Blather by Vernon Felton
Photos by JP Van Swae, Anthony Smith and Dan Barham
We've been combing the halls of Interbike, on the look-out for bikes and gear that arouse the inner bike dork within us. Here are a few such items. You can expect much, much more in the coming days. We're just brimming with geeky piss and vinegar.
Bell Segment Helmet
Bell came to Interbike this year on a serious mission--to move beyond their role as simply the affordable alternative to high-end helmets from brands like Giro and Specialized. There's a pretty bad-ass Bell helmet in every conceivable dirt-riding segment for 2013. Consider the new Segment. Sure, it looks like a simple dirt-jumper helmet, albeit one with really cool graphics (Southern California artist, Taylor Reeve did the work on this one). Get the Segment into your hands, however, and it's clear there's a surprising bit of technology going into this lid.
The Segment's shell looks rigid (the status quo), but it's flexible. Inside the helmet, a series of EPS foam segments are connected by a reinforcing skeleton. The end result? The helmet conforms to your head and is far more comfortable than the salad-bowl-esque BMX lids that populate the market. Nice.
Race Face Atlas (Kashmoney flavored) Crankset
The folks from Race Face flashed us this drop-dead beauty of a crank. The company re-worked the Atlas crankset for 2012 (the second-generation is lighter and easier to install and remove than previous versions), so it's really not much of a surprise that they company hasn't gone and crafted yet another version of the Atlas from raw unobtanium, leprechaun tears or moon cheese. Not this year. What the Atlas does do, however, is look sick.
Race Face's slick, new finish is called "Kashmoney" and the pimpalicious flavor matches Kashima-coated suspension goodies perfectly. Normally I wouldn't write a post about a new "colorway", because doing so is, admittedly, lame as hell, but come on, this is a pretty bitchin' shade of whateverhellyouwanttocallit. The Atlas also happens to be a reasonably light and absolutely bomber bit of drivetrain.
Lezyne Mega Drive Light
Lezyne has been hinting at all the R&D they've been dumping into their cycling lights of late; the new Mega Drive suggests that the company hasn't been exaggerating on that score. Their top-shelf LED light cranks out 1,000 lumens--which is impressive firepower from a small, self-contained light that can do double-duty as both a commuter light and a back-up trail light.
The Mega Drive's CNC'd aluminum body is sexy as hell and can be easily opened for battery swaps. The Mega Drive can also be charged via a USB port (a feature common to all of Lezyne's lights). Burn time varies depending on which mode you run it in (there are four distinct output modes). In the 1,000-lumen "Blast" mode, you're looking at 1.5 hours of burn time. In the 200-lumen "Economy" mode, you should get seven hours of run time. The base price is $200. If you purchase the light with the "loaded" kit (which includes the light, USB charging cable, AL handlebar mount, extra battery, CM storage box), you can expect to shell out $250.
Formula 35 Fork
We recently tested Formula's 33 fork, which is aimed at the 26er cross-country crowd. While the 33 is a promising model, what truly intrigued us is the soon-to-be-released 35 model, which marks Formula's leap into the long-travel 29er and 27.5 (650B) market. As the name implies, the fork rocks a set of burly 35-millimeter stanchions, which should help keep flex at bay.
Maximum travel for the 29er version is 140 millimeters and you can squeeze 160-millimeters of squish out of the 27.5-compatible model. You can also reduce the travel a bit by fiddling about with internal spacers. The Italian-made fork will be equipped with a 15-millimeter through axle and will feature adjustable rebound and compression damping. Expect a retail price in the $1,000 to $1,100 range (in other words, it'll cost about as much as a high-end Fox fork). We’ll be writing more about this fork in future posts because, honestly, it was one of the few surprises at this year’s tradeshow.
Smith PivLock V2 with Ignitor Photochromic lenses ($239)
The PivLock V2 was already an impressive set of shades, thanks to the easily swapped lenses, adjustable nose bridge and a bevy of other cool features. Smith is now, however, also offering photochromic lenses for the PivLock V2 and V2 Max models.
If your rides feature varying light conditions (particularly if your trails take you in and out of the woods), you'll appreciate the new lenses' ability to automatically adjust the tint. The new lenses also feature a permanent Anti-Fog Coating, which is always a plus. The new Photochromic Ignitor lens is included with the PivLock V2 & V2 Max Impossibly Black and Matte Clear models ($239). Already own a set of PivLock V2 or V2 Max glasses and are hoping you can slap in these new lenses? You’re in luck. Upgrade away.
Kenda Honey Badger
First off, somebody at Kenda deserves serious kudos for what is, without a doubt, the coolest name for any product introduced this year. Honey Badger? Hell, yes! Buy that marketing hack a beer. Hell, send me his name and I'll buy him a case. As the name suggests, the Honey Badger is supposed to be capable of tackling any kind of challenge put before it. To that end, the new tire is aimed at the trail and all-mountain end of the riding spectrum.
The Honey Badger features fast-rolling center knobs and aggressive cornering knobs. Tire casing size goes up to 2.2-inches and the dual-compound, tubeless-ready tire is available in 26, 27.5 and 29-inch sizes.
At first glance I've got to say that 2.2-inches is pretty narrow for a tire aimed at the all-mountain crowd, but who knows, perhaps the casing is bigger than the numbers imply... We'll mount `em up and see for ourselves. You can expec to see `em selling for sixty bucks a pop.
Scott Freeride Low Shoe
Here in the states, Scott is seen as a sort of bike-only company. In Europe, they are more of a monster company, with their fingers in every bit of the pie (from bikes to clothes to, well, just about everything). Scott's new Freeride shoe might just get Americans to start viewing Scott the same way–it’s certainly the first piece of Scott apparel that’s caught my eye of late. The shoe can be run on either flats or on clipless pedals. The design looks solid. Retail price should be $119.