Interbike 2018 day one: Smart tech, Merlin returns, and more

by James Huang


After two decades in Las Vegas, Nevada, it certainly feels more than a little odd to attend Interbike in nearby Reno. But despite the less vibrant neon lights, dingier vibe, and distinct paucity of fabricated glitz and glamour, what thankfully hasn’t changed much is the wealth of new gear on tap. Sure, most of the major bike brands have now decided to hold their own in-house events instead of attending trade shows, but what the events lack from bigger players has been replaced by interesting bits from smaller labels that previously may have gone unnoticed.

Check out what caught the eye of CyclingTips global tech editor James Huang on day one of this year’s show, and stay tuned for continuing coverage in the days ahead.

Be sure to also check out the rest of our coverage from the Interbike trade show.

Canadian company Stac uses a laser scanner attached to an Apple iPad to generate a 3D digital model of you and your bike that can then be analyzed using computational fluid dynamics. According to Stac, the resultant data can provide aero drag data nearly as good as what you’d get in a wind tunnel, but at a tiny fraction of the cost. It’s an exceptionally intriguing proposition. Photo: Stac.

Stac doesn’t claim that its virtual wind tunnel system can digitally determine which 60mm-deep wheel is best for you and your bike. But it’ll supposedly provide more than enough detail to determine the best body position and general equipment profiles to maximize your aero gains. Photo: Stac.

Stac also showed off its Zero Halcyon smart trainer. It can be controlled by third-party apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, and Kinomap, but the resistance is generated by a non-contact eddy current system.

Stac’s Zero Halcyon non-contact eddy current resistance unit only works with metal rims, but since the wheel itself comprises part of the system, there are no additional moving parts, and, thus, no additional noise.

To provide a more realistic road feel, Stac has devised a flywheel system that can bolted to standard rear wheels. Retail price for the Zero Halcyon smart trainer is US$799.

Czech carbon frame builder Favorit made its first trip to the United States in search of a local disributor. Although many outside Europe likely haven’t heard of the brand, it’s been in business since 1922.

Favorit says its carbon tubes are molded in-house. The multi-sided main tubes on the F1 Super Special feature a network of internal ribs that the company says increases torsional rigidity without affecting ride quality.

As the name suggests, the Favorit F1 Classic boasts a more traditional look. From a distance, you could be forgiven for thinking this frame was made of metal, not carbon fiber.

Favorit’s internal cable routing design is rather distinctive.

Favorit also offers the F3 range of gravel, adventure, and cyclocross bikes, all also made from carbon fiber.

The chainstay bridge on the Favorit F3 is admirably delicate-looking.

This would be one heck of a townie.

Wahoo Fitness and Pioneer announced a new integration partnership at this year’s Interbike show. It’s the first time a non-Pioneer head unit will display the power meter’s full suite of power metrics. Pioneer says it chose Wahoo Fitness over Garmin because of the company’s proven track record of seamless integration and user friendliness. Both companies are likely to benefit from the collaboration, which will require no additional expenditure and will be backward-compatible with all older Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT computers and Pioneer power meters.

All Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT and ELEMNT Bolt computers will instantly pair with Pioneer power meters once a firmware update is rolled out on October 1. Rides uploaded to the Wahoo Fitness app will also be automatically pushed over to Pioneer’s Cyclo-Sphere software network for more in-depth analysis. The whole system is designed to be painlessly integrated and seamless in typical Wahoo Fitness fashion.

SRAM’s stock system isn’t the only way to put together a Red eTap electronic drivetrain. TRP’s novel design lets you use SRAM’s Blip shift buttons on TRP hydraulic brakes.

The TRP hybrid system requires those Blip shift buttons to be connected to a separate wireless transmitter, but it works nonetheless.

SRAM Red eTap derailleurs and shifters, but TRP brakes? Yep, that works.

The legendary Merlin Metalworks brand is back once again, this time under the umbrella of the same company that owns Dean Titanium Bicycles. Both brands will use similar titanium tubing sourced from Sandvik and Haynes, but all Merlin frames will use fittings made by Paragon Machine Works.

Along with the rebirth of Merlin comes the resurrection of the old Newsboy model. Merlin will produce just eight copies in total, all fully custom, and all expensive. Retail price for the frame alone is US$5,000. If you missed out on these the first time around, consider this your second shot.

The Merlin Newsboy sports a classic cruiser-like shape.

The bullets on the reborn Merlin Newsboy are a lot pointier than they were the first time around, but they’re no less distinctive.

Will Merlin’s second rebirth have more staying power this time? That remains to be seen.

Redshift Sports has followed up on its successful ShockStop suspension stem with the new ShockStop suspension seatpost. The parallelogram mechanism keeps the saddle level as the system moves through its travel. Inside the seatpost shaft is a steel coil spring.

A double lip seal helps keep the insides clean and running smoothly. But Redshift Sports also supplies a small plastic “fender” to provide further protection if users expect to find themselves in especially dusty or muddy conditions.

Each stainless steel axle pin rotates on brass bushings. Time will tell how well they hold up over the long term.

Spring preload is adjusted with a simple threaded cap on the bottom of the Redshift Sports ShockStop seatpost.

Landyachtz showed off a redesigned version of its Reform heat-moldable saddle, this time with a more modern shape reminiscent of the Specialized Power, PRO Stealth, and other clipped-nose designs.

A full carbon fiber shell on the revamped Landyachtz Reform heat-moldable saddle saves a lot of weight (and adds more tunability) relative to the thermoplastic inserts used on the original version. Claimed weight on this one is less than 200g.

A small connector under the nose of the saddle provides current to the heating elements that are embedded in the shell. According to Landyachtz, just three minutes are needed to make the shell pliable, allowing users to tweak the shape to their liking. Retail price is US$350, and this updated version will be available around March 2019.

New company Crown Roller showed off an intriguing concept at this year’s Interbike show. The convex rollers look like they’d make your bike want to drift off to the sides, but in reality, the opposite is true.

According to Crown Roller, your bike will naturally want to follow the path of least resistance. And since a smaller-diameter drum generates more resistance than a larger one, the wheels inherently are drawn toward the middle, leading to safer and more stable indoor riding. I sampled it myself during the show, and guess what – it works!

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