2013 Las Vegas Interbike Bicycle Show
September 18 - September 20
This is not an attempt to be a comprehensive report on the 2013 Interbike show; other web sites do a terrific job of show coverage. We went to the show to wander the aisles and see old friends. Every so often a stand would have something we found interesting. Here's what captured our attention as we wandered the aisles of Interbike 2013.
After almost a decade and a half at the Las Vegas Sands Convention Center, Interbike moved to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. It wasn't too bad a change, except coffee went from $2.50 to $4.50 a cup. The floor space was a bit limited, so some unfortunate exhibitors were moved to the "Paddock".
The Paddock was space outside the hall on the parking lot. Really. Plucky exhibitors who couldn't get on the show floor had to endure three days in a tent on a Las Vegas parking lot in 100-degree heat. Campagnolo had its booth in the Paddock filled with test bikes equipped with their electronic shifting system.
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:
Argon 18 | Carrera | Cervélo | Challenge Tires | Cinelli | Colnago | Columbus | Fondriest | Garmin | Giro d'Italia | LeMond | Magura | Miche | Micro Shift | Moa Sport-Nalini | Moulton | Praxis Works | Reynolds | Rohloff | Sella San Marco | Vittoria Shoes |
Sinclair Imports, the Canadian frame maker's American distributor, had its booth filled with Argon 18 frames. I asked Sinclair's boss, Lance Donnell, what he thought BikeRaceInfo's reader would be interested in. He took us to his own, just assembled bike, a new Argon Gallium Pro.
The Gallium Pro comes in 6 sizes, a really good start to getting a proper fit. The frame is light: a medium frame weighs only 790 grams (I like that they don't quote the weight of their smallest frame). The Gallium Pro uses monocoque construction and has a suggested retail of $3,500.00, which includes the fork, headset and seatpost.
When I was a bike distributor I really, really hated competing with Lance because he did such a good job. And I think he still does. He says he has every size of every model Argon 18 frame in stock, ready to ship. In an era of fast turns and paper-thin inventories, this is an impressive commitment to his product.
Lance Donnell with his Gallium Pro
Carrera was showing its very sharky TTS 01 time trial bike. The TTS 01 is one of the few carbon frames produced in Italy. Carrera frames are currently being ridden by Lucien van Impe's Accent Jobs-Wanty team.
Carrera TTS 01. Note the way the brakes have been integrated into the fork.
Since 2011, new bikes and forks have to be approved by the UCI before they can be raced. The bike company has to pay the UCI about $12,000 when it submits a frame for approval.
Here's the UCI sticker on a Carrera frame:
I asked the kind folks at the Cervélo booth what they had to excite a gearhead and was shown the R5, a production version of the spendy and hyper-trick California-made RCA.
You don't get everything the RCA has to offer when you buy an R5. Since the R5 is made in Asia, the risk of letting other producers get their hands on of some of Cervélo's proprietary technology is too great. Still, a 56cm frame is a scale-defying 720 grams and when built up full Dura Ace Di-2, a complete R5 bike has a suggested retail of $9,000.
Cervélo is particularly proud of its Squoval3 tube shapes which are said to improve lateral stiffness and lower aerodynamic drag without increasing weight. The frame's big left chainstay should really add bottom bracket stiffness. The seat stays are ultra thin to improve rider comfort.
This cynical old writer finds it interesting that carbon frame makers are still at great pains to let the customers know they are working hard to ensure rider comfort, an effort titanium and steel frame makers don't have to deal with. But titanium and steel frame makers can't offer a 720 gram frame, either.
I like that Cervèlo has engineered in clearance for 25mm tires.
All the brake and gear routing is compatible with mechanical, electronic and hydraulic systems, making the bike "future proof."
Cervélo R5 downtube showing its shape as well as the 79mm wide bottom bracket.
After seeing so many bike makers at the show advertising bigger clearances to accommodate fatter tires, I asked Alex Brauns of Challenge Tires if this indeed reflected changing preferences. He said, yes, tires are getting fatter with a general trend towards 24-25mm tires.
