Interbike 2010 Reflections

A2BBlack_HeroRearStaticBlurWell another Interbike has come and gone. This year was the final appearance for Interbike in Las Vegas. Next year it is to be moved to Anaheim, CA. I had high hopes for this year’s Interbike. The Electric bike movement seems to be gaining momentum. Bicycle commuting is still growing in popularity and bikes are being integrated into daily life more and more. Interbike is a good opportunity to sample where the bike industry is. It generally represents where buyers and manufacturers feel their money and effort is best spent, which is a direct reflection of consumer demands. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the Dirt Demo this year, where there were opportunities to test ride some new utility cycling products, such as an electric assist cargo trailer, and some new long-tail bikes. This year some of the major players in the bike industry, such as Kona, Trek and Giant attended the dirt demo, but chose to forgo the actual trade show. There were rumors floating around that this was due to the high cost of having the large booth that these size companies require. Personally I think it is because that all three of these companies put on their own private camps to which they invite current and prospective dealers. These private camps can be much more focused and cost effective for large bicycle companies.bionx_motor_battery_charger_consoleThe trade show was bustling as usual with the glimmer of new bike parts and the smell of fresh VOC‘s. My mission was set: I planned on investigating as many electric bikes, new commuter equipment and utility equipment such as bike trailers and cargo bikes as possible. I spent two full days from 9 am to 6 pm scouring the halls of Interbike trying to fulfill my mission. My objective to explore the electric bike movement turned out quite well. It was good to see an increase in the amount of smaller companies that have entered the electric bike market. I was interested to see how some of the larger electric bike companies such as BionX and A2B have dealt with the recent growth in electric bike popularity. I personally really like the A2B bikes. They haven’t tried to integrate an electric motor and battery into a normal looking bike by hanging part of the system of various tubes, but instead have let their electric assist bikes become something all their own. They have a very industrial look about which I like and they manufacture their own systems. Many of the electric assist bikes that are on the market are nothing more than your standard Taiwanese frame with a BionX assist kit fitted to the bike.orangeinnmbOne other company that caught my attention was Gazelle, a Dutch bike company that makes both electric assist bikes and standard non-assist bikes. I like Gazelle because, as I pointed out before, I like companies who put effort into designing bikes that are not only purpose-built but that look good, have nice lines and all the parts seem to come together in symphony to complete the bike. Gazellle is pushing towards an all-in-one bike that can satisfy all your needs, leaving the car behind. I was very impressed by the Gazelle Orange Excellent Innergy. This bike says utility–in spite of it not having included a cargo trailer. The Orange Innergy comes with an electric-assist motor and an easily removable battery which is housed under the rear rack, a Shimano Nexus eight-speed internal rear hub with hydraulic roller brakes and cooling discs, an integrated 60 lux headlight on the front fender, a drive train cover, a rear fender, a rear taillight, an integrated rear wheel lock, front suspension, adjustable handlebars, seat bag, rack straps, integrated hand pump, and suspension seat-post. But what is outstanding about this bike is that, in face of all these extras, Gazelle has still managed to create a bike that looks good and is in no way an eyesore. Add some panniers and you really will never need your car again.surley-flatbed-cargo-trailer-and-feetsurly-bike-trailer-hitch-arm-2010-interbikeSurly released a new bike trailer this year rightfully named “Trailer” Trailer is a heavy duty cargo trailer that has a 300 pound load capacity available in two separate load bed sizes. Surly wasn’t fooling around when they designed this trailer. It could be the end-all bike cargo trailer, if you are willing to accept the yet-to-be-disclosed weight of the trailer, I’m guessing around 35 pounds. Surly’s hitch design for The Trailer is quite interesting. They claim that the hitch will fit any wheel size from 20″ to 29″ and allows the trailer to always remain level and be adjusted to the center line of the bike. The hitch includes both the quick release and threaded nuts and will attach to virtually any bike. We have to remain patient until The Trailer is available next spring.All in all, I was happy with the amount of electric bikes that were on display at the show, but I am going to have to say that I was certainly disappointed with the overall lack of forward movement towards greater utility cycling and bike commuting. I expected to see a greater level of enthusiasm towards integrating the bike into everyday life. Beyond the electric bike scene, there was not a large increase in the amount of racks, commuting specific gear, cargo trailers and cycling as an integrated transportation lifestyle. Maybe I set myself up with greater expectations than were realistic, but I was genuinely hoping to see a perceptible increase in commuting and utility cycling . As I had stated previously, Interbike is a good
snapshot of where the cycling industry is. Although I was very happy with the presence of electric bikes, I still believe the industry as a whole has a long way to go before commuting and utility cycling becomes more mainstream. Maybe next year with the change of venue and a changed date, Interbike will have shed its skin, left Las Vegas behind, and we will be presented with a different show with different emphases. I saw a glimmers of hope, and I do believe that things are on the right track. Lets just remain focused on furthering the integration of the bike into life’s everyday needs and transportation.

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