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Andy the Mechanic Inspects Interbike Show
By Andy Wallen
This story appeared originally in the Wheeling Area Bicycle Club Newsletter.
My wife, Cindy, and I recently attended the
1996 Interbike East Coast Trade Show in Philadelphia held October
26-28. This year's event had on hand approximately 290 exhibitors
and around 7000 bike shop people, buyers, and celebrities. The
warm weather on Saturday kept many local bike dealers in the
stores, so we had a good opportunity to look things over without
Sunday's huge crowd.
We had the pleasure of meeting Gary Fisher, who was busy signing autographs and chatting with bike industry folks. Gary is kind of eccentric, but he's the kind of guy you can talk to. We also got autographs from Allison Sydor (Olympic mountain bike silver medalist), and Brian Lopes (NCS downhill and dual slalom champion).
But the products, not the people, are what
Interbike is all about.
And there was a lot of new stuff to take in. I
didn't notice as many ridiculous products this year. Usually,
there's some guy with some bizarre device, and he's convinced
that the cycling world can't live without it. You look at this
gizmo and think to yourself, "just what the heck is this
thing?" A good example would be the acrobar chest cushions
that were so popular last year.
As usual, there were plenty of high dollar
bikes to see. Klein displayed a sub-
16-pound $8000 road bike, and I didn't check the price of the Giant monocoque bikes with the carbon fiber spokes. The big trend now seems to be the huge, expensive long travel fork. Ranging in price from $700 to about $1800, these puppies can have up to four inches of usable travel and look very much like they belong on motorcycles. It seems that the hardcore downhill crowd wants that big travel, regardless of the increased weight and price.
More Practical Stuff
As I wandered through the maze of high-tech gee-whiz stuff, it occurred to me that most of it was totally irrelevant. I mean, as much as I'd like to have a bunch of $8000 bikes in my store, most people, even really avid bikers, tend to draw the line at $1000. Most people aren't going to spend over $300 for a suspension upgrade. So, I started to focus on stuff that people could afford, and stuff that would make their cycling more enjoyable.
Topping my list of stuff that makes sense is the Shimano Nexus hub. To appreciate the hub, you have to buy a bike equipped with it. The Inter 7 hub allows the rider to have a decent range of gears on a coaster brake bicycle---as simple as riding a single speed cruiser, but capable of climbing an occasional hill. Nexus-equipped bikes start at around $450.
I was also impressed by a product called Spin Skins. This is a kevlar tire liner that only weighs 34 grams. I almost always use a Mr. Tuffy, which works well but weighs over 3 times as much. The Spin Skins are also designed to stay flat at the ends, which can be a problem with other brands.
If you are a goo user, Clif Bar Shot is
a very nice product. This gel comes in a tube (like toothpaste)
and you get two doses in a tube for about the same price as a
dose in a foil pack. It's easier to use and disposal is easier.
There is now a plethora of V-brake copies, and they are very
reasonably priced. Machine Tech is the best looking at about $70
I could go on and on but I won't. There is a lot of great new bike stuff for 1997 and, for the most part, the 1997 bikes are a better value than ever.
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