This change is being driven by several factors, including wheel design. With rims getting wider (the distance between beads) and stiffer, the bigger tire volume is needed for both a good ride and superior aerodynamics. I suggested deteriorating road surfaces in many parts of the country could also be partly fueling fatter tire sales.
All Challenge tires have a puncture resistant belt, called PPS (Puncture Protection System). But now Challenge is putting in a double belt in the Strada Bianca, their 30mm tire made for, of course, racing on unpaved roads.
New for this year is Challenge's Chicane 33mm cyclo-cross tire with a 300 thread per inch casing. It has a diamond-pattern center tread with big, knarly knobs on the side (see picture below). It should be a fast tire that corners well. Open tubular weight is 355 grams. Challenge says it's suited for dry, grassy, dusty or icy conditions.
I like Challenge tires. I've been riding them for years. Yes, they advertise here, but I used them long before I started this site. If you haven't ridden an open tubular with a high thread count casing, here's an explanation as to why you should give them a try.
Simona Brauns of Challenge tires holding a Chicane cyclocross open tubular.
Challenge Almanzo open tubular for Cyclo Cross showing the red internal PPS (Puncture Protection System) belt.
Cinelli displayed a Tig-welded frame made from Columbus' XCr stainless steel tubing. No chroming is necessary. the rear triangle was polished and the paint was masked for the logo. That's the stainless steel showing through to form the Cinelli name. Cinelli calls this frame its "crown jewel". It is lovely.
The classic Cinelli head badge on the XCr, by the way, is made from titanium.
Cinelli XCr frame
Cinelli head tube
One of the Colnago frames used in the Pro Tour (Europcar will probably use it for the Classics season) is the CX-Zero, utilizing what Colnago calls its "Endurance Geometry" It has both a longer head tube, making the handlebars easier to reach as well as a longer wheelbase. In fact, a 52cm CX-0 has a 10-cm taller head tube than a Colnago M-10. A 27.2 diameter seatpost should also contribute significantly to rider comfort.
The CX-0 has a tapered head tube and Colnago's own press-fit bottom bracket. The rep said the CX-0 fills the niche that was occupied by the C-40.
A complete CX-0 bike with disc brakes is available
As with so many makers this year, the CX-0 will accommodate 25mm tires.
CX-0 frameset suggested retail is $3,099.95
Colnago CX-Zero frameset
Metallurgy has finally caught up with my dream bike. When I was in the bike business I wanted to have stainless steel bikes made. Like titanium, a stainless steel frame would have no need for paint. The bike would never rust. And it would have the feel of steel. There were some stainless tubesets, but they were heavy and had to be silver-soldered.
The problem was, at the time, stainless steels with both high tensile strength and ductility were unavailable. Columbus' XCr stainless steel (as well as Reynolds' 931 and 953) tubing makes it possible at last to build a fine, lightweight frame with either TIG welding or lugs.
For the detail minded, it's made with seamless billets, has an ultimate tensile strength of 1,250-1,350 Mega Pascals with an elongation of (I'm working form memory here, the literature from Columbus doesn't list elongation) of at least 10%.
That means Columbus can draw the tubes down to 0.4mm for the top tube and 0.45mm for the seat tube. This isn't as thin as 0.38mm for Spirit down tubes or 0.4mm for old EL-OS and Genius tubes, but it represents a huge advance. This is much thinner than the tubing on our old SL and Reynolds 531 frames.
Frames made from XCr are not cheap. Drawing stainless steel tubes is a laborious and time-consuming process. The original billet (original thick piece of pierced steel) has to be drawn 17-20 times. Each drawing makes the billet a bit thinner and harder. So much harder that the tube has to be annealed (heat treated to improve ductility and remove internal stresses) many times during the process. Because the tooling and machinery for drawing stainless billets is so specialized, much of the working is done for Columbus. Columbus doesn't start working on the billets until they are 2.5 mm thick. Still, from there the billets need at least four more drawings and several annealings before they are ready for the famebuilder.
New for the coming season is Fondriest's TF4 carbon monocoque frameset, said to be based on the higher end TF2 and TF3.
It has the sharky-looking Fondriest forks and a lovely seat stay attachment.
It has a clean integrated cable routing that's compatible with both electronic and mechanical gear systems.
