Interbike 2012 Wrap-up: Part 1

Every year, the North American cycling world gathers in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the annual Interbike trade show. This year we were there to check out the latest gear and cycling trends, and these are a few of the most interesting things we saw. Check out our photo album on Facebook for even more shots from the show.

SRAM: the Chicago-based drivetrain experts had a huge booth and tons of new gear on display. On the mountain bike side, we were excited to check out the new XX1 system in person. Designed around 1 chainring in front: 

And a whopping 11 speeds in the rear cassette, new XX1 promises to be a simpler, more durable and lighter setup for a range of riders:

And for those that are nostalgic for SRAM’s first product, there is also the return of GripShift, this time with high-end and smooth turning ball bearing internals:

On the road side, SRAM has expanded their lineup of WiFli extended range gearing to include SRAM Red, Force and Apex groups – with up to 11-32 cassettes, these 2×10 systems actually offer a wider range of gearing than most triple setups:

 Shimano: Not to be outdone by their American rivals, Shimano was busy showing off their updated top-of-the-line Dura-Ace 9000 series road group. Beyond refinements to the clean aesthetics, the big news is that Dura-Ace now goes to 11 speeds in the back:

Other updates include improved ergonomics on the STI shifters, dual-bolt brakes, and a lengthened lever arm on the front derailleur:

Another interesting change, from both a design and practicality standpoint, is the new 4-arm crankset, which allows for the use of compact or standard chainrings on the same spider:

Dura-Ace Di2 has also been tweaked, incorporating advances made with the Ultegra Di2 system that allow for a more compact and efficient design:

Shimano developments weren’t just for their high-end products, as the affordable SLX mountain bike drivetrain received an overhaul, including a brake upgrade to match the short-stroke Servo-Wave levers of pricier XT & XTR groups:

Keeping on the mountain bike front, there are also updates on the way for hydration packs. Camelbak has made changes to their 2013 packs with an improved NV ventilation system on their high volume packs, like the M.U.L.E. and H.A.W.G., while the brand new Volt packs feature a lumbar water reservoir that keeps the weight supported around your waist:

Osprey Packs also has updates on the way to their popular packs for 2013, with tweaks to their water bladders, shoulder straps and more, plus increased offerings in women’s specific designs:

We also ran into mountain bike legend Hans Rey in the hall at Interbike. Hans is marking his 25 years of riding GT bikes with his hardcover coffee table book, “A Life of Mountain Bike Adventures” – just in time for holiday gift season:

Race Recap: 2011 Swank 65 & Osprey Packs

Unlike recent years, we didn’t have the pleasure of suffering through the Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race in 2011. But since we missed on that epic 5 days of Pisgah Forest racing, we decided to send Christopher and Greg to Blue Ridge Adventure‘s Swank 65 race instead. Todd Branham has organized the Swank 65 race on for the last 13 years, and it’s a great opportunity to get a small taste of the huge trail network in the “Ranger District” of Pisgah National Forest.

Christopher and Todd

Swank 65 covers about 38 miles of trail but the top pro riders still take well over three hours to finish, and many amateur riders are still trickling in after eight hours! Luckily for us racers, Todd had arranged to have New Belgium beer on tap and burgers served hot off the grill. Nothing gets mountain bikers to socialize quite like an epic ride followed by fresh burgers and great beer!

Bikes, beer and stories after the race

Of course we weren’t just there to race on the world’s best mountain bike trails, we were also there to put a new product to the test – namely Osprey Packs.  We had read great things about their packs, but before we put something in the next Performance Bicycle catalog, we don’t just read reviews in magazines but instead test the products in real-world conditions.

Chris with his Osprey Raptor 14 before the race

To that end, our riders Christopher and Greg saddled up with Raptor 14 and a Viper 10 hydration packs for the race. Both bags feature Osprey’s 100 oz Hydraform Reservoir – able to hold plenty of  water to make it from checkpoint to checkpoint. The Raptor 14 holds a bit more gear, which worked out perfect for Christopher as we was carrying a spare jacket and a GoPro camera. Meanwhile Greg enjoyed the slimmed-down profile of the Viper 10, which held just what he needed and nothing he didn’t.

