It was an interesting mix of new gadgets and drama this week.
This past week I was immersed in the cycling industry. Typically that’s not the case. I’m at home reading or watching the news, Skyping with my contacts and generally keeping an eye out for what’s shaking in the bike world. Sometimes it’s good (Philippe Gilbert winning the gold in the road race and teammate Taylor Phinney the silver in the time trial at the world championships in the Netherlands) and other times it’s bad (the UCI suing journalist Paul Kimmage). Let’s start with the interesting.
Last week was Interbike - the bike industry’s biggest show in America. The convention is open only to bike dealers, media, distributors, and of course bike companies. At “The Show” there’s usually a standout bike that gets everyone buzzing, but I honestly didn’t see it this year. Sure there were some interesting bikes like the LOOK 675. The French bike company’s aero model had the top tube aerodynamically designed to flow into the stem, creating a seamless transition for the wind to cross over the front of the bike.
Jim Moss who, like me, is a member of a podcast called the Spokesmen mentioned an interesting point regarding bike innovation. To give you some background – Mr. Moss is a lawyer specializing in sports and recreation. When the question was posed to us why there weren’t any jaw-dropping bike designs, Jim said that in these tough economic times research and development on bikes is reduced because it is expensive. The changes come from the component/accessory side of the industry. I would also add that a lot of the big players in the bike world (Trek and Specialized) hold their own dealer shows and unveil the latest and greatest bike there. By the time it gets to Interbike the new design is old news.
For me the interesting bits were the accessories. We saw the Giro Air Attack helmet debut in the Tour de France to some snickers. Yeah it looked like a skateboarders’ helmet, but the purpose of the lid was aerodynamics. It was pointed out to me that many helmets look very similar and the Air Attack was designed to not only be faster, but stand out from the crowd. It does that on both counts. I placed the Air Attack on my head with the visor and I looked like a Storm Trooper. But damn, if it’s going to make me a bit faster I’ll wear this lid - and honestly I like to stand out from the crowd. And since we’re being honest - all helmets make us look kinda dorky.
Another accessory that stood out was the Giro Empire shoes. These were designed to be a one-off for Taylor Phinney who is a bit of a fashion maven. I was wondering if they were more of a fashion piece than a legitimate performance shoe. The Empires come in two models: bold grey with neon green or all black - and both standout visually. The performance aspect of the shoe is the Easton EC90 carbon sole - those things wouldn’t flex. To further prove