If you’re a jaded bike-industry insider, you basically have two options: complain about Interbike, or complain about people complaining about Interbike. But the fact is, for a big segment of the North American retail and consumer base, this show is still a big deal.
Nowhere is the contrast between industry and retail attitude clearer than at Outdoor Demo, which Interbike puts on in the days leading up to the indoor show. The consumers and retail employees testing bikes and walking the expo (however reduced in grandeur it may be this time around) seem psyched to be there, and genuinely grateful for the opportunity to ride so many different bikes in the span of a couple days. Or maybe it’s just that there was a healthy cloud-cover on Tuesday, which shielded attendees from the soul-shriveling rays of the Nevada sun. Whatever it was, there were a lot of happy people out there. Here’s what some of them had to say.
“It just makes you laugh. We did a little bit of singletrack–enough to get ourselves in trouble. Because it’s so long it feels really stable. As long as there are no tight turns, it just kind of rolls,” said Sampson. “If we had the money, and all the other bikes in the world, this would be a fun bike to have. It’s great to be at Interbike because this is something we would have otherwise never even thought to experience.”
“It’s a Haro subvert, 650-plus-B, very nice. You almost don’t need suspension. The back end is so soft, you go over stuff and it just sucks it right up. I took a little spill, a little loose sand in a corner washed the front end out. I’m okay…just add it to the list!”
Seth: “I felt like it was more about just the flow, and flying around, and worrying less about looking up the hill and thinking ‘oh crap, I gotta climb up there.”
Mathias: “I felt guilty the whole time–until my battery went out. Then I didn’t feel guilty.”
“It was good, except that they didn’t tighten the seatpost down enough.”
Which was your favorite bike today: “I rode the Scalpel, I rode the KTM, I rode the Marin Rift Zone. Either the Marin Rift Zone or the new Cannondale Scalpel. I was impressed with the Scalpel. Having ridden it before, with their new design, they’ve definitely made that a better bike. The old Scalpel was really aggressive, and it felt like the rear suspension on the old Scalpel felt like it had a lot more bob. They figured it out. That’s a super fun bike to ride.”
“We’re an Ellsworth dealer…we’re just trying out their new product line. Being from San Diego, it’s nice to have some local brands that we can support.”
“It [the gearbox] felt good, but you’ve got to time your shifts real carefully. For a hardtail, it’s real fast.”
“So it’s a leaf-spring fork, which is kind of a new idea to me. Their claim to fame is that they’ve got a really light fork that’s lighter than the Bluto by a fraction, but designed for a different kind of riding…they call it adventure riding. I thought that it had absolutely no dampening qualities whatsoever. To use my friend Jeff’s analogy, it’s like a basketball that just immediately recoils. I thought the bike was kind of nice. It handled well.”
“I kind of felt like I was cheating because it’s an electric bike.” “I took the road up, and I took the trails back. Twice. Because of the time up, I was like, ‘wow, that was quick’ and then did another loop out here. The suspension on this is great. I love the Pike. I’d never been on a Pike before, and I’ve heard a lot about it.”
Will you keep your normal bike? “Yeah, I’m still going to do the work. This one was definitely fun for today, though, after doing several loops on the manual bikes.”
Your favorite bike so far? “I’d have to say the Bad Habit. You know, I loved the Pivot 429 Trail, but I’m thinking I had too much air in the tires. With the Cannondale, I let some more air out, and it was just a rocking ride.”
“We rode out to the Hoover Dam, so that was half gravel. I really like the 650–it’s really plush, takes the edge off. The Lefty’s funky–I spent the first couple miles feeling it out and playing with it. You forget that it’s there once you get settled on the bike, and it just kinda works really well.”
“You just wonder what it can do, and it just amazes me what it can,” said Kathy. “I keep going back to my bike, which is a Curtlo and I love it–it’s custom built just for me, 26-inch wheels and full suspension, and I kept thinking, ‘I bet my bike can do this.’ I just love my bike. It’s fun to try other bikes, but I’ll probably always ride a Curtlo.”
“Uh, of course it’s an Intense. Everyone likes Intense. Right now I’m trying to see how much information I can pick up on the two-by versus the SRAM 12-speed. Currently I don’t like the steps of Eagle. It seems like it loses its fine tuning to get you a broader range. This still has all the problems of front derailleurs, but I like that there are smaller steps.”
