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EuroBike Report, Part 3

September 7, 2010
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Has it really been “forever” since I last rode my bike? At just shy of three weeks since I turned a pedal, it sure felt that way after I flew back from EuroBike with my lovable ad slime Robba by my side. The best medicine? To ride of course, and so, I did.

With morning after EuroBike memories still floating in my head after I returned home, I perked up a hot cup of some Peet’s home brew and plotted my ride. After watching the MotoGP from San Marino, off I went on a two hour ride to begin the process of mentally categorizing everything I saw in Germany; what goes on the web, what goes in the mag, what I missed, what I liked and what I needed to get done for the InterBike trade show in Las Vegas which I’ll be driving out for in two weeks.

Here’s some of the more random things I heard about and saw while traipsing through the monster show that is EuroBike.

Similarly shapely to the curvy bike found in the Tune booth (above), Cannondale rolled out this prototype/concept bike with a unique internal drivetrain that may well serve the needs of future commuters.

Each year Tange has a booth – in the Italian road pavilion of all places – and shows-off their metal craftsmanship with a variety of sensational bikes.

I ask, is there any other consumer product that maintains the beauty and artistry of what the bicycle can provide?

Talk about a couple of sore thumbs….I don’t know who dresses Gary Fisher, but as usual, it was good to see him still carrying the torch for everyone with an odd sense of fashion.

It’s always cool when the bike racers show up to sign autographs and it was especially cool to see Alberto Contador over at the Specialized booth. The good news for American fans is the rumor that the Tour de France winner will be heading to Las Vegas for the Interbike show – bueno.

Amid all the latest two-wheeled technical marvels was this 1917 Sparta Mondrian.

Even though it’s like comparing the New York Yankees to some triple A team out of Scranton, PA. the comparisons between EuroBike and Interbike continue. Besides the sheer size difference, the one other tarea where Germany is superior is with the food concessions – no $8 chrome dogs here. For the Euro’s it’s all about fresh schnitzel, krauts, pretzels, baked goods, pasta and gallons of beer served up all day.

Famed American frame builder Jay Sycip (l) had been saving up his appetite all week for the big showdown with a massive pig knuckle. After finishing his first, Jay’s lunch date (and Chris King marketing director) Chris DiStefano remarked, “Jay just wants another pig knuckle – that made his day!”

When there are thousands upon thousands of product mad bike geeks roaming the halls and you need to get their attention, there are really only three tried and true ways: 1. have a famous bike racer in your booth, 2. have some product that stands on it’s own as being truly remarkable, 3. have a sensationally beautiful woman (preferably of Italian descent) gather a crowd to give the pitch. Italian helmet maker Limar relied on the latter two to introduce their new 160 gram Ultralight Pro helmet.

Not that many ex-Pro bike racers turn into old, fat guy versions of what they once were (well, there is Greg LeMond), but Mario Cipolini stands out as being a guy who looks to be in better shape years after he retired than he did when he was racing.

Without a doubt the biggest talking point among the gringos in Germany was the fate and future of their own show. For years Interbike had been the one show that everybody in the bike industry attended. Now it’s Eurobike. Over the years either Interbike has struggled to come up with a formula that works (dates, location, features) or it’s domestic audience refuses to just give it a big hug and appreciate it for what it is – America’s own biggest bike show.

This year’s EuroBike show wasn’t even two days old when word leaked that Interbike was moving both it’s (late September) date (to early August) and its (Las Vegas) location (to Anaheim, CA.). Bigger news still was that after decades in service as a an industry only show, the rumor was that Interbike would finally open their doors to the public just as every major European show has done for years. Typically, all the Americans whined unmercifully (“August is too early”, “the Italians won’t come”, “it’s too hot”, “we hate the consumers”)…in two weeks when we gather at the 2010 version, we should be able to find out for sure what’s to come.

