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Interbike 2000: Viva Las Vegas
23-27 SEP 2000
Photos: [Interbike] [Pinewood Race] [Elvis Tour]
Every year toward the end of September, the business end of the cycling industry gets pointed squarely at the Las Vegas Sands Expo Center and Convention Hall for a few days of shows, baubles, trinkets, and gambling...and that's just the trade show. Hell, for the full experience, why not immerse yourself completely in the vomitous realm of Sin City and go for broke.

Vegas is a lot like I'd imagine hell to be. It's ungodly hot; there's a multitude of desperate people engaged in activities which seem well beyond their control, and there is a sense of terrible loneliness pervading the place. Maybe it's me, but the towering hotels of the strip seemed a bit much like bars in a cage of my own devising, and the Red Rock Canyon Conservation area in the distance mocked my predicament with promises of purity and least for the soul. I was one of the lucky ones who got to leave. On with the show!

He's Industry, Baby!
Interbike hosts its fair share of social events. These are probably the best and worst parts of the show, and in fact, the industry itself, depending on what you like and which ones you hit. SRAM's Pinewood Derby Race for Advocacy drew huge crowds while donating many dollars to important groups like IMBA and Bikes Belong. Longtime mountain biking star Greg Herbold played emcee as cars from various teams tore up the specially-built track in a heat to be the one to donate that big check. Team Yeti and Team SRAM built, or rather "imagineered," especially rad cars.

It's not every day you get a chance to see Marla Streb two-fisting shots of Tequila....

The crowd gathered, the slots were fired, and, in the end, only one would survive. Strangely enough, one of the big winners seemed to be a guy from SRAM. I guess in their favor it was a cool car...SRAM also went all out and hired fancy blonde betties to attend the car racing and awards ceremony, so even the losers were happy.

Sunday night saw both official and unofficial events, with the Interbike Block Party drawing a post-show crowd to music, riding exhibitions, and refreshments, and the late-night thirsty types gathered at the Double-Down Saloon to hear Tioga's marketing man, Jeff Holt, belt it out with his band Lane Eight. I like drinking, and it was rad to note that there is still a strong boozer contingent within the wheel game. It's not every day you get a chance to see Marla Streb two-fisting shots of Tequila. She was probably just ordering for someone else.

Monday offered the Mountain Bike Magazine Awards Banquet, and there was also the IMBA Bowling Challenge on Tuesday. The wake for the coolest cycling clothing company ever, Swobo from SF, was also held on Tuesday at the Double-Down to officially let Tim Parr pick up the pieces and move on. It was a sad day indeed. God works in mysterious ways, but why does she always take the good ones?

I am the Ultimate Product!
There's always a new kid in town, aiming at gunning down the local favorite. Some years the odds are long on the newcomer; Rock Shox shook the shack in the early '90s, linear-pull brakes blew everyone's mind towards the end of the century, and so forth. Everyone (mostly national sales managers) hopes for that uber-innovation which is so cool it has everyone lining up to make pre-season orders. Unfortunately for Interbike 2000, there were no super-products in sight. This year's big boy looked a little green around the gills; kick-scooters and "headwrap" companies seemed to be the most popular choice for dynamic new sales generators. In fact, the biggest story of Interbike's new product ranges seemed to center on...bikes.

It was nice to see so many custom shops sticking to ferrous rides this year. IF, Vicious Cycles, Co-Motion, Ibis, and Sycip all have continued to produce sweet steel rigs, despite the onslaught of aluminum over the last decade. The popularity of aluminum is a set issue at this point, and it serves its purpose well on dual suspension and production bikes. It's just hard to get really excited about aluminum the way one can get amped by a new steel frame all gussied up in custom paint. Thanks to the dedication of the small builders, however, the future looks pretty solid for steel at this point, so no worries.

Titanium, as always, made quite a splash with light, strong frames that'll tip the scales in favor of bankruptcy faster than the one-armed bandits we passed in the lobby. Moots and Ibis have the raddest bikes out there, and Ibis' new John Castellano-designed flat chainstays are almost as cool as the pivotless Bow-Ti of a few years back. In other ti-happenings, there has been some consolidation in the industry, and the company that owns Litespeed now owns Merlin as well. It will be interesting to see if they can corner the "old guy with lots of money" market. Seven Cycles also showed improvement in the ways of ti by melding it with carbon-fiber chain and seatstays.

SRAM debuted a new production-ready handlebar unit. The unit is one of the first fully adjustable, integrated-accessory handlebars available, and is aimed at making the bicycle's control unit more easily understood by both new and returning cyclists. Futuristic styling, built in shifters, lights, a computer, and a really comfy, ergonomic feel are highlights of this neat piece.

Interbike 2000 marked a good change for the industry—away from "wonder" products, and steering back on track to advocacy, solid business practices, and good bikes. Seems kind of weird at first, as Vegas exists to help people lose their senses, not come to them, though I guess in a bizarre, Zen-koan-like way, perhaps it's all in order. It is a town where anything can happen...

Mikey Wolfson, doubling up on 8s and 11s, for

SEE ALSO:  Interviews | NORBA 2000 | World Cup 2000

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