Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Interbike 2012: Regrets

A problem with my Interbike experience is I didn't adequately prepare. In retrospect, I should have made a list of must-see booths and made sure I'd tagged all of those. I tried to do a comprehensive scan of the floor, but while this was possible on the ground floor where the booths were laid out in a fairly regular fashion, on the upper floor it was more of a maze, and attempts to systematically search the floor tended to quickly degrade into a random walk.

I wanted to see Parlee and they weren't listed. Their new Z0 looks really nice. It turns out they were there, but piggy-backing on the Enve booth, which I also would have visited but simply missed.

I really wanted to meet Jason of Fairwheel Bikes. They used to be a regular, indeed a highlight, of Interbike with their project bikes proving that the little guy can nevertheless impress. In cooperation with Brent/Bre Ruegamer they produced some truly impressive weight-weenie specials. But this year Freewheel didn't have a booth. It turns out Jason was there, walking the floor, but the likelihood I'd both encounter him and either recognize him or happen to read his badge was very low. It turns out Fairwheel also had a presence at that Enve booth.... oh, the pain. CyclingNews coverage is here.

Other than this there wasn't much weightweenieism this year. Cycling, like any other technology area, doesn't progress uniformly but does so in steps: rapid progress followed by plateus. This is clearly a plateu time. For example, back in 2008 Brent Ruegamer was making amazingly light custom carbon frames. Now there's a bunch of custom builders getting close to what Brent did then, perhaps giving themselves a bit more of a safety margin. But showing a sub-850 gram custom carbon frame isn't as big a deal as it used to be. The limits of the material have pretty much been reached, but more people are now reaching those limits.

I was at the Ritchey booth, but can you believe I overlooked the classic 1977 650B hardtail? That would have been a highlight of the show for me. I would have loved to know the specs on that bike, and how they compared to the latest surge in 650B frames.

I also missed some big names. Mario Cipollini was there, promoting his bike brand. I stopped by their booth several times and never saw him. I know he at least ventured off to the De Feet booth to get some custom gloves sized, but it's also possible my focus was so on the bikes that I missed him, amazing as that seems. I was hoping to see their new Bond frame, but they didn't have it there. Their existing frames were a lot thicker than I'd expected based on photos I've seen.

I missed Miguel Indurain. Miguel's a super-classy guy, interesting in light of what has been revealed about the era in which he dominated the Tour. It's interesting he's avoided serious controversy so far.

If I return, I'll definitely download their app which allowed searching for specific vendor booths. They had a map with numbered booths, then a long alphabetized list of venders with associated booth numbers. It was cumbersome to use and a phone app would have been much faster. At some point convention halls like this one will provide indoor location services which would help even more.

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