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Interbike 2003 Las Vegas
Sheldon Brown photo
by Sheldon Brown
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Interbike is the annual bicycle trade show for the U.S. bicycle industry. In recent years, it has been held in Las Vegas. This show is not open to the public, only to people in the bicycle business, or those who can fool the guards into thinking they're in the bicycle business (which isn't easy!).

Interbike is traditionally the place for announcements of new models and new products for the coming season, so it can be quite interesting. Here's some of what interested me, of what I saw:

The Vegas show is in two parts, the main show at the Sands Convention Center, and the Outdoor Demo in Boulder City (20 some miles out of vegas.)

I arrived on October 10th, late in the day, and spent the 11th at the Outdoor Demo. This is a much less formal event than the indoor show. It was held halfway up the side of a canyon, with a paved road going down, and a series of dirt trails going up. The actual show area was also dirt, and became quite dusty later in the day. The booths were mostly open-sided tent tops.

vegas03-crowd2 vegas03-crowd5 vegas03-crowd7

During the late afternoon, there was a bit of excitement as a dust devil (mini tornado) struck, and lifted up a couple of these tents 10-15 feet in the air!

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My major interest was the new Shimano Nexus 8-speed hub, and I got to ride a couple of them. The first one was on a lady's Bianchi Milano, which I couldn't get the saddle nearly high enough on, but I took off down the long downhill straightaway, passing everybody in sight. (I'm very fast downhill, not so fast climbing.) The Milano has the Nexus Rollerbrake on the rear, and a V-Brake on the front. While I normally use my front brake for 99% of my braking needs, I also run the front brake on the right side lever on my own bikes. On the Milano I was curious to see how well the Rollerbrake would work, so initially that was the one I used. At first it seemed adequately powerful, but screaming down the steep hill then trying to stop at the bottom, I discovered that these brakes suffer considerable fade. I was very glad to have the front V-brake. I weigh about 230 pounds at the moment, and it was a pretty serious descent, so I'm sure I was outside the norm for Rollerbrake usage. It is probably quite adequate for the sort of user who typically buys a bike like the Milano.

The 8-speed shifting worked quite well, even shifting nicely under load. The wider jump between 5th and 6th gear was noticeable, but not terrible. My general impression of the hub was quite favorable, and I'm looking forward to getting one to try out on one of my own bikes.

The next thing I rode was a dual-suspension Raleigh MTB from the SRAM booth, mainly to try out the new SRAM under-bar shifters. These seemed to work just fine, pretty much like Shimano RapidFire Plus, except that the release trigger (index finger) worked by lifting upward rather than pulling backward. Only took a bit of getting used to.

vegas03-lucabike1 I meandered down to the Rohloff booth, where there was a very pretty carbon fiber bike called "LucaBike." It's a quite deluxe semi-recumbent cruiser, with an innovative rotary rear shock, belt drive, and an unusual pedaling system that uses toothed belts to cause the pedals to rotate in an ellipse, rather than a circle. The long axis of the ellipse is roughly perpendicular to the leg, so it provides a lot of leverage in the main power phase, but without requiring a great deal of knee flex. In my short ride, I rather liked the way it felt.

vegas03-greenspeed I've been interested in Greenspeed trikes ever since I got to ride a friend's Greenspeed tandem a couple of years ago. This was the first chance I had to ride one of their singles, and what a blast it was! I dearly lust for one of these, and also hope to become a dealer for them, if we can find room in our rather small shop...

vegas03-nexus8-3 There is a sort of middle ground between recumbents and uprights, and I rode a couple of bikes in that category. The Electra "Townie" was a happy surprise, quite a bit lighter than it looks. I rode one with the Nexus 8-speed, and was very favorably impressed. The forward pedaling position actually allows the saddle to be adjusted so the rider can get both feet on the ground (as many inexperienced cyclists strongly desire) and yet have decent leg extension for effective pedaling. I took this on one of the offroad climbs, and it worked fine. With this type of position, one tends to pull backward on the handlebars, and not to rest any weight on them.

I then rode a Giant Revive, with a similar looking position. We've seen these before, and Giant is promoting them fairly heavily to dealers, so I was eager to try one. I found it quite disappointing, however. It was comfortable enough, but really very bad at climbing. It's probably a good alternative to a beach cruiser for flatland use, but it's a loser for hillier terrain. Some of this was probably due to the weight, some due to the inadequate low gearing.

There was other stuff of some interest at the Outdoor Demo, see also my page of photographs.

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Main Show, Sands Exposition Center

I spent two days at the main show, starting with an early morning seminar from Santana Tandems. Glad I was still on Eastern time, 'cause I'm not used to being anywhere but dreamland at 7 am. The Santana technology looks great, and the seminar was parcicularly worthwhile for me, because I won a pair of Shimano wheels as a door prize!


The new ownership of Brooks, Selle Royal, seems to be on the ball, and there is a lot happening in the Brooks line.

The hottest item is the reborn version of the Swallow, now with a titanium frame. It looks gorgeous, and everybody's eagerly awaiting its going into actual production. I expect to sell a lot of these whenever they actually arrive.


Giant has a very nice looking trailercycle, and also a good looking jogging stroller, that we'll probably be carrying.

They've also got a very nice aluminum quick-release front basket that fits on bikes with cantilever brakes. The rack attaches to the cantilever bosses and the fork crown bolt, and the whole setup looks very nicely set up. Lots of folks want a front basket, but most of them attach to the handlebars, and they frequently interfere with the brake and shift cables.

Quality Bicycle Products

We do a lot of business with QBP, and they had a big booth, as usual. A couple of items caught my eye: Winwood Decksters, a set of clip-on platforms to let you ride your clipless pedals with street shoes, and the Salsa Juan Solo frame, a superlight scandium singlespeed frame with an eccentric bottom bracket. This would be a great choice for use with a Rohloff or other internal gear hub.


There wasn't actually too much at the Specialized booth, because Specialized runs its own dealer show, but we spoke to Specialized and signed on as dealers for the line for the first time. Specialized doesn't allow Internet sales, so we'll only be selling their products at our retail store.


20-longhaultrucker The big excitement at Surly was the Long Haul Trucker, Surly's first loaded-touring frameset. Should be a hot item for 2004.

Surly also showed a prototype of a super-wide rim, musta been 3 inches wide. No frames yet exist to use this, but it could be the start of a new category of bikes for surfaces/conditions not otherwise rideable if it catches on.


TA has discontinued its Zephyr crank set, buthas a new model, "Carima" with 8 different interchangeable spiders for different bolt patterns. The spider attachment is with a spline and lockring, similar to newer Shimano MTB cranks. Details follow on my Cranks page when available.


Truvativ cranks seem to be everywhere this year, and they've earned a good reputation for quality and value.

I finally learned how to pronounce the brand name, it's "True VAY tive", a contraction of "truly innovative."

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Sheldon Brown's Photos of the Outdoor Demo

Sheldon Brown's Photos of the Main Show

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Articles by Sheldon Brown and others
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