Big domestic bike brands like Trek, Specialized, and Felt flex their marketing muscle in midsummer. They show most of their 2011 bike lines before the fall tradeshow season is even underway. By Interbike, we’ve seen what they’re up to. But the small companies and boutique brands still carving out a niche in the U.S. always put their best foot forward for Interbike. And sometimes these guys roll out bikes that surprise not on the high end, but with unique and unexpected models.
Here’s part one of a roundup of some of the small and pleasantly surprising bikes from Interbike. Look for part two shortly.
Chris Cocalis down in Tempe, Arizona, not only serves as the U.S. distributor for BH bikes, he contributes to their engineering effort in designing new bikes. Last summer, like a proud papa, he showed off BH’s flagship race bike, the G5. This year it’s the new RC1 that is drawing attention. The RC1 is built to be a more affordable, versatile version of the G5 without sacrificing any of the original machine’s race-bred performance. The RC1 features a non-integrated, standard aero-shaped seatpost (compared to the extended mast of the G5). It’s built with the same monocoque construction as the G5, but with a modified (read: less expensive) blend of Toray carbon composites. Even so, according to BH it’s only 70 grams heavier than the ultralight G5. Other than the materials and seat mast, the molds and geometry are the same as found on the G5. RC1 bikes are available complete with Shimano 105 ($3,000), Ultegra ($4,000), or a SRAM Red spec blend ($4,550).
We’re also super impressed with BH’s 2011 Cristal road bike for women. It’s got top-end materials, construction, and geometry just like the G5 but it’s tuned for female riders. Right down to the carbon dropouts and front derailleur hanger, it’s an example of how nicely a women’s bike can be built.
Masi is another brand you haven’t heard much about, but brand manager Tim Jackson aims to change that. He steered us right away to the new Evoluzione carbon road bikes. They’ve got all the usual suspects for frame design: a BB30 bottom bracket, tapered head tube with 1.5-inch lower bearing, and a full carbon fork with carbon dropouts. The Masi Evoluzione replaces the premium 3VC series from last season. The frames are built as modular monococques from Torayca carbon fiber. The top end Evoluzione Dura-Ace is fitted with brand name bits like an FSA K-Force Light crankset, Mavic Ksyrium SL wheels, Ritchey bar and stem, and of course a full Dura-Ace kit, all for about $5,500. Sounds like a deal, but if that’s too much for your budget, Evoluzione bikes can be had in specifications ranging from Ultegra to SRAM Apex.
Of course the carbon bikes took center stage, but we were also drawn to some solid steelies in the booth. That’s right, Masi is one of a precious few brands with any significant booth space dedicated to chromoly steel road bikes. They’re not TIG welded by hand from ultra thin, quad-butted tubes, but for less than two grand they’re a cool way to get a bike for commuting, adventure rides, and touring. The $1,000 Speciale Randonneur has canti brakes, fenders, a triple crank, a tall head tube and flared drop bars to be comfortable for long hauls. For a new version of an old classic, check out the $1,800 Gran Criterium, built from lugged Reynolds 525 tubing. It’s dressed in Shimano 105 and RS10 wheels.