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Interbike 2013

Interbike 2013.  2 days in the desert at Bootleg Canyon, 3 days at the Mandalay Bay.  In that time I consumed 10 supplement bars chopped into bite sized pieces, 14 energy gels, 9 Dixie cups with some sort of recovery drink, 147 beers, 18 shots of whiskey, 1 shot of Ass Juice, 8 gin and tonics, 19 whiskeys on the rocks, 6 32oz margaritas, and 4 Bloody Susans.  Even with all the liver training I do, my body hurt by the end of it.

Interbike has become something of a pilgrimage for me.  My fifth year attending, it’s a time to see friends that I don’t see often, if ever, outside of this annual trip to Las Vegas.  Interbike is 750+ exhibitors, representing 1200+ brands, selling their goods and services to wholesalers, retailers, and manufactures.  Working Media (the reason GMG is allowed in) is present to cover the new and sometimes exciting products that are available, to help build the buzz about the coming year.  This year was a little different, with the final day being an “invite-only” consumer day- where retailers could invite their top customers to check out the floor.

Along with having a different events company put on the show, Interbike changed location from The Sands Convention Center to Mandalay Bay.  The new location seemed smaller, but also ran smoother on the registration end and I for some reason found it easier to find the venue.  The small venue made the inside feel a bit cramped, like exhibitors were stacked on top of one another. Mandalay is also in a less convenient location on the strip- reducing the number of cheap hotels and bars within a close walk.

Outdoor Dirt Demo:

I had some much appreciated company at Dirt Demo this year, as Felix and Kerry flew in from Seattle to hang out.  We walked in the dust and drank beers in the desert while we looked at bikes.  My focus on a personal level this year, was looking for my next bike which- with my move back to Alaska, is a fat bike (spoiler alert: Gon’ get myself a Fatback.)  Fatbikes have seen a lot of growth recently, with carbon becoming a very popular frame material.  Fatback has the Corvus9:Zero:7 has the Whiteout and Borealis has the Yampa.  Along with new materials- there is a shift in rear spacing- with 190mm becoming pretty standard, allowing for the fattest tires currently available (4.8″ wide on a 100mm rim.) The carbon frames are using through-axles, so the actual spacing is 197mm (3.5mm extra is needed per side)  Felt even had an electric (albeit aluminum) concept bike there, called the FatE.



Broke out the calipers to measure tire width and it made a couple manufacturers nervous.  When I checked the Surly 4.8 Bud and Lou tires on a 100mm Clownshoe rim, they came out to 4.55, for whatever it’s worth.

The Fatback Corvus is available for pre-order HERE.  They didn’t have one available to ride, but this 3-D printed version was built for mock-up, and I’m feeling confident that it will be at least on par with the offerings from 9:Zero:7 and Borealis.  You may wonder why I’ve got such a boner for Fatback.  For one- they are in Alaska.  By in Alaska I mean- go to Speedway Cycles in Anchorage and talk to Greg, the owner.  They ride here, they tour here and they race here.  The changes these bikes see in them are due to the terrain and environment in Alaska.  Other fatbike builders have an “Alaska Connection.”  Maybe they started here, maybe they went to school here, they likely come back to visit.  Also- Fatback has their aluminum frames made in Oregon.  So there.


Felix found a bike he liked- the Santa Cruz Heckler.


Dirt Demo is much mellower than the inside show- fewer people and a much more relaxed feel- but it’s only two days.  So come Wednesday morning- it was off to the show.

I had bold plans to Strava my travels during the day to make some sort of “Blogger Battle” but the GPS signal didn’t work too hot in the basement of a massive hotel/casino.  Oh well.  On top of that- I wasn’t armed with a fancy camera like Felix had (he was the cameraman for the above shots)- I may have forgotten it in Seattle after an extremely late night of pizza and beer drinking with the rest of the GMG posse.  But I did have my phone- and since hey- I’m not a product photographer, I’m a blogger.  I’ll just tell you what I saw, show you some mediocre photos taken with an old iphone and you can look it up later.

Sometimes there are new products at the show that really impress me.  This year seemed to be the year of the fatbike- or the E-bike.  I don’t really know much about the E-bikes and though they are really getting better, I think they have a way to go to really gain a foothold in the younger US market.  Fatbikes, however- are the new fixed gear, it seems.  Bikes become less of a “niche” when companies like Kona, Salsa, Trek, Specialized, and even Motobecane have them.  They are popular for people that live near sand or snow, or just want a big ol’ whip to throw around and play on.  They are getting lighter, and for $1600 you can get some 85mm carbon rims that weigh 590grams (Currently in production/available for pre-order, and yes- that is $800 per RIM) from Borealis.  Also stay on the look out for some lightweight rims from Stan’s NoTubes in the spring.  It will be an aluminum 80mm rim weighing in at 487grams.  It should be available as a complete wheelset as well as the rim only.

For your fatbike rack- look no further than Old Man Mountain.  Handmade in Santa Barbara, CA.


Revelate Designs, based in Anchorage, AK can hook you up with outfitting your bike (fatbike or otherwise) with frame bags, pogies (handwarmers) and other bike luggage.

