A Wired Interbike

DA Crank of awesome

Hollowtech

The feature I wrote for Wired about Interbike was published yesterday in their Playbook section. Wired’s editors chose 15 photos from the hundreds I shot and I’ve uploaded the rest of the best to G+ and Flickr. Of those, Shimano’s new crank filled with carbon nougat was remarkable for its industrial design.

filled with carbon nugget

Filled with carbon nugget

I also confirmed, for reals, that Hed is making carbon clinchers and the best looking wheel from them yet.

geart

Carbon clinchers from Hed

This show was about updated, new and improved products. I noticed the same trend at other events this year. The industry’s focus on design was summed up well by Josh Hon, CEO of Tern Bicycles, who told me.

“It takes the same manufacturing process to make a crappy product as a good one.

The industry is spending more time up front with their design to make “ever-improving gear.”

3T Tornova and the Return of the Round

The roadbike’s dropbar shape is like a creme brulee……you can add all kinds of extra ingredients but nothing beats classic simplicity in the end. The elegant, constant curves of the classic dropbar (what was once called a “Maes” style) are the harmonious combination of post-WWII manufacturing techniques and rider function, but it was inevitable that companies would corrupt it in the quest to set themselves apart in the marketplace. Starting in the 80s with brands like Modolo, the “ergo” or “anatomic” styles, with a straightened section on the hook similar to a pistol grip, became predominant on OEM bikes. The 3ttt “Forma” added a subtle compound curve to the hook, which Ritchey exaggerated in their “Bio-Max” series. And then all manner of stupid designs appeared. What was amazing was that some of the designs targeted towards people with small hands and in particular women by having a short reach and drop actually had the worst access to the lever when actually using the drops.

3T Tornova LTD

Through it all, the Euro professional riders tended to stick with more traditionally round handlebars with moderate reach of around 80-100mm (longer reach dropbars like the Atax Philippe Professional having faded from popularity after the 1970s). Broadly speaking, handlebars are frequently described as shallow drop “Italian” (eg. Cinelli #64 Giro d’Italia, 3ttt Tour de France) or deep drop “Belgian” (eg Cinelli #66, 3ttt Merckx).

In the last 5-6 years, the “compact” style handlebar has come to largely dominate the road scene for both OEM and premium aftermarket. The hook does not have a simple curve nor a flattened ergo grip, rather a compact bend has something roughly halfway between where the curve’s radius continuously increases until the hook smoothly transitions into the drop. The ramp, or portion of the bar behind the hook, is usually angle rather shallow compared to older designs. Since the top of the hook begins with a very small radius, the newest style integrated levers can mount to the bar in a way that the levers’ hoods and the bars tops form a continuous level grip. Though the reach to the lever from the drop is still less than a traditional, round bend, the issue is largely negated by the fact that current SRAM and Shimano integrated levers have adjustable lever reach. So finally the ultimate handlebar has been acheived and everyone lived happily ever after…except there remains a demand for an unadulterated round dropbar.

On the Strip: Gotta Keep a Nice Whip

More photos from our Mobile Social Interbike last week.

More MoSo

A peloton that’s a couple blocks long

Cruisers too

Cruisers too

Freeride

Free ride

Well lit

Lit up like a xmas tree

Tat

Tern tat

Photos: Josh Hon and see more on G+ and Flickr.

On Interbike TV with the Spokesmen

so I joined the Fredcast Spokesmen crew for two webcasts from the Interbike show floor last week.

What I remember from the first one was that Jim Moss wrote us the best-ever event release. In the second episode, it was how Bike Shop Girl smells like finely milled French soap. I was expecting an air of bike grease, citrus cleaner, and rubber, but she had an impressive eau de toilette.


Also mentioned are Vittoria Shoes, the Turtle Box, my concerns about Guru Cycles, and more.

Seen at Interbike: Hutchinson Tubulars

Tubulars

Toro CX

Tucked these tubulars away in a suitcase after meeting with Hutchison Tire at Interbike last week. They’re seen here outside the shop were Mark V has them stretching on a rim and ready to glue up. Note the treads and most importantly, a rubberized sidewall. For where we ride, that’s mandatory. Exposed cotton sidewalls you have to treat with tent sealant just doesn’t seem right to me, here in a region where it rains so much. We’re running Tufos, a couple Challenges, and now these too.

Hutchinson brought them back to the States after a long absence and good. We need more choices and they feel like a fine pair of Italian shoes in your hand (if made of rubber).

Considering how massive Hutchinson is, as a company, these were made cause a product manager also wanted better CX tires in the States. Check with your LBS for availabilty. The MSRP is 119.99.

Hutchinson is in the sport, cause they love it. Like you and me.

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