Paul Andrews

Posts Tagged ‘Interbike 2009’

Daily Roundup: Wood wheels, new national high school MTB org, outrage in L.A.

In Bicycle advocacy, Daily Roundup, Interbike 2009, Mountain Biking, Obama Bikes on October 5, 2009 at 1:44 am

No one knows bike technology better than Seattle’s Ric Hjertberg. So when Ric goes from carbon fiber (FSA) to wood fiber (Ghisallo), you know something is afoot. The media missed the story at Interbike 2009, but Ric brings us up to date on his blog, Wheel Fanatyk.

BikeRadar: On the heels of a rippingly successful high-school mountain biking program in northern California, a new National Interscholastic Cycling Association has been formed. Quote: “Cycling’s been around for over 100 years, but only now is it becoming a high school sport.” Congrats and best of luck to Matt Fritzinger, NorCal league founder and executive director who is the driving force behind NICA.

We haven’t spoken with Fritzinger, but there’s certainly potential for NICA in the Pacific Northwest. Already we’ve noted a biking (repair) class in Bellingham High in the shadow of nationally recognized mountain-biking mecca Galbraith Mountain, and Issaquah (Duthie Hill), Renton (Lake Sawyer), Seattle (Colonnade) and Federal Way (Sea-Tac) all have strong youth mountain biking populations.

Kids all over are gathering informally to build ad hoc stunts and structures and otherwise grow the sport. If NICA can formalize a lot of the random and impromptu energy that goes into mountain biking as an “extracurricular” activity, we could be on the cusp of a whole new level of participation.

This will be intriguing to watch.

One more reason to avoid L.A.: Not having a bike license in Santa Monica can get you thrown immediately into jail … and subject to a $1,000 fine. Note the disparity between bike licensing and car tab penalties. Even driving without a driver’s license has no minimum penalty.

If you steal a bike in Grants Pass, OR, you apparently are in a world of hurt.

This Day in Doping: Humanplasma says OK, we fess up … to tax evasion. But we never helped anyone dope, even the cyclists who say we did. From

More kudos to Tyler Farrar, who won it all in Franco-Belge.


Daily Roundup: More Interbike, This Day in Doping

In Daily Roundup, Equipment reviews, Interbike 2009, Mountain Biking on September 29, 2009 at 7:12 am

Interbike 2009 dribblings …

Attendance a mixed bag. Overall attendance declined, but buyer numbers were up. Exhibitors were said to be happy, so that’s good, because if the exhibitors aren’t happy, then the booth bimbos aren’t happy, and if the bbs aren’t happy, well, you know…

Great video from Mountain Bike Action with Richard Cunningham showing off Ibis’ new HD Mojo (beefy, very beefy), Magura fork/brake combo and a new rack from Kuat that, face it, puts the Thule T2 to shame.

And BikeSnob goes off on Reynolds’ $6,000 set of carbon wheels.

Finally, re our standing feature This Day in Doping, check out this video on new anti-doping controls that somehow feels like a 5th grade tutorial on urine testing for pot. No wonder Lance gets annoyed with these people. We support rigorous dope testing of cyclists (emphasis on rigorous, because so far there’s little evidence testing is inhibiting doping). We also support doing it in a professional and respectful way.

Daily Roundup: Ex-mtber wins road worlds, Cali parks stay open, Interbike leftovers and more

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle Racing, Daily Roundup, Interbike 2009, Mountain Biking, Obama Bikes on September 28, 2009 at 2:35 am

California’s decision not to close state parks is great news for mountain bikers. Common sense in this case was aided by the stat that for every dollar the state spends on its parks, it takes in about $3. That and the fact concessionaires were contacting their lawyers over breach of contract if the parks were to close…

A former mountain biker, Australia’s Cadel Evans, has won the world road racing championship. A former road racer has never won much of anything in mountain biking, so this proves which is the tougher sport. Moreover, Evans is a “clean” rider, so it’s an even bigger deal.

GoPro’s early stuff was junk, but credit where due, they’re keeping at it and getting it right. The Hero HD was at Interbike 2009 and I think I’ll give their line another go-around.

