Category: Events

Three years ago when the UCI began to allow disc brakes for cyclocross racing, it opened a floodgate — a number of manufacturers rushed to adapt discs for road/cross disciplines. Quick advances in brake assemblies, frame fittings and forks, hubs and all the other attendant bits occured. Still, many people wondered if brakes were really needed for road bikes…and if mechanical (cable-actuated) brakes were up to the task. A couple boutique manufacturers developed mechanical-to-hydraulic adapters, such as the TRP Parabox, among others.

And that set the big manufacturers to putting their R&D muscle behind the idea of hydraulics for the road…but how to fit a master cylinder into the shifter body? It took a couple of years before it was ready, but things are finally starting to make it to market.

SRAM came through first with the “Hydro R” setup in two versions: RED for the well-heeled, and the S-700 for a somewhat more affordable option. The master cylinders are contained in the brake/shift lever bodies, and here’s the really interesting thing: they come in disc OR hydraulic rim brake options.

Forgive these somewhat awkward photos, but SRAM’s display made it difficult to get a good shot of the brake options. Check SRAM’s website for all the lurid details and better product images.

RED rim brake:
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RED disc:
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S-700 rim brake (left) and disc (right):
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Over at Shimano, things are not quite ready for release. They had prototype Dura Ace Di2 hydraulic brakes/shift levers on display, and they felt good in the hand. They’re not scheduled for release until spring 2014, according to one of the Shimano techs I spoke to. Visit Shimano’s site for more details on the brake systems they will offer for the road.

Here are the shift levers with master cylinder hidden within:
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And the brake bodies/discs as installed on a road bike:
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The brake bodies and discs borrow technology from Shimano’s mountain groups, namely the ICE heat management system. Road discs can get extremely hot during prolonged descents, and that is the Achilles Heel of hydros, according to a number of sources. Shimano’s ICE system should help alleviate heat-induced brake fade.

I asked the Shimano tech if this hydraulic wizardry would trickle down to more affordable options for “regular folks” who can’t afford Dura Ace/Ultegra. Alas, Shimano plans only to offer hydraulic discs on their two upper-end Di2 groupsets…not even mechanical Dura Ace will be graced with a master cylinder setup. The reason for this is that they wanted to maintain the existing Di2 lever shape without a “unicorn bulge”, according to the tech I spoke to. SRAM’s shifting assembly and the master cylinder together take up a lot more room and necessitated a lever redesign on their end.

Finally, for those of you who use other components, or dig your current brake/shifter setup, there’s hope for you. TRP has unveiled their HY-RD system, which is cable-actuated and has the master cylinder mounted to the brake body itself. TRP claims this HY-RD system will work with any current mechanical shifting system.

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TRP also still offers their Parabox adapter system.

We’re curious — are road disc brakes in your future? Any thoughts on mechanical vs. hydraulic? We’d love to hear your thoughts/gripes/concerns/WTFs. The technology still has a bit of refinement to go, but it is great to see the big component makers getting behind this new application for hydraulics.


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

One thing we noticed at this year’s Interbike was the reappearance of the “booth babe” — you know, “our product’s not interesting enough on its own, so let’s hire some sex appeal!” Yeah, it’s a pretty tired-out technique, and it is unfortunate that companies still resort to sex-sells tactics. We’re sure you’ve noticed photos of pretty women shilling bike parts if you’ve been following Interbike coverage on other sites. There was quite a bit of that in Las Vegas this year…most of the worst offenders were in the Chinese (!) and Italian zones.

Well, we want to flip the script here and showcase some “Booth Dudes” — RL and I noticed that a lot of the men in bike businesses are rather handsome! The difference here is that not only are these a bunch of manly pretty faces, but they also know their product lines in depth. These are the hardest working guys in the bike biz — folks who are passionate about what they do and have the know-how to back it up. Try getting detailed specs from a booth babe!

So, our 2013 “Booth Dudes“:

Mike and Eric, costumed crusaders par excellence from Banjo Brothers
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The debonair Adam Z. from O2 Rainwear
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These dashing and futuristic cats from Ryders Eyewear
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Our buddy, the supercool JT from Serfas
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The incomparable Mark L. from Planet Bike
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Marcus, our friend and a handsome face at WTB/Freedom
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And, last but not least, the ever-so-dreamy Corey P (in the black shirt) of Dainese. Corey used to be one of our sponsored racers over at Mtnbikeriders.com, and this young man is a hoot to hang out with.
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There you have it — our roundup of handsome, friendly faces at this year’s Interbike. Give these guys a hand for all they do for the bicycle community…both in providing great products, but also in prettying up the place for the rest of us!


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

This is a followup to our earlier gravel bikes article. Once we made it onto the show floor at the Mandalay Bay convention center, it was time to capture pics of some other hot new gravel bike models (and an old favorite).

