cycling utah October 1998

Visit didn't do Interbike trade show justice

By Robert L. Truelsen


The Interbike International Bicycle Expo changed its address for 1998 to Las Vegas, Nev. Hopefully not too many owners and employees of our neighborhood bike shops "lost wages" after the show.

To be honest my visit was like spending an afternoon at the Louvre. I saw the Mona Lisa, checked out some Monets and Picassos and Rembrandts. Then I was on I-15 northbound for Salt Lake City and work the next day.

With only a couple of hours to spend at Interbike, I had to put my blinders on and focus. A difficult task indeed with all the manufacturer's wares shouting out for me to look them over.

It was easy avoiding all the widgets that claim to reinvent the wheel. Ditto for the industry hype that said I had to ride this next year or my friends wouldn't speak to me.

I was here to check out the major league. I visited GT, in part to get the box, and also to check out their usually cool displays. I liked the strong line of cruisers that featured the Ultra Glide, Dyno Glide, Moon Eyes and Von Franco. The P51 BMX Powerlight was a nice looking racer. And the Harley Davidson is still cool as is the Custom Sport with front suspension and front disc brake.

Then I was roaming the aisles of the Italian Pavilion. I gritted my teeth looking over the DeRosa, Cinelli, Coppi and Ciocc aluminum frames, the ugliest being (sob) the Cinelli. But there was relief as I approached the beautiful DeRosa orange Primato and the Giro with its chrome lugs. Sorry folks, but tig welded steel and gnarly aluminum welds don't quite match up to the delicate and elegant beauty found in a lugged steel frame. So what if it's not 2.5 pounds.

Then while searching for that hallowed of all displays, I stopped in at the Mavic booth. Lo and behold there was much more to marvel at than just some Cosmic wheel sets. Mavic is back with drivetrain components in a show-stopping way. Spectators were marvelling at the latest wireless shifting system to hit the peloton.

Mavic's Mektronic system features ergonomic shift/brake levers featuring two shifting mechanisms integrated into the top of the brake hood and another built midway into the lever itself. So you can shift while on the hoods, on the drops or just behind the lever. There is another shift mechanism on the computer unit mounted where most people would mount their Avocet cyclo computer.

The front derailleur is shifted by a lever assembly incorporated into the left brake lever.

Mavic tried this a number of years ago with their Zap system. They eventually pulled the product off the market for many reasons. I was told by the friendly Mavic rep that the only thing Mektronic shares with Zap is the concept. All the hardware and electronics are completely new.

Indexing is built into the rear derailleur, not the levers and there is just one point of adjustment. The digital signal has an exclusive I.D. signal, one of 16 million. The LCD computer that is mounted on the handlebar performs continuous diagnostics and gives the readout on the display. There are three batteries in the system and life expectancy is three years or 45,000 km. The unit is waterproof, using the same anti-corrosion treatment used in the automotive industry.

Needless to say, with my very limited visit to Interbike, this was the "show stopper" for me. Nothing else I saw quite measured up, although I'm sure I missed plenty of other worthy displays.

Then it was over to the Campagnolo booth to see Marco Pantani's bike on which he won the controversial Tour de France. In fact, to the dismay to all those who ride Shimano, the top three bikes used Campagnolo this year. Jan Ullrich's bike was there again, pretty much unchanged from last year. And Bobby Julich's bike was there, a stunning Fondriest with funky seat stays (not the curves, but the girder-like aluminum).

On the way out I stopped at the Shimano booth to pick up their 1999 product catalogue for my good buddy Greg (just to give him a bad time for not going along) and looked at what we all need, 9-speed mountain groups. My mountain bike is no longer worthy to ride, wanna buy it?

Back to Oct. 98 Cover