By Eric McKeegan
An unseasonably warm weekend welcomed bike dealers (and a few media folks) from around the country to Minnesota for Frostbike, Quality Bicycle Products’ annual dealer expo. More than 150 companies were on hand to show off the goods and services you might see this spring in your favorite local bike shop.
Never heard of Quality Bicycle Products? QBP is one of the largest wholesaler of bicycle parts in the country, with three warehouses and adding more employees each year. They are also the parent company behind Surly, Salsa, Civia, All-City, Problem Solvers, Whisky, Foundry, 45NRTH, and a few other brands I’m probably forgetting. Here are some things that caught my eye and lens at the show:
Acros hydraulic shifting
We all love the juice in our brake lines these days, why not for shifting too? Those with the need for the newest fancy bits on the market can pony up $2,000 for a set of hydraulic shifters and derailleurs. That is admittedly a lot of cash, but due to the modular nature of the parts, they may never become obsolete. Currently the system can be configured for 8, 9, or 10 speed cassettes and dual or triple rings up front. The front derailleur can adapt to any type of mount currently on the market, and whole system bolts together so damaged pieces are easily replaced in case of a crash.
The shifters are a single lever type. Pushing the flat part of the shift lever shifts one way, push the angled part of the lever to rotate the lever as you push forward to shift in the other direction. Much easier to do than explain. Stay tuned, we hope to get in a set for review.
Cane Creek Double Barrel Air
This is a very complicated shock, no getting around that. But for those who really love to tinker with suspension setting, or aren’t satisfied with the stock offerings from other companies, the DBAir may be just the thing. With sizes to fit everything from downhill bikes to trail bikes, the highly adjustable nature of the DB air means there is a high probability you can get it tuned to work well with the leverage ratio of your bike and your own preferences.
See the groves between the outer body of the air can and the inner sleeve? The shock includes elastic bands (much like the now ubiquitous cause bracelets) to install in those groves, reducing air volume and increasing the stock linear spring rate. That mean you can get great non-wallow-y feel from modern mini-link bikes or a standard single pivot bike. Once the spring rate is settled the high and low compression and rebound damping circuits are used to fine tune pedaling feel, small bump compliance, etc. Fortunately Cane Creek will ship the shock at base line settings for your bike so you can at least start in the ballpark before either getting it dialed in, or getting it so far from where you want you need to call the very helpful tech support folks at Cane Creek.
While 45NRTH only had tires to show, they are also developing products to keep hands and feet warm in the cold. The first tire to reach production is the Husker Du, an all-purpose fat bike tire. The tread pattern looks like it would work well just about anywhere, snow or dirt, and the prototype studded version shown in the ice sculpture could be the ticket for mixed snow and ice rides. Look for studded tires in more standard 700c and 26” sizes too.
Salsa fat full suspension prototype
Salsa displayed one of the built up prototypes we blogged about a few weeks ago. In person the bike doesn’t look as odd as I expected, although the front fork looks woefully under-built for this application (or any off-road application in my opinion).
There’s no new details to report at this point, and Salsa is quick to admit this may lead nowhere, or it may lead to an awesome off-road bike. The prototype riders seem quite excited to see if the two very different dampers (tires and suspension) will play well together.
Surly Ultra New Hub
There are no doubt thousands of Surly hubs out there, I have one myself on the bike I rode to work today. They are cheap and strong, but many folks have problems keeping the bearings in adjustment. The Ultra New Hub should fix that problem with an update to more modern non-adjustable bearing system. Gone are the lock nuts and angular contact bearings of the past, now press fit axle caps with serious knurling should keep things in place, although fixed riders may need a axle tug to keep the wheel in place with the new 5mm bolts that replace the track nuts of old.
Also shown is a prototype of a trailer hitch that slots into the accessory ports on Xtracycle compatible longtails. The hitch is specific to Surly’s own Bill and Ted flat bed cargo trailers.
NoTubes Arch EX
Stan has been busy updating his rims over the last year or so, and the Arch gets many of the updates the 355 received when it was updated to become the Crest. A redesigned bead socket and shorter sidewall make for a wide internal width (21mm vs the old Arch’s 19mm) and lighter overall weight (about 20 grams). NoTubes claims the rim is also stronger than the already sturdy Arch. This looks to be a solid improvement to what is one of the best all around rims on the market.
As the name states, Problem Solvers’ mission is to identify problems and create ways to solve them. They had quite a few “why didn’t I think of that?” products at FrostBike.
Truing Stand Axle Adapters: These axle adapters are designed to quickly and simply allow thru-axle wheels to be installed in a truing stand. They are available in front (15/20mm) or rear (10/12mm), and the o-rings mean they won’t fall out when you pull it out of the stand for de-stressing.
PF-30 Eccentric BB: This eccentric converts a BB30 Press Fit frame for single speed use.
Canti post light mounts: I have two bikes with disc brakes that have unused cantilever brake mounts (horray for discs!) sticking out like sore thumbs. This product makes them usefull again as a light mounting location, great for use with bikes with portuer racks or handlebar bags that would block a handlebar mounted light.
QR nut light mount: Maybe your bike is still using your canti studs, or maybe you don’t have any at all? In about 10 seconds you can unthread the nut from your quick release skewer, thread this on and mount up a headlight. Some people are big fans of the broad beam a low mount light provides. Not recommended for rear use, freestyle tricks, or a place for your friend to stand when you are riding home from the playground.
Singlespeed derailleur mount: Got a bike with track ends you want to run a derailleur on? This little gem will allow you to do so. Maybe do something with that 26” single speed you never ride anymore, or slap on a geared rear wheel for some bike packing action.
Two Pulley Chain Tensioner: There are plenty of single pulley chain tensioners on the market, and for the most part they work well at tensioning a chain. What they don’t do well is adapt to changing chain length. That makes the Tow Pulley tensioner well-suited to converting full suspension bikes to a single rear cog, or running 2 chain rings up front to give your single speed a road an off-road gear, making riding to the ride a bit more bearable.
Kind Shock is becoming known as a dropper post manufacturer and markets itself as KS more often now. In the last issue of Dirt Rag we had a dropper post group test, but unfortunately the new LEV from KS wasn’t ready yet. If the performance matches up with the features, this is going to be a serious contender in the dropper post market. The ambidextrous remote is slim and ergonomic feeling, the post is available in a 27.2 size with no remote reservoir (Ellsworth and Ventana folks take note), and the cable has a mounting point that doesn’t move as the seat post drops.
Famous for their darn near indestructible vacuum bottles, Stanley is diretly targeting the cycling market with some pretty choice food transport devices.
The three bottles pictured here will fit in a standard bottle cage, and can be opened with one hand to drink on the bike, but seal up tightly enough to slip into a bag without fear of spillage. The middle and right bottles are insulated to keep your hot hot and your cold cold.
This lunch case fits into a bag much easier than the old-time steel worker luch box, and will keep your sandwhich, sushi or shrimp cocktail safe from smashing. And I have it on good authority that even though it is labeled for MAN LUNCH, it should work fine for ladies too.