We discussed the current state of Interbike on our last blister podcast, so consider this a companion piece to that conversation.
But in short, Interbike was pretty quiet this year. There were certainly a few interesting items, but the talk of the show wasn’t “Did you see [cool product X] over at [company Y]’s booth”, but instead, the conversation seemed to revolve more around how much the Interbike trade show still mattered.
But leaving aside those macro questions for a moment, here are ten of the most noteworthy things we saw at Interbike:
1. Exactly One 29” Downhill Bike
For all the talk at the beginning of the world cup season of wagon-wheeled descenders taking over the sport, I saw one lone 29er DH bike at the Rotec booth. A quick pedal around the showroom floor revealed that it does, indeed, feel like a huge and somewhat unwieldy steed.
Also of note were the Maxxis Ardents on the bike, because apparently 29” DH tires are still hard to come by.
2. Tire Inserts for Everyone
It’s no secret that pretty much every top downhiller is running some sort of flat protection system. But those systems are becoming a lot more common on non-DH bikes that are ridden by mere mortals. Cush Core is a relatively new system that’s already being used by a whole bunch of DH and Enduro racers, and now they’re coming out with a wide range of new sizes that’ll fit DH bikes, trail bikes, and even Plus tires.
3. Kid’s Stuff
This has been a theme from the last couple of years, and it continues this year — more and more companies are making better products for smaller bikes. RST was showing a couple of suspension forks that are designed around 24” wheels and lighter riders. They still have decent adjustability, but (as with most of RST’s products), the price is pretty competitive. And this is important, because it’s tough to justify dropping a lot of coin on a bike that’s going to be outgrown in a year or two.
4. Zerode has a Trail Bike
This isn’t exactly breaking news — Zerode has been teasing this for a little over a year. But for those unfamiliar, Zerode’s Taniwha uses an internal gear box, which means all of the shifting is out of sight, and there’s no cassette or derailleur hanging off the back of the bike. This was the first time we got to play with one, and all in all, it’s a pretty clean system. We’ll follow up with more in-depth thoughts, but it’ll be interesting to see if the Taniwha ushers in an age of Trail bikes with internal gear boxes.
5. 2.6” Tires
Ever since Specialized debuted the Enduro with 2.6” tires, everyone is jumping on board. There were a bunch of 2.6” options from pretty much every major tire company.
If there’s anything that’s keeping the life support machine up and running for Interbike, it’s eBikes. Maybe it’s just because many of them are huge, awkward-looking, and tend to stand out, but it sure as hell seemed like there were more eBikes than “regular” bikes at the show this year. Some of the options were pretty sleek, well designed commuters. Some of them were… less sleek.
We talked about this on the podcast, but we really mean it: there were a lot of camo-painted bikes. And no, none of them were from any brand you’ve ever heard of. But as best as I can tell, a cabal of Asian bike frame manufacturers came together and collectively decided that this was the year of camouflage e-fat bikes.
The company Hyper is apparently not part of the Asian camo e-fat bike cabal because they were showing some distinctively loud and shiny paint jobs. Terrible bikes for hiding.
9. Aaron Gwin’s 2018 Bike
Sources tell me that Gwin requested a bit more standover height. And I suspect there may be some mechanical doping going on, which would explain how Gwin’s so dang fast.
10. The current state of Interbike (a video’s worth a million words)
There was a time when Interbike was about the biggest bike manufacturers showing off their new tech and the lineup for next year. That’s not really the case anymore, with most of the major manufacturers skipping the show. The fact that we’re spending more time commenting on camo e-fat bikes and making jokes about Gwin’s e-townie should be taken as an indicator that there wasn’t a whole lot going on at the show this year.
So what is Interbike all about these days? The following video you’re about to watch sums it up pretty accurately. This is raw footage, taken straight from the Interbike floor.
Ladies and Gentlemen, here is your Interbike, 2017: