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By Matt Pacocha
Twenty-five years ago, the first Interbike trade show opened its doors with 135 exhibitors under the roof of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Steve Ready and Herb Wetenkamp took it upon themselves to position and plan Interbike for the early fall of 1982; their hope was that dealers would have more of an influence on manufacturers. At the time, there were four other domestic industry shows, all of which took place between January and March.
On Monday Interbike kicked off its 25th anniversary with its Outdoor Demo exhibition. This outdoor segment of Interbike has steadily gained steam since its inception. The event is held in Bootleg Canyon in Boulder City, Nevada, roughly 25 miles south of the Las Vegas strip. The area has been designated as the home of one of IMBA’s Epic rides.
Bootleg’s hills are criss-crossed with flowing trails built into the rocky moon-like landscape. While the trails flow through the harsh landscape with a fervor that can make any rider giddy, the consequences of “getting off” your bike are high. Giant’s communications manager, Andrew Juskaitis likened the trails surface to “riding on razor blades.”
The Outdoor Demo provides three cross-country loops; a shuttle served downhill trail and a two mile closed road circuit for the skinny tires. With all of this good testing terrain, not to mention sunny skies and reasonable temperatures, Bootleg Canyon once again proved that it’s Interbike’s diamond in the rough and an exceptional place to ride the coming season’s new bikes.
The new Canaan series from Mongoose first showed its face at the 2006 Sea Otter Classic. Six months later, the bike emerged at the Outdoor Demo in its final dress.
The top model labeled the Canaan Team comes stocked with a SRAM X.0 drivetrain, Avid’s Juicy Ultimate brakes, Fox F100X fork, NoTubes.com rims and a FSA carbon crank. All are hung from an alloy frame with double butted top and downtubes. With its select group of parts, one may assume that its price would be quite high but the complete package comes in at $3000.
Mongoose lists the bikes weight a hair below 26 pounds, but it feels much lighter when riding. Though the Canaan is marketed as a long distance racer, its top tube seemed long and gave the bike a racy cross-country feel. The 100mm of rear suspension travel is handled by Mongoose’s “Freedrive” linkage system and a Fox RP23 rear shock.
The Felt booth was one of the busier of the Outdoor Demo’s first day. Much of the commotion surrounded Felt’s first U.S. full suspension bike, the Virtue. The new bike comes with a variety of components, but the top two tiers of the four bike, Virtue labeled, line are cross-country racers through and through. At the heart of Felt’s domestic suspension foray is the Equilink System. Jeff Soucek, Felt’s senior design engineer, came up with the concept after a year of research. Since, Felt has been prototyping and testing the design throughout the last two years.
The goal of the design was to completely isolate the suspension from the drivetrain. Felt does this by linking the Virtue’s lower dog bone link, positioned behind the bottom bracket, to the upper rocker link. The concept follows the following actions: When a pedaling force is applied the lower link wants to rotate down, while the upper link wants to pull up under the sag of a rider’s weight, when these two components are tied with the long red alloy link, Felt claims they cancel each other.
The product is a rear suspension that is fully active and fully independent of pedaling inputs. The bike feels efficient, much more so than any 130mm bike I have ridden, and considerably lighter than its actual 26-pound weight. The rear end is quite active, however, on a 20-minute test ride there was shock movement on smooth terrain, but it was hard to pinpoint if the activity is coming from the terrain, sloppy set-up or rider bob. I was reasonably confident that is was not caused by chain forces. Retail prices of $6200, $3500, $2700 and $2229 match to the Virtue models One, Two, Three and Four respectively.
Santa Cruz’s Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) models have only received slight modifications for the coming year; both the VP Free and Nomad have been upgraded to a 1.5-inch head tube. The Superlight, however, has been redesigned, something Jon Forsberg, the company’s director of sales, sees as Santa Cruz respecting its roots.
The Santa Cruz brand was built on single pivot bikes like the Superlight, Heckler and Bullit. Forsberg says that even with the company’s successful VPP platforms there is still a place for single pivot bikes, therefore reason for the Superlight to be refurbished. Forsberg cited simplicity, ease of maintenance, and the “rampy feel single pivots have,” all as benefits to the design. Not to mention that single pivots carry much more reasonable price tags than more complicated suspension designs.