A medium frame (there are six sizes) weighs 990 grams and the fork comes in at 395 grams. I like that it uses a regular seatpost rather and an integrated one.
Suggest retail for the frameset, which includes frame, fork, headset and a set Fondriest Dual Pivot Direct brakes, is $1,930.00
Fondriest TF4 seat stay attachment
The TF4 mounts the rear brake on the chainstays, behind the bottom bracket.
Garmin's Vector power meter puts eight strain-guages (which measure the amount the axles bend, therefore the load the rider exerts) in each pedal. Each leg's power can be determined. In the picture the little "pod" attached to the crank carries the battery and data transmitter. The system adds a little more than 20 grams to each pedal, which are Look Keo-compatible. Suggested retail is $1,699.99, a bit spendy. A Garmin head unit to read the data is not included.
A big advantage of the system is easy movement of the pedals from bike to bike.
Garmin Vector pedal showing its battery-transmitter "pod".
Tom Danielson and Ryder Hesjedal signing autographs in the Garmin booth. These gents were super good sports. I hovered with a camera for quite a while waiting for a moment to get a photo. I took a bunch, all were terrible (my fault). Carol came back and asked to take some more and without the slightest grumble, they posed for this one. Thanks, guys!
Near the end of the the show's first day, La Gazzetta dello Sport held a press conference to discuss the 12th stage of the 2014 Giro d'Italia. The Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport is part of the RCS MediaGroup conglomerate which also owns RCS sport, which organizes the Giro d'Italia.
Pier Bergonzi, editor in chief of La Gazzetta, led the press conference. But he would not give out much information about the stage beyond its date of May 22 and its distance of 45 kilometers going between Barbaresco to Barolo in Piemonte. Bergonzi said it would be a challenging time trial and come right before the mountains. Beyond that, Bergonzi preferred to wait until the official unveiling of the Giro to reveal any more details. The 2014 Giro, by the way, will start in Dublin, Ireland and finish in Trieste. The penultimate stage will go over Monte Zoncolan.
After those tidbits, the conference's true reason became clear. It was an effort to promote the tourism, food and wine of Piemonte (home of Coppi and Girardengo!), specifically the wines of Barbaresco and Barolo. We were well fed with a delicious wine risotto, tart and zabaglione, so we left happy!
I found myself jealous again of the Italians, beyond their getting to live in Italy. Pier Bergonzi is a real celebrity, and deservedly so. How many other editors have world-wide fame?
Pier Bergonzi (left) with Chairman Bill. We're holding the Giro d'Italia's "Trophy without End". Every winner's name is engraved with the year. Signor Bergonzi is a genuinely nice man who helped me, then a complete stranger, with my Giro history.
After breaking up with Trek over his dispute with Lance Armstrong, Greg LeMond is again offering bikes with his name, this time produced by Time of France. Each of the current models is named after one of his three Tour de France victories.
When LeMond showed up in the booth it instantly filled up with people. Everyone loves Greg. It's odd to think that Greg LeMond remains the only American to have won the Tour de France.
LeMond 1989 Team ADR bike
Greg LeMond is such a kinetic, high-energy person that every picture we took of him was slightly out of focus. Plus, because everyone wants to get close to him, we never got a clear shot. There was always a crowd around him.
If the 2014 Look 695 Aerolight rides as well as it looks, it is one terrific bike. The frameset includes cranks, stem, seat post and integrated brakes and goes for a princely suggested retail price of $6,999.00.
Look 605 Aerolight
The carbon frame, sporting many aerodynamic touches, comes in 925 grams. The fork has an integrated brake. That panel near the top of the fork is a brake caliper.
Look integrated front brake.
You can see the brake pads come out of the fork blades to contact the rim.
That's not all. The brake cables (mechanical, not hydraulic) run through the stem, which still has an elevation adjustment from 13 degrees up to 17 degrees down.
The crank is a single piece, the two arms and center spindle are mounted as a one piece through the bottom bracket shell.
The seat post has elastomer dampers available in three durometers. I know, I know, you didn't need dampers when frames were steel and wheels were 32-hole 3-cross, but for most people, those days are gone and we have to deal the racing world as it is.
