interbike 2004 from a recumbent perspective

interbike 2004 
Bicycle show at the Sands Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV. Oct 4th - 8th, 2004.

Reported by Warren Beauchamp

Interbike2004 was a very large dealer oriented bike show. Manufacturers of bicycles, bike accessories, sport drinks, energy bars, and bike related services were all there hawking their wares. While a few years ago most of the show was devoted to mountain bikes, the BMX bikes now have almost as much floor space. Also gaining considerable ground is the custom cruiser bike. This style of bike's popularity is being driven by the popular chopper building shows on TV, and there were many booths displaying beautifully created long and heavy cruiser/chopper bikes, with large seats and feet way out in front. Some of these could almost be considered recumbents. Almost. Roads bikes are still a major part of the show, and there was every imaginable iteration of wedgie available represented, from the carbon fiber aero blade bikes to the "as seen on TV" auto shift bikes. 

Since I was there on a mission,  my eyes glazed over when seeing this plethora of pop culture. I was going for the fringe, the outcast. I was there to see what was new recumbent related bikes and bits.

I arrived on Tuesday, and after finding Garrie Hill, we went to the Dirt Demo. To get there you climb on a bus at the convention center, and take a 30 minute ride out to Bootleg Canyon, which is just outside Boulder City, NV. We were dropped off on a rocky desert mountainside, complete with the huge letters BC emblazoned towards the top of the mountain. Tents lined the paved road up the hill to the main dirt demo area. 

In this picture, Pat Franz of Terracycle talks to one of the German HPVelotechnik reps, while the bikes cook in the sun.

Roadies, mountain bikers and the occasional 'bent trike zipped back and forth up and down the hill, and off toward the "road" portion of demo course. All the recumbent manufacturers were lined up along the road. Actually, a couple manufacturers were lined up along the road, the rest decided to stay home.

Not staying home was Gabe Devault of Easy Racers. Gabe was busy promoting the now extensive line of Sun manufactured recumbent bikes and trikes. 

Sun had about 10 bike and trike models displayed, and various people were riding them up and down the hill. They added suspension to their LWB curved tube model and this new trike model, came out with a new tadpole trike, and tweaked their existing lineup by reducing the weight on the EZ3 and a couple other models.
Here's Sun's new tadpole trike, featuring Sun's patented heavy industrial look. Gabe says this trike will retail for under $1300. 

Gabe is planning on offering a velomobile kit, using the shells from his "Pod" fairing, and this trike to allow people to build a velomobile for under $3000. 

Hase Spezialraeder also made the trip from Germany to display their delta trikes, tandem add on, and this new single track model. Hase builds the only high performance delta trike, and their new bike model shows the same commitment to performance and high quality as their trikes.
I sat down at the Rans booth for a while to talk to Calvin from Angletech, Bob Bryant from Recumbent Cyclist News, and Randy Schlitter of Rans. Zach Kaplan also joined in the conversation. Randy said the latest from Rans is a new model of their comfort bike. We also talked about RotorCranks, and everyone seemed to get a benefit from them except Randy, who later noted that he had not tried them personally.
Though these Rans bikes aren't recumbents, the only thing else new at Rans is a high end version of their highracer model, called the F5. 

Randy said these comfort bikes are his current favorite Rans bikes, and are the only Rans that his engineer will ride.

Cycle Genius, as well as a couple other CLWB recumbent  manufacturers were at Interbike. They have some new models, and they seem like decent bikes for decent comfort loving folks, but nothing particularly ground breaking.
Lightfoot cycles has been quietly building their reputation and product line. They now have two distinct models (LWB & CLWB) as well as a couple different wheel size and steering options.

In the background is another booth, whose banner shouted USED. USED stickers were also on it's CLWB recumbents. It seemed to be an ill conceived marketing concept, as people avoided the booth like the plauge.  

At the top of the road was a fenced in area where all the really gnarly dudes were busily checking out the latest in 8 inch travel suspensions and heavy duty downhill gear. The heaviest by far was this downhill bike with a Rohlhoff hub mounted inside the frame, above the cranks, and this heavy duty rear suspension with solid axle. This design keeps sprung weight down, and allows you to pedal at 100MPH down the hill and to land those 200 foot jumps without breaking an axle. 
Roadies to the left of me Mountain bikers to right, there I was, stuck in the dirt. Nothing interesting here folks, move along...

Oh yeah, talk about your walking wounded. There were a bunch of mountain bikers making their way back down the road, fresh from their demo ride, oozing blood from a variety of self inflicted wounds, most covered in moon dust from head to toe. 

