I was given the opportunity to go to Las Vegas for 4 days to go to Interbike. This is an annual bike industry experience to preview the 2015 innovations, network with other people in the cycling industry and more. This blog entry is part of a series. Be sure to check in for them all!
I set my alarm for 8am just in case but ended up waking about an hour earlier. Time is fluid in the casinos. Sometimes it goes very fast and sometimes it creeps by at a snail’s pace. When you are inside with no windows and air conditioning it is impossible to tell. Even walking across a sky bridge I noted the heavy tinting tricking you as to the time of day.
After throwing on some clothes, we wandered downstairs from the 15th floor and were immediately greeted coincidentally by a couple industry folks that we knew from Portland who let us know that House of Blues was relatively empty. This was refreshing considering the text I had received from another friend saying that they were in the “four-mile Starbucks line” and the similar one we passed at the buffet. Despite the menu being designed by famous chef Aaron Sanchez, both Brad and I found the food bland. My assumption is that they don’t overly season food in Las Vegas due to the wide variety of dietary restrictions that visit the city; high cholesterol, low sodium, diabetes, etc. Whatever the reason, even Brad who never salts/peppers had to use the shakers.
And then I walked around Interbike Day 1 for about 6 hours straight.
You probably want to hear more deets right?
The six of us discussed later that if we were to all come back again, we would do it differently. We’d actually check out the map and plan how we would traverse the event. We’d set up our day to meet with our reps and dealers more efficiently, set aside time for meals, and avoid running back and forth across the building. Needless to say that is not how we planned it out this year.
I walked in with Brad and made it about ten feet into the convention before the overwhelming swell of anxiety began rising within me. The absolute vast sea of exhibitors was crushing.
But no time for panic, my child-like wonder took over and I quickly remembered my objective. As you are probably aware, bicycle industry is predominantly male dominated and the bikes are often advertised as a luxury sports item for a wide variety of companies. “Ride Harder!” “Pedal Faster!” Photos of sweaty lanky dudes clad in lycra hammering it down winding European hillsides. There’s a place for racing and that stuff is shiny and pretty, but what I was focused on is transportation. Specifically women and children. I am all about making cycling accessible to everyone and right now, especially in this economy the $10k+ bikes aren’t really practical or in my spotlight.
Furthermore, Interbike has had a reputation in the past of being a little bit of a chauvinistic sausage-fest to say it in the crassest way possible. This year there was a big push to have a larger women’s selection and seminars regarding marketing to women, etc. It seemed as if the organizers were at least making an effort at least.
I personally experienced that while walking around by myself that first morning. I would get pushed out of the way of products so that men could get better views. I even got asked very pointedly by one exhibitor if I had gotten my entry comped by a spouse. (I did, but that’s not the point. If I had been a business owner that would have been a slap in the face, and regardless it was.) On the 2nd day, while walking around with Mary, I overheard two guys gushing about us while we were obsessing over the Phil Wood hubs comment to each other that; “Chicks that are into bikes are hot.” While I agree, not professional or appropriate.
So what did I like? I am going to break this into a couple entries. Day 1 I walked around some by myself and Day 2 we walked around as a big ol’ team so I want to talk about those days separately.
State Bicycle Co out of Arizona. I am in love with their new ‘cross bike. Their motto is ‘quality, affordable fixed-gear bikes’ – and let me tell you; they are gorgeous! I’m seriously thinking of one for a new single speed. One of the things that I was focused on was the sizing, and these start at 46cm, and the pricing for some of their commuter bikes is as low as $400 and none of their bikes go over $1k. You don’t have to get the pink model. But I highly recommend it.
I had a lovely conversation with the guys from Virtue Bike out of California. They were showing their e-assist “school bus,” a cycle truck and even a concept design for a velomobile. Their concept is lifestyle. They also have a whole fleet of other bikes. A lot of step-throughs, commuters – every day riding. . . and a freaking faux pedersen. That’s right. These guys sell a commercial pedersen with a normal saddle instead of the sling seat. I love them for that alone.
