If you’ve been scouring the internet for the past three days, and all you were left with from Interbike 2013 was a “meh,” you’re probably both right and wrong. All in all, though, the perceived banality isn’t a result of a lackluster show—far from it. Instead, I find that we’d either seen it all coming or had just already seen it. But this doesn’t take away from the resounding cool factor of some the products on display. Let’s tear through some trends.
As I predicted last week, hydraulics ruled the show. And more importantly, Shimano’s choice to not brand its hydraulic groupset was, well, interesting. Seriously, though, are we ready for a world without Dura-Ace? I think not. However, that was a trend that was well predicted. What caught me off guard, however, was the industry’s somehow instantaneous decision to move from the fluoro-madness of last year to a downright obsession with camouflage and blaze orange. And in some cases a combination of all of the above. Are we Euro hunters, now?
Seriously, though, this trend was pervasive, if not fully-intentional. In fact, I’d make the argument that it was distracting enough to hide a massive lull of innovation this year. But, in all fairness, some were able to pull it off with complete panache, while also introducing amazing products. Case in point were the Swedes at POC, who arguably put on the most impressive display at the show. Yes, the booth was so white that I wanted to take my shoes off before entry, but POC not only owned the color orange for the week, it also presented a dizzying foray into both road and mountain products. And while the Hesjedal sunnies are actually pretty cool in person, and the new road line of helmets blends form and function like nothing I’ve ever seen, I was most impressed by the care and detail of POC’s new road apparel line. It was simply stunning.
And given that all of the “super serious” products were basically revealed before the show, my curiosity led me to more utilitarian booths. In fact, this is where I saw some of the greatest power grabs in terms of innovation. Chrome knocked it out of the park with its new take on apparel, especially shoes, and Mission Workshop’s first jaunt onto the Alpine trails led to possibly the hottest hydration pack on the market—also in camo.
Meanwhile, Shinola continued to impress with handmade commuter bikes that either featured a Di2 setup or had enough gold luster to make Liberace blush.
In retrospect, I witnessed a shift of ideology that seems to be leaning away from our European brothers in arms. In fact, it seemed that even the Europeans are starting to embrace the thought of looking more American. This was just a piece of what I perceived to be a mass reinvention of brand identity across the board. Some nailed, like Giro with its New Road collection, while others were reaching a little too deep without fully committing to washing away the mundane essences of the past. For example, this juxtaposition was little underwhelming.
I mean, it’s pretty pedestrian at this point
It seems that our little bike industry is starting to embrace the idea of having fun— or at least getting used to it. I found it reassuring that more brands are starting to recognize that our identities are all entwined with that of being cyclists. And with that said, it’s comforting to see them supporting our maturing process through products that let us express ourselves through the bike, which is really a positive thing. Till next year.