Interbike Las Vegas added a crit, a CX race and tonnes of parties to an already vibrant expo mix but, as usual, the bike test fest stole the show. Carlton Reid reports from Nevada...

Outdoor demo rule the roost

Interbike is no longer the big daddy of bike trade shows, Eurobike is. But Eurobike’s first ever demo day – held this August and copied from Interbike’s Outdoor Demo Days – was wet and muddy. By contrast, Interbike’s two-day fest of bike testing was hot, sunny, dusty and unmissable.

Vegas sucks, said a variety of bumper stickers and other promos plugging a move to a new city. Crooked Cog’s Tim Grahl agreed with the sentiment but added a dose of reality: “Why is the bike trade show held in a city that many would deem contrary to everything the bicycle stands for? The overall waste and sadness that exists in Las Vegas is hard on the soul after a week, but the folks at Interbike didn’t just close their eyes and put their finger on the map. They picked Sin City for
good reasons.”

These reasons include no worries about running out of hotel rooms, lots of restaurants, and guaranteed sunshine for the Outdoor Demo. In a poll earlier in the year, US dealers voted to stick with the city of Lost Wages, despite its downsides.

The vote for Vegas was partly a vote for Boulder City, 21 miles from The Strip, and venue for the two-day Outdoor Demo. Boulder City – it’s more of a town, really – is home to the Bootleg Canyon MTB trails, perfect for testing the latest DH and XC rigs. The city elders also closed off a major thoroughfare, allowing tarmac fetishists to road test recumbents, pedelecs and carbon dream bikes. There’s no better way to get the feel for all the product launches than riding them in the flesh, and in such an ideal location.

But for those attendees who went to Eurobike first, there was little new to see at the Demo or in the Sands Convention Center. Trek kept the Remedy under wraps until Vegas, but most global companies shot their bolts in Friedrichshafen.

SRAM’s Red road group, Fisher’s G2, and a whole slew of new entrants to the 29er market (Fox, Specialized, Cannondale adding to last year’s Caffeine; and Shimano with some 29-inch rims in prototype form) were at Eurobike, which meant it was a relatively speedy task to see all that was new at Interbike.

Naturally, there were lots of boutique brand product newness in Vegas, but the global players were talking to a US audience, not international. And, thanks to the internet, even Americans had a sense of déjà vu.

The biggest news at the show was the arrival of bikes as trendy transport in the US. Cycling as urban chic has been bubbling under for some time in the US – Sky Yaeger’s arrival at Swobo turned up the gas – but urban cycling is now the hottest sector going and, unlike the 29er movement, which has so far failed to truly convince worldly-wise Europeans, the injection of American enthusiasm into the flat bar 700C sector bodes well for the UK, which is also experiencing an urban bike boom.

Apart from Cervelo (come on, guys, get with the zeitgeist!) almost every bike brand at Interbike had a commuter bike or full-on urban range. Even brands you’d never imagine would go all gooey over utilitarian bikes.

Aside from the usual suspects, Electra had beefy transport bikes alongside its cruisers; new launch Civia wowed the crowds with its racks, mudguards and urban chic paint-jobs; and you were nobody unless you had a bike fitted with Shimano Alfine or Rohloff speedhubs.

Trek’s Lime range and Shimano’s Coasting micro-brand – US-only initiatives – are changing bikes at the mainstream level, but enthusiasts were drooling over the city bikes on offer from the boutique brands.

Stand-out urban beauties included the steel Java Boy from Sycip, RRP $3,500, and the titanium Verve Commuter prototype from Seven Cycles, RRP $4,800. Utilitarian doesn’t mean cheap any more.

For urban riders looking for aftermarket juiciness, the Brummie/Italian mix that is modern-day Brooks is showing the rest of the world how to be the ‘best’ in the ‘good, better, best’ model. The Brooks Barbican messenger bag has a water-resistant antiqued cotton body with a padded semi-leather back, and a practical magnetic closure. The company’s Brick Lane roll-up leather panniers are simple, but lust-worthy. And you know it’s a topsy turvey world when one of the best products at an American bike show in 2007 is a bike basket: the Hoxton clickfix-attaching basket from Brooks is a welded aluminium, leather and wood wonder.

Of course, the Brooks range was first unveiled at Eurobike, meaning Interbike is perhaps not the place to come if your primary desire is to see new product launches. However, if you have a need for speed, Interbike’s Outdoor Demo still makes the long trip more than worthwhile.

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