As for the other big talking points, one was the continued love affair between Trek and Specialized…

Now it’s no secret of course that America’s (the worlds?) two most important bike brands have suffered from a hyper-competitive relationship over the years. Despite owners Mike Sinyard and John Burke always being able to put on a happy face when they’re together in public, each company has the other as the bulls eye of their lunch room dart board.

This year’s fisticuffs began when Specialized showed-off a graffiti bike with the words “Trek Sucks” written on the top tube. Now I didn’t see it myself, but apparently there was photographic proof on a Trekster’s cell phone (that was reportedly used to challenge a Specialized art director). Soon enough two Trek engineers told me that when they saw it someone had tried to manipulate the text (over the clear coat) to not be so offending to their friends in Wisconsin.
Wait – this just in…..

Which brings us to the poster mounted over at the Trek booth celebrating the very big news that they are now the bike of choice for the newly formed Luxembourg team backing the Schleck brothers. By all accounts the poster was about as passive as possible, and yet, they day after it went up, it came down. Word in the aisles was that Specialized was miffed and threatened legal action.

Ladies and gentlemen, from all this I can only say, the 2011 race season – and Tour de France in particular – will once again be thrilling to watch as the two American bike companies take their fight out onto the roads of Europe.

However, while I was over at the Specialized booth I did find this sweet tandem concept bike. Note the leftover “star” hub from a Roval wheel that’s laced to a deep section Sram rim.

There’s almost less saddle than there are slots on the Italian made carbon fiber Selle SMP saddle. Although the dropped nose saddles have an odd look to them, I’ve been told they are among the most comfortable saddles around. 

In my Part Two coverage of the EuroBike I made mention of a special Eddy Merckx bike that had wheel graphics listing 85 (of his 525) wins. Here’s a detail of that.

Yes, the fixed gear “revolution” is as active in Europe as it is in America. And just as they are in America, the Euro versions seems no less full of themselves…take the company Fixie Inc who’s tag line is “cycles for heroes.” “Heroes”? Really? Like 9/11 respondent heroes? School teacher heroes? Still, cool bikes.

Thankfully, the freaky garage guys are still out there hawking their version of the “ultimate” bike.

Leave it to German wheel maker Lightweight to unveil a radical new eight spoke wheel.

I had a good conversation with Enve Composite founder Jason Schiers on the topic of trademarks. Jason, who started his company Edge Composites four years ago and built it into one of the most prolific and talked about carbon labs in America, had recently come to realize that there’s more to running a successful company that just toying with carbon fiber. The cold slap of the business world came when Jason woke-up one day to find that in some key countries, he no longer held the rights to the company name. With just weeks to go before the EuroBike show, Josh and his crew had to initiate a massive re-branding of the entire company.

“If you told me four years ago that I’d be owning a company with 50 employees and international distribution, I would’ve laughed at you. I was just a guy trying to use my talents to make some cool bike parts! The move to Enve is just about a name change – we’re still the same people, with the same smiles and enthusiasm.”

Surprisingly, there were quite a few booths that were displaying titanium bikes, including the beautiful 3/2-5 Van Nicholas Straeus that is available in six standard and custom sizies.

Among their wide-line of mountain bikes, MTB CycleTech had this unique city bike on display.

In case you were thinking no such thing as a quick release pedal existed, the good news is that apparently, it does now thanks to Wellgo.

Personally, I’m not into handlebar extensions, but this carbon set from Control Tech caught my eye for being so compact.

One of the more massive blocks of carbon found anywhere at the bike show had to be Pro Components stem found on the Mark Cavendish display bike.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better than Campagnolo’s Record drivetrain, they go and introduce Super Record. Wow! From the Ti bottom bracket spindle to the very impressive full carbon rear derailleur and including the improved shifting up front, the Super Record very well may be the official “Holy Grail” of bicycle drivetrains. I get to find out at on day one at Interbike when a bunch of us gather for a morning test ride to Hoover Dam. 


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