Fear and blogging at Interbike 2011
Through a long and dizzying sequence of pedaling, sitting on a ferry, pedaling, sitting on a train, pedaling, sitting in a plane, we found ourselves many miles and worlds away from the bucolic Orcas island and in the flashing bedazzeled heart of Las Vegas. As we stepped off the bus and on to The Strip, we stood in wonder at the strange blinking parallel universe we had entered.
It takes about an hour to check in at Circus, Circus. You have to walk half a mile through the entire casino to do so. Las Vegas is the place to see fung shui masterfully executed. After a cheap meal and picking up a mini whiskey bottle and ginger ale, we went back to the room where I fixed the rear spokes on my bike.
One of our concerns was that Interbike wouldn’t have secure bike parking. Details were slim, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that they had manned parking courtesy of Dahon.
The thing you have to know about Interbike is that it is enormous. This year, it took over two floors of the Sands Convention center. The top floor seemed like it was for more established companies and the lower floor was for newer products or smaller companies. The other thing you have to know about Interbike is that it is mostly business. There is a lot of wheeling, dealing, and meetings going on. If NAHBS is about the artistry of the bicycle, Interbike is definitely about the business of the bicycle. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it took us a bit by surprise.
We wandered around trying to find something that would be of interest to bike tourist and commuters. While there was certainly A LOT to look at, there wasn’t too much that really grabbed our attention. One of our favorites was the Surly Moonlander, a bike of absurd proportions. It was designed for riding in snow and sand and during the zombie apocalypse.
Of particular interest were the rims, which had cut outs to reduce weight but had the odd effect of the tire strip bulging out.
Of course, we nerded out at the Brompton booth where we got a closer look at the new H-type Brompton made for taller riders or those that want an even more upright position. The height is added in the area above the stem and can therefore be retrofitted (but at a price of about $400). The folks at Brompton also showed us other subtle refinements like the changes in the pedals so they have more grip and are more ergonomic to fold and use.
Another product highlight was the complete touring bicycle from Velo-Orange which showcased their new camper racks. Chris told us that they would work with 26inch wheel bikes which is great news for LHT owners who have the smaller wheel size and don’t want to be left out of the front rack fun.
Also interesting to us were the RackTime bags being displayed at the Ortlieb booth. They were fun, utilitarian and colorful, Ortlieb’s answer to Basil bags.
Perhaps the sleeper product of the show for bike tourists is Da’Brim, an aftermarket brim for your helmet. The functionality of wearing a cowboy hat or sombrero with the protection of a helmet. They will offer two versions, one that will work with angular race helmets and another “multi-sport” version that will work with your rounded Nutcase or Bern helmet. Anyone that has ridden for days in the desert or plains will appreciate this hat. While it won’t win many style points, we’re eagerly awaiting their arrival to the market.
We also visited our friends at the Klean Kanteen booth, where they had some big images of Laura for their booth. We had a little meet and greet there on Thursday and got to catch up with a few friends and readers.
Some other highlights included the Folder Frolic ride, led by Michael from Trophy Bikes. Folding bike dealers and enthusiasts got together bright and early in front of the Venetian for a ride. There were Bromptons, Bike Fridays, Dahons and Terns at the ride. After a circuitous loop around The Strip it ended in a sprint finish to the top of a parking garage. The ride ended with a shot of whiskey and Krimpets.
The Momentum Magazine fashion show was also a great fun as sharply dressed cyclists representing different cycling cultures in North America pedaled down the cat walk.
Another highlight of the show was the Brompton dealer dinner at New York, New York. At the dinner we spoke to various dealers about bike touring with the Brompton and pushing it beyond the bounds of its imagined use. We met the Spanish interior designer of an amazing bike shop in Spain called Pave as well as dealer from Korea who told us that we should tour JeJu island. We heard some great stories about Sheldon Brown from Elton at Harris Cyclery; talked cameras with the mechanics at Clever Cycles; and got caught up with Austin news from our friend at Free Wheeling Bicycles. The room was literally filled with owners of some of the most interesting and unique bicycle shops in the country!
Interbike was overwhelming to say the least, but it was a worthwhile trip for us. It gave us a little peek at the business end of bicycling. We had some good conversations with people and it has also helped us define our mission for the next phase of our adventures, so stay tuned for that!
Kevin September 20, 2011 at 1:54 pm
Hey, hear you’ll be in Long Beach… and wondering what you might suggest would make a good “get to know Long Beach” bike ride. I’ve motored out to Long Beach from L.A. before with my bikes, but have only rode along the beachfront. So… where would you guys suggest starting (parking) and what route would you suggest riding… and what places would you suggest stopping at… etc. etc. etc.? Did enjoy the Auld Dubliner Irish Pub last time we visited.
Stacy King Powers September 21, 2011 at 8:33 am
Thanks for the post, as we opted out this year. I too like the looks of the Da brim, wonder how it will do in the wind. Thinking of the bike hermit riding across texas in the heavy winds, perhaps they could add a sail feature 🙂
Jimmy September 22, 2011 at 2:45 am
how much money did you win me in Vegas?
I’ll stick to the NAHBS.
Lovely Bicycle! September 25, 2011 at 5:15 am
What a pity I didn’t run into you guys there, we were around some of the same people and booths!
It was a truly overwhelming event, but I found it worthwhile to attend.
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Vegas is very overwhelming! It was nice running into you guys a couple times.