The frameset is compatible with both mechanical and electronic systems.
The Cofidis pro team rides Look frames.
When I was a bicycle distributor I carried Magura products and found the firm to be a well-run business with good products. I thought I'd ask them about the state of disc brakes for road bikes.
I was told that while other companies were offering disc road brakes, they didn't see, given the current state of the art, how it could be done correctly.
Here's the problem. The energy of your moving bike, called kinetic energy, goes up radically as the speed increases. Physicists use this formula:
Take your mass (you, bike, water bottle, food bars), divide it in half and multiply it by the square of your speed. See, the amount of energy of your moving bike goes up with the square of your speed. So, a comparatively slow-moving mountain bike has a fraction of the energy of a road bike doing a crazy 50 mph descent.
It is the job of a brake to stop the bike by turning this kinetic energy into heat. Rim brakes use your big diameter rims as discs, which can generally dissipate the heat of braking. Big men using sew-ups have found this isn't always true. Riders have come to grief when braking heat melted the glue holding their tires to the rim.
The engineers at Magura believe a disc of a conventional bicycle disc brake can't throw off the heat of an road bikie's insane mountain descent fast enough.
Not only do mountain bikes deal with far less kinetic energy to begin with, but some of a mountain bikes braking energy is dissipated as the tires break loose from the dirt. A mountain bike tire will generally start to break loose before the disc's heat threshold is reached. This is not a luxury afforded to a road bike, whose tires maintain contact with the road, forcing all the deceleration energy to the rotor (rim or disc).
Bike companies and disc makers will have to get together and find a way to make bigger discs. They will also have to figure out how do a quick wheel change on a disc-braked bike and improve disc brakes' poor aerodynamics. There are a lot of people with big foreheads working on this, so I'm sure we'll see the problems solved. But it doesn't look like we're there yet.
Magura hydraulic time trial brake.
Magura does make rim brakes. Here's their hydraulic time trial brake caliper, the product of a design partnership with Cervélo. Using standard mounting that will allow it to be mounted on about any time trial bike, It's designed to fit in the fork's aerodynamic envelope. It has a quick release in the lever and can handle rims 18–25 mm wide. Magura makes a converter so that a standard wire road brake levers (like STI or Eergopower) can be connected to the hydraulic calipers. Depending on the exact model and equipment, expect to spend between $300.00 and $400.00 a wheel for these stoppers.
This Italian component maker (yes, there is more than one) makes nice stuff. Their Supertype calipers now sport titanium bake plates.
Miche Supertype calipers
There's another producer of control groups out there. Taiwan-based Micro Shift produces a wide range of derailleurs, including integrated shift/brake levers. I tried them on their test stand and found them to work perfectly fine.
They are supposed to be perfectly compatible with Shimano control groups.
I'm glad to see more companies making derailleurs, hopefully breaking up the component oligopoly. I suspect some private-label derailleurs are re-branded Micro Shift product.
Micro Shift control group test stand with company engineer Eric Mu.
Micro Shift rear derailleur
Moa Sport (whose brand name is Nalini) provides many of the top teams (8 in 2012) with their clothing. Curious, I asked them which teams they would supply in 2014. Because negotiations were still ongoing, they had solidified the supply contract with only one 2014 sqaud, Astana.
Nalini's new FS Windjacket which can also double a a jersey is said to be breathable and rainproof. And since rain is almost almost inevitable, the rear pockets have reinforced drain holes (if you're going to use waterproof fabric, I guess you'd have to do that). They made a real advance in their dyeing. The high-visibility neon green sections won't fade.
I've used Nalini clothing since the 1980s. I wore an ancient Jolly Componibili (late 80s?) team jersey on my morning ride and it still looks like new. Their stuff wears like iron.
Back of Nalini FS Windjacket showing reinforced drain holes.
They've also begun making seamless jerseys and underwear. I haven't tried any of them yet, but it sounds like a slick development.
Nalini seamless jersey.
I've never owned a Moulton, but I always wanted one. For 50 years they've been making their small-wheeled suspension equipped bikes, introducing regular improvements. The beauty they showed at Interbike was 18-pounds and equipped with a silver-soldered stainless steel frame and stem.