I had seen enough by then, and made my way back to the bus for transport back to the convention center...

To round out the afternoon, Garrie and I checked out the Star Trek "4D" experience at another of the hotels. The brand new monorail system was inoperative, so we walked. A cabbie later said that a tire fell off after it was running for a couple months and it hadn't run since. Welcome to Las Vegas. Oh, the 4Ds were 3D glasses on a simulated shuttle run, with squirting water and blowing air as the 4th D. Interesting, but still needs work..
The first stop at Interbike on Wednesday morning was at the Greenspeed booth. Greenspeed has introduced a new 16 inch tire, called the Scorcher, which looks exactly like a smaller version of the Comp Pool. This should be a fast tire, and will be a great choice for those people who run 16 inch tires and want both speed and durability.
Greenspeed had a cool racing trike with a narrow carbon fiber seat. 

Greenspeed is in talks with several tire makers to have them produce radial bike tires. If they are successful, could see a very low rolling resistance tire with a more car-like profile for trikes.

The best thing about this trike, is that it easily folds in the middle, making it small enough to fit it a small car's trunk. The chain is routed so that it stays in place during this procedure to avoid loose chain flopping around. Removing the wheels and boom make it airline transportable.
Calfee had their LWB Stiletto on display. This is a pretty bike, which should sell well if the price comes down. I like the steering arrangement much better than the Tour Easy tiller bars, so much that I built a tour easy clone using practically the same setup, in 1995.
All Zipp's wheels now sport this funky dimple pattern. They claim it makes the wheels faster, but all the aero guys know better. Dimples work great on making non-aero surfaces more areo, but are only marketing gimmicks on parts that are already aerodynamic. 
Here's the latest in roadie technology. It's a super narrow carbon fiber seat. This may be the best promoter of recumbent seats yet!
On to the Bacchetta booth. Bacchetta is the only US recumbent manufacturer making big changes this year. They appear to be maneuvering themselves to become your one stop recumbent shop. Witness their two new long wheelbase models (due next summer). 
Witness their new heavily triangulated tandem. This bike is interesting in that the stoker sits lower than the captain, allowing the bike to be shorter and more aero. The view of the captains back may however be less than spectacular. Still in development, this bike is also due next summer.
Bacchetta representative Mark Swanson holds the new Bacchetta mesh racing seat. Shaped the same as a hardshell seat, it should provide the same support with better ventilation and possibly better comfort.
The coolest thing I noticed at the HPVelotechnik booth was that some of their bikes had adjustable "Body Link" hardshell seats. This allows one seat to fit virtually anybody. This was particularly interesting to me as at 6 feet 6 inches tall, I don't fit in any mass manufactured hardshell seat. A bit of investigation turned up the fact that these fiberglass / foam core seats are actually lighter than their non-adjustable brethren. These seats are available separately. John Downer says that the standard seat is approximately 1700 grams, and the Body Link seat is approximately 1560 grams.
At the Catrike booth was this very cool, lightweight aluminum racing trike called the Black Cat. The rear-facing handlebar placement seemed odd but felt right when I sat on the trike. It also allows you to pull on the handles when cranking hard with effecting the steering. Catrike founder Paulo is very interested in getting more trikes on the racing circuit, and this model should go far in that regard.
My vote for the coolest technology at the show has to be this drive unit from Hayes, the disk brake people. It's a gear drive unit that  allows shifting between a sliding BMX cog on a splined crankshaft and a standard set of gears. A compact idler  takes up the chain slack in the smaller gears. Though this is designed for downhill racers, it would be perfect for a FWD streamliner drivetrain. 

 

Not yet available...

 

Folding bike maker Dahon had some very cool 406mm wheels with custom made Schwalbe Stelvios. These tires had black tread center and yellow tread sides. Some of their bikes also had the high speed Stelvio Light tires. These wheels and tires are available on the Dahon site!

One of the booths had a bike light that looked like a bike flag pole with the top section of the pole brightly lit. Nice and aero. I talked to the guy at the booth and he said it required a large battery, but that they were working on reducing the power requirements. Not yet available.

Thursday's Interbike was more of the same. I found out from our rep at the AMB timing booth that there is a new version of the Orbits software we use to time our HPRA races, and that it's possible to use to use the software to time individual time trials. Cool.

Then it was back on the plane to head home. Overall it was a fun trip. It was as fun to meet the people as it was to see the bikes. This was especially true as the great majority of the US recumbent makers did not bother to come out. I don't blame them though, as the average bike dealer going to Interbike is not there to see recumbent bikes, and practically everything about them can be learned on the Internet.

Back to the recumbent stuff