Interbike 2018 at the Reno Convention Center

October 6, 2018
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The Interbike convention has moved its operations to Reno Nevada, and I was able to go this year and gather some pics and info.


The outdoor demo here at Lake Tahoe was better than at Las Vegas’s Bootleg Canyon, but it was smaller because there were fewer vendors. I suspect that next year the outdoor demo will be fairly full, now that everyone can see how it will go…

Reno itself is much dryer than the lush green countryside just an hour up the mountain at Lake Tahoe. Also, compared to previous Interbikes, Las Vegas is “on fire” 24 hours a day, while Reno gently goes to sleep at night. The airport and streets in Reno are not as crowded, or as bustling as Vegas during business hours. I saw electric cars and free EV-charging stations around town, and also citizens riding bicycles that had nothing to do with Interbike (so, Reno is already bicycle and ebike-friendly). Of course they still have casinos that you can gamble in, if you are interested in that.

I can’t mention Reno without also pointing out that the national automobile museum is there, and if you love antique and vintage cars, it is truly wonderful (plus there a very nice Mexican restaurant across the street from it, Bertha Miranda’s, 336 Mill St).

The indoor convention was about the same size as recent Interbikes in Las Vegas, but…the electric section was bigger, while the pedal-only section was smaller. Electric bikes consumed at least half the floor-space of the convention hall. Electricbike sales are rising, while the bicycle industry as a whole is tapering off, so…bike shop owners are now starting to see that they can make some profit off of ebikes and their accessories. In some cases, adding ebikes may even mean the difference in survival for a brick-and-mortar bike shop.

My ONE complaint about the Interbike meet in Reno? The wifi speed sucked…hard. Ask anyone, don’t take my word for it. Reno, you have 11 months to fix this.

 

Reno Nevada, September 2018. Definitely mellower than that previous city that Interbike was in. The skies were sunny and clear, and there was a cool breeze. Temps were consistently in the 80’s

 

Fat tires and cargobikes are not a fad, they are here to stay. The electric war is over, and bicycle companies have accepted that they will all need to have an electric version in their catalogs.

As much as Amazon, Ebay, Walmart, and direct-sell websites have eaten into the pedal-bicycle market-share…ebikes are an area where many of the customers are still willing to pay a little extra so they can have hands-on customer service for technical issues. Not to mention test-rides before a purchase to ensure you get the proper size frame for your body. You can’t get that from bikesdirect.com…

Pedego and Prodeco Tech did not have a booth this year. With all the talk of tariffs on Chinese bicycles (a nation-specific added-tax for importation), there was a lot of buzz with bikes and bike parts from Taiwan and Vietnam.

The electric bike numbers for 2018 are showing that Luna Cycle, Rad Power, Juiced Riders are doing well.


Getting quotes and cutting deals at the Interbike coffee shop

 

Interbike is not a place where customers go to buy a part for their bike. Its where bike shop owners go to speak face-to-face with manufacturers so they can decide what bikes and parts to carry. It’s business-to-business. You can often find new products that are not on the shelves yet, or even available for purchase.

 

Speaking of bike shop owners, this guy is 72, and he could still kick my ass.


Special Events

There is a schedule posted of special speakers from the bicycle industry and also from the ebike world. They provided the latest up-to-date information on running an ebike business, and also afforded the audience the opportunity to ask direct questions.

Ike Fazzio, David Rasmussen, Michael Reuter, and Chris Nolte.

 

Ike Fazzio is from Fly Rides in San Diego, David Rasmussen is from eSpokes Electric Bikes in UtahMichael Reuter is from American Cycle and Fitness in Michigan, and Chris Nolte is from Propel Electric Bikes in Brooklyn (soon to have a shop in Southern California). You can’t see from this angle, but the seats were packed to hear this talk given by four successful ebike shop owners who were invited to speak based on their growth.

 

Youtube celebrity Court Rye (on the left), from Electric Bike Review

 

Youtube celebrity Court Rye (from EBR / Electric Bike Review) spoke for an hour on trends in the industry over the past year. Hey Court, I was the guy who asked about any new developments for anti-theft and GPS. The bike shop owners in the audience were VERY interested in everything Court and the other four speakers had to say.

 

Left to right, Wonstar is the head of Bafang sales, Ashley Cho the CFO from Luna Cycle, some random vagabond, Luke Workman the famous hot rodder and battery expert, and Bafang exec Sunny He. (Those are candies in the red dish, not cigarette butts)

 

Craig Wilson from EcoBike Adventures. They rent high-powered ebikes to vacationers in a beautiful mountain resort setting, and his efforts have done a great deal for all ebike businesses in the US. Is that a cup of…apple juice? In this pic, I must have set my “apple juice” on the table. I had put my badge inside my shirt, because we don’t need no stinkin’ badges!

 

You can have a look at EcoBike Adventures in central California here.


What about the bikes?

Some hardcore bicycle companies who had been reluctant to add an electric model to their catalogs have caved-in over the last two years, in spite of protests from some of their customers (ebikes are cheating!).

The push-back from the mountain bike community over electric motors has softened to a low grumble. That being said, the big names in mountain bikes are still trying as hard as possible to make an ebike that almost doesn’t look like it has a motor or battery. I have to trust that their recently-polled customers prefer a stealthy look over a longer-range and heavier battery pack.