Greg finishing up with his slim Viper 10 pack

So what were the standout features for our racing testers? Both packs feature Osprey’s awesome bite valve with a magnetic clip, which holds the hose in place even when decending Farlow Gap. Most importantly, both packs were extremely comfortable – an important feature since it took Christopher 5 hours and Greg over 7 hours to finish Swank 65. Also telling was the fact that their Osprey Packs were not alone amongst the other racers – it looks like the word is out to the mountain biking elite that Osprey makes some amazing hydration packs. In fact, at least a quarter of the packs at the race were made by Osprey. It was clear by the end of the day that Osprey makes high-quality and well thought out hydration packs and that we needed to carry them in our product lineup. Our racer’s recommendations were passed along to our buying team, who have added a full array of Osprey Hydration Packs. If you’re planning a big mountain bike ride this year, make sure you consider bringing along an Osprey Pack.

Osprey Packs Guest Post: How to pack for your ride

The folks over at Osprey Packs are experts when it comes to carrying gear on your back – they’ve been making innovative packs for just about any outdoor activity since 1974. They’ve recently applied their gear-hauling expertise, innovation and commitment to quality to bike hydration packs, and the result is their lineup of Osprey Hydraulics. Full of technical features like their AirScape Suspension back panel, Nalgene HydraForm Reservoir, LidLock helmet clip, magnetic bite valve mount, and loads of storage – Osprey hydration packs are a great option for the next time you hit the trail.

We often get asked what gear you should bring in your pack when you head to the trailhead, so we thought we’d go straight to the experts at Osprey for their advice:

If you have ever had a great ride cut short for unforeseen reasons such as a mechanical failure, flat tire or inclement weather, you know the importance of being prepared before embarking on your journey. Proper equipment and preparations will lead to a much more enjoyable ride and prevent a long walk back to civilization if something goes bad. Riding with a hydration pack provides easy access to an ample water supply as well as the ability to carry essential tools, spare parts and extra clothing. The location and type of ride you are embarking on as well as some personal preferences will ultimately determine your individual checklist but here are some suggestions for loading up your Osprey hydration pack.

Short MTB ride near an urban area or commuting to work:

Recommended pack – Viper  7 Hydration Pack or Verve 7 Women’s Hydration Pack

Essentials:

Viper 7 pack and gear before the ride

Recommended:

Viper 7 pack fully packed for the ride

Intermediate length rides where immediate help may be more difficult to obtain:

Recommended pack – Viper 10 Hydration Pack or Verve 10 Women’s Hydration PackRaptor 10 Hydration Pack

Essentials:

Raptor 10 pack before it's loaded up

Recommended:

  • Cell phone
  • Waterproof wallet with $5-$10
  • Sunscreen
  • Small first aid kit
  • Extra chain links

Raptor 10 pack fully packed for the ride

Epic full day rides into the backcountry:

Recommended pack – Raptor 14 Hydration Pack, Zealot 16 Hydration Pack

Zealot 16 pack with gear laid out for the ride

Essentials:

  • Full 3 liter reservoir of water for staying hydrated
  • ID and emergency contact card
  • (2) Spare tubes (proper size for your tire)
  • Small tire pump
  • (2) Tire levers
  • (1) Patch kit
  • (1) Multi-tool with chain breaker
  • Duct tape
  • Spare parts depending on your bike (i.e. derailleur hanger)
  • (2) Energy bars or gels
  • Rain shell
  • Sunscreen
  • First aid kit
  • Waterproof wallet with $5-$10
  • Compass and map
  • Headlamp or pen sized flashlight

Zealot 16 pack loaded up & tool pouch rolled out

Recommended:

Zealot 16 pack front strap pocket

Zealot 16 pack hipwing pocket

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