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Interbike Confidental 2009

– I went to Interbike and learned that Mavic paid Garm*n Garmin $500k to displace Zipp on their bikes and you’ve gotta wonder if Zipp cared since they’re already killing it exposure-wise w/SaxoBank and Cervelo Test Team and speaking of Cervelo Test Team, they’re on Campy next year apparently. Nothing is less savory than seeing a half-used sample pack of DZNuts mid-day in the stall of a public men’s room. The Artisan Hotel, home of Rapha’s ‘Tastemaker’ party is known to the cabbies as ‘The old Travelodge’. Heinrich Haussler, arguably the most consequential PRO of 2009 proved to be gregarious as hell and the hive of autograph-seekers surrounding him was constant despite the fact that, judging by his hat, he must’ve thought Interbike was in fact a Halloween party and he was going as Janet Jackson. Cross Vegas charges $8 for admission which is the most forward-thinking thing I heard all week and Cyclocross The Sport As A Whole seems to me to be the New Rugby, i.e. the athletes take the event with immense seriousness and the only thing more important than the racing is the party afterwards. In 2009 skinny jeans and Rollie Fingers moustaches and tattoos and piercings have proven to be so ubiquitous it’s unavoidable to ask if the origin of these statements is non-conformity and, if so, how does it feel now that they’re mainstream which brings up a similar question of what amount of the original appeal of cycling to you was the fact that nobody else did it and is it awesome or not that it’s no longer so?

Mavic’s 2010 Wintech computers for next year have a breadth of functionality for the money that’ll blow you away and their new download capabilities make them 5x more thrilling but good lord there was a weird dreamlike state in their booth of what if somebody gave a trade show and nobody bought an R-Sys? I’ll give them credit. They’re trying damn hard to document the integrity of the v2 R-Sys platform (see the videos below.) The 790g Scott Addict was the more arousing bike of the show and I learned that the Giro Prolight is made in 2 types: One for Europe that passes their CEN safety test and one for the US that passes the CPSC test. The CEN version weighs 160g and is built to stand something like 2 blows while the US version is 200g and can handle 4 blows -- don’t quote me on the CEN vs. CPSC test distinction, rather just keep in mind that a 160g helmet is even more of a jaw dropper than a sub-800g frame. Interesting the $200 Prolight will slot in beneath the $230 Ionos in the Giro line. The component most likely to be seen as the next murder weapon for Clue is Mark Cavendish’s stem. The component most likely to be seen as the next upgrade to my bike is the new Easton full carbon clincher w/ceramic bearings at $1800. I felt decorative and I indulged sentimental feelings. Hincapie’s high-end summer jerseys were like double-take machines. Look’s new high-end Keo pedal gets its retention spring replaced by a tensioned carbon fiber rectangle ‘blade’ and up close it wsa the best example at the show of how design can enhance functionality. And if you own an SRM you need to know that the new Power Control VII has 4x the battery life.

– It’s a different show now than just a few years back. Product rollouts -- they rarely, if ever, happen there anymore. We see it all (whether in person, in the press, or in PDF’s) the summer leading up to the show. And commerce in the sense of order-placement, retailers simply don’t engage in that at Interbike anymore. Interbike is still relevant, but for reasons less life-or-death than business itself, namely networking and gossip and for companies like QBP or SRAM who need to book like 500 nights worth of rooms for an army of employees plus airfare plus meals plus union labor to set up/tear down I question whether being social provides enough ROI to stay the course with Interbike. The roll call of companies choosing not to attend includes Trek, Cannondale, Giant, and Cervelo. Is it the slow death of Interbike? Who didn’t notice the yawning emptiness over yonder? Who suspects the aisles between booths got widened (to give the perception of a full hall?) Eurobike is 3x as big with a waiting list to exhibit a mile long. It’s the ‘it’ show because Europe will always be the industry’s home and being a month earlier in the calendar is a insurmountable advantage. The idea of Eurobike coming to the states and putting down roots someplace other than the heinously expensive Vegas (let’s start w/a location that isn’t held hostage by union labor) should make the Interbike people fret, and equally worrisome would be the idea of the Sea Otter people deciding to raise the stakes since that’s an event that everyone loves at a location that can’t be beaten and it’d be simple to plug in a consumer attendance day at the very end (something Eurobike already does.) Interbike has a place, but like the social mixer you dread in anticipation then mildly enjoy in actuality, it might always exist but it’s probably destined to lose mindshare and every year it’s a ghost of the show it was 5 years prior, and that being the case I can’t imagine what it’ll be like in 2014.

– Of all the stuff I saw in Vegas, none of it was cool as the saddle Frankie Andreu modified in the ’99 Tour de France to alleviate his saddle sores.

– A world jam-packed with well-used bikes sounds like a cool place to me. That being said, I read stories like this (it’s the 3rd one in a major national newspaper during fashion week) and call bullshit. Riding is too dirty, dangerous, and hard for it to have much shelf life as a fashion accessory.

Props to Cuddles for winning worlds on what was reportedly a brutal course at a brutal pace. I’m all about being-motivated-through-anger, but man oh man I’m tired of Cadel’s incessant drama queen persona. ‘This is for all the critics I’ve had this season’ was Cadel’s quote after yesterday’s win. Perhaps he doesn’t get it -- his ‘critics’ aren’t put off by his tactics or his palmares. It’s his adolescent way of dealing with misfortune that freaks people out -- and this is something that a World’s title doesn’t cure. Here’s to hoping he accomplishes two things: (a) He breaks the World’s curse and actually wins something consequential in 2010. (b) He grows up a bit and learns that ranting & raving in public serves no one well.

– Best technical article of the week: Tube science.

– Some hot-off-the-press Mavic R-Sys testing videos. Video #1 is called an ‘Intrusion Test’ in which a wheel spins at high speed and an iron bar is thrust in the spokes. Video #2 simulates the UCI’s safety test in which a purposely-destructive weight crushes the wheel and the structural integrity of the destroyed wheel is tested. Video #3 is called the ‘Pothole Test’ and it’s pretty interesting to compare the behavior of the metal (Ksyrium) spoke to the carbon (R-Sys) spoke. What do you think? In my mind it’s a fairly convincing case that the 2nd-generation R-Sys is a safe wheel to ride, though it doesn’t cure Mavic’s PR problem. Personally I’d like to see a list of all the pros who raced World’s on the R-Sys. Info like that is just as persuasive as videos.

Intrusion Test

UCI Safety Test

Pothole Test