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Interbike Report

By John Marsh

After last week touching on the Interbike products that struck a chord as the most exciting introductions this year, I’ll cover a number of products this week from the novel to the basic day-to-day sort that could improve your riding experience. I’ve included pricing and contact info when possible. RBR hopes to test a number of these products in the future, so you’re likely to hear more about some of them down the road.

BikeCave. Effectively a tent for bikes, the BikeCave allows you to leave your bike outside, for whatever reason – lack of indoor storage, while touring or traveling, camping out, etc. –

Bike Cave

and keep it protected from the elements. It’s like camping for your bike. In fact, the company president, F. Chris Nelson, said some riders actually do use the BikeCave as a tent for both themselves and their bike. $89 retail. www.tidytent.com

Stuffitts. “Got Stink?” asked the marketing promo. These cedar-filled pouches feature anti-mocrobial impregnated fabric and come in shapes to fit inside helmets, gloves, shoes and gear bags to dry out your cycling gear before the dreaded stink of lingering dampness can take hold. The founder and CEO, Mike Huebner, tells us that the units last up to one year. Glove and shoe models: $19.99 MSRP. Helmet and Gear bag models: $29.99 MSRP. www.stuffitts.com

Glacier Glove. These neoprene gloves (with fleece or other linings) are touted to be the ultimate protection against wet, cold riding conditions. If they live up to their marketing, they may well be the “real deal” when it comes to the elusive waterproof gloves. $30 – $50, depending on the model. www.glacierglove.com

The String Bike. We wrote a brief about this Hungarian-made bike a few months ago in the newsletter. It operates using a system of strings that, when the crank turns, power the drive train via the rear hub. I was happy to be able to see this novelty in person, and get to inspect it up close and even ride it around the show floor. It rode silently and smoothly, with shifting that only increased or decreased the pressure on the pedals because of the hub drive system. To see numerous photos and videos of the bike in operation, click www.stringbike.com

Kontact Anatomical Saddle. Joshua Cohen, author of Finding the Perfect Bicycle Seat, available in the RBR eBookstore, re-entered the saddle business this year, launching his new saddle, the Kontact Anatomical Saddle, at Interbike. The saddleKontact saddle design embodies numerous features discussed and espoused in Cohen’s eBook: its slightly raised sitting surface supports the sit bones and allows for increased blood flow and higher oxygen levels in the perineal area; the rail design dampens road vibration transmitted through the seat tube; and the “transition angle,” or the curve between the sitting surface and the nose, promotes a freer peddle stroke. It eschews any of the slots, grooves or cutouts popular in many modern saddle designs. $110 on the company’s website. www.kontactbike.com

Cleatskins. Cleat covers come in handy for instances when you are off the bike and doing a bit of walking – especially if you wear cleats that make it hard to walk or can easily get mucked up with dirt and debris. Unlike most cleat covers, which are made of hard plastic, Cleatskins are made of a softer, more pliable plastic, and with a tread pattern for more grip. They are designed both the stay on the cleat better and to provide more traction while walking in your cycling shoes. $17.95 MSRP. www.cleatskins.com

QuickRak. There may come a time when your bike needs a ride and either won’t fit in a car, or the car has no rack. QuickRak is designed for exactly that type of situation. It’s a lightweight (1-2 pounds, less than 1 kg), portable bike rack that can even be carried on your bike, under your saddle, if needed. Effectively, it’s a system of straps and Styrofoam blocks. While it appears that the owners invented the product mostly for urban cyclists, it could be a handy thing for a roadie to carry in your car, just in case the need ever arises. Approximately $49 retail, QuickRak is not yet on sale. www.quickrak.com

Road Bike Heated Wraps. Made by A’ME, these battery powered wraps go under the bar tape to provide heated handlebars for cold-weather rides. The system includes an on-board battery (quite large, approximately 4 inches by 5 inches, 10 by 13 cm) that straps to the frame and push-button operation that allows the rider to select from 6 different temperature settings. It also includes a recharger for the battery. Suggested retail price: $248.95. www.amegrips.com

brompton folding bikeBrompton folding bikes. These English folding bikes are made specifically for urban use but can also be used for touring. The extremely small package that they fold into can either be carried or rolled, for added convenience. Models weigh from 19 to 28 pounds (8.6 kg to 12.7 kg) and sell from approximately $1,000 to $3,000. www.brompton.co.uk

Showers Pass VelEau 42 hydration system. If you want the same benefits as a backpack-style hydration unit but you don’t like carrying liquid on your back, there’s a new option from Showers Pass, a maker of cycling clothing and accessories. The VelEau 42 is a unique hydration system that mounts under the saddle where a seat bag normally goes. It holds 42 ounces of liquid (1.24 liters), with the drink tube attaching to the bike’s top tube, and the bite valve easily accessible from showerspass hydrationthe handlebar or stem. The unit even has a built-in tool-kit, so you don’t have to sacrifice the space you’d normally tote your tools. $80 on the company’s website. www.showerspass.com