Both front and rear wheels are suspended. Because the little wheels need tall gears to allow the Moulton the same gear development as a 700c bike, the proprietary cassette can take a 10-tooth cog. The cogset is also proprietary.
I like what these guys do, even though I've never used one of their products. They cold-forge chainrings. Basically, with incredible force, a giant, powerful press squashes a chunk of aluminum onto the chainring shape. This makes a very strong chainring (or about anything else that gets forged). Metals have grains and forging aligns these grains for greatest strength. All the little ramps and divots of a modern ring are formed during the forging, making them all harder and stronger than if they had been just carved out of an aluminum plate. This means, of course, that every ring has to have its own tooling.
After forging, a part still has to be cleaned up, as can be seen in the picture below.
I asked the gents at Praxis if they had done destrcution testing to quantify how much longer their rings last than good gear-cut or CNC'd rings. So far they have not. In theory (and according to everything I've learned about metallurgy), the rings should be better, but test data would be nice.
Praxis rings: to the left is the blank before forging. On the right as it comes from the forge, before being cleaned up.
Cut away Praxis hollow-forged crank. Fluid forms the internal dimension during forging. Afterwards, the fluid is drained. We've come along way from the cottered steel cranks of my youth.
In my former life as a distributor, all of my experience with Reynolds had been with their Ouzo carbon forks. We used them on our bikes and never had a lick of trouble. So I was surprised to learn that Reynolds hadn't made forks for six years. Time flies.
Reynolds makes wheels and one of their new sets was the 46 Aero, a carbon-fiber clincher set designed for all-round (including cyclo-cross) use. A like set of tubulars is in the pipeline.
16 spokes in front and 20 at the rear laced to DT Swiss hubs, the set weighs 1,505 grams. Suggested retail for the set is $2675.00
Reynolds Aero 46 front wheel.
A cross-section of a Reynolds 46 Aero rim. It's 26.2 mm wide and 46 mm tall.
I couldn't walk by the Rohloff booth without snapping a picture of their cut-away 14-speed internally geared Speedhub. What a lovely, complex, beautiful work of mechanical art.
Every time I go to a Sella San Marco show booth, there is at least one member of the Girardi family, which owns the saddle maker, in attendance. They are hands-on owners who stay close to their customers. This year Giovanni Girardi, the firm's managing director, was there to show me what was new.
Giovanni Girardi with new Aspide saddle
The Aspide is San Marco's flagship racing saddle. It can be ordered with different rails, bases and other variations. At its lightest, the Aspide can come in at a featherlight 105.6 grams.
Modern saddle design uses a hole or groove to relieve perineal pressure. San Marco has extended to depression to the entire length of the saddle. Because this can cause the two halves of the saddle to move independently and cause discomfort, a "stability bridge" in the saddle's base has been introduced, stabilizing the two sections.
Girardi explained that this allows a rider to sit with comfort anywhere on the saddle, important because during different types of effort, one sits in different places on the saddle. Girardi also told me that many pros would like to use saddles with a groove. But because historically, the two saddle parts moving independently was uncomfortable, many riders couldn't use grooved saddles and had to use "closed" saddles. He was confident that with this solution, pro riders would take to using relieved saddles. San Marco plans to introduce the stability bridge across their line.
San Marco's "stability bridge" can be seen in this photo.
The Vittoria V-Spirit shoe is new for 2014. It uses Vittoria's nifty Micro Hora cable closure system. To keep the price under $200.00 it uses a CNS carbon heart sole. The sole is traditional nylon with 3K carbon fiber stiffening panel. While full-carbon soles are lighter and stiffer, I confess I use shoes with carbon heart soles. My aging bones like the sole's slight extra give.
Incredibly, the shoe is made without sewing.
The V-Spirit comes in sizes 36–49.
Colors: white, white/black and black/green fluorescent
Edoardo Vercelli holds a black V-Spirit shoe. Vittoria is another family-owned Italian artisan company. Edoardo's father Celestino started the firm in the 1970s after a pro career riding for such storied teams as SCIC and Brooklyn.