By Josh Patterson
I’ve always loved Interbike. I may not always be in the market for a new bike but I enjoy seeing the direction the industry is headed and how they are attempting to get there. This year, there are two trends I’m watching with selfish curiosity.
Disc Brakes for Cyclocross
I’ve been a proponent of disc brakes for cyclocross for a long time. While disc-equipped ‘cross bikes have sporadically popped up from several different companies over the past decade, it wasn’t until the UCI recently granted approval of disc brakes in UCI-sanctioned cyclocross races that the impetus for further development this technology existed.
At Sea Otter we saw the early signs of where things are headed. We spied a prototype of Specialized’s disc-specific Crux. In Issue #159 I interviewed Ned Overend; he and fellow Specialized racer Todd Wells are both huge proponents of disc brakes for cyclocross. Specialized is one of the first of the big names to embrace disc-equipped ‘cross bikes. As such, they are setting the agenda for many of the “standards.” Thankfully, the big red S has chosen to use the 135mm rear spacing, rather than the 130mm road standard, which makes finding a compatible wheelset easy; almost any 135mm-spaced 29er wheelset will work just fine. Specialized offer a disc version of the Crux complete or as a frameset.
While hydraulic brake systems fully-integrated with road shifters aren’t available yet, there are many companies working on interim solutions such as external master cylinders, most of which mount underneath the stem or handlebar. TRP has the Parabox, 324 Labs hacks Formula R1 brakes (pictured above), and Hope recently unveiled a system similar to the TRP Parabox at Eurobike.
There were quite a few disc-specific carbon and aluminum cyclocross bikes shown at Eurobike—I’m expecting a similar turnout in Las Vegas.
29er Trail Bikes
I’m calling it now: 2012 will be the year of the 29er trail bike. We’ve already seen the debut of new 120-140mm full suspension 29ers from Banshee (Prime, pictured above), Ibis (Ripley), Kona (Satori), Transition (Bandit Two9), Salsa (Horsetheif), Commencal (Meta AM 29), and Yeti (SB-95). This seems to be the latest niche in need of filling.
Most companies seem to agree that all the pieces are finally here: sturdy wheels, high-volume tires, and the Fox 34, a 140mm-travel 29er suspension fork—which is spec’d on almost all of these new bikes—rounds out trifecta.
I’ll admit, like many others, I was waiting with bated breath for the first glimpse of the Ibis Ripley. Since testing an Ibis Mojo HD early this spring I’ve been impressed not only with the company’s bikes, but also how they do business. Ibis brings bikes to market on their terms, and on their timeline.
Even for readers who have not imbibed the 29er Kool-Aid the Ripley is newsworthy. It’s a step forward not only in the development on lightweight, longer-travel 29ers, but also of suspension technology. Dave Weigle’s dw-link reduced to its most minimal form: two eccentric pivots. Click here to learn more about this suspension design.
What do you want to see?
So there you have it. Disc ‘cross bikes and trail 29ers are the two types of bikes I’m most looking forward to checking out.
But it’s what you want to see that will determine Dirt Rag’s coverage. This year, we’re stepping things up a notch and making sure we cover the things you want to see. We’re harnessing a higher power to help us with our coverage. Yes, you guessed it, Facebook. Use the comments below, or check out our home page all next week, and tell us what you want to see and we’ll do our best to bring you the latest and greatest from Interbike.