Posted by Elly Blue (Columnist) 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.]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Elly Blue has been writing about bicycling and carfree issues for BikePortland.org since 2006. Find her at http://takingthelane.com