BikeCommuters.com

Tag Archive: serfas

Interbike 2013: Overall impressions and trends

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.

DSC_0003
(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: http://urbanvelo.org/camo-is-the-new-black/

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!

IMG_6267
(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.

DSC_0126

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 Mtnbikeriders.com 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

Interbike 2013: “Booth Dudes”

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
DSC_0047

The debonair Adam Z. from O2 Rainwear
DSC_0060

These dashing and futuristic cats from Ryders Eyewear
DSC_0085

Our buddy, the supercool JT from Serfas
DSC_0102

The incomparable Mark L. from Planet Bike
DSC_0027

Marcus, our friend and a handsome face at WTB/Freedom
IMG_6331

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.
corey

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

Interbike 2013: Commuter accessories from Serfas

We ran into our pal JT at the Serfas booth today — and he was happy to show off a variety of commuter-friendly accessories.

The handsome JT:
DSC_0102

A HUGE array of headlights in various outputs:
DSC_0100

A matching array of taillights and front/rear light combos, including some with flexible mounting options:
DSC_0095

Even more taillights:
DSC_0094

Here’s a great headlight (to be released soon) where the battery pack doubles as a powerful taillight:
DSC_0097

Serfas lights are known for their true lumen outputs. The light pictured above is rated at 1000 lumens, and when Serfas claims an output, that’s what you get — no fudging the numbers like other companies do.

Need to light up the night on a dark commute? Serfas offers this 2500 lumen monster, complete with bar-mounted remote control!
DSC_0093

There were tons more accessories for the commute and for the home shop. Take a look at the wide variety of floor pumps and travel pumps Serfas offers:
DSC_0090


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

Product Review: Serfas Thunderbolt lights

SONY DSC

Front and back views.

I’ve been running the Serfas Thunderbolt headlight and taillight for about 6 months now, and have used them on a variety of bikes and for a variety of applications.

These lights are USB-powered and use micro-LED strips rather than bulbs. Let me tell you – the LED strips are BRIGHT!! It hurts to look at them even obliquely. This is both a positive and a negative. It’s a positive because you get around 180 degrees of visibility from each light – way more than you typically get from either headlights or taillights, and it gives a degree of confidence that you can be seen from the side nearly as well as from the front or rear. The negative? Well, you can’t mount them quite everywhere you might want to without getting blinded! Despite the brightness, these are definitely more in the “be seen” than “see” category of lights – they don’t light up enough road/trail to function in that fashion, but that’s OK since it’s not what they were designed for. I liked using them in tandem with a brighter headlight, and mounting the Thunderbolt to my fork. However, I couldn’t do this with every bike, since on some of my bikes the structure of the fork meant that a decent bit of the light actually went back up into my eyes! Not really a fault of the light – but a note for those who might be thinking of using a light in that fashion!

SONY DSC

Mounted on a road bike fork

SONY DSC

Mounted on a seat stay

The lights are encased in a silicone rubber body with straps that allow quick attachment and detachment to/from just about any part of your bike. I initially thought they might not last very long, but so far the only thing that’s happened is that the (white) models I received are no longer white, and the little flap that covers the USB charge port is a little loose (not a big deal, since that bit sits pretty tightly against the bike frame/handlebar/etc). The flexibility of being able to put a light pretty much wherever I want is AWESOME. I don’t know why more light manufacturers don’t use this method. I’ve attached the lights to bars, forks, seat stays, racks, and a trailer. No problems with them staying anywhere! Once attached they stay put.

SONY DSC

On a suspension fork!

According to Serfas, “burn” time is “1.75 hours (high beam); 7 hours (low beam); 3 hours (high blink); 9.5 hours (low blink).” My experience would indicate that these numbers are a little on the high side, but I can’t say for sure as I often wasn’t running them totally in a single mode for a single use (I definitely never used them on low blink for 9.5 hours). I DO know that the front has run out in under 1.5 hours of total use (two 45-minute trips in the dark, separated by about 2 hours). Similarly, I think the other modes run out in a bit less time than advertised. The only one where I’d say this is a true negative is with the high beam for the front. Most of the time, that’s the mode I want it in – and since I do ride for longer periods at night, it’s possible for my ride to last longer than the battery. I’d also say that for anyone who is not commuting to a destination where a friendly USB charger awaits, this might be a little short for longer there-and-back-in-the-dark commuting. However, it probably will cover 90% of potential users just fine.

