Its that time of year again, the time for Interbike where the bicycle industry presents the following year’s goodies to the bicycle retailers. With that in mind we hit Vegas to check out what’s new in tools and to see what other items may affect the race mechanic.
Shimano XT Anniversary – Can you believe that XT has been around for 25 years? Let’s hear it for mountain bike racing…check out the 2008 XT component group here.
Tool Companies – Each year more tool companies appear at the show. Some of them stick around for a while, others never really make it to US distribution. This year we visited the booths of Park Tool, Pedros, IceToolz, Unior, and Cyclus.
Unior and Cyclos are European brands from Slovenia and Germany. Both seem to be big fans of Park Tool as they copied the ‘blue’ theme throughout their lines. Unior offers a full line of tools including nine tool kits, workbenches, tool cabinets and plumbing equipment. One of their tools we really liked was the steerer cutting guide which comes with an insert for 1″ forks to reduce the amount of slop or wiggle while cutting. Unior is being distributed by KHS Bicycle Parts in Illinois. the distributor, not the bike brand.
Cyclus Tools offers a pretty wide range of tools as well but they seem to have spent more time on the aesthetics and feel of the tools than Unior. Their handles have shapes that fit well in our hands, had less material to keep the weight down and seemed less rough. They also offered a range of rim repair tools (remember steel rims?), a nice through axle adapter for truing DH wheels, a basic spoke threader, a wide range of cartridge bearing tools and what appears to be the identical steerer cutting guide as Unior. Most likely their tools are manufactured by the same company in Asia.
IceToolz appears to be the consumer tool division of Lifu. Lifu has been a long time favorite for race site allen wrenches and now, through IceToolz, offers a range of cone wrenches, allen wrenches, spoke wrenches and more. Like the other tool companies, they offer a steerer cutting guide; however, theirs mounts at a 90degree angle so you can stand in front of the work bench while cutting rather than trying to spin the vice or bend yourself around the workbench while cutting. They also have a unique storage hook that mounts to both walls and slatwall.
Pedros was displaying a new torque wrench with a range of 20 to 250 inch-lbs, a pro-line hex wrench set, and a new pro-line chain tool. One of our favorite tools from Pedros is the BB socket holder. Its lightweight, takes up little space and seriously helps with stubborn bottom brackets.
Park Tool knows that the mechanic mindset exists outside the shop and race circuit as well. This year they increased the size of their pizza cuter, slimmed up their bottle opener and introduced a BBQ set. They also introduced a bench top small parts holder, a bottle bracket cradle stand for the shop, a digital scale and their master chain tool. For the shop guys they also extended the arms on the 3-way socket wrench, turned out a metric socket set and developed a belt holster for your Y wrench.
Ultimate has been a staple with race mechanics for a few years and, though they went through some major staff changes this year, have continued to provide quality products. They offer a wide range of race quality, portable work stands, one of the most portable truing stands, various scales and event storage stands.
More funky spokes – Are you ready to stock more oddball spokes? We’ve seen carbon and plastic spokes, we’ve stocked aluminum spokes and various types of steel spokes. Do we really want to jump on the double threaded spoke bandwagon again? Some shops still stock spokes for Velomax, Specialized has forced double threaded spokes on us for Roval wheels and now Crank brothers is jumping into double threaded spokes. They are introducing a line of tubeless rims with spokes that mount on a rib running down the center of the rim. These spokes also thread into an aluminum spoke that mounts at the hub.
Multi-control levers -Not to be outdone by SRAM and their RED group, the industry is jumping at the idea to provide drive trains. FSA has been hinting for months about a potential drive component group and showed off calipers, a front derailleur and other items at the show. Sampson also debuted a multi-control shifter as did Sunrace Sturmey Archer. Upon closer examination it appears these ‘other’ shift controls may be provided by Dia Compe who were displaying a set in the Taiwan pavilion. These will mostly show up on Master’s racing bikes first as they tend to have the cash and are willing to give new stuff a try.