Interbike is the largest cycling trade show in North America. It was launched in the early 1980s and has been held in Las Vegas since before most millennials were born. Why Vegas, which is essentially hell on earth if you’re an outdoor enthusiast? Flights are cheap, the convention space is plentiful, and if nothing else you can always drink and gamble.
As part of the event, Interbike hosts a two-day outdoor expo where shop employees and the media can get their hands on product. The outside portion of the event is held about 40 minutes off the Vegas strip in Bootleg Canyon.
The trail network here is excellent (and shuttle-able), but a crash is almost guaranteed to earn you stitches. The weather is almost as unforgiving as the terrain. By mid-morning, the temperature generally hovers around 100 degrees and by the afternoon, the wind gusts are powerful enough to pick up entire booths.
Despite the location and semi-miserable riding conditions, Outdoor Demo has always been a must because it was often the first opportunity to play with new product. Over the past few years, however, the vibe has changed. Brands such Santa Cruz, Intense, Yeti, Specialized, Rocky Mountain, you name it, have all pulled out.
Rather than spend a $100,000 or more to exhibit at Outdoor Demo, many of these companies have chosen to host their own dealer camps. They’re flying out shop guys to exotic locations, showing them a good time, and getting exclusive one-on-one time with buyers.
People used to come to Outdoor Demo or Interbike to figure out what product to buy, but they don’t need to anymore. If they’re not attending a dealer camp, chances are they’ve already seen and read about new product for months on websites such as Mtbr. And we haven’t even gotten to the topic of pre-booking.
The bottom line is that with so many brands trimming budgets or electing to host their own events, Outdoor Demo is dead. Where it used to take three of us two days to cover the event and test ride bikes, I was able to cover the entire show in roughly two hours — alone. There wasn’t a ton of exciting new stuff, but there were some gems hiding in the desert.
While many of the big brands have pulled out of Outdoor Demo, brands with booths were doing brisk business. One bike we were particularly interested in is the new Marin Hawk Hill. What makes this full suspension build special is the price. For just $1,500, they’ve put together a package that includes a 1x drivetrain, wide bars, and dialed geometry.
They were also handing out party sized beers to anyone who demoed a bike.
Turner Bikes wasn’t handing out beers, but they had the stunning new Flux on display. They also had a small number of demo bikes available.
One leg shorter than the other? Speedplay can help. Their newest product uses spacers, which are available in 1-2mm increments, to shim pedal height. The product is so new, the gentlemen working the booth didn’t even have a name for it. Pricing is TBD, but it should be shipping soon.
This yet-to-be released dropper lever from Wolf Tooth Components was lurking on an Otso Cycles demo bike. It appears to be for mechanical posts, but we’ll have to wait till the indoor show for more details.
The Boa closure system is becoming more popular on cycling apparel and we’ve begun to see the system on everything from shoes to helmets. The brand was on hand at Outdoor Demo to perform repairs or install new parts.