The on/off button also functions as a mode switch (short hold to switch modes, long hold to turn off). Pretty standard commuter light function, and I never had any issues. The only (slight) beef I had with the switch is that it’s a little tough to manage in winter gloves – on multiple occasions I had to remove a glove to turn a light on. Those of you in warmer climes (or who are only fair-weather riders) won’t be bothered by this.

SONY DSC

Mounted around/over the stem faceplate

TL;DR summary: the Serfas Thunderbolt lights are a solid set of be-seen lights that offer unparalleled side visibility and impressive brightness for their size. Run times may be on the shorter end, but the attach-anywhere flexibility brings the Thunderbolt solidly into the “good buy” category.

SONY DSC

Mounted on a seatpost

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Making a difference in the local community

Last month you may have read about how BikeCommuters.com, with the help of Planet Bike went out to serve the local community in providing bicycle safety products to those in need.

After that event I went out another time to pass out the remaining items I had and when I ran out of goods I contacted the good folks of Planet Bike to see if they could provide more products. I also contacted my friend James Thomas (JT) of Serfas, they too make bicycle accessories.

About a week later I received another package from Planet Bike and by that time JT and I had talked about him coming out with me to pass out the products that Serfas donated
Planet Bike

On the day of the event, JT and I met up in Downtown Santa Ana, on Ross and Civic Center. With our bags full of goods, we headed out to talk to the people. This time we solicited the help of one of my daughters to take photographs to show what we’re doing in hopes it will motivate others to join our efforts, heck that’s how I got JT and Serfas to join us.

Yours truly on the left and JT on the right. Yep, he had a roller bag full of stuff!
bikecommuters.com community service

Planet Bike

Here’s a great shot of JT helping out a woman who is clearly grateful for the items he gave her. You can also see how many people are out there.
James Thomas Serfas

Once the word spread that we were out there passing out bicycle safety products, we were getting approached by people who would run up to us asking for lights or a lock. Here’s a couple of guys who desperately needed lights, locks and JT even gave one of them a cushioned seat cover. These guys thanked us so many times and what’s great is, the items they received would make a great impact because it can save them money from getting a ticket by the local police who will fine bicycle riders that do not have lights and it can help save their lives.
Serfas

This gentleman came running up to us and said, “I heard you guys are the ones who are going to save my life!” I responded by saying, “Is it because you need a light? If so, ya that’s us!” Here’s JT giving him a quick lesson on how to operate the lights.
serfas lights8

While JT was helping out another rider, I was talking to an elderly woman (not sure if you can see her behind the man) who was asking for lights. I told her that I need to make sure that I only give them to people who actually had bicycles. She then explained that she needs it when she’s walking at night. She also told me that she has had too many close calls with cars and needed something so they can see her. I figured that staying alive was a good enough reason to give her a light. But she couldn’t figure out where to put it and I suggested she clip on her purse handles, she thought that was a great idea and thanked me.
Planet Bike and Serfas helping the community

As we were heading out, this bicyclist rode up to us asking if he could get something for his bike. I gave him a Planet Bike pump, light and bell. He gladly accepted and loved that the bell even matched his bike!
Planet Bike Pump and Bell
JT also gave him the lights he had left in his bag.
Serfas lights

We had about 60 photos from the event, feel free to take a look at them.

I would like to thank the generosity of Planet Bike as well as Serfas. Without their help, this would have never happened. I super appreciated JT coming out to help and I think he understood why I do this. He saw that people are genuinely grateful for the products that we gave. In the grand scope of things, the basic bicycle needs of a light can literally save someone’s life.

As you can see lights and locks are needed. But from talking to the people we served, we found that they are also in need of tubes, pumps and patch kits. What’s great about Planet Bike and Serfas some of the items they donated were trade show samples or perfectly working products with some sort of cosmetic blemish that doesn’t pass QA for retail sales, but like I said, THEY WORK. So that means some of these items will sit in a warehouse collecting dust. But through our community service efforts, they have been re-purposed and making a difference.

If you or the company you work for would be interested in helping out our community service efforts, please contact me so we can coordinate. INFO@BikeCommuters.com

Thank You,

RL Policar
BikeCommuters.com