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Interbike Has Left the Building

September 23, 2013

This was the first time that I was at Interbike on a Friday. And it was a different experience than the other days.

I spent the better part of the early morning writing and running through photos, in advance of a meeting with Aaron at Niner Bikes.

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Niners often imitated full carbon rigid MTB fork.

Niner’s commitment to the 29 platform is obvious–it’s all they do. Their bikes are quite popular with both our customers and our staffers, particularly the JET and RIP models. Those two 100 and 125 mm travel bikes, respectively, are essentially unchanged for 2014. Good news for the folks that really love those platforms and the way those bikes ride.

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The RIP 9 is a popular bike with Austin riders.

Aaron and I talked about much of the line. I was drawn to the simplicity of the new ONE 9 RDO single speed set-up. The bike on display was chock full of trick lightweight parts, including a good helping of Niner’s own RDO–Race Day Only–items. It’s a carbon-only model based on Niner’s popular hard tail offering, the AIR 9, which is done in either carbon or aluminum. And we took a look at the WFO 9, Niner’s 150 mm travel park/enduro bike. The WFO 9 saw a number of frame refinements for 2014, including air forming the aluminum frame version, rather than hydro forming, which allows for more precise wall thickness and shaved 3/4 of a pound from the bike. Pretty amazing stuff. The bike’s also sporting slacker geometry, which puts it more in the gravity category, particularly when paired with a fork with up to 170 mm of travel.

But the bike that I along with every other show goer probably came to see from Niner was their all-new RLT 9, a dedicated gravel grinder. Yes, a drop bar, “skinny” tire bike from a mountain bike company. Talking with Aaron it’s easy to see it’s not a far leap. The folks at Niner love to ride. Period. And while their not likely to build a dedicated road bike, the RLT–the Road Less Traveled–represents a nod to long rides on mixed surfaces.

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Tested to the same standards as their MTBs, the Niner RLT is ready for everything, even a little singletrack.

While many folks will look at the RLT 9 and say “cyclocross,” it’s not a ‘cross bike. The RLT has a slacker head tube, longer wheelbase, and rack and fender mounts integrated that take it beyond the ‘cross bike moniker. That’s not to say that the RLT couldn’t make the Six Shooter podium under the right rider. It’s just that riding the deserted country road rather than in the tape is what the RLT is truly built for.

However you ride the RLT 9, the folks at Niner must have done something right. The bike was awarded Outside Magazine’s Gear of the Show Award.

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The RLT 9. Gear of the Show Award winner.

Leaving the Niner booth and day dreaming about 5 hour dirt road rides I noticed how quiet it was compared to the first two days. Fewer booths were pumping music, many attendees we’re already heading home, and even some vendors were packing it in. Realizing that I had a few remaining hours, I knew there were a few other items I really wanted to see.

One was the new Garmin POV camera. Yes, a camera from a GPS company. Actually, two cameras: the VIRB and the VIRB Elite.

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The Garmin VIRB was an attention grabber.

The VIRB shoots in True HD 1080p and uses image stabilization and lens distortion correction to create clean images. And the camera itself has a display built into it so you can frame shots, use the menu, and playback what you’ve recorded. Smart.

Like other POV offerings, the VIRB has a rechargeable battery that provides three hours of video operation. The camera also shoots still images as a photo burst or in time lapse. And the mount has multiple placement options and is ratcheted to prevent slipping.

The VIRB is ANT+ capable so you can pair it with your Garmin computer, which can act as a remote for the camera.

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The easy to use display on the VIRB is a feature everyone was talking about.

The Elite model also has bluetooth/wi-fi ability so that your phone, when running Garmin’s smartphone app, can be a remote an will allow preview and replay capability. The VIRB Elite also has a built-in accelerometer and altimeter and has heart rate and cadence sensors for recording then overlaying your ride data onto your videos. It’s a nice little piece of equipment for sharing your ride adventures with friends and family that didn’t actually get out and pedal with you.

I couldn’t convince the folks at Garmin to let me take the camera and wander around the show a bit as things started to close up.

I made it past a few more booths to see products that others had told me to check out and to say hello to friends working the show. Everyone seemed to be in about the same state–happy that Interbike was drawing to an end and looking forward to some much needed rest, but also wondering about everything that they missed at the industy’s biggest show of the year.

See you in 2014, Interbike.

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