There was a video running while I was talking to the exhibitor, and let me tell you, these Weehoo kid haulers are pretty amazing. The video was taking the kiddos downhilling. Seriously. I don’t even like doing that alone and the kids were going over the wooden ramps and shit. The trailer has handles and holds up to 100 lbs which means you can tote a kid up to like 6 or 7 years old. There’s pedals so the kid can be involved in riding and can help out. There’s single, doubles, there’s this new one they’re coming out with that is a single, with saddle bags over the wheels AND a little grocery-getter bag so you can just grab and go. I don’t even have kids and I’m sold.
By far my favorite item at the event was the Warbird carbon fiber handlebar by a company out of California called BP4 Design. This goes into my “there’s a time and place” category, because I generally don’t like drop bars, but I gotta tell you, these are comfy as hell. They had a bike on a trainer set up and while Brad hopped up, I think the guys were surprised when I popped up there and checked them out myself. But these guys are great. We chatted with them for quite a while, found out about their product design, how they came up with the concept, etc. One of the designers, a professional trainer actually suffered from childhood epilepsy. Just mentioning that because it came up in conversation. He also does a weekly podcast on people improving their lives and seizing the day. But going back to the handlebar, it’s got a ton of hand positions, reduces fatigue, great for smaller frames like myself, so female-friendly but that doesn’t mean that it’s meant for smaller people – Mikey who’s over 6′ tried it out and was loving it. It’s all-around really comfy. And that’s coming from someone that doesn’t like drop bars!
Farrier Bikes based out of Fort Collins, CO are adorable! They are great quality, affordable – and they’re actual, real bikes for kids or those that are short of statue. 24″, 650 and 700 models. I could totally sport that 650. Or the 700. It’s hard to be an inbetweener. This was also one of the coolest booths to hang out at, because All Hail the Black Market was chilling here. I wish I could have gotten a cap. Instead I got a t-shirt from Swobo who was also chilling there. Speaking of Swobo, they have a wicked cool line as well. A fat bike, 29er, cross, step-thru, fixie, etc. You know, like a full line. . . And they want to sell their line for under $1k. I was digging this Colorado crew quite a bit.
I didn’t stop and talk to this company, but I did grab a flyer for Bobike.These are some really cool bicycle safety seats for your wee ones coming out of Portugal. I really like the windshield on the front, kid handlebar grab holds for safety and the high back rest on the back with helmet recess. There are several different models of the seats and they even have a line of helmets. They have integrated foot protection, different colors and all sorts of features. There is even a seat that has a high head rest that wraps around to the sides and 3-point adjustable seat belt that keeps the child upright as well as the foot rests which looks like it could be a great option for a family with a kiddo who is living with a developmental or learning disability.
Most of you are probably familiar with the company, Speedplay. I don’t use them, but Brad does. They came out with a couple of really great new designs. One, the Syzr is their new mountain bike cleat/pedal system. The pedal totally looks like an SPD, but it’s not. It’s really tiny, lighter and supposed to have a longer life-span. It’s not ready to ship out yet, and they don’t even have a price set for it, but they’ve insisted that it’s the most stable design they’ve tested yet. Maybe it’s because it looks just like an SPD. . . They’re not getting rid of the Frog. It’s just going to be another option. Another one they’re rolling out is the Pave - and is designed for racing – specifically to handle the unpredictable environment of the cobbles. That’s cool. Though I think better than locking in your feet to pedals in slippery bumpy conditions, training wheels would be better to handle those shitty unimproved roads. I don’t know. I freak out when I can’t pull my foot out of my cleat. I don’t want something that locks me in moreso! To each their own. There are people that are really excited about this. They both looked cool, but I’m not running out and switching my system.
Speaking of syzring. . . I mean mountain biking. Really. . . anyway. I present you Bern’s first mountain inspired bike helmet for women; the Prescott. There are several different colors and designs – but the great thing about Bern helmets is that their women’s line is actually created for women; it’s not just smaller sizes. They talk all about it on their website. All the man vs woman sizing; what makes their helmets different than their competitors; all that good stuff. They really have a really great line of not only bike helmets but protective gear for all variety of sports for any time of year. They have a couple different cuts for the visors which are very flattering; difficult since helmets are just ugly in general and their color line all around for their 2015 men, women and children all look great. I am really excited to see what else is going to be coming out from these east coasters from Massachusetts.
