Utility Cycling at Interbike 2010
This years Interbike is the last Interbike to be held in fabulous Las Vegas, NV, its home for the past decade. Interbike is the North American trade show for the cycling industry. This includes all things and all products that are involved, even remotely, with the cycling world. Ten years ago, Interbike was buzzing with the rise in popularity of cycling in the U.S. fueled by Lance Armstrong and the USPS team’s domination of the Tour De France. Since that time the changing face of cycling in American has been represented by each years Interbike. Over the last few years a shift has taken place. Carbon fiber race bikes and high end components used to be the hot items. Now, as people have become more conscious of their spending and environmental impact, the utility side of cycling has become more popular. This year I expect the utility aspect of cycling to be just as popular as the high end racing products.
In particular, I am looking forward to seeing the presence of e-bikes at this years Interbike. Electric assist bikes or e-bikes as they have been come to be called, have already experienced huge increase in popularity in Europe. Many of us are hoping to see the same trend happen here in the U.S. Electric bikes have the potential to bridge the gap to the non-cyclists of the country. To get people who otherwise wouldn’t use a bike as their transportation out and riding by decreasing the stress associated with commuting by bike.
As well as e-bikes, we are expecting to see a greater focus on purposed designed and built bikes, mainly from the stand point of once again integrating cycling in to your daily life as your primary transportation. Long tail bikes and cargo bikes appeared on the market a few years ago and since then major players in the cycling industry such as Trek our going to release their own version of a cargo bike, including an electrical assist option, at this years Interbike. Coming from a racing background I always like to see the new, flashy, expensive, light weight products, but as a cyclist who commutes by bike I find my elf much more intrigued by how an industry adapts to the changes of consumers and in this case consumers are asking for more user friendly “I want to ditch my car and use my bike for everything” products. Unlike many other industries who don’t really provide a positive reinforcement to the environment and peoples health, the cycling industry although still plagued by the woes of modern manufacturing can contribute in a positive manner to consumers and the environment.
One thought that has been developing is the idea of a do it all bike, one that is completely able to replace a car, elevating any excuses one might have for choosing a vehicle or a bike. This bike would meet all utility and commuter needs, integrated lockable storage, a sturdy frame and bike racks, integrated lights, and of course electric assist. Of coerce, this bike doesn’t exist quite yet, but I think this years Interbike will reveal parts of the whole, maybe not the perfect do-it-all bike, but different parts of this bike that companies are putting into production that one day might lead to a complete ultimate utilitarian bike that is inviting to use as the all to tempting car.
What better place to work towards reducing our reliance on our automobiles then Las Vegas, the pinnacle of consumption, waste, and un-organized transportation, where a bicycle is actually the best way to get around. Next year, Interbike heads to Anaheim, Ca. The change in venue will certainly be interesting, and I hope that the focus on making bikes and cycling more “normal” will be continue on in this change of venue. Perhaps with Hollywood nearby, the cycling culture can find ways to better mix with pop culture and open up some new opportunities especially in the direction of utility cycling.
Over the next few days, we’ll be doing our best to scour the halls of Interbike, gathering as much exciting news, product launches and good vibes aimed in the general direction of utility cycling to broadcast back to you. We’ll also be working on our 2010 Utility Cycling Awards (see our 2009 results). Finally, for our most current updates, we’ll be posting our thoughts and a few images to our Utility Cycling Twitter. Here’s looking forward to a great gathering of the cycling industry kicked off this morning with an opening addressed by Portland based Congressmen and cycling advocate, Earl Blumenauer.