“And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche
Interbike 2014. What can I say, there were people in kilts, there were people in kits, and oh yeah, there was a bike show, too. This year, I mixed it up a bit and only went for a day. From a trend spotter’s point of view, and also as someone that prefers the comfort of his own bed, this is really the way to do it. Along these lines, I have a fast track, at-a-glance report on the trends of the show and of the show itself.
Overall, space was tight, and the vendor attendance was relatively spotty. And for those who did manage to show up, the booth sizes were scaled back dramatically this year. For example, Shimano didn’t seem to have much of any gear on display, instead opting for a Genius Bar-looking approach. I found this to be an odd choice considering the buzz surrounding the new XTR groupsets, a recent launch into the non-Izumi, Shimano-branded apparel business, and hey, it’s Shimano dammit. Meanwhile, Trek and Cannondale didn’t even bother showing up. Either that, or I was just too absent minded to find them. Strange.
Now, looking at this as a theme, I’m left wondering about the contributing factors. First, there wasn’t a downstairs show like there used to be at the Sands a couple of years ago, which means that all of the dribble that you really aren’t interested in seeing is packed in with the heavy hitters. End result? You tend to miss a good amount of new, noteworthy products. And this is especially true when you consider that the already tight space is made forcibly tighter in order to accommodate the seemingly random. Or maybe it’s because Interbike is under relatively new ownership? From what I can gather, it was being run by Nielsen Exhibitions, which was acquired by Onex Exhibitions last summer, but this year, it was flying under the banner of something called Emerald Exhibitions. But hey, who really cares?
Another aspect to consider in regards to vendor attendance is that this is what “the industry” refers to as a “carryover year.” True, there are some pretty stellar products being introduced, but on the whole, it’s a year for new colorways and new packaging.
To summarize this year’s trends would be to place a spotlight on the lack of any meaningful trends. There weren’t any universally embraced colorways, nor was there an influx of adopted aesthetic. But for the sake of being objective, I can say that E-bikes were holding steady (not quite proliferating, though), and they were eeking their way into…ding, ding, ding…fat bikes.
If I had to identify a singular trend, the fat bike would be it. Virtually everyone had some form of it, with Niner even having a sort-of-fat bike with the R.O.S. 9 Plus. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pure Fix come out with one in the next year. After all, without a new 27.5-inch platform to stand on, and only Yeti really pushing the rear suspension platform, fat bikes were what manufacturers seemed prepared to deliver.
Further along the lines of futility, I also noticed a thankful decline in the word “enduro.” However, this has only been replaced with the ever ambiguous “gravel bike.” There was gravel everything: gravel tires, gravel wheels — you name it. To quote Tom Ritchey, “I thought all road bikes were gravel bikes.”
“Mobility” (yes, that’s the agreed upon industry term for “urban” and “commuter” these days) seemed to be a little under represented this year, as well. And personally, I found this rather odd considering that it’s about the only segment of bike sales that’s experiencing positive YOY growth. However, there were some pretty flashy “mobility” rigs from some new blood companies, but if you factor in stupid high prices for a bike that you’re not supposed to care too much about if it gets stolen, there wasn’t really anything to write home about. Seriously, though — yes, Shinola is cool, but a $3k commuter should be reserved for the high-pinky teacup drinkers, aka, the people who don’t commute by bike. The exception to this would have to be Giro, given that it went full swing into Vibram-soled cycling shoes this year with some admirable effectiveness. These boots seemed pretty cool.
This has been getting a little out of control as of late. Yes, I agree that the power meter market will benefit from diversity, but something like this just looks dumb to me, regardless of the value. It all felt a little too overboard, honestly; almost like they were cramming a power meter just about anywhere that it would fit.
As predicted, fluoro was dramatically scaled back, yet it was far from absent. Instead, it seemed more like the value of yellow fluoro’s stock had declined, while blaze orange was still on the rise.
I saw this paradigm shift occurring last year. However, it was coupled with real tree camouflage back then, which was nearly driven into the tar pits by the time of this show. All in all, I knew that something was up after I didn’t need sunglasses to walk past the Cipollini booth.
In no particular order
2) Ridley Noah SL
4) Schwalbe Procore — there were way too many people playing with this to get a solid photo
5) Assos T.Rally Mountain Bike bib shorts (please pardon the stock photos)
I saw three men wearing utili-kilts (one was even leather), and oddly enough, they all shared bad bike-related tattoos on their right calves — two shared chainrings with shamrocks. Coincidence? I think not. I’m of the opinion that they’re somehow operating in conjunction with the other bizarro faction of IB14 — the all-day kit wearers. From old men to children, there were a host of people walking around, all day mind you, in full road kits. Now, this isn’t even factoring in the amount of people oddly pairing bike jerseys with cargo shorts, or the fellow that I saw donning the above, albeit with an actual, full-leather “That ’70s Show” backpack. It was quite amazing.
I beg you to consider that a firm set of rules are required for any of us to be taken seriously in the real world, and in my book, Rule #1 is to not a wear a cycling cap off of the bike. I’m sure that this is in the Velominati code somewhere, but I digress. Aside from this, it’s my belief that the cycling industry should seriously take a long hard look at moving away from its “If It’s Free, I’ll Wear It” t-shirt policy.
So there it is — another year in the books. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to get deeper into the culture of Interbike, and even worse, I haven’t the capacity to delve into the mayhem that was Cross Vegas. And for a double dose of debacle, I recommend reading this particularly weird exchange between Prolly and our friend Cosmo. Don’t worry Cosmo — we have your back. Till next year.