The new Superlight is based around a lowered single pivot that pierces the bike’s downtube. The new design is coupled with a new swingarm made entirely from welded tubes rather than the forged component the old bike had. The pivots bearings press into the frame, not the swingarm and it clamps to an aluminum axle.
The leverage ratio is similar to the old version. The geometry is designed around a 100mm fork and has been stretched to further defining the bike as a cross-country racer. The rear dropouts are heavily machined and Santa Cruz switched to a replaceable derailleur hanger.
All of this adds up to a bike that is a quarter pound lighter than the previous version; a medium frame weighs 5.1 pounds. The Superlight frame is priced at $999, while a complete entry-level bike equipped with Shimano Deore and a Rockshox Tora costs $1600.
The folks at Intense have been quite happy with their Spider VPP platform. The company now offers two new models that rely on the system, the Spider FRO and the Spider 29. FRO references the bike’s purpose, For Racing Only.
It’s an extra-light 100mm racer a medium only weighs 4.7 pounds. The bike is made from custom drawn 6061 Easton tubes. The FRO is also longer and steeper than the Spider XVP its predecessor, and a design that remains Intense’s do it all cross-country bike.
The Spider FRO will be available in early 2007. Its retail price is set at $2150. The new Spider 29 is also based on the tried and true Spider VPP platform.
Intense specifically set out to make its 29-inch wheeled bike more maneuverable than any other on the market. It has a 73-degree head angle and short, for big wheels, 18-inch chainstays. The Spider 29 is currently only available a medium size, small, large and extra-large sizes should be available later this fall. It costs $1900.
Maverick American split last year’s ML7/5 into two new models, the Durance and Matic.
Each has five inches of travel and Maverick’s welded rear triangle and shock body, but each fills a specific niche within Maverick’s line.
The Durance remains the lightest frame in the line, but its geometry has been refined to be better paired with a six-inch travel fork. It also has improved stand over clearance and a gusseted seat tube.
The Durance will be offered in XXL a new size for the company. The frame starts at $2150. Maverick will still keep its ML7 as its entry level offering, but the new five-inch travel Matic is also designed with price in mind. It’s priced at $1950, $300 less than last year’s ML7/5.
The Matic is built with 6061 aluminum, instead of 6069, specifically to keep the cost down. The Matic meant to be paired with a five-inch travel fork.
The Anthem Advanced is made from Giant’s flagship T-800 carbon, the same fiber that’s used in the ProTour level TCR Advanced. We first got a glimpse of prototypes at this year’s Sea Otter Classic. Then earlier this month the production model was unveiled at Eurobike. Finally, at Outdoor Demo I got a chance to ride it with a full Giant employee escort. Giant employees Juskaitis and Jon Stierwalt, as well as Giant team members Amiel Cavalier and Jared Rando lead me around Bootleg Canyon at the close of the expo’s first day. The bike is all about carbon. Carbon is used to mold the rocker link, front triangle and rear triangle. The production bike is light. Juskaitis reports 23.1 pounds for a medium without pedals.
“It’s a weight we can be proud of,” said Juskaitis.
After spending a fair amount of time an aluminum Anthem this summer, I can attest that the new carbon Anthem Advanced feels smoother and more precise than the aluminum version. At times the front end tricked me into thinking I had more than 80mm of travel, but the bike got me out of all of any trouble it got me in. The Anthem Advanced is all race, the top tube has been lengthened slightly and it is finished with a Shimano XTR kit including a 140mm rear disc rotor, Mavic Crossmax SLR Center lock wheels and a Fox F80X fork. The Anthem Advanced costs $6000.
VeloNews.com’s 2006 Trade Show Coverage:September 26 – Interbike2006: A hands-on start to the U.S.’s biggest bike showSeptember 26 – IndustrialWastrel: O’Grady on InterbikeSeptember 25 – TechTalk: Cannondale’s newest RushSeptember 17 – TheMilan Bike Show: Getting there is half the funSeptember 3 – EuroBike:That’s a wrapSeptember 1 – EuroBikeDay 2: Germany’s Haus BrandsAugust 31 – It’sshow time! The doors open at EuroBike