So we wandered over to hung out with our good friends over at Twin Six. We’ve always been huge fans of T6; Brad probably owns more of their product line than the owners do. We’ve been doubly excited the last couple of months because T6 is releasing a line of frames! Four different styles: fat bike, 29er, cross and rando. They’re big into metal and are rocking steel and titanium. Check out their press release for all the stats. I would totally love one, but unfortunately their sizing starts at 51cm. This wasn’t an issue that was insular to this company. Many cycling companies don’t begin their bikes until 50cm as their smalls, but a lot of women ride frames that are 46 – 50cm – this creates a highly exclusionary market. I understand how small businesses work and that they often don’t have the finances to create such diverse sizing in their line, however women and shorter men speak with their money. Double the sizing; double the money.
Then I saw Gama Bikes. That was also when I got yelled at by the only security officer at the event that cared. There were literally thousands of people taking photos but apparently this little company from Chile was a target to industrial espionage. What I liked about them is that the guy said that they market their bikes for people about 16 – 40 year olds. They’re not trying to push $4k bikes, but rather about $300 range. The exhibitor said that they are really focused on making bikes for everyone. He said that they do a lot of market research to ensure that the styles and colors perform well and if they don’t they’ll swap it out with something better next year. I really like that. I’m not a huge fan of step-through frames, but they have a wide variety of styles, full matching vendors, baskets and back racks – all that good stuff. For the rider looking for an affordable option or a beginning rider wanting to get a nice bike but not wanting to break the bank these are beautiful options.
I had to make it over to Va-Giant. . . or rather Liv. If you’re not familiar with Liv Cycling, they are the women’s line of Giant Bicycle. I don’t have a lot to say about them. They claim their line is made specifically with women’s needs in mind. What that means is that they’re built with a short top tube and some awful colors. I don’t know. These bikes are probably pretty awesome, expensive racing bikes. They just don’t really look like they’re trying and some really obvious lip service.
Then you have a company like Leader from San Diego. They have some pretty swanky frames and usually I would consider them out of my price range; however they have a couple (the ones in red and blue below) that are part of their new entry level line. Sizing starting at 46cm and up. Not that I’m in the market for a track frame, but still; they can be ridden on the street if you’re wanting a stellar fixie or single speed. Nice eye candy to be sure. I’d be afraid to ride it, it’s so pretty.
You’d think we’d be done by then, but we weren’t by far. My feet were tired and I was exhausted. I still hadn’t eaten since breakfast and it was after 4pm. Had to spin by the Jelly Belly booth another time for more sports beans or the Clif Bar juice and granola-bar bar. Surly was starting to roll out the kegs about 3:30 and the band was beginning to crank up at the Chrome station. But the day was far from over.
At the beginning of the day, I had tweeted that I wanted a chillout corner. And guess what? I found it! In the form of Nutcase Helmets! Surrounded by Portland-love, I could rest a moment on comfy chairs and chat with some of my good friends. Also, they had artists painting some of their new helmet styles on huge canvases right there at the event which was amazing to watch. They also have a really cool new motor bike helmet, lots of new colors styles, a new slatted ventilation system variation from the star ventilation. . . and my favorite of all, the sliding chin clasp. No more pinching chin hickies! And their helmets all have the spin dial back – even the wee one models.
This was a great corner to be in, by the way. Interbike has a “Little China” and a “Little Italy” – it’s like they tried to make a “Little Portland” because there was Nutcase, PDW, Chrome (which I know is SF, but there’s a lot of Portland peeps there), Arkel was a little down the way with Joe Kurmaskie, the Metal Cowboy working as a exhibitor.
Finally made it out about 6:30ish. Completely exhausted, though knowing my night was far from over. There were five in our group and our sixth, Mary, was coming in later that night.
Ckeck out the Day 2 update of Interbike and photo slide show!