IMBA’s industry breakfast at Interbike 2009 packed ’em in. We’re looking forward to the mentioned bike-umentary, “Pedal Driven.”

Alberto Contador may not have to ride for Astana next year, because Astana may not exist next year.

The Tour of California, shaping up as America’s premier contribution to the world cycling calendar, is moving to mid-May next year. Hopefully no more April showers, and it’ll be a lot warmer. We fans thank the organizers! (And thanks to Lance Armstrong for bringing out the crowds this past season, guaranteeing the event’s future.)

OK OK, what I said about Cadel Evans was just a joke, OK? Besides, Lance is NOT a former road racer who left road racing for mountain biking. And the Leadville 100 is hardly the world championships. OK???

Interbike 2009 wrap: In search of a showstopper

In Equipment reviews, Interbike 2009, Mountain Biking on September 27, 2009 at 2:09 am

Another edition of Interbike has come and gone, and a good time was had by all. Lots of 29ers, lots of carbon, lots of improved this and streamlined that. But if there is anything that Interbike 2009 will be remembered for, it’s that there isn’t anything Interbike 2009 will be remembered for.

Unlike past Interbikes, no major breakthroughs like VPP or DW-Link or rad shocks or tubeless tires headlined 2009. In fact, nothing really headlined 2009. This year was not so much about new. It was mostly about improved.

A better drivetrain from SRAM. An HD helmet cam from Hero. New tires from WTB. Better lighting systems, lighter wheelsets, iPhone bike apps, a bladder that tells you how full it is from Camelbak.

And a great t-shirt from Thule.


All nice. But not earthshaking.

Much of the subdued aura at the Sands had to do with the economy, of course. The bike industry isn’t being hammered as hard as, say, the auto industry or housing sector. In fact, there are bright spots, including increasing ridership, commute penetration numbers and respectable sales of mainstream bikes. And although final numbers are not yet in, organizers who were expecting a drop in attendance feel the headcount may actually prove to be higher this year than last.

But high-end bikes are pretty much dead in the water. And they’re the ones with the fat margins that make the money to fund R&D that leads to tech advances in the marketplace. The big bike manufacturers will deny cutbacks on skunkworks and blue-sky projects, and the boutique makers will say they’re still full steam ahead. But if you talk to the suppliers and vendors and even shop rats, you hear a different story.

You didn’t see a whole lot of new models at Interbike this year. There was the downhill 29er from Lenz we discussed, and Santa Cruz’s Tallboy carbon 29er, and Ibis’ HD (longer-travel) Mojo and some random others. We expected Turner to have prototypes of the DW-Link RFX available at the Dirt Demo, but it’s another tell (as they say at the Vegas poker table) on the state of the business that Dave did not roll this baby out. Giant and Trek didn’t even show up.

The biggest Top Secret whisper-whisper hubbub had to do with battery-sensored “smart fork” suspension from Cannondale. Remember earlier this year when electronic transmission was the next big thing? Like, where did that go?

This is no slam against the bike biz. Everyone’s hurting, so it only makes sense to lower expectations. And a lower-key Interbike is in some ways a more enjoyable Interbike. You could focus on the social aspects and networking instead of running around trying to absorb tons of new goodies that manufacturers were vying for your attention span over.

So even if 2009 goes down as one of the ho-hummer Interbikes, it hardly means the show wasn’t worth it. This is bike fever at its best, even in hard times. And besides, there’s always next year.

Interbike 2009: Carbon rising

In Bicycling, Equipment reviews, Interbike 2009, Mountain Biking on September 23, 2009 at 9:15 am

When it comes to cycling, carbon, which used to be called carbon fiber, which was actually a technical implementation of plastic, is becoming the new metal.

From the early 1990s days of carbon road frames that pioneering manufacturers like Watsonville, CA-based Kestrel and big-name companies such as Look and Trek built, carbon has made inroads into mountain biking as well (Kestrel’s seminal frames included). But frames are almost incidental to carbon innovation today.

At Interbike 2009, carbon bikes still are turning heads (the latest being Santa Cruz’s full-suspension 29-incher, the Tallboy). But carbon accessories and parts are showing up all over as well. And like frames, they’re being touted as stronger than aluminum, while also just as light and durable.

