Gravel - Cycle Oregon

Interbike report: Mad scientists and independent inventors

Posted by on September 30th, 2009 at 2:41 pm

[BikePortland managing editor Elly Blue is back from Interbike, but she’s still going through mountains of notes and photos. Below is a report about some of the smaller fry she came across on the show floor — quirky inventions and scrappy startups. See the rest of our Interbike coverage here.]


The “SEE ME” light-up belt.
(Photos © Elly Blue)

At Interbike, big bike companies rule the day with huge booths in the center of the giant convention floor. As you approach the outskirts, the companies become smaller and funkier — until finally, on the outer edges and tucked into odd corners, the lone, independent creative souls have set up small booths with their life savings on display in the form of the big idea they’re working to bring into fruition.

These small set-ups were some of my favorite booths.

Third Eye mirror

The Third Eye Mirror

A lone ranger off on one margin of the floor was hawking his Third Eye Mirrors. You glue a little mirror to the inside of your glasses and voila, you can see what’s coming up behind you.

Next door was the maker of the “SEE ME” belt-mounted “safety visibility device” lights up with text that sends a clear signal to anyone at night who might not have gotten the memo that you’re out there riding on the road. It was developed for cycling the sometimes harrowing streets of Boston; another text option reads “POLICE,” which strikes me as potentially far more effective. Both are made of LED lights built onto a utilitarian circuitboard, with an ill-fitting waterproof pouch and a belt, and run $120 online.

interbike 2009

The Freeload MTB rack, from NZ

The Freeload is a mountain bike rack that was launched at Interbike this year, and attended by its co-inventor Tim Armstrong. Based in New Zealand, the company makes racks that attach to mountain bikes with straps that adjust to fit any size suspension. The design is particularly inspired by the needs of bike tourers.

There were enough booths (around 800) that I didn’t get to see nearly everything I hoped to. These folks contacted me a bit late — they make rack-mounted roller generators for charging your portable electronics while you ride — they look pretty cool and produce a lot of juice.

interbike 2009

IT Clips in action

Another neat startup on the floor was the IT Clips booth. These guys have added a twist on the tried-and-true trick of using old, broken bike tubes as tie-downs — a plastic gizmo that you attach to the end of each tube. You can just use the plastic bits to make a belt that clips together, or add the metal hook that’s included to create a bungie.

I also saw, on different ends of the floor, two different systems for mounting a hydration tube to your handlebars — one from a water bottle cage, and one from a bulbous, teardrop shaped canister behind the seat.

interbike 2009

The BikErgo seat.

This guy’s invention was certainly one of the most eye-catching. Standing next to his tree of his colorful BikErgo bicycle seats, he invited passersby to squeeze the seat mounted to a city bike. “Women love this seat!” was his refrain.

And finally, not quite in the same vein, but if you’re interested in shiny things, you might just be interested in plastic skull blinkies and powder coated spokes.

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  • Nick V September 30, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    I wonder if wearing those “POLICE” letters is street legal. One look at me would surely prove that I’m not the real thing. “SEE ME” would seem to be the equivalent of a big blinking bull’s eye.

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  • hanmade September 30, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Maybe “I’m armed!” would be more effective 🙂

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  • Coe September 30, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    That bike generator looks cool. I’ve been waiting for something practical like this.

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  • Scott September 30, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    What about the motorized unicycle? That’s serious inventiveness there.
    I love the crazy corner of Interbike.

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  • Joe September 30, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    packing heat back-off!

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  • Jaxrolo October 1, 2009 at 4:01 am

    One of my cycling buddies has a freeloader bike rack. He seems to be very happy with it.

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  • rev October 2, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    huh, if i go to Bikes & Beyond in Astoria I can get some IT Clips…

    and where is the speed vest?

    screw just being seen!

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  • Paul Tay October 3, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    No Lawnmower Bob?

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