By Seth Lightcap
Despite an economy that can barely afford a garage sale ten-speed, the bicycle industry showed both optimism and enthusiasm at the annual Interbike trade show last week in Las Vegas. There was no damper on the excitement about countless new products as manufacturers presented innovations worth tempting even your extra, extra hard earned dollars.
Green products such as electric bikes and accessories made with recycled materials were especially hot items. Two companies with cutting edge offerings in this eco-market were Kilowatt Bikes and Green Guru Gear.
Brand new for 2009, Kilowatt Bikes out of Fort Worth, TX had the sexiest electric bikes at the show. Riding a philosophy that you can reduce your carbon footprint and look good doing it, Kilowatt’s designs offered an elegant rationalization for ditching your car and zipping around everywhere on an e-bike.
Kilowatt’s Cruiser was big pimpin’ with clean lines, a polished dual-crown fork, and an efficiently packaged battery system tucked in the rear rack. The throttled power-assisted pedaling comes courtesy of a 250 watt DC motor hooked to a lithium-magnesium battery. The electric motor can hit speeds of up to 20 mph with a range of 30-50 miles. Stickered at $2415, the Cruiser is a spendy townie bike but the price tag should be no surprise for such a swanky smart ride. For more info: www.kilowattbikes.com
Green Guru Gear out of Boulder, CO showed serious recycled radness with their finely detailed messenger bags constructed out of mountain bike inner tubes and other reclaimed materials.
The MTB Messenger felt extremely durable and notably well-designed as the internal organization included a padded laptop compartment and an internal water bottle holder among a host of other nicely zippered pockets. The bomber shoulder strap was also fully padded and anatomically designed to stay put while pedaling. $140 will sling this ultimate inner tube creation over your shoulder. For more info: www.greengurugear.com
Thinking ahead to a few multi-day mountain bike rides I’d like to tackle, my eyes instantly drew to this ‘one rack fits all’ carry system from a new company out of New Zealand called Freeload.
The Freeload is the world’s first fully adjustable bicycle carrier rack that can be fitted to the front or rear of any bike, including full-suspension rigs. The rack arms and webbing straps can be positioned to attach to either your frame’s seat stays or your fork and are rated to support over 50 pounds on the molded plastic deck. Shaking the rack on the demo stand it felt glued to the bike and seemingly plenty capable of hanging tough through rough terrain. With a turbo overnight kit and a sack of extra food lashed to a Freeload I can envision the range of my epic off-road rides to extend many, many miles next summer. About $85 bucks will get you racked up with a Freeload. For more info: www.freeload.co.nz
Another clever innovation beating a new pulse at the show was the Gate’s carbon belt drive system. Can you imagine never getting chain grease on your pant cuffs or fingers again?
Gate’s belt drive system is just like your standard chain and sprocket system only there is no grease, no noise, and less drivetrain maintenance (The belts last three times as long as your average chain). The system requires uniform belt tension so changing gears with a derailleur isn’t part of the program, but you can get away with an extra speed or three using a multi-speed hub. Expect to see the carbon belt drive on more and more new single speed and metro cruiser bike models as the system has been well tested by the motor sports industry and is primed for a bright future in bicycles. For more info: www.carbondrivesystems.com
Rolling into the rainy season I couldn’t help but notice this sweet new jacket from Showers Pass, an outerwear company from Portland, OR.
The Mountain Elite jacket features a 3-layer eVent fabric body with additional abrasion and tear-resistant SuperFabric patches protecting the elbows and the shoulders. The SuperFabric is also non-slip so your hydration pack will stay riveted to your shoulders. A stowable drop down tail piece and optional hood add to this garment’s killer design. $249 will see you sporting this beauty next rainy ride. For more info: www.showerspass.com
It just wouldn’t be an Interbike report without drooling over some carbon so I’ll wrap things up with two fantasy frames debuted at the show.
This is not your father’s Ibis Mojo. This is the freeride remix – The Mojo HD. Bigger and badder than the orginal Mojo, the Mojo HD has been reinforced to run up to a 180 mm (7 inch) front fork and it’s geometry has been relaxed to improve the performance in the berms and off the jumps. Just announced, the Mojo HD has no release date nor price set yet, but there is no doubt this frameset will be on the tip of people’s tongues in talk about the hottest all-mountain bikes of next summer. For more info: www.ibiscycles.com
Famous for outfitting the Phonak race team, BMC introduced the Team Machine SLR01. The full carbon frame weighs in at a scant 840 grams and features seat stays about the diameter of a marker. Despite the featherweight countenance the SLR01 is slated to ride as stiff as any frame the legendary Swiss manufacturer has ever produced. $4000 will allow you to test those claims and keep the bike in your garage or next to your bed, whatever you prefer. For more info: www.bmc-racing.com