16 Cool, Mostly Bike-Related Things From the Outdoor Retailer Show

Gear Shoes
3. Thule integrates handy work stand into new bike travel cases

Hard case or soft case, Thule’s new pair of bike boxes each include wheel bags, an integrated work stand and retail for $599.

Bikes and air travel go together like peanut butter and pickles. Compounding the already cumbersome task of navigating airports with an awkward, heavy container is the indignity of the hotel-as-bike-shop. It seems you’re either out in the parking lot fumbling for tools in the dark, or inside tripping over the bike box and decorating your room with grease. Thule’s pair of clever new bike boxes add a handy, integrated work stand to the mix that just might save you from having to pony up for a new set of Egyptian cotton sheets.

Both boxes–one is a hard case, the other soft-sided—accommodate bikes with wheelbases up to 46 inches, meaning almost any road, cyclocross or mountain bike (including downhill) fits. The convertible fork mount accommodates 9 mm quick releases, as well as 15 and 20 mm through-axels. They’re both equipped with a pair of wheel bags to keep your hoops safe, and the aforementioned work stand, which clicks into the bags’ high-impact ABS plastic base during transit. High-quality dolly wheels, and rugged, rubber-coated handles make maneuvering the boxes easy.

The hard-sided Round Trip Elite employs a version of Thule’s wheel strap mechanism to clasp the case shut and is the roomier of the two boxes with a few more cubic inches to stow gear like helmets, shoes and hydration packs around the bike. The soft-sided Round Trip Pro foregoes clips in favor of heavy-duty zippers for closure, and has slightly less room, but folds down for better space management when not carrying a bike—say stored in the back of your garage, a rental car, or in that swanky hotel room you didn’t get dirty. Either bag retails for $599 and will be available in November of 2013. thule.com

4. Bacon-covered ice cream powers Outdoor Retailer show

Hydrogen power, lightweight whatever, blah, blah, blah—THIS GIRL GAVE AWAY SOFT SERVE CONES ROLLED IN BACON BITS. FREE. ALL SHOW LONG. Sorry, I didn’t catch the name of the booth.

5. West America goes south with Woolrich motorcycle collaboration, journey

West America collaborators James Crowe (L) and Jordan Hufnagel prepped for their epic motorcycle trek to South America by launching a line of riding gear with Woolrich at the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City last week.

Crass observers might dismiss best friends Jordan Hufnagel and James Crowe as a pair of Oregon hipsters looking to live out idealistic Kerouacian fantasies. But using the Portlandia brush to paint this duo—who collectively handcraft camping gear under the moniker West America—egregiously distorts their truth. Kind of like any rant starting with the words “you people,” it can only go more sideways from there. No, what you get with these guys is authentic—though they’d never call it that. To them, it’s just living.

When working separately, Hufnagel produces spectacular, eponymous handmade bicycles, while Crowe custom reconstructs beautiful, purposeful motorcycles under the flag of Crowe Metal Co. Until recently the pair shared a metal shop in Portland, but as they prepare for a year-long motorcycle adventure that begins next month, they’ve pressed pause on their businesses and focused on their trip which takes them from Whistler, British Columbia some 7,000 miles south to the Patagonia region of South America and back.

They’ll be riding a matched pair of Honda XR-600′s customized by Crowe to expand gear and fuel capacity, handle potential water crossings, and be more comfortable for days on end in the saddle. They chose the bikes both for their versatility and ubiquity—Honda produced nearly identical versions for 15 years making spare parts easy to find worldwide. By using the same bike, they’ll also be able to share spares they carry with them—a strategy readers planning epic bicycle adventures might be wise to consider as well.

As if building the bikes, customizing their gear, and planning trip logistics weren’t enough, the West America boys collaborated with venerable outdoor brand Woolrich to produce a line of American-made motorcycle apparel—pants, vests, jackets, even a riding pancho that doubles as a blanket, all of which debuted at OR. While they ostensibly made the line for the trip, Woolrich will also offer it at retail.

“The trip is largely unscripted, which makes it simultaneously exciting and a bit scary,” said Hufnagel. “But we’re going into it well-prepared and with a really positive mindset. I’m confident that will help us overcome anything that comes our way.”

When I told Hufnagel it sounded like the trip of a lifetime, he replied, “Hopefully, it’s one of many trips of a lifetime.” Indeed, Jordan. Indeed.

Follow the build and trip at wearewestamerica.com and by following @woolrichinc on Instagram, check out Jordan’s bicycles at hufnagelcycles.com, see James’ handiwork at crowemetalco.com, and see the West America/Woolrich gear collab at woolrich.com.

About the author: Don Palermini

Chicago-born Don Palermini became a cycling-based life-form in the sixth grade after completing a family road bike tour of his home state. Three years later he bought his first mountain bike to help mitigate the city's pothole-strewn streets, and began exploring the region's unpaved roads and trails. Those rides sparked a much larger journey which includes all manner of bike racing, commuting, on- and off-road bike advocacy, and a 20-plus-year marketing career in the cycling industry that landed him at his current gig with Santa Cruz bicycles. Now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area, his four favorite words in the English language are "breakfast served all day," together in that order.

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