First up is the Raleigh Tamland, new for 2014 and in two models:

Tamland Two
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(Editor’s note: a reader corrected us on the photo we had described as the Tamland One, when it was actually the Roper. I only got a poor background shot of the Tamland One, so simply imagine a different color scheme from the above bike — sky blue with yellow and white accents — and a slightly different component spec.)

The Tamlands sport a Reynolds 631 steel frame, slightly longer chainstays and a lower bottom bracket shell than typical cyclocross bikes. They’re lookers…but I can’t remember what differentiates one from the other. They’re so new they don’t yet appear on Raleigh’s website, and I neglected to take detailed notes. I believe it has something to do with the component spec, with the Tamland Two having Ultegra rather than 105 (but don’t quote me).

The updated Roper also has the gravel-grinding goods:
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Here’s a detail shot of the rear dropouts…lovingly sculpted and ready for racks and fenders:
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Next is the Co-Motion Pangea…billed as a monstercross/offroad global touring machine with 26″ wheels and a ton of clearance for fat rubber:
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Here’s the Surly Straggler, described by the company as a disc-braked version of their very popular Cross-Check. It comes in a very lovely shade of metallic violet:
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Finally, the granddaddy of them all, the Bianchi Volpe. Introduced in 1996 as a touring bike, the Volpe has slowly evolved into Bianchi’s “do everything” bike — a prime candidate for commuting, beginner ‘cross racing, gravel adventures, and more. The Volpe is still equipped with rim brakes rather than discs, but we wouldn’t be surprised at all to see discs in a future model. It does come with every mounting option a commuter would want…rack mounts front and rear, fender eyelets on both ends. The Volpe is one of my favorites in the Bianchi lineup:

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What do you think — are gravel bikes the new “ultimate commuter platform”? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this burgeoning segment of the bicycle market.


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

Let it be known that 2013/2014 is the year of the “fatbike”…these things were EVERYWHERE at Interbike, both indoors at the show and at the Outdoor Demo. We saw a dozen different brands, and even got to ride one. Let’s take a look at some of the fatbike hightlights:

When we first walked up to the entrance gate at Outdoor Demo, we spotted a young lady wheeling in what turned out to be a prototype KHS fatbike. The finalized version will be a different color and will have some different features, and is scheduled to be released in the first part of 2014 (hopefully before the snow comes):

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RL and I stopped by the 9:Zero:7 booth at Outdoor Demo — with so many bike companies and attendees coming from the Southern California area, the guys at 9:Zero:7 were pretty stoked to meet someone who actually lived in a snowy winter climate! They sweet-talked us into checking out one of their bikes, the aluminum 190 with 190mm rear dropout spacing. This one will swallow the widest fatbike tires available (up to 4.8″).

We hustled this orange-and-white beauty over to the Bell Helmets pumptrack and let it RIP. What a blast this thing was…smooth over rough terrain and surprisingly nimble for such a massive machine. One loop around the pumptrack and I was sold!

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RL followed up with some flow of his own:

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Aluminum not your thing? 9:Zero:7 is also rolling out a new carbon frame. Colorado Springs-based Borealis Bikes had their new carbon Yampa frameset on display, too:

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We even spotted a couple of fat e-bikes. Here’s a Felt with a Bosch assist kit:

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Inside the indoor show at The Mandalay Bay convention center, there were more fatbikes than you could shake a stick at. There were quite a few frame and component makers with fatties on display; even Phil Wood had a custom full-suspension downhill model in their booth.

The highlight for me, though, were these glorious fatbikes in the Boo Bicycles booth. This one is made from the “holy Trinity” of frame materials…carbon, titanium, and bamboo, with a Gates belt drive and Rohloff IGH. The front end sports a titanium springer-style fork:

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Here’s a racier model with bamboo tubes surrounded by what I believe to be titanium assemblies:

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Winter warriors, take note: fatbikes are here and they open a door into a snowy wonderland of riding. These bikes also happen to be quite fun in summery conditions…sand, gravel, and obstacles are no match for the balloon tires and wide footprint. With some smooth tires (or a quick switch to 29″ wheels/tires — most are a direct swap), these might even make formidable all-season commuting rigs!


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

Companies try to attract attention at Interbike in many different ways. Some have celebrity appearances, others have crazy givewaways. Some do loud music, others design glamorous displays. And some wear costumes…a time-honored tradition, even rocked by our friends at Banjo Brothers from time to time.

Ryders Eyewear took the cake this year, though…a “Back to the Future” theme complete with gullwing DeLorean motorcar and metallic lame’ costumes!

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These guys were a hoot, and were good sports when we asked to take their picture. And, judging by the volume of people and activity in the Ryders booth, those costumes were paying off.

You may remember a couple of Ryders sunglasses reviews we’ve posted in the past. Good quality eyewear!


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