Interbike was a bit smaller this year, with many of the industry’s biggest companies conspicuously absent. The show was also somewhat lacking in blockbuster new products – for many companies, it was a year of refinement and small tweaks, rather than a year to roll out big new products.
But when you put 20,000 bike nerds under one roof, there’s bound to be something interesting in there. Here’s a few trends and products that caught our eye. For a rundown on some of the best and worst products at the show, as well as the best tacos in Vegas, check out the podcast we just recorded from the showroom floor.
For years, most companies’ helmets looked pretty similar – a chunk of expanded polystyrene with some holes molded into it. The biggest defining difference was often just the color.
That’s been incrementally changing over the last few years, and this was the first time that it really seemed like most of the helmet manufacturers were pushing new and innovative technologies to improve safety.
Lots of companies are using MIPS (for those unfamiliar, check out our recent MIPS trail helmet roundup).There’s something like 90 new helmets using Mips, and that’s just at Interbike.
There’s also quite a few companies that are incorporating features that have the same intended effect as MIPS (reducing injuries associated with rotational impacts), but going about it in a different way. Leatt is using their 360° Turbine technology, and Kali has something they’re calling LDL (low density layer) – both use a soft bit of material that sits directly on your head and that can wiggle in any direction. According to Leatt and Kali, those materials not only help with rotational impacts, but also with direct hits.
There’s also companies like 6D, which take a system like Leatt’s and Kali’s to the next level. Their helmets have to separate layers of EPS foam, connected by rubbery pillars. This is essentially a helmet within a helmet, and allows the outer layer to twist and move separately from the inner layer.
And on a different front, both Leatt and Giro were showing their new convertible helmets. Leatt’s DBX 3.0 Enduro has an easily removable chin bar, and once removed, the helmet is essentially identical to the “normal” DBX 3.0 – it looks like a traditional half shell.
Giro’s Switchblade is a different affair, and it quite a bit burlier. With the chin bar removed, the helmet still offers quite a bit more protection than most half shells (but would likely be hotter. Notably though, the Swtichblade gets a full DH rating, means the chin bar gets the same certification as any non-convertible full face helmet.
Aside from the fact that everyone and their mother seems to be releasing a new dropper post this year, I was more interested to hear that 9point8’s 200 mm dropper is actually in production and available now. Plenty of people don’t have the need (or the inseam) to run that post, but for taller guys, that post seems like a great option, and to the best of my knowledge, it’s the only 200 mm post on the market.
And 9point8 also has the shorter people covered – their posts can be incrementally reduced in travel. So if a 150 mm (or a 125, or a 10 mm0) post is just a little too long for you, the post’s drop can be internally reduced to make it perfect.
The other less exciting, but still noteworthy improvement is that the Rockshox Reverb has been revised (again), to address durability issues. The Reverb is one of the most common dropper posts on the market, and an unhealthy number of them have had issues with sucking air into the hydraulics. Reverbs with gold “Rockshox” lettering immediately under the seat clamp head are the newly revised version, which not only is better at keeping air out of the oil, but is better at getting rid of the air in the event that it still works it’s way in there.
A New Drivetrain
Box Components has been showing prototypes of their drivetrain for a couple years now, but they’re finally going into production. They had a clean demo of their 11 speed offering at the show, which uses an 11-46 tooth cassette and their unique single paddle shifter.
The shifter works like a Sram or Shimano on the downshifts, but the paddle gets clicked roughly parallel to the bar for upshifts. It’s a bit unusual at first, but with a bit of getting used to, it seems like it could be an attractive option.
The derailleur isn’t groundbreaking, but it has a couple of slick features. First, a progressive clutch increases resistance the farther it swings into its travel. This should minimize the interference with suspension movement that can sometimes be felt with Sram clutched derailleur, and it should also make the action at the shift lever a bit lighter. The derailleur also has a slick cable attachment point that folds out of the way on impact, which falls squarely into the “why didn’t I think of that?!” category.
Specialized turned some heads earlier this summer by releasing their new Enduro with 2.6” tires mounted up, and in what should come as no surprise, companies like Maxxis are now offering 2.6” tires as well in the Forekaster and Rekon tread patterns. They’re also offering DHF and DHR II’s in a 2.8”, and the Highroller II in a 3.0.
Maxxis was also showing some new skinwall options, including the DHF. The tire is functionally identical to the blackwall version – it just looks different.
And speaking of Maxxis tires, here’s two pictures of Aaron Gwin’s bikes (there were a few of them on the floor). Notice any differences?
Bike #1 is at the TRP booth and is mounted up with blacked out Maxxis tires. Bike #2 is at the Onza booth and is mounted up with an Onza tire (that doesn’t have any markings other than “Onza”)
The Onza still didn’t appear to be quite ready for production, but it’s a great looking tread pattern.
There were quite a few companies dropping thinly veiled hints that new and interesting stuff will be coming out in the spring. It’s starting to look like most companies are aiming to release their new products at events like Rotorua and Sea Otter. If you just can’t contain your excitement and need something to hold you over, we’ll be putting up mini-reviews of 7 bikes we rode at Interbike’s outdoor demo. We also have the Interbike podcast, brought to you directly from the show’s very noisy floor where we talk about some interesting products, Cross Vegas, and the best tacos on the Las Vegas Strip.