 

Pivot ensured that they had their booth right inside the main entrance, and this is their flagship electric DH model.

 

A top-of-the-line electric DH frame from Cube

 

The Specialized Turbo Levo has established itself as a name to be remembered

 

Just about everyone was emphasizing that their small and light batteries were very easy to hot-swap in the middle of a ride, to extend the range. This also goes for the ultra-light road bikes with their skinny tires.

Speaking of skinny tires, they can skid easily if you lock them up in slippery road conditions, and I saw several road bikes with small (meaning “light”) disc brakes that had ABS (an Anti-lock Braking System). This may have been around for a while, but it was new to me, and it’s a great option that I hope will soon be provided in many more models.

 

The 2019 Cannondale carbon-fiber road bike using ABS, with a Bosch mid-drive, and their integrated downtube battery.

 

A 2019 Trek carbon-fiber road bike using ABS, with a Bosch mid drive, and their integrated downtube battery. Wait…did I just copy/paste that?

 

I really like these wide and flat handlebar grips, this particular version is from Tern bicycles.

 

This frame is from Leili in China. They used the huge QS 273 hubmotor, which may be capable of motorcycle levels of power, but…it’s also HEAVY!

 

Bafang was heavily promoting their several models of integrated mid drive, and they had a carbon fiber road bike at their booth. They are already the biggest name in mid drive kits, which can be added to common bicycle frames.

 

This frame  from Steamoon in Changzhou, was reported to be made from 3D-printed plastic, and I believe it. I think it needed a little more stiffening after I tried sitting on it, but the construction method shows promise. There are clear benefits, but I think they need to use 3D printing with something else added before it is ready for customers to buy into it.

 

The SevenOne company in Kushan had several interesting models, but this affordable beach cruiser caught my eye (mostly due to the disc brakes). The ebike I actually ride the most often is a stretch beach cruiser on city streets. I have a 1500W BBSHD mid drive, but if I owned an ebike rental service near a flat beach community, all I would add is a suspension seat post like the Suntour NCX, a cup-holder plus cargo-basket, and a hidden GPS.

 

Ttium from Wuhan showcased their mid drive motor in a carbon fiber model labeled the “Missile”. The dual-use tires indicate this might be considered a Cyclo-cross / Gravel bike. The 36V Ttium motor that is rated for 350W puts out a respectable 95-Nm of torque.

 

The Wild Syde company makes retro-styled ebikes, and they also brought an eye-catching sidecar.

 

Most mid drives were trying to look stealthy from a distance, but this Haibike was more eye-catching with its TQ motor, which puts out 120-Nm of torque.

 

Benno was started by one of the founders of Electra cycles. They have a line of “mid length” aluminum cargobikes with mid-fat 2.6-inch wide tires on 24-inch rims.  These fill a niche between the larger, longer, and heavier full-sized cargobikes, and regular sized ebikes with cargobags. I noticed that instead of having a larger battery upgrade option, they chose to add the circuitry that allows two normal-sized batteries to work in parallel for double the range. I like these, a lot.

 

The high-quality Riese and Muller street commuter, with dual batteries.

 

This Riese and Muller is a full-suspension, along with a dual battery pack option.

 

A few years ago we reported that TDCM was producing a direct drive hubmotor with a 5-speed IGH inserted into the center of it. This company claims to have a DD hub with a 7-speed IGH, so I will investigate further. One thing I like is, the motor cable does not exit a hollow axle, it has a recess in the axle shank.

 


The Outdoor Track

It is a vital element to be able to test-ride ebikes at Interbike, and they had an outdoor track wrapped-around the outer edge of a large number of tents for the various manufacturers. There were quite a few “lunch trucks” available in order to provide any style of munchies you might like, along with cold beer.

If you don’t want to have to ride a free bus from the major hotels to get to the convention center, the “Atlantis” was right next door, and the Peppermill is only a few blocks away.

 

More product booths and test-ride ebikes were set-up at the convention center parking lot. I took this pic from the elevated walkway that connects the convention center to the Atlantis Hotel / Casino.

 

The Reno Interbike meet, one hour before it opens (I know a guy who could get me in)

 

The pic above is only about 1/4th of the floor-space used for the Interbike booths, and I estimate that about 1/2 of the entire floor-space was taken up by ebike-related businesses, and they have grown each year. Low fuel prices over the last two years have been a factor in the low interest with bicycles and ebikes, but every time fuel prices temporarily spike up, bikes and ebikes have a huge sales spurt.

I got an ebike even before there were any fuel price shenanigans. I like how it provides me with a backup to get to work (I live 12 miles from my job), and I frequently give my grandkids rides on my ebike. Pedal-only bikes will always be around, in the same way that horses and vintage cars still have enthusiasts who form clubs and stay active. The practical nature of bicycles and electric bikes is something that is an unstoppable force…and I am happy that I am able to be a part of reporting on it.


Written by Ron/spinningmagnets, October 2018

Grew up in Los Angeles California, US Navy submarine mechanic from 1977-81/SanDiego. Hydraulic mechanic in the 1980's/Los Angeles. Heavy equipment operator in the 1990's/traveled to various locations. Dump truck driver in the 2000's/SW Utah. Currently a water plant operator since 2010/NW Kansas


2 Comments

  1. Thanks for all your hard work…

    • Thanks, Nicholas. I enjoyed it, rather than feeling like it was work, but…please don’t tell my wife or boss.

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