Posted by Editor on 09/15/02
2002 BTAC Expocycle
Our Tech Editor Mike Badyk spent today at the Canadian bicycle industry trade show, and has passed along his first impressions
For us bike industry types, today was New Year's. We finally got to see a lot of the new products that will be available to the public for 2003. The Bicycle Trade Association of Canada (BTAC) brings together the majority of the bike manufacturers/distributors and parts and accessories manufacturers/distributors in Canada, under one roof so that stores from all over the country can get some ideas about what they are going to offer to the public next year.
Based on the first day of the show, things seem to be going well. The show has a good feel and there is more than enough to keep a bike junkie busy for a whole day.
Here's a hint at what's in the show
In the mountain bike world the Specialized Epic full suspension MTB frame was getting huge amounts of attention. This is the design with the special rear shock (with inertial damping) that runs along the seat stay.There are 4 or 5 models and a crowd always seemed to be in and around them. They look good and some are amazingly light.
Not to be outdone by anyone, Trek had their new Liquid Fuel full suspension bike on view. Based on the successful Fuel linkage design, the linkage has been extensively reworked to improve the ride. Going along with it is a new Fox shock that was created just for this bike. Trek has exclusive rights to this piggy back style shock for the next year. Also in the Trek booth was the new Klein Palomino full suspension bike, with the behind the seat tube design from Paul Turner's Maverick bikes.
Lots of action in the Shimano booth with the new XTR group. Bikes are on stands and there is an endless line of folks spinning the cranks and working the shifters. To make your Shimano equipped bike complete we got a first photo of the radical new XTR wheelset. They're very light and very stiff. The spoke attachment has been changed somewhat and all excess weight has been trimmed. I can't wait to try some. Also in the Shimano booth was an ultra-light Durace clipless pedals. The cleat is somewhat Look like and the pedal body is a fair size, but it is cut with so many holes that there is next to no weight.
Louis Garneau has one of the largest booths in the show. Most people know the line for the clothing but there is now so much to see that it takes close to an hour to view the line in any sort of detail. There are new shoes, new helmets, new gloves, tools, lubricants and more. However, front and centre in the booth is an impressive line of bicycles. There is a huge assortment of kids bikes, lots of road racing bikes, and now some mountain bikes and two track bikes. The mountain bikes are a slow, cautious introduction into the market, with only 4 models available. However, they look good and are well priced. With the Louis Garneau Velodrome just near their factory it is natural for them to produce a bike to be used there. There is a low end track model that sells for all of $539 and the pictured Montreal 78 with an aluminum frame, Miche Primato components and a price of $1099 (both suggested retail).
Road bikes are everywhere, including most of the mountain bike companies. However, the much anticipated renaissance of the road bike just hasn't happened. It's too bad, because road bikes have never been lighter or performed better. Instead, there seems to be a new bike creeping into the market. I'm not sure exactly what to call it either. ItÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s kind of a high speed city bike. The hybrid bike market has split, with the so-called comfort bikes (front suspension, upright riding position going one way) and this new type going the other. There are elements of road and mountain mixed together. Some have 700c wheels and others had 26Ã¢â‚¬Â°. Virtually every bike maker had at least one on display. By far the most stylish model at the show was this one from KHS. They are describing the Flite 250 as Ã¢â‚¬Å¾high speed streetÃ¢â‚¬Â° which is likely a good handle for this type of bike. At a suggested retail price of $1069 at the time of writing it could be one heck of a lot of fun.
For the mountain bike folks there is a new type of bike that is slowly making itself known. Influenced by European bike enthusiasts, it is the Enduro or Marathon bike. It is full suspension with all of the excess trimmed from it. They are designed to be ridden all day, or all week for that matter. Brodie, KHS, Giant and GT had some good examples. The frame isn't overbuilt, but there is a good amount of travel in the back, and a long travel single crown fork in the front. The wheels are far lighter than what a free rider would consider. I could picture a lot of people on a bike like this, myself included.
As happens every year, certain bike lines are now with different distributors here in Canada. Norco has Haro bikes in their booth. The former Haro distributor, Genesis Cycle, has brought GT bicycles back into the country after a couple of years absence. Veltec, the long time Schwinn distributor, is no longer selling them. Instead there is an extensive line of Fuji bicycles in their booth. No word on SchwinnÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s plans. There are several new companies on display that we will have to study and report on at a later date. I'm not sure how much of an impact these changes will have on the consumer. If this show is any indication there will be more choice than ever in the stores come next spring.
Garneau Track Bike
KHS Flite 250
Shimano XTR Wheels
Close up of XTR Wheel
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