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2011 Las Vegas Interbike Bicycle Show

September 14 - September 16

Back to Bicycle Tech index page

This is no attempt to be a comprehensive report on the 2011 Interbike show. We went to the show to wander the aisles and see old friends. Every so often a stand would have something I found interesting. Here's what captured our attention as we wandered the aisles of Interbike 2011.

The report is on one long page that you can scroll down. If you prefer, here's list of links to notes about the stands we visited:

Campagnolo | Vittoria Shoes | Wheels Manufacturing | Prologo Saddles | Challenge Tires | Gios | Columbus Tubing | Fondriest | Chain Shoes | HeadsUp | SMP Saddles | Miche |

As of September 24, the page isn't done. I still have more products to enter.


Campagnolo

In 2010 Campagnolo promised electronic shifting. We're getting closer; during the 2011 season the Spanish Pro Tour Movistar team tested the long-promised answer to Shimano's Di2 electronic system on their Pinarellos.

Campy's booth had an electronic group mounted on a Pinarello but said (the Campy tech guy in the booth was emphatic on this point) they would announce neither pricing nor delivery dates. First deliveries are rumored to come before May 2012, but that information is worth every penny you paid for it. Since it's going to be Record-level quality with 11 speeds, if you have to ask the price, you wife won't let you have it. If rumors are correct, it's going to be featherlight, maybe about 85 grams lighter than Shimano Di2.

The levers look a lot like the current mechanical Ergo units.

Campy electronic group on Pinarello

A full electronic Pinarello

Campy electgronic rear derailleur

Campy's electronic rear derailleur

Campy's electronic front derailleur

And the front

Campy electronic ergo lever

Electronic ergo lever.

Campagnolo also had new Tri and Cross parts.

Campy tri group

The bar-end shifters (lower left) "return to zero" after shifting, as shown, to reduce drag. The big 54 and 55 chainrings are said to be as stiff as the 53s used on road groups. The Tri cranks are made in Chorus, Record and Super Record levels.

Campy cross parts

Campagnolo has cantilevers in black or silver as well as cross-specific cranks in carbon or aluminum, 10 or 11 speed. Campagnolo says the chainring spacings have been optimized to reduce mud fouling and still shift well. No news from the Big C on disc brakes, which are now legal in UCI cross races.

The official Campagnolo website


Vittoria Shoes

Last year Vittoria Shoes (no relation to Vittoria tires) introduced their "Hora" road shoe that featured a buckle top closure and a dial tightener for its wire laces (much like their early 1990s "Fulcrum"). They made some nice improvements for 2012, most notably a lighter buckle with greater adjustability. Vittoria Shoes are still made in the same shop in Biella, Italy that I visited in 1998. Unlike most carbon parts used in cycling, even the Hora's carbon sole in made in Italy.

Vittoria Hora

I think the red looks terrific, but the Hora is available in five other colors, including flat black for CPAs.

Vittoria Hora

Edoardo Vercelli, son of founder Celestino Vercelli (who was a pro on the legendary Brooklyn team), demonstrates how simple it is to replace the dial and wire lace assembly.

Sizes available are 38 - 49 with half sizes 38.5 to 44.5. Vittoria says each shoe weighs 307 grams. There is a women's specific version built on a special women's last and supplied with a special insole as well.

Suggested retail is $425.00

Here's Vittoria's website.


Wheels Manufacturing

These guys have come a long way. Back in the 1980s, Wheels Mfg started by making a really good chain whip. From that beginning, Wheels has grown to being a maker of over 900 items, all designed and made in the USA. If you ever needed to get a replacement dropout for your frame, odds are Wheels made it. They also make various adapters for bearing and rear sprockets to allow mechanics to mount parts across different platforms. For instance, they have BB30 to Shimano Hollowtech II conversion shims. I can't believe there's a huge demand for such a part, but if you want to use your existing crankset, such an adapter would be a pearl beyond price. Kudos to Wheels Mfg.

I love their small bits, but it warmed my heart to see them going big. Wheels showed a hubset they carve out of billet in Colorado. For now, they're only doing a disc-brake, 32-hole version in 135mm and 142mm real axle lengths. Suggested retail for the front hub is $140.00 and SR for the rear is $295.00. Wheels projects a March 2012 availability.

Wheels Mfg hubset

Here's Wheels Mfg website.


Prologo Saddles

A little before the show, now former framebuilder Mauro Mondonico told me he was going to work for Prologo Saddles. Prologo? Who are these guys? Prologo seemed to come out of nowhere and now its saddles sit on the bikes of such super teams as Sky, Saxo, Quick Step, Europcar and Katusha.

Company boss Salvatore Truglio confirmed that indeed, the firm is only a few years old. More important to me, Truglio is a saddle nut. As he walked me through the line, he explained a lot of things about saddles, foam, and shape that after 30 years in the business (and importing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of racing saddles), were new to me. For instance: when viewed from the back, a saddle can be flat with a wider seating surface or rounded. I knew that. But...saddles that are rounded are best for very long rides and stage racing while flatter ones are more suited for short races and criteriums. Prologo has three different degrees of roundness, allowing a rider to fine-tune his saddle shape to match his cycling.

Prologo saddles

Round, semi-round and flat

Prologo has a product catalog that isn't as big as the New York City phone book, but it's pretty huge. At this point I haven't used one of their saddles, but I was impressed.

Contador saddle

Prologo proudly displayed an Alberto Contador autographed saddle in their booth.

Here's Prologo's website.


Challenge Tires

Challenge Tires has improved a tire I thought was already perfect. The Criterium Open Tubular (a clincher made with sew-up technology) casing has gone from 290 tpi to an incredible 320 threads per inch. Bravo! To learn what this means.