Tour de France Training Bike. If you watched much of the Tour de France this year, you probably saw the ubiquitous commercials for this new trainer bike. Its calling card is the ability to incline or decline up to 20 degrees to mimic climbing or descending while training. I had the chance to test it, and it does feel quite realistic in replicating the tilt of the road. The system includes 10 pre-drawn Google Maps courses and a 1-year membership to iFit.com, which allows you to create your own rides from any existing Google Map anywhere in the world. $1,299 retail. www.proform.com/tour-de-france/

Da Vinci Designs tandems. By their nature, tandems require a finely tuned working relationship between the captain and the stoker. But not all tandems require perfect synchronicity between the two. I was intrigued by da Vince Designs’ “independent coasting system,” which allows both riders to coast, together or separately, and take care of their on-bike business, coordinate to overcome obstacles, adjust their cranks for stopping and starting, etc. While tandem purists might scoff at this lack of togetherness, it’s an intriguing option for riders who might want more flexibility in their tandem riding. www.davincitandems.com

CycleAware Stow-Away gear backpack. If you’ve ever been in need of more carrying capacity than your jersey pockets offer, this handy little gear backpack may be just the ticket.CycleAware Stow-Away gear backpackIt’s a mesh, drawstring-type backpack that weighs practically nothing (3.5 ounces, or 100 grams) and folds into itself for easy carrying if not in use. The back features a reflective logo for added safety. I wore a company sample Stow-Away every day of my recent California Coast Classic tour. It was great for carrying items I normally wouldn’t tote on a ride: a small bike lock, a tube of chamois cream, a windbreaker, arm warmers, etc. $16 on company website. www.cycleaware.com

Relaj water bottle. It’s not often a water bottle seems “revolutionary.” This one may be close. It features an off-center, angled spout designed to allow the rider to maintain a more aerodynamic riding position while drinking, vs. the standard sit-up-and-tilt-up-the-bottle (and perhaps your head) position. It also has a screw-off bottom cap with a built-in refreezable “Ice Stick” to keep your liquidrelaj water bottle cold on hot rides. Finally, it features a leak-proof silicon valve. It doesn’t much look like your standard water bottle. We’re looking forward to testing it soon. $19.99 retail. www.relaj.com

Volagi Liscio. Launched this year, the maker of performance distance road bikes already added a twist with its standard disk brakes and frame geometry designed to keep road chatter away from the seat tube while promoting overall aerodynamics. At Interbike, Volagi upped the ante with a preview of its 2012 top-of-the-line Liscio model with Ultegra Di2, hydraulic disc brakes, new hubs and carbon clincher wheels, all of Volagi’s design – with a total weight of 16.5 pounds. Some in the industry still argue against disk brakes on a road bike, but as the weight portion of the argument continues to be mitigated, we may see more bike makers move in Volagi’s direction. The 2012 Liscio will retail for $5,995. www.volagi.com

BuddyBike. Billed as “the alternative tandem,” the BuddyBike is an inline bike for 2 that steers from the rear. Its features make it especially beneficial for special-needs children who would not otherwise be able to ride. The lower front seat allows the smaller rider to stay up front and stoke, with their own, non-steering handlebar, while the captain sits in the back seat and steers using a long, wrap-around handlebar. The position is helpful for monitoring the child up front while allowing him or her an unobstructed view and the full pleasure of riding a bike. And that’s a great thing! www.buddybike.com

SeaSucker Vacuum-Mount Bike Racks. How many cyclists do you know who never, ever remove their roof rack? It’s just too much seasucker vacuum mount bike racktrouble. The SeaSucker couldn’t be easier to install and remove. Its vacuum mounts “suck” to the roof of your car, attaching and unattaching in seconds. Available in systems to hold one, two or three bikes on a fork-mounting platform in front, with rear-wheel-strapped mounts in back, the SeaSucker racks have been tested on a race car at speeds up to 140 miles per hour (gimmick, for sure, but pretty impressive nonetheless). At Interbike, they had a bike mounted horizontally on the side windows of a car. The system obviates the need for any proprietary rack system or roof rails, it fits on any vehicle, and it can be installed and removed in a jiffy. Available on the company’s website from $263 to a one-bike system to $525 for a three-bike system. www.seasucker.com

Zensah compression wear. One of the hottest product categories at Interbike was compression wear. Compression technology is touted to have a number of benefits: stabilizes muscle tissue; keeps down swelling of muscle fibers, allowing them to rebuild faster; lessens inflammation; reduces Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). After two days of pounding the concrete floors of Interbike, I bought a pair of Zensah Leg Sleeves, and I could feel an immediate positive effect on my legs. I wore them post-ride every day of the CCC tour, and my legs felt fairly fresh (albeit tired toward the end) over the 530 miles. We’re planning a full-fledged review of compression wear in the future. www.zensah.com

John Marsh is publisher of the weekly RBR Newsletter and www.RoadBikeRider.com, which provide expert advice, tips and shared knowledge to road cycling enthusiasts – from beginner to experienced rider – to help them become better cyclists and enjoy our sport even more.

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