Friday, October 5, 2012

Interbike 2012: Services

In addition to equipment, there were service providers at Interbike. Here's a few which caught my attention.

The Guru bike fit rig.

First, bike fitting. The news was that Specialized bought Retul, then in return Cannondale bought Guru. I stopped by Guru's booth to see if they were dropping their bike line, including the Guru Photon, which at one point was my dream bike (until I started reading reports of them breaking). Guru had some slick software which took contact points and referenced them to geometry from a range of commercially available stock frames. This seemed nice because a rider who was considering custom geometry could select from a stock frame which came close to "ideal", whatever that is. Different brands follow different trajectories through fit space. For example, considering just stack and reach, at a given stack different bike brands will have different reach values. And when you consider seat tube angle, head tube angle, bottom bracket drop, and chainstay length there's a lot of room for differentiation. The irony is, however, that since they've been bought by Cannondale I wonder if they're going to be willing to provide geometry for competitor bikes.

They weren't the only fitter there: I even saw "Fit Kit", which was founded by Bill Boston decades ago. I didn't even realize they were still in the game.

There was ChipABike, which seemed to somehow involve putting RFID tags into bikes to help them get recovered. It seems like a good idea, but if someone steels my bike and sells it at the Oakland Flea Market, nobody's breaking the cycle to swap RFID tags. The old school equivalent is to slide a sheet with your name into the handlebar, so you can prove the bike was yours. I didn't quite have ChipABike figured out, but I'll check their web site after posting this.

Risk Placement Services seemed to be a source of event insurance. I wasn't totally sure: I took a card. I've gotten insurance from USA Cycling and League of American Bicyclists. It's good to know options.

MyLaps provides event timing services, including hardware and web-posting of results. I was a bit confused because I saw the booth featured ChampionChip, which has been around for at least ten years, but what I didn't pick up was that MyLaps bought ChampionChip. In the Low-Key Hillclimbs we go old school and just write down numbers and times, with a backup of EXIF data encoded in JPEG files taken of riders crossing the finish. It's labor-intensive but it's the most flexible system. It would be fun to try chip timing, though. MyLaps quoted a fixed cost of around $5000 for event timing. At Low-Key we could eventually amortize that but until then it would seriously bite into our charity contribution. A cheaper option would be bar-code reading but it would be an interesting exercise trying to read bar-codes of a pack crossing the finish. You'd need to bin cyclists and sequentially scan them but by that point you may as well just ask them for their number.

There was a lot more, of course. It's a huge show and doing justice to everything is impossible, especially in one day.

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