Challenge tire

Challenge Tires's web site


Gios

As I headed up an aisle, in the distance I saw a row of frames in a color that could mean only one thing, Gios. Yes, there was a long line of lucious, fabulous Gios frames. Man oh man! Bill want. Bill want Gios frame bad.

There was a complete array of bikes in steel, aluminum as well as carbon.

Gios bikes

Bike legend Alfredo Gios (in tie) keeps an eye on Larry Theobald of CycleItalia and me as we wonder if he would miss just a couple of bikes.

Amazingly, Gios, the bike of Roger de Vlaeminck, Parick Sercu, Johan de Muynck, Didi Thurau, Michel Pollentier, Roberto Visentini (the list goes on forever) does not have a USA distributor. Signor Gios is actively looking for a competent American importer.

Alfredo Gios with Carol and Chairman Bill

Here's Alfredo Gios with Carol and me.

The Gios official web site.


Columbus Tubing

Finally! Columbus is making an XCR stainless steel tubeset for lugs. Building an XCR lugged frame requires stainless steel lugs, which Columbus does not make, but others do. Also, the tubing must be brazed with silver solder. I hope someone has a lugged XCR at the next show.

Columbus XCR tubes

It'll take a lot of work to turn these tubes into a frame.

Here's Columbus' web site.


Fondriest

I'm a sucker for steel Italian frames. I get near one and my retrogrouch alarms start blaring. The Fondriest SF2 made of Columbus Spirit set the bells ringing. Shiny objects fascinate me, so the chrome lugs, flat fork crown and seat stay caps just stopped me in my tracks. Suggested retail for the frameset is $2,500.00

Fondriest Spirit frameset

Fondriest SF2. The Bicisupport workstand looks neat, as well.

Fondriest FF Zero

Here's the Fondriest high-zoot carbon machine, the TF Zero. The frame comes in at 798 grams. It wasn't too long ago builders were tryng to break the 1-kilogram barrier for frame weight. That was then. It's Di2 ready and made in Italy. Suggested retail for the frameset is $5,000.00.

The USA Fondriest distributor web site and the Fondriest Italy web site.


Chain Shoes

Carol and I thought we had the show about finished and were about to head home when I heard my name called. I looked around and saw André Gingras, who had been with Kempter Marketing when that firm was Torelli's Canadian distributor during the 1990s.

I had always enjoyed working with André and was pleased to see he has struck out on his own, having formed ARG Sports to distribute cycling products in Canada and the U.S.

One interesting line he imports is Italian shoe maker "Chain Shoes" headquartered in a small town near Treviso, Italy. Chain started in 1973 as a private-label producer, making shoes for other brands.

Their top of the line model is the "Fast", made with both full carbon and carbon-reinforced nylon soles. The top closure is highly adjustable. As the owner of a pair of weird feet, I always appreciate manufacturers who make this job easy.

Chain shoe

With a full carbon sole (the only iteration beging brought into North America right now) the Chain Shoe catalogue shows the "Fast" weighing 263 grams. Suggested retail is $419.00

André is also importing a nice-looking line of clothing also made near Treviso called "Bicycle Line". I didn't get any pictures but the Bicycle Line web site is pretty impressive.

Here's the ARG Sports web site for more info on their lines.


HeadsUp

Driving into a garage with a loaded roof rack happens so often, we all understand what it means "to garage" a bike. I don't know how many customers' garaged frames I've sent down to The Cyclesmith to be repaired and repainted, but the number is heartbreakingly large. HeadsUp has come up with a nifty alarm system to alert the driver when a meeting of bike and garage is close at hand.

The HeadsUp kit includes an LED alert to mount on the garage, little transmitters to put in a seatbag and an alarm to go in the car. When gear, car and garage get too close together, the garage LED lights up and the alarm in car goes off. I like this.

Suggested retail is $169.00

HeadsUp

HeadsUp web site


SMP Saddles

You can spot an SMP saddle from far away with its distinctive wide front double nose that is SMPs answer to the problems raised by saddle pressure on the perineal area. While I have never ridden an SMP saddle, I have talked to riders whose judgement I trust who swear by them and prefer them over all other brands.

SMP carbon saddle

Need something flashy? The SMP Carbon Color is available in gold, blue, silver, black or white. With hollow stainless steel rails, the unpadded saddle weighs 165 grams and with carbon rails (in black only) it's only 105 grams. SMP says they make their own stuff, its production is entirely Italian.

Suggested retail for SMP Carbon Color saddle with stainless steel rails: $600.00

Suggested retail for SMP Full Carbon saddle: $750.00

Here's the American importer's SMP website and here's the manufacturer's site


FSA-Patterson Transmission

Crank-mounted planetary gears have been around since the 1890s, but Sam Patterson's transmission is the neatest, cleanest crank gear I've ever seen. Licensed by FSA and sold under the "Metropolis" city bike brand, the crankset looks like it'll mount on any bike and gives the equivalent of a 28 and 45 tooth chain ring. On the test stand set up in FSA's booth it shifted easily and cleanly.

FSA's test stand for the Patterson-Metropolis crankset.

Patterson transmission

The planetary gears can be seen in the cutouts.

FSA's website for the Metropolis tranmission crankset


Miche

Every time I walk by the Miche booth, the component line seems to have become a little more high-tech, a little more high-end. Years ago Miche seemed to be a nice, price competitive line of mid-range parts, but now what this 90-year old company makes is real stuff for fast bikes. I asked factory manager Walter Calesso what he had new for the show and he showed me a carbon chainring with embedded aluminum teeth. Again, Miche is another company that has not outsourced its production, preferring to keeps its factory in Treviso busy.

Miche carbon ring

Here's the Miche web site