BikeRoar met with with 17 companies over two days at an exclusive and up-close event in Southern California — PressCamp Road. Here are some of the highlights of the brands and products.
Feedback Sports is most well known for their bicycle work stands and storage products — we recently included their Sport Mechanic Repair Stand in our Home Bike Workshop article. In a natural progression, they've expanded to offering tools and toolkits and a portable trainer.
Feedback developed their quality toolkits to also be compact and portable. To keep size to a minimum, they added dual-pupose functionality to some tools (like the screwdriver with a crank arm cap tool at the end of the handle) and eliminated tools that aren't often necessary anymore, like cone wrenches. The larger Team Edition tool kit is built to attach to bicycle work stands.
Their Omnium Portable Trainer is proving popular because it's so easy to setup or fold away (no tools required), is solidly stable, and has progressive resistance for real-road feel. It fits compactly into an included tote bag to throw into the car or keep out of the way when you're not using it. It also has some adjustment and modularity that makes it work for many bikes and needs: adjustable wheelbase and fork-mount height and standard QR or thru axles. A different sled with no-resistance rollers is also available (sold separately), making this set of rollers great for all types of riders and bikes, for pre-race warmups to full workouts at home.
Niner started as a 29er mountain bike company and ventured to gravel with the RLT9 (Road Less Traveled) aluminum gravel bike a few years ago. With gravel bikes more popular than ever, Niner is now offering a top-end carbon version, the RLT 9 RDO race bike, to tackle events like Dirty Kanza and Almanzo 100.
In the middle of the three-bike RLT lineup is the RLT9 Steel, so Niner is now giving gravel riders their choice of three frame materials and full bikes with build kits ranging in price and quality from 1-5 stars.
Full Speed Ahead (FSA)
FSA has a lot to offer; "Everything but the frameset," they said. They were especially proud to show us their new K-FORCE WE (wireless electronic) high-end groupset that will be ridden by pro teams like Cofidis, Direct Energy, and Jelly Belly. They even let us take it on a test ride before it becomes available this spring.
The FSA K-Force WE groupset is completely geared toward the pro road market, featuring the longest battery life of any electronic shifting system (4000km or more per charge) and precise shifting via a secure hybrid wireless system that is wireless from the shifters to the computer "brain" (integrated in the front derailleur), and wired from there to the seatpost battery and rear derailleur. We'll share more soon about the system details and our ride test.
Other notable FSA products include the PowerBox power meter crankset, available in carbon, but also in a budget-friendlier $650 aluminum set, and the Vision Metron 5D integrated handlebar / stem combo, which gets you integrated and aero with internal cable routing, space for Di2 shifting boxes, a removeable Garmin mount, and an integrated spacer system.
Alé, Cipollini, DMT by FZ Import
Former Italian pro Pietro Caucchioli walked us through FZ's latest brands and products.
Alé is a fast growing, 3-years-young Italian made clothing company offering many vibrant collections and options for custom kits. (You'll see from our event coverage that higher customization and lower quantity is where many cycling companies are headed.)
DMT's new R1 Summer road cycling shoe is a more breathable and lighter version of the R1, with differences being a mesh upper, larger vents on the tongue, and three breathable mesh sections on the inner arch of the foot. The DMT R1 Summer shares the same carbon sole and 2 IP1 BOA closures as the R1.
DMT doesn't only innovate at the top — it's R5, R6, and WR1 shoes have a new FG CONCEPT sole made of nylon and fiberglass finished with a carbon fiber weave look.
FZ began distributing Cipollini bikes in the U.S. late last year. They are partnering with only select bike retailers, which means lower availability, but those who are involved are building the Cipo bikes with custom, high-end parts tailored to each customer that make for satisfying and unique looking rides.
Local dealer twohubs added Campy components, a gold chain, and gold accented 3K weave carbon wheels to a Camouflage Grey Matte NK1K, Cipollini's monocoque carbon aero road bike.
Another NK1K, this one a with Shimano disc, in Camouflage Green Matte.
For true custom, there is now the MCM: Mario Cipollini Custom Made bike. Send in your fitting measurements, and in 2-3 months Cipollini will return your Italian made custom geometry tube-to-tube carbon frame with "impeccable layup" and with fork, seatpost, and headset.
Also highlighted on display was the Cipollini NKTT, a super aero carbon time trial / triathlon bike, showing off its ultra aero form — apparent overall and in the details like the integrated brakes.
Giordana's cycling clothing heritage goes back almost 40 years and they are sure to reference it when talking about their clothing and craftsmanship and latest product and production innovations and partnerships, including UCI WorldTour teams Orica-Scott and Astana.