“I would have never ridden an E-fatbike. Ever. This thing is hilarious,” said Scot. “My ears just popped from coming down,” added Rick. Scot, who came out for Loveland Bike Rental, and to announce at Cross Vegas, feels Interbike as a whole is still valuable. “They’ve got a pretty good selection of bikes this year–not as many as last year, for sure. I know they talk about Outdoor Demo, maybe it’s losing a bit of its luster, and stuff like that, but look around. There’s people everywhere, and these are all people buying bikes. There’s a waitlist of over a half-hour to get on a bike today. So, I don’t know where that’s coming from. I’ve always enjoyed Outdoor Demo and have picked up brands and people have bought bikes because of the bikes we came out here and tested. We’re from the Midwest, and you don’t get a whole lot of mountain bike demo days going on out there.”
“I took it on literally every single trail they had, and it’s an endurance bike for sure. I think I rode like 20 miles today, just jumping and hucking it everywhere. It’s a really playful bike, grips really nice on the switchbacks. I’m liking the plus size and the smaller wheel format. It makes it more playful for sure.”
“I rode a lot of great bikes today, it’s just, I rode this one maybe a little too hard. Went right into a rock, and pinched it. But it’s all good,” said Apollo, who added that this is not the first time he’s flatted a fatbike tire.
Your favorite bike so far? “The most fun I had was on the Devinci Marshall–it’s just so confident and just a really stable platform.”
“We keep saying that it’s hard to make a bad bike in this day and age, but this is a pretty bad bike,” said Chris. The best way I can describe it is that it feels like a 29er, but without any of the benefits of a 29er.” “He summed it up pretty well,” agreed Melissa. “The pricepoint is really great, though.”
Your favorite bike so far?
Melissa: “I got on the Firebird from Pivot, which was awesome. It felt really comfortable, really smooth. The suspension system is top notch.”
Chris: “The GT Sensor is super cool, that bike is super fun–really poppy and playful. That suspension system gives you really good anti-squat, but doesn’t feel too harsh on the top end.”
“Singlespeed is definitely not quite at home out here,” said Nick. “But it’s a blast.”
“I’m a one-by-ten guy so I was huffing,” remarked Jeremy.
“There’s something about it, maybe because it’s aluminum. My full-suspension bike–believe it or not–is steel, and it has a much nicer feel. I’ve also ridden carbon, and that’s a little softer. This thing is a little, it feels like it has a mind of its own–I think probably because I’m feeling more of the chatter coming through the aluminum.”
Your favorite bike so far?
“My favorite bikes have been the Karate Monkey and the Timberwolf. Both of those are hardtails so maybe I’m a bit picky.”
“I like this GT. It’s 140 travel in the front–the geometry’s pretty great–it’s neutral–really great for climbing and descending. I’ve tried a whole bunch–one from Ellsworth, one from Pivot, I tried an Osto, I tried like three different electronic bikes. I really like this bike.”
“The tires are really predictable. Some of the rocky stuff out here is really gnarly, and you don’t even really have to pick your lines nicely.”
“You gotta do at least one loop to get used to the conditions here, and kind of refresh yourself if you’ve ridden here before, and then get a bit juicier and explore the bike more once you’re confident again.”
“I was interested in the Advocate company because they seem to be a non-profit. We also work for a non-profit–a bike-sharing program in Denver. We really like these bikes. I really wanted to try out a fatbike with a suspension fork, said Phil, who wasn’t impressed by the added squish up front. “I personally think I like the simplicity of a rigid fork, and picking smarter lines over bombing through things.”
“I’d never ridden a fatbike before, and he just called me a ‘retro-grouch’ because I thought they were silly,” said Kate. “I didn’t have that much interest in it but it was really fun.”
Your favorite bike so far?
Phil: “I rode one of the Merckx gravel bikes and I was super impressed by how nimble that bike felt even with low tire pressure. It felt like it rode like a road bike on the pavement and had a little bit of added abilities when you went off into the gravel.”
Kate: “My favorite bike is the bike I already own, the Surly Karate Monkey. Can’t give it up. Also can’t afford a new bike, so I’m going to stay in love with my bike.”