Interbike Wrap-Up

A few weeks ago we covered our big trends and favorite new gear from Eurobike, the world’s biggest cycling trade show, but this week we’re turning our focus to Interbike, the huge North American cycling trade show that takes place every year in the bright lights and high heat of Las Vegas, Nevada. Despite the distractions of Sin City, we were focused on bikes and cycling gear – read on below for a few highlights from our week in the desert.

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Las Vegas Strip by night

1. One of the coolest parts of Interbike is getting to test-ride new bikes on the dusty trails at Bootleg Canyon, so this year we took the opportunity to take a few 27.5″ trail bikes out for a spin. Our verdict? This in-between wheel size can definitely be a lot of fun – being a bit larger means that they roll over obstacles easier than a 26″ bike, while at the same time being more nimble and maneuverable than a 29″ bike. 2 of our test-ride favorites came from our friends at GT and Breezer – these guys know mountain bikes, and it shows. GT has 2 brand new 27.5″ platforms for 2014, the 130mm Sensor and the 150mm Force, both of which feature their Angle Optimized Suspension design. Breezer is back in the full-suspension mountain bike game in a big way with their brand new Repack model, which is built around an innovative MLink suspension design that pivots around a link midway down the chainstay.

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We actually got the chance to talk to Joe Breeze about the Repack later in the week and found out more about the history of the iconic Repack name and about how the 160mm of travel plus the MLink suspension technology is designed to create an all-mountain riding machine, with snappy handling and stability on the downhills:

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2. Also at OutDoor Demo, our eyes were drawn to a gorgeous fleet of custom frames outfitted with top end Easton Cycling bars, stems, seatposts and their brand new EC90 Aero 55 wheels. It turns out that Easton is giving away these hand built road bike beauties (from Caletti Cycles, Calfee Design, Black Cat, Hunter and Rock Lobster) in their Dream Bike Charity Raffle. Each of the next 5 months Easton is raffling off one of these custom bikes to support the charity of the frame-builder’s choice – you can purchase multiple $5 raffle tickets to increase your chances of winning and 100% of the proceeds from each raffle will go to the charity (although no purchase is necessary to enter). We were lucky enough to test ride the Calfee and Rock Lobster bikes, and we can say that you won’t be disappointed if you win either one!

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This month you still have a chance to win a Calfee Manta (although Calfee will build any size/model frame the winner prefers) –  a wild “race platform” road bike that leverages a patented, active suspension system at the rear wheel. The design enhances traction, power transmission and comfort to increase rider performance – plus the bike just looks amazing. All proceeds from this raffle go to Cyclists for Cultural Exchange – you can enter on the Easton Cycling Facebook page by September 30 and the winner will be selected randomly on October 1, 2013. Dain from Easton told us more about the Dream Bike Charity Raffle at OutDoor Demo:

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3. Fat bikes were also a big presence at Interbike this year, no pun intended (OK, maybe a little one). These big-wheeled bikes were cropping up all over the show floor, along with the accessories to go with them. Of note was the 21 pound all carbon fat bike from Borealis, along with tubeless rim systems from HED (in carbon) and Stan’s NoTubes – with this kind of technology, you might start seeing fat bikes regularly on your local trails soon.

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4. It’s hard to sum up the rest of Interbike this year – there was development on the technical front with hydraulic disc brake systems for road bikes becoming a common sight, from both Shimano and SRAM, but much of the other developments were tweaks and improvements to existing gear. New all-mountain style helmets were on display from Bern, Bell and Smith Optics (they of the interesting Forefront model). More high-viz colors cropped up throughout the show style-wise, but camo and earth-tone colors were common as well. Most of the wheel manufacturers had refined hubs or rims, with new gear from Easton, Reynolds and Zipp on display, among others. These weren’t dramatic changes, but they were evolutionary changes that promise improved performance and durability. All in all it was an Interbike without any real big surprises (once you got beyond road hydraulic brakes and 11 speeds as original equipment, but most of you have seen those by now) – but maybe that’s a good thing.

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As always, you can find all of our photos from Interbike in a gallery on our Facebook page.

Real Advice: An Intro to Climbing

climbing_3Real Advice is a new series here on our blog. To answer some of the questions we get from customers, we’re turning to the employees here at our home office for some answers. Just like anyone else, they need to balance time on the bike with full time jobs and families. Over the years they’ve gotten pretty good at getting the most out of their rides. Let us know what you think in the comments.

This week we asked Robert, one of our copywriters and dedicated lover of the road ride, to give us some tips on how to get better at climbing.

climbing_brianI learned a hard lesson about climbing a few years ago after moving to North Carolina from a certain Midwestern city known for ferocious winds and two-dimensional topography. I thought I was in pretty good shape—until I decided to join the Thursday night group ride my first week of work at Performance Bicycle. I doubt I had actually ridden a bicycle up a hill before (unless bridges count), but I didn’t think it could be too hard. After 5 miles of rolling hills, I was utterly exhausted, and had long since been dropped. My ego was deflated, but thankfully there’s nothing like a reality check to get you motivated. Here are some of the tips and tricks I used to improve my climbing:

  1. PRACTICE. This seems obvious, but there are no silver bullets here. The only way to get better is to go out and find hills to ride up. Don’t overdo it, but adding challenging vertical mileage to your rides will do wonders.
  2. BUDDY RIDES. After my embarrassment on the group ride, I found a strong climber at the office and rode with him a few times a week. It was painful, but forcing myself to match his faster pace helped me make huge gains in a short amount of time.
  3. YOUR FRONT DERAILLEUR. Use it. You’re not going to impress anybody by big-ringing it up the local hardman hill, and you may even hurt yourself. If you find yourself struggling and out of the saddle from the start of the climb, you need to get into the habit of shifting to the little ring sooner. Since it’s almost impossible to shift the front derailleur once you’re actually climbing, it’s better to shift five minutes too early than five seconds too late.
  4. STANDING vs. SITTING. This one is divisive, but it honestly depends on the type of climb. If the climb is, say, 2 miles at a 6% grade, you’re better off staying in the saddle and pedaling at a higher cadence. If it’s a short, steep climb you can probably just stand up and stomp on the pedals to power up it. In general standing makes you work harder than sitting and pedaling at a higher cadence. If you do need to stand, make sure to shift to a harder gear to compensate for the extra force on the pedals.
  5. RELAX. Climbing is hard, but we subconsciously make it harder than it needs to be. Next time you head uphill, pay attention to your upper body. I bet you’re clenching your abs, tensing your shoulders and white knuckling your handlebars. All this saps your energy and makes it harder to breath. Next time, try to keep things loose and relaxed, control your breathing, and let your legs do the work.
  6. EQUIPMENT. Yes, nothing can really take the place of saddle time—but there are some equipment upgrades that can make climbing a little easier. If you’re really struggling on the hills, consider changing your cassette to a 12-28T, or switching to a compact crankset—both of which can make things a little easier. But the most important upgrade you can make for climbing is your wheelset. Wheels add both raw weight and rotational weight to your bike, making climbing more difficult. Finding a good pair of lightweight wheels is a very personal matter, and much can depend on budget and personal preference, but here are some of my favorites.

Race Day: Zipp 202 Firecrest Carbon Tubulars

Training Ride: Easton EA90 LTD Road Clinchers

Workhorse:  FSA Gossamer Road Clinchers

If you already have a pair of wheels you love but still want to go lighter, then take a look at your cranks, seatpost or saddle. There are many places on a bicycle where grams can hide. For more ideas on how to improve your performance or shave some weight from the bike, check out the “Upgrade Yourself” article in the Performance Bicycle Learning Center.

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