As part of their "tradition in motion", Giordana is expanding alongside its generally available retail collections to also offer the same quality in custom apparel. From their own new factory in Montecchio, Italy, Giordana makes available premium fabrics and features, a high standard of service and design, and low minimums across levels, pieces, and fits to accommodate what are often broad needs of members in groups, clubs, and teams.
Allied Cycle Works by HIA Velo
HIA Velo, a recently established high-volume carbon bike manufacturer in the U.S. — yes, the U.S. — debuted its Allied Cycle Works brand and first bike, the eye-catching Alfa.
While Allied may be brand new, the team behind it is anything but, with talent and experience that includes founder Tony Karklins, founder of Orbea, and Sam Pickman, 11-year senior engineer from Specialized. They've combined their personnel's expertise with carbon-manufacturing machinery (from bankrupt Canadian bike maker Guru) and paint (the company purchased the Cyclart bike painting service) in an all-in-one factory in Little Rock, Arkansas.
How does a new, "Made Here." (in the U.S.A.) high-quality bike compete in today's global market? Allied has the ability to tightly control manufacturing and move quickly on product innovations with everything under one roof, and by not doing it overseas, eliminates the time and costs of managing from afar.
As to the Alfa, it draws you in with the flashy-yet-classy chrome paint and accents on the outside. Beyond the good looks it is a race geometry frameset of Mitsubishi carbon fiber specially integrated with Innegra Technologies high performance fibers in targeted spots to increase durability and prevent against catastrophic failure.
Karlinks, understanding people might need more reference for Alfa's debut, said it's a bike in the same area as a Trek Emonda, Specialized Tarmac, or SuperSix Evo.
Alfa will be available in March, with complete bikes starting at $2500. Buyers can customize with a wide variety of groups, components, and paint upgrades, and purchase direct from HIA and a selection of 25-50 "super specialty retailers."
Infinity Bicycle Saddles
With a large cutout shape, Infinity Bike Seat's saddles are eye catching and different, so much so that they caught the attention of one of our writers looking for saddle comfort for her own rides. That turned into a wonderful story on searching for the right saddle, and set us up to be even more curious on the science behind them.
Dr. Vincent Marcel and his wife Diane are life-long cyclists and the inventors of the Infinity Seat. Dr. Vince, who is also a chiropractor and triathlete, explained how his own cycling experiences and medical knowledge brought him to creating the full-cutout saddle design that relieves pressure on the perineum / pubic-bone areas and shifts body weight onto to the more cushiony areas of your body. Besides the physical saddle, Infinity wants to educate cyclists, bike fitters, and local shop owners about fitting and feeling good on the bike, and is exploring an online video series as one of the tools to share their knowledge. The Marcels have shifted their work to full-time focus on growing Infinity Seat's awareness, education, and dealer network.
Kenda's Valkyrie Pro is an impressive road tire that is light, fast, grippy, and puncture resistant. It's a hard combination to balance, let alone excel at any one feature, but Kenda figured out a way to be within 1% of the market leader for rolling resistance and include state of the art puncture protection with its proprietary K-Armor casing material.
Kenda's Ben Anderson, director of sales and marketing, explained how a typical Kevlar reinforced tire requires more rubber for bonding, making it heavier, or a looser and more porous weave is used to enable better bonding, but compromising protection. With K-Armor, bonding isn't an issue and they're able to use a really tight weave, lowering weight and increasing protection.
Originally just a tubular, Valkyrie Pro is now available as a clincher, both in 23 and 25mm, and growing to 28 and 30mm sizes available in the next few months.
Kenda also showed their popular CX/gravel tire, the Flintridge Pro, available in 35C and 40C, with casings of either KSCT (tubeless conversion and sidewall reinforcement) or the lighter TR (tubeless race). A 650b is in the works, as are larger 700c sizes.
Panache Cyclewear Co.
Panache makes and sells traditional collections at bike shops and retailers like REI, but are focusing on smaller, custom designed batches for styles and experience that compliment their high quality textiles and construction.
Founder Don Powell, a former pro who raced in Europe, described working to offer "something new every week" and a guest artist series that will engage various artists, who are also cyclists, to create new designs, often in limited edition, can't-get-them-again runs. More frequent production also allows customer input and improvements to be implemented more quickly.
A collection aimed at gravel riders, Rowdy, pairs functionality, like bib shorts with pockets, to a more casual look that works just as well off the bike. The Rowdy range is due to release March 30, 2017.
Panache also offers full custom orders, leveraging their nimble production ability to turn around orders in 4-5 weeks. Full custom will draw the same three Panache collection levels and quality, Bullet (training), Speed (performance train / race) and V-Lab (competition), with a single chamois option they rate a "10 out of 10" for performance and comfort.