Highlights of Interbike 2015
Photos and Text by Tom Baker
Interbike rolled into Las Vegas again in 2015. Many of the exhibitors had recently been at Eurobike, so it was common to hear comparisons given. While Interbike covers less square footage than Eurobike, what it lacks in size is more than made up for in enthusiasm. Large crowds of exhibitors, IBD shops and everyone even remotely related to bicycles was present. Interbike remains the place in the Americas to see the latest new products and meet the people who make the bicycle industry what it is. Many agree, however, that Las Vegas is not a great place to have the show.
One of the events at Interbike is the awards banquet where manufacturers and riders receive awards in various categories, such as best mountain bike of the year (Pivot Cycles), or best pro cyclist of the year (Chris Froome). Notably this year three members of the cast of Breaking Away, Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid and Jackie Earle Haley, were on hand to present some awards. The crowd loved seeing them and telling them how much the film meant to them.
There were only a few pro cyclists this year signing autographs. Notably, Jan Ullrich, now working for Storck bicycles in Germany was in their booth. He was especially friendly and personable.
Also, Bradley Wiggins’ hour record bike was shown. Note the listing of his medals on the top tube to help remind him during his hour effort of what he can accomplish.
Perhaps what stands out this year at Interbike is the revolution in electronics that is taking place, with a variety of new products that provide the rider with a full range of information and enable bringing the ride back home to be analyzed or viewed. Garmin, Polar, BSX Athletics, Sony, Shimano, Campagnolo, GoPro and many others showed their new products. And many of these products are beginning to be able to communicate with each other, enabling the rider to, for example, view blood oxygen level, a map and gear shift all on the same display.
The big names in component groups – Campagnolo, Shimano and SRAM are well down the path towards electronic shifting. Each is following their own unique path, which offers riders a real range of options in their choice of component groups.
Shimano’s Di2 products showed little change from 2014, as they are now well established. Di2 for both road and mountain bikes looked remarkably similar to last year’s offerings. Really, only a few wire changes was about all that was seen from Shimano on Di2.
SRAM showed off their new wireless system with interchangeable batteries. They project that it will be available in early 2016. They decided to use their own protocol in communicating between the shifters and derailleurs (not ANT+ or Bluetooth). Going wireless has a major advantage over Shimano and Campagnolo, who are really bogged down in making the wiring and batteries work in various frame configurations. All the wiring changes and options on Shimano Di2 consumes much of Shimano’s effort in supporting their products. Also, SRAM’s solution uses very small batteries on each derailleur, instead of a single larger battery on or in the frame. These small batteries are interchangeable and will last only 1000 km, as compared to the Shimano battery, which lasts 4000 km. With SRAM’s wireless solution, there isn’t an interface or junction box to mount on the bike, so the setup is done with little buttons on the derailleurs. It remains to be seen if using their own communication protocol leaves SRAM out in the cold in communicating with 3rd party devices that are ANT+ compliant, like Garmin.
Here the front and rear derailleur are being shifted wirelessly by the shifters. Note the small batteries on the derailleurs.
SRAM also showed their lineup of Quark power meters.
Here’s a look at the inside of one of their circuit boards from a crankset.
Campagnolo really made a big leap forward in electronic shifting, not with hardware changes, but with their new app, called MyCampy. It will be available with the 2016 EPS groups in early 2016. It is a very compelling reason to use Campy EPS electronic shifting. Using the app on a smartphone or tablet, every aspect of EPS can be set up and controlled remotely. It has many useful features, allowing full customization and control of the shifting, which allows for some new ways of shifting that were only a dream before. Perhaps the most interesting is being able to set up automatic shifting. For example, when shifting from the big ring to the small ring, in order to eliminate the big change in gear ratio, it has been necessary to also shift the rear derailleur to smaller cogs. Now, that can be set up to automatically occur when shifting the front derailleur! Shimano has something similar, but it needs to be pre-set, whereas the Campy derailleurs calculate the shift needed automatically on the fly. The number of cogs that automatically shift can even be set by the rider according to their preference.
There are also many ways to customize the shifting force, speed, multi-shifting and which levers control which derailleurs. For example, for a sprinter in the drops, the finger shifters can be set up so that they control the up and down shifts only on the rear derailleur, which enables the sprinter to stay in the drops, without having to reach for the thumb shifters. Additionally, the display gives real-time data on which gear you’re in, how many shifts you’ve made, battery status, and will alert you when a component needs servicing.
Here’s a quick look at the screens, as demonstrated by Nicola Fao, one of the Campy EPS engineers from Italy. The initialization screen has three sections – My Garage, My Sessions and My EPS. In My Garage, you can set up profiles for any number of bikes using EPS. In My Sessions, you can view real-time data on your ride. In My EPS, you can run checks on the shifting system on the bike.
