James Buckroyd is a professional product designer who happens to be addicted to cycling and is always seeking out the perfect route and the perfect piece of gear. He blogs at BuckyRides.com. His last review was Chrome’s Hondo backpack.
Last week I headed to Interbike Vegas 2017, where cycling industry veterans gathered to show off the latest trends and technology in cycling. The first two days of Interbike were the “Outdoor Demo,” where cycling industry pros get to view and ride new bicycles, followed by three days of trade show. With three exhibition halls full of gear, Interbike gives you a glimpse of the future.
“Smart” becomes integrated
The influx of smart technologies is finally surfacing in the bicycle world, from integrated GPS on e-bikes to speakerphones in helmets. Electronic technologies are blurring the lines between accessories and finding themselves in new products and previously mechanical-only items.
Electricity opens the door for more riders
E-bikes, e-bikes and more e-bikes. For those deep in the cycling world, the mention of motors on a bike can be controversial and start a passionate discussion, whether in regard racing or bike lane etiquette. Without being political, I can say the amount of diversity in e-bikes this year has exploded: Mountain, road, commuter, commuter drop bar, cruiser, folding and cargo bikes. There are more consumer options from the lower price points to $10,000 luxury urban transportation, catering to a wide range of categories with technology platforms from Bosch, Yamaha and Shimano.
Safety is king
In years past, the speedy lines of high end road bikes and the new geometries of mountain bikes led the way. Now, safety is king and accessories that provide safety and visibility are growing – from turn indicators built into helmets to GPS safe traffic routing. The bike light market is moving into the equivalent of the auto industries daytime running lights and hi viz is a staple in apparel lines. As an industry priority, safety is here to stay and technological developments only push things forward.
The area of new exhibitors revealed helmet maker Annee London. The new helmet design is made from dense fabric material, which folds like a candy wrapper down to the size of an ipad mini. Pretty cool in itself. The material is said to have a 6-7 year life and have a much higher impact absorption than regular helmets. The innovation was inspired by personal empathy and while what you see here are development prototypes, I cannot wait to see if this starts any sparks in the industry.
Ever wrecked your bikes by running them into the top of your garage? If it hasn’t happened to you, you probably know someone who has and the damage to the bikes and the car are not minor. Raacked decided to take this on with some gadget wizardry. An ultrasonic sensor mounted on your roof rack measures proximity and when it senses an obstacle it wirelessly triggers a warning system on the inside your car. $125 to prevent thousands in damage–that’s an easy one in my mind. Raacked is aiming to go to market at approx. $125 a unit in the early 2018 timeframe, and is looking to bring a kickstarter to life soon: www.raacked.com.
Speaking of e-bikes, Stromer, a well known brand, had a couple of special editions with an impressive list of features: The LTD ST2 (only 555 of which will be made globally) and the top of the line ST2S. Stromer make the flagship of e-bikes and these come at flagship prices, $7,999 and $9,999. Packed full of tech, the Swiss have thought out every detail on this rear-wheel-drive e-bike. GPS tracking, remote bike locking, theft motor disablement, electronic diagnostics, 110 mile range, integrated smart lighting, variable brake lighting and get this -regenerative electricity to charge the battery while going down hills (how much charge would you get out of Thompson/ Cornell from skyline?). All this comes in a stylish package built with the quality of a German car.
SKS launched a line of clever lighting products integrated to stem and rear fender called Monkey Link. As well as being highly visible and stylish, the products include a powerful assisted magnetic snap attachment for easy on and off, and also internal wiring integration (called connect) is provided for e-bikes. Rear fender lights are $29 to $35, front lights from $59 to $99.
Tim from Kool Stop, based in Lake Oswego, brought a few new products to the show, including e-bike specific brake pads and revised compounds on their classic orange/black combination pads.
Being a huge cat fan, Meghan from Nutcase Helmets in Portland was really excited to tell us about the great success of the quirky “Space Cats.” This irreverent yet adorable design seems to appeal to a lot of people.
Also for 2017/2018 from Nutcase: a new color palette for the Tracer helmet line, whose minimal modern looks have a lot of appeal to various types of riders from the commuter to the mountain biker. On the arty side, Nutcase is currently looking for new entrants in their Artist series, which encourages submissions of designs for helmets.
Joel from Lake Oswego-based Yakima Racks really wanted to talk about a nifty new product to make life a little easier. Anyone with a hitch knows that it can really get in the way when accessing other gear in the car or truck. The BackSwing ($299, available April 2018) allows you to swing out any hitch rack (tray or mast style) – well out of the way even with bikes loaded, extending out and rotating the rack 90 degrees. This means getting gear in the back of the car and carrying bikes has never been quicker, easier and less bruises on your ankles. It’s a slick little mod that can also retrofit a lot of existing hitch mounted racks rated to 250lbs.
Yakima also announced a special edition Camo Skyrise tent colab with Poler available for the holiday season.
Made in The USA
Phil Wood came out with a new rear hub system, the 2nd generation consisting of 5 double row pawls and a 40 engagement points on the ratchet ring, for better faster power transfer. The new design also has the advantage of easy servicing with common tools and replaceable pawls. Phil also launched this cute mini hub for Bromton wheels plus a 1 1/8 to 1.5″ headset.
— James Buckroyd, @jbucky1 on Twitter
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Hello, Im a designer and passionate cyclist.
I run my own design company – JDBDESIGN – www.jdbdesign.co and I channel my product design knowledge into my reviews.
I ride bikes a lot, mainly commuting, road and gravel rides. I also document bike stuff at www.buckyrides.com