over to their website for further details on these and their many other products.

Interbike 2013 Coverage Proudly Sponsored by Black Tiger Jerky
Black Tiger Jerky

We met up with our pals Mike and Eric from Banjo Brothers in Las Vegas. They were gracious enough to spend a good chunk of their time shooting the breeze with us and telling us about some of their new products.

But first, the costumes. As you may remember in years past, Mike and Eric often had the very best costumes on the show floor…from tracksuits to loungewear. This year, they went with what I am referring to as “hayseed chic”:


Their most exciting new product is this convertible backpack-to-pannier:



The top flap swings both ways, serving to cover the pannier hooks on one side, and the backpack straps on the other. Presto changeo!


This bag will retail for around $89, if my memory serves.

Banjo Brothers also had a couple of very chic dry-waxed-canvas bags…urban style and lots of functionality in a sleek package:


Let’s not forget their Minnehaha Bags line, too — classic styling in waxed canvas and leather:


It was great to talk to Mike and Eric — they’re good guys who are passionate about what they do, and they are always SO nice to us! Check out their full lineup by visiting their website.

Interbike 2013 Coverage Proudly Sponsored by Black Tiger Jerky
Black Tiger Jerky

One of the highlights of our Interbike trips every year is to visit the kind folks at Planet Bike. They’re always happy to show off their new products, and they ALWAYS fill our sweaty hands with great swag (we got t-shirts and PB-branded Sockguy socks this year). And, we finally got to meet Mark LaLonde in person…he’s been our contact at PB for a couple of years and has been instrumental in donating products for RL’s Mobile Bicycle Repair Unit.

Here’s Mark at the PB booth:


Planet Bike’s big news was a couple of new microlights and some updates to the ever-popular Superflash series of lights. Let’s dive in and take a look, shall we?

First up is the Superflash Micro…the same great visibility as the original Superflash, but in a smaller package. These lights take “N” size batteries, and a USB option may be coming soon:


Speaking of USB, Superflash now comes in a USB-rechargeable version…handy for quick juice-ups at work:


Here are a couple of Superflash Turbos, but in the new mini-size:


Planet Bike has updated their popular ALX floor pump…new wooden handles and great features that make these rock-solid for home or shop use:


Planet Bike has a giant collection of commuter-friendly accessories for almost any application. Head on over to their website for a full look at the many light, fender, and pump options and a whole lot more.

Interbike 2013 Coverage Proudly Sponsored by Black Tiger Jerky
Black Tiger Jerky