Interbike is a show in transition. Ten years ago, I would look at bikes on the floor and wonder how they rode. Today, I don’t see nearly as many bikes on the show floor and of those I do, by the time I see them, I’ve probably had the chance to ride them earlier in the week.
As a result, I’ve come to think of the Interbike show floor as the location for checking out everything that isn’t a bike. And even without checking out bikes, three days of Interbike isn’t quite enough to see everything that’s interesting.
What follows is a list of my favorite things I saw, those items that I’m likely to buy with my own hard-earned dollars.
Classiest Bag—Brooks. If there’s one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that the folks at Brooks know leather. They know leather like Mick Jagger knows strutting. Cycling is full of great, functional bags and many of them are highly stylish. But how many of them would you be willing to walk into a business meeting with? Brooks showed off several bags that were of such exquisite taste that the people at Coach would do well to be concerned. Oh, and that sneaker? It is a co-production with Vans. The tongue features a skull embossed into the leather.
Best Cockpit—Ritchey Design. Ritchey has now added a new color to their wet color series for bar, stem and seatpost. Wet white and wet black were cool, gorgeous even, but the wet red has the gloss of a femme fatale’s lipstick. Unless you spend your time staring at your stem, it should prove to be significantly less dangerous than said femme fatale. And while I can’t swear it, the shade of red appears to be such that it will go with the red on a great many bikes out there. This will definitely pop on a bike.
Most Exciting New Wheel—Zipp 808 Clincher. From Firecrest to Zed Tech, the 808 clincher includes every technology Zipp is known for. Said to be surprisingly stable in a cross-wind and easy to change tires, it might be the fastest non-disc wheel on the market, and still super user-friendly. There’s not a wheel I’m more excited to ride. By my math, I should be able to double the length of my pulls at the front of the pack, which would be an increase of, like, three or four seconds.
Best Retro Product—Assos. The Heritage Collection is a set of three jerseys and caps from Assos that reintroduces old designs they produced back in the day. They include the Italian National Team, Renault Elf and this gorgeous Coop/Cycles Mercier. Each jersey/cap set comes in a box you’ll spend hours examining for all the old photos that decorate it. Tell your wife this is the perfect companion piece for that Super Record-equipped bike in the garage, whether you have one or not.
Greenest Product—Sci Con Messenger Bag. This messenger bag features a solar panel that is powerful enough to charge your phone. Included with the bag is the charger unit with transformer and then adapter plugs for each of the 16 million different connectors that cell phones use. You needn’t be outside in bright sun delivering packages on Park Ave. for it to work, either; then ambient light of an office is enough to generate current and charge it.
Best New TT Group—FSA has taken another important step toward having a real road group with the Vision triathlon drivetrain. The Vision Metron shifter is the lynch-pin of the group. Pull the trigger and it downshifts the rear derailleur and upshifts the front derailleur. Push down the top of the shifter and it shifts the other direction. The carbon fiber rear derailleur is surprisingly stiff and amazingly light. As FSA already produces cranks and brakes, all it needs now is an integrated brake/shift lever to transition to the road. One wonders, though, just how many triathletes will downshift when they meant to brake.
Best Stickers (by far)—Ritte van Vlaanderen. No trip to the show is complete without scoring stickers. However, not all stickers are created equal. Some stickers are more equal, to bogart a line from Orwell. Not only were the Ritte stickers uniformly funny, they offered more variety than anyone else. My personal fave: Only PROs get saddle sores like these. Agreed.