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Interbike show -

Las Vegas, Nevada USA, September 25-29, 2006

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Interbike Part 3 - Outdoor Demo Days

Tim Johnson put his new bike
Photo ©: Mark Zalewski
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by Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Bootleg Canyon, Nevada

The two-day warm-up to Interbike, know casually by most as 'dirt demo,' was the usual ruckus of dirt, bikes and more dirt. Companies brought out their newest wares for dealers and other industry people alike to spin around for a few minutes. The biggest representation this year was by Cannondale, who is forgoing a traditional Interbike booth and spending the money on the demo days. Cannondale's Scott Struve told Cyclingnews that it just makes more sense for them this year, as they are following the model of other companies that bring dealers to their own site to unveil new product lines outside of the busy days of Interbike. "We have 230 bikes out here," he said. "That is what the dealers really want to do, ride the bikes."

One noticeable difference this year compared to the recent past was the presence of cyclocross bikes. Many vendors had cross machines available for testing, including Scott USA, Felt, Blue and Raleigh. Raleigh's ride is billed as an introductory model at just US$1,200. Norm Krisher, Raligh's marketing coordinator said that the idea was to offer the best frame and fork possible and make the rest upgradable to lower the initial cost. "We are really trying to design it to be an affordable bike that can be used for things other than cross racing. We wanted to get the best frame and fork possible and make it completely upgradable. You can race it right out of the box or make changes to the components."
Geoff Kabush got his new cross bike
Photo ©: Mark Zalewski
(Click for larger image)

On the higher end of the spectrum is Geoff Kabush's new Van Dessel -- painted in bright orange to match his Maxxis team kit. Kabush was not loaning his bike out for test rides as he just got it himself today. "I just put the bar tape on and got the position dialed in," he said. Kabush also said that he had some input in the design process. "I had a bit on input on the dimensions because I am a little large -- I got the top tube lengthened by a centimeter so it fits me better. Other than that it is stock geometry. It's the nicest cross bike I have ever had."

Another hard-core cross racer, Tim Johnson, was showing off a new cross ride. Cannondale's new all aluminum cross bike, the System Nine comes standard with SRAM Rival components, though Johnson will be racing on Force. Scott Struve gave the details of the new design. "The difference in the frame is the top tube has been butted with thinner walls at the head tube. It also has a larger down tube at the junction of the bottom bracket for more stiffness." When asked if a carbon rear triangle was considered, he replied, "We weren't going to save any weight, and for comfort, they are on and off the bike so much in cross, the stiffness matters more."

Johnson is initially happy with the bike, having one his first cross race of the season last weekend. "It's my first super-light cross bike. Before the weight wasn't the first thing that came to mind. The fork is really solid and the geometry is a little different, but it rides how I want it to -- fast and aggressive." After talking about the details we went for a ride down to Lake Mead where Johnson did his best impression of Napoleon Dynamite and got some, 'sweet air!'
On the top end
Photo ©: Mark Zalewski
(Click for larger image)

As for the rest of demo days, most was the familiar, including Ernesto Colnago making is annual appearance at the Trial Tir booth, signing autographs and taking pictures with fans. Yours truly was able to sneak a couple of test rides in and can give good first impressions to the Colnago Cristallo and Cannondale System Six. The Cristallo was a comfortable yet stiff ride with unique design, particularly with the outward curving rear seat stays. The System Six was a very light ride that I took down to Lake Mead on a nice descent. While we had no computers we were easily going more than 40 m.p.h. and not one extra shimmy was felt.

Look for more Interbike 2006 reports from the Cyclingnews editorial staff as the show hits full steam.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Mark Zalewski/Cyclingnews.com

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