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INTERBIKE EAST 1999
I woke up at an obscenely early hour on a Sunday, I think it was 9:00am. I went to the 30-cup coffee pot for a cup of liquid crack and to my dismay it was empty. Not a good sign, I thought to myself as I pulled my stuff together for a day of bikes. I headed to Dunkin' Donuts for coffee and a Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a bagel, only to find out they were out of bagels. Bad sign number two.
We pulled up to Mountain Creek after passing what seemed like 20 Wayne cops and saw the trucks and trailers for the bike companies. I began to froth at the mouth. Any of you who actually know me, know my insatiable appetite for bicycles. From my little Mod trials bike to my STA to my Rocky Mountain, I love to ride and that was what I was going to get to do today. This was an open-air show with the chance to test ride the Y2K offerings from our favorite companies.
The first familiar face was Ken from SRAM. SRAM is the maker of the Gripshift system for mountain bikes. He set me up with some new Halfpipe shifters and a derailleur for the Rocky Mountain. I have to test them out so you will be hearing about them in the coming weeks. We then moved on to the Bulldog booth. They were still setting up when we got there, but they got their frames built up. At first glance the frames looked solid. The bikes at the show were decked out in the top of the line parts like Counter Balance cranks, Landing Gear forks and Slam bars. The frame/component selection was a perfect match. The craftsmanship in the welds was impeccable. The box style rear end was solid under heavy pedaling and the handling was quick. I am impressed with Bulldog's initial offering! Kudos!
After Bulldog, Grant and I made our way to the S&M booth. There we met one of the owners and founders, Chris Moeller. The conversation that ensued was enlightening and hilarious! I laughed my ass off. We talked about "the pedals," the frames, the handlebars and the BMX magazine industry. The pedals are in fact made by Wellgo. After admitting that, he hucked the pedals off into the woods, an admission that the pedals suck. I can second his opinion -- I break them and bust the pins out all the time. I think Chris is a little frustrated with the attention the pedals are getting. They have stolen the spotlight from the now "straight" handlebars S&M is manufacturing. It was pointed out to Chris that his bars we not always straight, so he moved manufacturing in house and spent a load of money on a new system of bending them. Originally the bars were bent four separate times then welded. They are now bent in one continuos process, assuring accuracy and consistency! Chris then dragged us to the NBL booth to show us the NBL banner in which every rider in the gate was riding S&M bars. Good for a laugh because you know some of those PRO riders have contracts with other companies. S&M bikes once again holding their own products up to he highest of standards. We also got a look at the frames for next year. Nothing insanely exciting, just S&M making dope stuff.
The conversation with Chris turned the publishing of BMX magazines and their advertising driven content. He had some choice words on a couple of magazines. He brought out the point that many of the magazines will not publish a review of a product that might offend that manufacture. The magazines are so interested in the advertising dollar that they are willing to sell their readers on products that suck! We talked about how there is a lack of trustable information available for kids and their parents to utilize when researching which bike or equipment would best suit the rider. Both Grant and I agreed. Chris also spoke to the fact that he is now BLACKLISTED from a couple of the magazines. He has started his own magazine called DIG. I saw it for the first time in August before I knew it came from him and thought it was rad. At the time I was working as a bike mechanic down in NC. The pictures are great and so are the articles. I suggest you go to your local bike shop and pick one up and give it a try. Chris was interesting and thought provoking, we hope to get out to California to check out the S&M compound and do a behind the scenes on the factory!
From S&M, we went to see the people at Diamondback. The rig was there with the full force of reps to satisfy our every inquiry. We spoke with Scott Matual, the BMX guru/advocate at Diamondback. He gave us the run down on their Y2K push in the BMX market. Diamondback's offerings were pretty typical of a large company. They covered top-of –the-line to price point and they did it in style. Their price point bikes for you younger riders were well equipped and solidly built. I took their initial offering in the cruiser market, the class I race, for a ride and found it to be stiff and responsive. The Reactor's geometry was satisfactory. My only complaint was the weight. I do have to say that I race a bike that costs almost 2.5 times what their cruiser retails for. The bike is a race worthy machine and an excellent value at its price point, and even comes stock with 3-piece cranks. Check out your local retailer or the DB web site for more info.
We spoke to a few more companies; it is worth noting Surly. They hooked us up with some dope stickers and T-shirts. They manufacture one speeds, on and off road, cyclecross bikes, hubs, chain tensioners and chianring protectors. I dig the one speed thing, so I was in heaven. Sometime in the near future they are coming out with a messenger bike for the city. It will retail fairly cheaply. Contact them and show interest in the frame so it arrives on the market faster and I can get one!
The Interbike 99 show was fun. I ended up after a couple of downhill runs with a knee the size of a grapefruit and looking like a bowl of pasta with red sauce. I can now, a week later, just begin to bend it all the way. I spoke to a couple of people who said the show was pretty sad compared to years' past. I can understand that because it follows on the heels of the BIG one in Vagas just two weeks earlier. Big or sad, I enjoyed myself and got to meet a bunch of cool people, got to see some cool rides and got some info for the hungry readers.
Copyright 1999. All rights reserved.