So you’ve got carbon handlebars, carbon seatposts, carbon rockers, carbon cranksets and even forks (lowers in mtb suspension forks). The least expected stunner: A carbon “chain,” actually a belt drive, that supposedly will outlast and outperform its veteran steel counterpart.

Although widely reviewed by test riders on a spot-ride basis, the Gates belt drive jury is still out, simply because so few real-life installations yet exist. The drive cannot be used with conventional derailleurs and is best suited to single-speed setups or an internal hub like the Rohloff. That said, it offers immense maintenance and performance advantages — as long as it lives up to its billing.

Similar claims are being made for other carbon parts, particularly handlebars. Once prone to chipping and breakage, bars today come with strength specs that surpass metal while soaking up hits better and transferring less shock for a smoother ride.

Carbon posts, which early on were flexy and unreliable, have made strides as well, although slippage remains a problem. And hollow carbon cranksets are turning in gram counts that put the shame to aluminum.

But is all the carbon chatter for real, or just industry hype aimed at suckering bleeding-edge types and weight weenies? We went through all this before with the first wave of carbon, which relied on pattern weaves and epoxy, and saw frames shatter, components fail and performance diminish quickly over time.

I’ve had three carbon bikes. The first, a Trek Y-33 bike, was light and stiff and compliant (it soaked up hits well). Its single-pivot design was not the greatest and it sure was noisy (the slightest sound reverberated through the hollow body) but the bike stayed in good shape as long as I had it (about a year before it was stolen). I got a Giant carbon hardtail in 2002 and loved it. It was by far the least harsh hardtail ride I’ve ever had. But the bottom bracket shell separated from the frame after about 9 months, and Giant, which had given up making the frame, replaced it with an aluminum model.

Today I have an Ibis Mojo for high-country XC epics, tipping the scales at 25.2 lbs. It seems tougher and sturdier than previous carbon, and I’ve had no issues in two years of riding. I’ve also ridden the new carbon Blur, which feels downright bulletproof. One thing about the Blur is how the one-piece molding transfers load so evenly, you don’t feel like you’re hammering the bottom bracket. The whole bike seems to soak up hard pedal action.

All that said, carbon is in many ways still too evolutionary to draw hard-and-fast conclusions. Carbon still can shatter, as evinced by Jeremy Honorez’s encounter with a traffic bollard. One doubts aluminum or steel would have survived such an impact either, but let’s remember we’re not talking infallibility here.

A lot of the carbon hype has to do as well with looks. Carbon molding, combined with its innate strength, can add some sexy curves and design innovations to a fork and frame. The press release usually banners the performance advantage, but let’s face it, a cherry design sells. And carbon is offering more design variability than aluminum or steel.

Manufacturers also seem confident about boosting carbon’s warranty claims, as Gary Fisher recently tweeted:

“I get asked ” is there a weight limit on your carbon MTBs?” No and they all have a lifetime Garantiee”

Fisher isn’t alone. Santa Cruz has replaced its aluminum Blur XC line with carbon Blurs (not everyone is pleased), and says its longer-travel Blurs will take any fork without risk of frame breakage. Other manufacturers, including Ibis, are making similar claims. Weight claims are getting downright feathery, with 22-pound builds not uncommon.

Carbon still does not seem ready for burly duty. No one yet is offering cranks for freeride or downhill action. Carbon frames are rare in those arenas as well, although they may be coming. Carbon forks, pedals and wheels also do not yet seem ready for the Big Hit crowd. Innovative Pivot went with a carbon rocker for its long-travel trail bike, the Firebird, but has since begun replacing the rockers with aluminum. The issue supposedly is to permit a coil shock, but you have to wonder whether carbon was holding up under the jumps and drops.

(Aside: I asked a recent mountain-biking acquaintance who works on parts specification for Boeing whether carbon was making any inroads into commercial airline production. He kinda laughed.)

Still, carbon’s future seems bright. While aluminum and steel are pretty much set in their ways and maxed out on specifications, carbon technology seems to improve almost annually. And let’s face it, the stuff is basically still plastic, which means costs should keep coming down with widespread adoption.

