Outdoor Demo Report – our man Jeff Lockwood reports from the outdoor demo days of Interbike with a few of the trends and not-trends. And the proliferation of beer in the bike industry.
The Outdoor Demo is solidly cemented as THE annual venue for companies anxious to get their dealers, media folk and other bicycle industry hangers-on up close and personal with the newest products.
Bicycles, components, clothing and other bicycle bits arrive to Bootleg Canyon on Monday morning in a beautiful state of virgin shine. Within moments of the expo gates opening, desert grit and anxious riders transform these products into battle-worn soldiers. Bikes get filthy, shoes get scuffed and the sharp desert rocks slice many tyres. Yet people queue up for ages just to throw a leg over the latest thing despite the already-haggard look of the newest products.
I was sure as I descended the steps of the shuttle bus that I would be immediately inundated with all manner of 650B mountain bikes, the current ‘latest thing’. To be quite honest, while there was much interest, discussion and riding related to the platform, I got the sense that more than a few attendees were not as enthused as many companies would hope. Of course everyone was anxious to try out all the 27.5in bikes out there, but a few of the people I spoke with were either hesitant about another platform, or straight-up not overly impressed with the ride quality compared to 29ers or even 26-inch bikes.
What was really surprising at the Demo this year, and what people were indeed excited about, was the number of fat bikes. While it can be a bit difficult to quickly identify a 650B bike in a crowd, bikes like the new 29in Surly Krampus and the 9-Zero-7 certainly stick out. Lots of people attacked the rocky desert atop one of these bikes, and brought them back bearing wide smiles. To me, these bikes truly seemed like “the latest things,” and I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of these beasts in the future.
One of the many benefits of being at the Outdoor Demo is that it’s not all about trying the newest gear, you’re also able to buy some of it. While you really can’t buy any of the bikes there, more than a few exhibitors were happy to sell their wares at significantly discounted prices to anyone willing to open their wallets. The Chris King booth saw a constant crowd as the company was selling their headsets, hubs and bottom brackets at wholesale prices. Crank Bros. also got in on the game by selling some special Interbike 2012 edition pedals. Unfortunately, Osprey sold all of their available merchandise by the time I wandered up to their booth.
Now what’s a report on a bicycle industry gathering without a mention of beer? Of course, the festive atmosphere of the Outdoor Demo is galvanized by the fact many booths let the beer flow like water. There’s nothing like re-dehydrating in the brutal desert sun by cracking open a beer after finishing up a quick ride on the newest of the new bikes. Fortunately many of the exhibitors offered up fine ales of distinction, but others thought it fine to give warm cans of low-quality beer to the thirsty hordes. But hey… at least it was free.
The prototype of the e*thirteen post seen here is expected to be in production “some time next year.” The current version includes a cable-operated remote switch with a removable toggle to prevent breakage on falls, and it can also be mounted on either side of the bar. E*thirteen expects final weight of the post to be right about in the middle of other posts on the market. Changes to the prototype pictured include moving over to a two-bolt mounting configuration and including a sort of rubberized grippy texture to the aforementioned remote toggle for more confident engagement. No word on estimated price.
The indoor trade show starts today, where the real new shiny things are all on display. We’ll be posting stories as and when Jeff sends them over. Stay tuned and keep it Vegas!