(Note - I wrote this Wednesday evening but couldn't post it until now)
Well, this was my first of two days at Interbike in Las Vegas, NV. Lots of vendors showing off all manner of products for cycling, from nutritional supplements to high end road bikes, from bells to dual suspension mountain bikes.
Today was largely a preliminary lap around the show floor, not stopping and spending a lot of time at any one booth, just more or less getting a sense of what's there.
So what caught my eye?
First, the continuing growth of the electric bike market is impossible to ignore. Each year it seems there are more and more booths showing both complete bikes and conversion kits and motors. With the exception of the Bionx brand, it's hard to know who has the ideas that will last, but it seems a pretty safe bet that e-bikes are going to be a part of the industry for some time to come.
Another really obvious thing was what WASN'T there... recumbents! Yes, you read that right... with the exception of Sun, who are a part of J&B Importers, a major parts and accessories distributor, the only recumbent brands with booths this year are HP Velotechnik and ICE. Over the last few years, fewer and fewer of the recumbent makers have shown their products at Interbike. Why? Well, late October will bring the first ever Recumbent Cycle-Con, in Pomona, CA, a recumbent-only trade show. Given that they often seemed a bit "lost" in the mass of vendors at Interbike, I can understand the motivation behind having their own show, but I'm not sure I completely agree that leaving Interbike was the best choice. We'll see how it all plays out in the next few years.
I did spend some quality time with a few folks today, both "old friends" and new. Among the "old" were J&B Importers/Sun Bicycles, who showed a few new items... including three new models of recumbents. At the moment it's not clear whether they will replace existing models or supplement them, or when exactly they'll ship, but they look interesting. One nice feature is that they use the same attachment system as the Rans recumbents, which means it's possible to swap the seats for a Rans or similar seat. In two wheelers, there's a model with 20" front wheel and 26" rear, as well as one with 16" front/20" rear. The third is a new variation on their delta style trike. We'll keep you posted as we learn more.
I also spent a good hunk of time with the folks at Dahon, catching up on what's coming for 2012. There are several new models, and some changes to existing models. And there are a few bikes being dropped, or put on hold for the year. In the latter, we won't be seeing any of the "mini" style bikes new this coming year, although there are still some 2011 bikes in stock. In new bikes, the Vector series takes the place of the old Speed Pro and Speed Pro TT models. There's also a new 16" bike with a really slick, quick fold, that looks quite interesting. Unfortunately, the Dahon booth had a bunch of "no photos please" signs.
In the world of folding bikes, some of you may already be aware there's a new player coming into the field... Tern Bicycles, a company founded by folks who split off of Dahon. There's a lot of "family resemblance" between the brands on the surface, but there appear to be some significant differences as well. Generally speaking, for any given model of Dahon, there's a Tern that fills the same part of the market. Among the features touted by Tern are a latching/hinging system that is identical across all of the bikes in the line and is easily serviced with standardized replacement parts. It's too soon to tell, but this looks like a line with promise.
Finally, I spent some time talking to the folks at Breezer. Some of you may recall we used to carry their bikes, primarily their urban transportation bikes, such as the Uptown 8, fully decked out for commuting with fenders, rack, and dynamo lighting system. Well, after a lot of thought, we've decided to start carrying them again. It seems like there's a growing interest in practical bicycles, and these really fit the bill. This year they're introducing a new series, called the "Downtown" models, featuring steel frames and a few other items that allows them to sell for a bit lower prices than the Uptown series. Both lines offer internally geared 3 and 8 speed hubs, as well as a more typical derailleur drivetrain, which Breezer refers to as "external". All in all a very sharp line of bikes, worth a look and a test ride, if you're in the market for a commuter or errand bike.
That's my response to my first day at the show. Watch for more soon, along with more photos and links to even more photos.