For now, carbon is cycling’s miracle drug. It’ll be fascinating to watch it evolve in the marketplace.

Links Links Links

Gates belt drive

Blur LT at Interbike: Carbon, carbon, carbon!

Interbike, Bikes Belong chip in $50,000 for Vegas cycling

In Bicycle advocacy, Interbike 2009, Obama Bikes on September 21, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Improving Vegas bike access? Wonderment of wonderments…

Interbike and Bikes Belong, which is a national coalition of industry retailers and suppliers, are ponying up $50,000 over the coming two years to improve bicycling conditions in Las Vegas, host of the annual Interbike trade show.

Bike lanes, trip counters and other enhancements are on the way. That amount of money won’t go far, of course, but it’s a great first step.

Covering Comdex and CES as a tech journalist during the 1990s, my typical modus was to rent a bike from Escape the City Streets and use it to get around between the Strip and the Las Vegas Convention Center (as well as, later, the Sands). While I was about the only attendee among hundreds of thousands to do so, as evinced in the blank stares I got from security when I asked where I could lock my bike up, I have to say Vegas is perfectly “bike-ready.” It’s not that big a place, and bikes can get around town during high-volume events a lot faster than cars.

Strange as it may sound, I cannot recall bad driver encounters in Vegas either. But that may well be because I took back routes that cars did not know about or want to bother with. That and the fact that I was typically moving a lot faster than the cars!

In any case, bike features in Vegas will help boost the town’s friendliness toward cycling, as well as Interbike’s putting its mouth where all its money is.

Early Interbike Watch: Race Face, Cove Bikes,

In Bicycling, Interbike 2009 on September 8, 2009 at 2:36 am
But first, son, we need to have a little talk...

But first, son, we need to have a little talk...

PinkBike: Cove Bikes spy shots of its 2010 line, basically tweaking the quiver. They’re all here, the STD, the Hummer, Sanchez, G-Spot, Handjob … all well and good, but Foreplay for an MX bike? Aren’t the gromz kinda young? Well I guess that’s one way to start a conversation…

So, so ... SixC!

So, so ... SixC!

Race Face will be there with SixC, which if you pronounce it just right is a homonym (maybe just a pun), its new carbon process in lighter cranks and handlebars.

Deus crankset with gold granny for us world champs

Deus crankset with gold granny for us world champs

I run the Deus (not carbon) cranks on my Pivot Firebird and am real happy with them, especially the gold granny. RF’s machining is not only bombproof but dazzling to the eyes.

The fact Race Face is offering the 6C with a double-ring and bashguard setup indicates it’s spec’d for freeride. If so, that’s unusual and may even be a first for a freeride crankset (I can’t think of another off the top of my head).

The bars look sweet as well.

One we’ll be checking out at Interbike.

More, including photos, at PinkBike…

One to, um, watch for:, a new Web platform specializing in mountain bike videos.

They’re aiming high: Video profiles of mtb stars, users creating their own accounts, YouTube style, and uploading their own modest efforts (watch for a lot of helmet cam clips of someone’s backside and a long trail, mixed in with 5-second point-and-shoot hucks and jumps), full-length movies and travelogues.

The concept holds some appeal. As it stands, there’s great mountain biking video everywhere, sprawled all over the Web, where you have to go hunting and pecking and sorting the good stuff. PinkBike often has the latest downhill racing vids, but sometimes it’s Mountain Bike Action. YouTube has tons of stuff, but Vimeo’s higher res appeals to more professional (read “with a budget”) production.

If it were all under one umbrella, it would save a lot of clicking. will have to offer something better in terms of convenience or features or quality to lure posters from the usual suspects.

I’ve sampled on a variety of computers. It tends to load slowly, but once up and running it offers dazzling image quality. HD quality in a fairly good-sized window. Your mileage may vary with your Internet access speed.

So far, though, not a lot of content. Searches on Moab and Galbraith turned up zip, Whistler just one hit. It’s a lot of commercial filler — trailers, teasers, etc. — and although it looks good, it’s not going to sustain the site. We’ll keep an eye on it and report back (Although it attended Eurobike, is not listed among Interbike vendors. We’ll see if they cover the Big Show.)