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A partial Interbike recap

In my last post, I discussed a couple of bikes from Interbike that got my attention. Today, I want to mention a few of the other bikes and products from the show that I considered to be standouts. I have been super busy this week catching up on projects at work, and also helping my wife get her new art studio set up. For those reasons, I really haven’t had time to stop and collect my thoughts from the show. This won’t be a comprehensive list…consider it more of an “off the top of my head” recap of some of the companies and products from the show that made me look twice.

The first company that I want to mention is Raleigh. I like what I have seen from them the past few years, so it is not like I walked into their booth with low expectations. Still, I didn’t expect to be AS impressed with their new bikes as I was. The Alfine equipped belt drive Alley Way (pictured above) was probably my favorite, but I really liked the direction they have taken with many of the “lifestyle” bikes. In addition to well designed details, Raleigh had great color schemes and graphics on all of the bikes. I won’t list them all, but you can see my shots of the Raleigh bikes that interested me on Flickr. In addition to the commuter/city bikes, I kept being drawn back to the SSCXWC singlespeed cyclocross frame that they had on display. Only 49 of those brown frames will be available (along with 1 random white one) on the Raleigh website starting October 19th. I guess it would be good to end up with the only white frame, but I don’t know…I really liked the brown one.

Next, I’ll mention the Globe bikes, which I like for many of the same reasons as the Raleighs. I was pretty excited when I first saw the Globe bikes on the web this summer, so it was great to get a chance to look at the bikes up close. The designs are clean and simple (with minimal graphics), so the well-designed details really stand out. Some of the new colors that debuted at the show looked really nice as well. I was lucky to get the chance to ride one of the Globe bikes, the French porteur inspired Live model which is pictured here, in the Bike Hugger Mobile Social. With its wide bars, front basket, and foot forward riding position, the bike felt very different than the road, track, cyclocross, and mountain bikes that I usually ride. That is exactly why I chose that particular model over the fixed gear Roll. I really enjoyed cruising down the strip on a relaxed geometry bike. The only thing that would have made it better would have been a 12 pack of Fat Tire in that big empty basket.

Along the same lines as the bikesI have already mentioned, Civia had some great transportation oriented products at the show. The bamboo fenders and rack platforms were nice accents on their display bikes. They also had a prototype bamboo chainguard in the booth that they plan to release at some point.

It was great to see traditional Dutch bike designs at the show from companies like Gazelle, Batavus, and others. In addition to the traditional Dutch omafiets and bakfeits, it was good to see updated designs like the BUB from Batavus. As they say on the bespoke blog:

“The Batavus BUB is the classic omafiets-meets-Rem Koolhaus. Expressively modern, the Batavus BUB (Batavus Utility Bike) deconstructs the classic Batavus omafiets while constructing a more cosmopolitan – yet equally iconic – iteration of the classic Batavus bike.”

I agree. The BUB was another bike with nice details that you really have to see in person to appreciate. I like the design direction and hope to see more of a presence from Batavus in the US market in the near future.

Not surprisingly, internally geared hubs were specified on quite a few new bikes. Several companies showed new commuter bikes with the Shimano Alfine, Nexus, or SRAM I-Motion groups and many of those used Gates carbon drive belts instead of chains. It seems like the issue of breaking the frame to allow belt installation is becoming more accepted as manufacturers come up with simple and straightforward ways to do so. One non-Shimano or SRAM internally geared hub bike that caught my attention was the Co-Motion Americano with a 14-speed Rohloff hub. The Rolloff is not cheap, but the simplicity the drivetrain and the 536% range of gears would make for a great commuting bike. Another internally geared hub that has interested me for a while is the NuVinci CVP. I have mentioned that system in the past, but this was my first time to actually try it out (on a trainer, not the open road). The shifting via twist grip was very smooth throughout the range. I like the interface on the shifter that shows you visually where you are in the gear range as well. After trying it out, I mentioned that the only objection I have heard about the system is the weight. The guy in the booth smiled and said that they had something new in the works to address that concern…looking forward to hearing more about it soon.

There were a few lighting products that got my attention (which is what they are supposed to do). One was the “SEE ME” LED sign, basically a circuit board and a battery pack that flashes those words across a rider’s back. The product looked a little crude, but the idea is interesting. It was certainly hard to miss. Of more interest to me was the Fiber Flare taillight, which recently won a Eurobike award for its design. The product is a flexible fiber optic light that uses high intensity LEDs. It is very bright and, unlike most LED taillights, can be seen from any angle. As someone who owns a number of bikes and switches taillights from one to another, I appreciated the simplicity of the mounting system, which uses silicone slings to attach to tubes of various shapes and sizes. It can clip to a belt or jersey pocket as well and is available in several different colors. Finally, I will mention that it was great to see Shimano’s Sport Hub Dynamos prominently displayed in their booth (on at least two different bikes). Dynamo lights are great for commuting because they are lightweight and there are no batteries to worry about replacing or recharging, so it was great to see Shimano really pushing those.

There were quite a few urban styled helmets at the show this year…the crazy graphic ones from Nutcase and the integrated light units from Lazer probably being the most notable. The coolest urban helmet that I saw though was the foldable Dahon Pango. Check it out in this Huggacast.

I could go on and on, but this post is already getting a bit long. I rode a couple of different electric bikes at the show, and I will share my thoughts on that category in a future post. Folding bikes are another broad category that probably deserve a post of their own. For that matter, I could probably do a separate post on cargo bikes and longtails that I saw at the show. It is no coincidence that the majority of bikes and products that I have discussed so far are commuter or transportation oriented. As I have said before, those are the bikes that excite me the most from a design standpoint because they have the potential to expand the market and introduce new groups of people to the joy of cycling. From a consumer standpoint though, I was interested in some of the high-end road, cross, and mountain bikes that I saw in Vegas (and time trail bikes too). I will share some of those with you in another post. Stay tuned.