And there was some other, non-fatbike related stuff that was cool too.  Some of the stuff that really stuck out:

  • Feedback Sports has their Rakk Stand, the Velo Hinge (my favorite of their new stuff), the Velo Column and their Pro Truing Stand (which also has a disc brake rotor gauge.
  • Fyxation is gearing up fixed gears, by selling their SixFix.  It adds a derailleur and six speeds to your track end bike.  Now people are converting fixed gears!  It will come as a $300 kit including rear wheel, 6sp cassette, shifter and derailleur.
  • Blackburn is doing some cool things with a redesign on their racks, making some new lights (like the variable power, self adjusting Central Front Light), and is working with pannier security with their Interlock rack and bag combo.
  • Velo Orange has a new frame in the 29×2.1″ Camargue (named for an ancient French horse, known for it’s ruggedness.)  They’ve also got what their calling “Crazy Bars”  a 22.2 handlebar with 23.8 horns.  They’re making a Grand Cru front bar bag– $200 and made in Baltimore.  Also digging the Pass Hunter– basically a rando with cantis.
  • Smith is doing good things in the helmet department with the Forefront.  Available in 11 colors (Wow.) it should be available in March and retail for $220.  It uses Aerocore® design, made with Koroyd™.  Lightweight, “30% more impact resistant than EPS, it’s lightweight- has an optional light/camera mount, is goggle compatible, washable, antimicrobial, their “performance glasses fit nicely in a groove above the visor (which is removeable.) The material is pretty cool, it looks like a bunch of straws glued together, allow for good ventilation.
  • Gripstuds makes screw in studs for the DIY’er.  Not a bad (or cheap) option for those that want to customize their tires, shoes, whatever.  They’re about $1 per stud, but really, you don’t need a whole lot, and they are carbide, and much lighter than making your own studded tires with screws.
  • Swrve makes awesome stuff.  They’ve been making lots of things in the US, but it seems like some production is moving elsewhere…  Check out the new Durable Cotton Trousers, and a beautiful Selvage Denim Work Apron.
  • Slip Not Chains seem a good idea if you don’t want to commit to studs and would be better in snow (but probably not as effective as studs on ice)
  • Brooks had some cool stuff like their Cambridge Rain Cape ($160,) Their VEGAN Cambium Saddles and the Brooks MT21 ($70)
  • Lezyne had a couple new things- notably, the new Digital Floor Drive pumps.  What I like about Lezyne is that their tools are designed to be rebuilt when broken, not thrown away.  Even the new digital display will be backwards compatible with their Floor Drives- if you’d rather look at a digital display- swap it out.  Also cool is their Porta Shop tool kit.
  • King Cage.  Titanium and Stainless bits for carrying liquids and things on your bike.  They had a really cool handlebar flask that has two shot glasses onboard.  It’s in production.  They’ve also got the bar bell- a bell that’s a shot glass.  Ron at King Cage might even drink more than I do…

image[4]I think that about wraps it up.  I made it through another Interbike.  Next year I really hope to get Greg and Bryan down to help cover it.  I also need to bring a stunt liver.

Whether you love it or hate it, Interbike does something for the bike world.  It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times.  I see people I like and people I don’t- because after all “Just because we both ride bikes, doesn’t mean we’re friends.”

Bicycle, Gear

The skinny on fat bikes

After a recent trip through Anchorage and Cordova while pondering  the possibility of moving back to Alaska, I’ve had visions of fat bikes rolling through my head. Sure.  They aren’t for everybody.  Maybe you refuse to put your bike away for the winter and love riding on softer snow- or maybe you like long rides on sandy beaches-  if that sounds like fun, then you might be in the market for a fatbike.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love my studded tires- they are nice on ice and hardpack conditions, but when it comes to softer snow- getting a tire over 3.5″ wide really helps float you.  Riding in winter in Alaska, I’ve wound up hub or even bars deep while riding down a hill and finding a soft spot in the snow.  Though exciting, and probably comical to watch- it really isn’t that awesome to get a face full of snow when just riding along.

Fatbikes are growing in popularity- especially in harsher climates, with Alaska definitely being one of them.  Events like the Iditarod Invitational, the Susitna 100 and the Frosty Bottom are wintertime fixtures in the last frontier and there are similar events taking place all over North America for those brave or stupid enough to keep riding all year long. Surly has expanded their family of fatbikes since the inception of the Pugsley.  They now offer the Moonlander and the Neck Romancer Pug.  Salsa offers the Mukluk. And now you can get a 9:ZERO:7.  Even a ti version!


The big shift in the fatbike world most recently is the introduction of the 170mm rear spacing- splitting off from the traditional 135 spacing.  Proponents say that it allows for a stronger wheel with no offset.  It also helps with keeping a clean chainline.  A bonus is that it becomes easier to build a summer set of wheels (the outside diameter is comparable to a 29er) With a summer set of wheels- it opens up the seasons that the bike is enjoyable to ride in.  While the 9:ZERO:7 is available in both widths, the Surly is sticking with 135mm and Salsa is available with the 170mm. There are a number of tires available for fat bikes, Surly seeming to offer the lion’s share.  Another company that is offering more for the winter set is 45NRTH.  There isn’t currently a studded offering for fatbikes, mainly because fatbikes don’t excel on ice.  I hope to see a set of chains surface in the future, as some snow conditions might be traveled better with a pair on hand.  But maybe not.

I’d love to review one of these bikes, and the amount of snow falling in Cordova right now has me wishing I was there with one right now.

In similar news, I got wind about this adventure on the Facebook- and though the Hanebrink bike look a little funny- props to Helen Skelton for giving it a go.

 See more on Helen’s Polar Challenger HERE