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Interbike show -
Las Vegas, Nevada USA, September 25-29, 2006
Part 21 - October 24: Standing out from the crowd at Interbike
By James Huang in Las Vegas, NV
As another bike show season comes to a close, we're left to ponder the state of tech in the bicycle world. Some have said that this year's show seemed a bit stagnant, without anything truly exciting. To that, we say that as a whole, bicycles and their assorted bits have gotten to the point where just about everything has become quite good, and it's simply become that much harder to stand out from the crowd. Whereas a sub-1kg road frame was talk of the town just a few years ago, it's now become almost a prerequisite just to stay in the game.
As technology advances, the most significant improvements sometimes address increasingly minute issues. Case in point is the newfound attention to bearing friction. Bicycle designers and engineers seem to have largely tackled most of the bigger issues and have now turned their collective attention to something we all once took for granted. Bearing friction? Is that all we have left? If that's true, and everything else has been figured out, then that's a good place for all of us to be.
With that being said, there were still a few standouts from this year's Interbike show in Las Vegas, NV, that stick in our minds - it should be noted that none of them are bicycles or bicycle components. Still, they were hard to forget. For those of you lucky enough to experience them in person, we hope you agree with our picks.
Best electronic widget
Power meters have grown increasingly popular given their usefulness in making real performance gains. However, nearly all of them are prohibitively expensive for most consumers and require some amount of dedicated sensor hardware be installed on the bicycle to be used. Some of this hardware is easier to transfer from one bike to another than others, but it's still not always a cut-and-paste sort of deal.
Velocomp's iBike Pro is different in that it does not directly measure your power output. Instead, it measures everything you work against and back-calculates your power based on Newton's Third Law of Motion. All of the hardware and sensors, save for the wired front wheel pickup, are self-contained into a cleverly-designed computer head that is not only barely larger than your common mobile phone and under 100g, but also easily transferable from bike to bike.
It's not a perfect system, but the concept is quite sound and the cost of entry is incredibly appealing at just US$399. If it works as advertised (and we hope it does) the iBike Pro could very well revolutionize how we view power meters, and more riders than ever will be able to realise their benefits.
More info: www.ibikesports.com
Sometimes I wonder how much idle time those SRAM folks have on their hands as their booth included a dedicated arm-wrestling table built around a pair of non-driveside Truvativ Holzfeller OCT crankarms joined in the middle by a Howitzer bottom bracket. Whomever was responsible for this even went so far as to include padded elbow rests made from appropriately tacky red vinyl as well as rubber stops for the crankarms when one opponent had met their match.
Did it have anything to do with bikes? Well, no, not really, but it was still arguably one of the most entertaining displays at the show and provided an excellent temporary escape from the life-draining ethos that is Las Vegas.
More info: www.sram.com
Best use of broken bicycle parts
Sombrio is a Vancouver-based clothing company with a wealth of mountain biking and casual apparel. Its booth at Interbike was fairly plain, consisting of loads of clothes hung on racks inside a rather mundane space. Standing guard directly out in front of the booth, however, was perhaps the finest amalgamation of roached bicycle parts we've ever witnessed.
It turns out that Sombrio's British Columbia sales rep, Steve Mitchell, is also an accomplished metal sculptor. As the one man show of Mitchell Metalworx, Mitchell crafts "art pieces made from random bicycle parts shape-shifted from the mind of the artist", such as the giant humanoid figure shown here. It's a bit difficult to describe in words, so I won't try to. But take the time to look closely at the images we've provided for you here as the level of detail is amazing, including articulating fingers and toes, ribs connected to a spine, proper joints, and, er, some "other" anatomic features - which shall go unmentioned.
Nevertheless, if the point of this thing was to funnel people into Sombrio's booth, it was certainly effective.
Best use of cheap labor
After hours parties are standard fare at Interbike, and the "blue" party put on by fi'zi:k, Continental, and Crank Brothers certainly was one of the best ones around with good food and drink, excellent setting at the Ghostbar atop the Palms hotel, and plenty of entertainment.
Just when we thought things couldn't get any better, though, party MC Christina Orlandella of Crank Brothers announced that we'd be paid a special visit by the Blue Man Group or maybe we should say "group of blue men" as out came Greg Herbold, Hans Rey, and Kirt Voreis doing their best impersonation of the headlining Las Vegas group. Were we fooled? Maybe for a moment, but it was entertaining nonetheless. Perhaps the budget was running thin, but we doubt the real Blue Man Group will raise any legal eyebrows over the false advertising. More importantly, we wonder what it took to remove all of that blue paint.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com