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9 Responses

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  1. Anonymous says

    Definitely do a post on the longtail/cargo bikes. I'm really struggling to figure out which is worth the investment and provides the most flexibility/capacity for kid/cargo moving but would be functional for regular use.

    I'm also curious about fit issues with those bikes as many are made in just one size and I'm on the tall side.

  2. Anonymous says

    Very interested in what your take was on the electric bikes there this year. I was not impressed by the styling.

  3. Charlie says

    From a design point of view, the bikes like the Raleigh Alleyway seem to be to get lots of things right, both aesthetically and functionally. But one feature they seem to share that gets both wrong is the straight fork. Bent forks look better and they absorb shock better.

  4. Morten says

    "The Batavus BUB is the classic omafiets-meets-Rem Koolhaus… the Batavus BUB deconstructs the classic Batavus omafiets while constructing a more cosmopolitan – yet equally iconic – iteration of the classic Batavus bike." What a load of BS. The bike's an eye sore, and with no mudguards or place to put your bag, it's of little use compared to a traditional, non-ugly Batavus. Besides, it's hardly modern compared to the Globe Live 3 or Raleigh Alleyway. And the way the headtube connects to the main frame? I hope it breaks off while the wanna-be architect douche who designed it is riding it, and that he breaks his ironically nerdy, non-prescription glasses in the fall.

  5. Eric says

    Morten,

    Take a deep breath, fella. The BUB comes with a full fender set and optional rack. You're looking at a prototype. It also will feature a full chaincase, which is sorely missing on North American bikes. The head tube has more weld than a typical design, so strength is an absolute non-issue.

    I don't get the weird hostility. Moreover, I like the design. I like how it avoid the porteur style which few of my neophyte customers understand or care about. It's just a regular Batavus made a little lighter, a design long overdue in my opinion. My shop does good business with the old style Batavus too, but not everyone has $700 to spend on a bike. Maybe you don't like the aesthetic (which is fair enough), but I bet a lot of people will.

    Eric

  6. Morten says

    Eric,
    You're right, I don't like the aesthetics and that shouldn't take away from the joy others will get from the bike. The weird hostility comes from the fact that the bike seems to solve few to none of the problems related to using it daily (the lighter weight and fenders/rack does change that, thanks for the info). Instead, it comes with a blurb of pseudo-theory. As such it reminds me of Biomega's Marc Newson bike ( http://www.stylehive.com/bookmark/biomega-bicycles-by-marc-newson-153025 ), which was expensive and useless for anything other than explaining what happens if you design with no sense of function. All this is based on my subjective needs and wants for an everyday bike, and the endless people here in Copenhagen riding around with their pants tucked into their socks on rusty bikes with rusty chains and black aftermarket fenders that ruin their looks. I can't help but think there's got to be a better way;-) So far a classic, 50 pound Batavus has been the best bet, but I think the Globe Live 3 and other belt drive and disc brake equipped commuters have them beat, and if the BUB is the best we euros can come up with, I'm sticking with American bikes as my personal choice.

  7. Eric says

    Hey Morten.

    I've been to Copenhagen (CPH) many times myself and have always been startled by the bikes people ride. I've read that CPH is a newer bike culture, so it appears that its citizens are still learning things the Dutch have learned ages ago. Imagine how long it will take city bike culture to figure itself out in North America! (Actually, it might be rather quickly).

    Anyhow, I don't think the BUB competes with the Globe or Raleigh Alleyway. The Bub seems more of a short haul city bike for the truly downtown cyclist – my kind of customer. The Globe is more of a 'commuter', made for longer distances and thus speed, so I think its a different yet equally important market. I think the BUB design has fairly simple, yet humble aims. In my eyes it is merely a lighter version of the classic Dutch omafiets, perfect for taking into a NYC walkup (theft is a huge issue out here) and still durable enough to be left outside in a NYC winter. The design seems original which I respect and I think its design and price popularizes city biking, which can only be a good thing. It may not be for CPH, but it hits the nail right on the head for my market.

    I must say that I like the belt drive idea on the Globe, but I still can't help but wonder what is wrong with a chain. Every 'city bike' at Interbike had an exposed chain, as though covering it up were 'uncool'. Like you said, this ruins clothing. The belt drive is certainly an interesting solution, but my experience with Strida bikes here in the wintery Northeast is that the belt slips in the cold weather and pants (or skirts) may not get dirty, but they still get caught. So I remain unconvinced. In that way I still think the Dutch have it right. Use a chain, and cover it. It's hardly revolutionary, but it works.

    Nonetheless, I love the new designs emerging. It means city biking is being taken seriously, and that is nothing short of a miracle on this continent. CPH may not have it altogether, but it's a utopia from where I ride daily. Plus, you have akvavit, and I love that shit!

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Batavus BUB review | Bicycle Design linked to this post on February 28, 2010

    [...] may remember that the Batavus Urban Bike (BUB) was one of the new designs that really caught my attention at Interbike. Soon after the show, I was lucky enough to get the chance to try out one of the prototypes for a [...]

  2. Background on the Batavus BuB | Bicycle Design linked to this post on February 28, 2010

    [...] recently mentioned that the Batavus BuB was one of the new city/urban bikes that really caught my attention at [...]



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