After the app connects with the components wirelessly, the dashboard screen shows battery status and the status of the system and the position of the derailleurs and the total number of shifts made. On the bottom of the dashboard screen you can customize the performance of the EPS system by setting the style of shifting, setup multi-shifting and set the derailleur shifting mode.
Garmin has really embraced cycling in a big way. They showed a wide range of products beyond GPS devices. Perhaps most interesting was their Varia rear-looking radar, which will detect approaching traffic and alert the rider on their Edge Garmin unit or the Garmin radar display and illuminate the tail light to alert the driver. The radar detects approaching vehicles from up to 150 yards away and the display shows the distance and relative speed of the vehicle. It sounds like a product that is maybe just a gizmo on the bike until you realize that most cycling fatalities are due to rear collision by motor vehicles. This might turn out to be a real valuable product for times when riding alone.
Also, Garmin has several Edge GPS units that will display Campy and Shimano electronic shifter parameters. Their Edge 520 GPS receiver/computer is tailored for competitive use.
They also showed their Virb HD video cameras, a very compact GPS bike computers, the Edge 20 and 25, and their Virve headlights. The Virb camera has a huge advantage over GoPro in that it is a cycling specific design that allows overlay of speed, HR, power, G-force, distance, elevation, lap info and cadence. The headlight reacts to the ambient light and bike speed when paired with a GPS unit and adjusts the beam up or down accordingly.
Some other noteworthy products includes Efficient Velo Tools rear view mirror, now available in colors. This is arguably the best mirror available.
If you like your floor pump to be a work of art, then Silca has the pump for you. Silca now offers pumps painted by Dario Pegoretti.
Here are some floor pump bodies painted in a variety of colors.
Silca is now offering a new version of the classic Silca Impero frame pump. The quality is significantly higher than the original Italian Impero pump and includes a pump head with a check valve, which anyone who has used the plastic Impero pump knows is a nice feature.
Some other new products:
TufMed showed a line of natural treatments.
Barfly has developed a range of useful products, including a handlebar mount that has adapters that enable mounting everything from GPS units to lights.
Storage racks from Steady Rack offer a really nice way to store your bike on a wall, and have a nice feature- they pivot sideways, so your bike can lay close to the wall.
Showers Pass makes a lineup of rain gear that people rave about. They showed a waterproof sock that looks both effective and is a comfortable design.
Kopin showed glasses that sync with a smartphone using Bluetooth. This is an example of the electronics revolution taking place in cycling. Once the rider’s other ANT+ devices are connected to the phone using their app, then that information can be displayed on the Kopin’s Solos head’s up display in the corner of the right lens. If one has the money, then it is possible, using these glasses to see all sorts of information without taking one’s eyes off the road.
Vintage Electric showed their line-up of retro-styled electric bikes. It has very classy styling and is very high quality. Typically, on bikes like this, the design is cool, but the quality is not great, but not on these bikes many of the parts are CNC machined and the battery box is cast aluminum. Lots of fun to ride! They have a 30 mile range and can go 36 mph!
Sinewave Cycles had their generator powered convertors which can be used to charge your Garmin or iPhone while you ride.
Of special note at Interbike is a product that was highlighted earlier by US Cycling Report at last year’s Interbike and also reported on last spring during the product rollout. This is the BSX Insight lactate threshold measurement tool, which very simply is placed in a sleeve against the skin on the calf. BSX Athletics has now refined the design and expects to launch their second version in November. The value of this product for competitive race training can’t be overstated. Now the product permits measuring and displaying in real time the blood oxygen levels. Racers and team trainers around the world are getting excited about the potential of this new product. Nordic skiers and rowers, in addition to bike racers are especially interested.
Richard Byrne showing the lineup of Speedplay pedals, including the new Zero Aero, as used by Bradley Wiggins for the hour record.
There are now a number of power meters on the market. Notably new is the one from RPM. Its sensors are mounted inside the sole insert in the shoes. It is app driven and can provide not only real time data, but also data on a ride or run after finishing The data can also be displayed on ANT+ compliant devices on the bike. So, it is especially convenient and can be used not only for cycling, but also in running shoes to measure power when running! This would be of great interest to tri-athletes looking to measure power in cycling and running. It’s not clear yet how accurate this will be, but in theory it looks good.
2015 was a good year for Interbike, as the electronics revolution is going strong, with a wide range of new products to keep the consumer busy dreaming about. The bike industry is going strong and the United States is definitely a leader in new ideas and new products.