Friday, February 6, 2015

Iowa Bike Expo: Did Someone Say "Gravel"?

At long last, my much-ballyhooed "coverage" of the Iowa Bike Expo has arrived! My initial caveat: I went to the show as a gawking bike nerd, not a journalist, so what you're going to see is just what caught my gnat-like attention as I walked the floor. I make no claim that this is an exhaustive, complete overview of what was there to be seen.

I'm starting off with a bunch of (for lack of a better word) "gravel" bikes that caught my eye. Actually, I think of these things as just "bikes": the all-surface, versatile road bikes that we should have been riding all along had the road bike not been co-opted by the leg-shaving set. I'm going to call them gravel bikes, though, since it's trendy, and trendy means page views, which means the proceeds from this blog will finally allow me to get that new kidney I've been wanting.

Here's a snazzy little mile-eater from GT. Proving that I am not a journalist, I don't even remember the model name, but the magical Googles tells me it's called the Grade. Hands in the air if you think a GT is not a GT without some form of Triple Triangle frame, even if it's this slightly droopy-looking one. Who's with me? Though if this marks a resurgence of 80s splash-pattern bar tape, count me out.

I don't get the carbon aero rims, but otherwise, this Moots Routt looked ready to boogie. Yes, the panniered retro-grouch is actually starting to come around to the look of frame bags. Still lukewarm on disc brakes, but since they seem to be a marketing necessity in this bike category, I'm going to choose to ignore them.

Being a new owner of an old Lynskey-made Litespeed, I couldn't pass by this Lynskey Cooper CX without getting a photo for the family album.

Just to prove that I noticed bikes that were made of something OTHER than matte gray metal, how about some panda-bear food? Boo Bicycles brought this sharp bamboo-infused 'cross machine (and a tandem that will appear in another post).

As if Pal Steve's talk hadn't already shamed me with things I didn't know, I discovered a company I'd never heard of too. FitWell Bicycle Company brought both their steel, multi-surface Fahrlander (above) and the more pavement-specific DeGroot (below). I have to admit, I didn't dig deep into the specs on these -- I was too smitten by the subtlety of their paint and decal work: just a name under the downtube, some classy contrasting stripes, and a sharp headbadge. Let's decree that 2015 will be the end of the decal-vomit school of frame decoration, shall we?

Thus endeth Chapter 1 of the Expo. Stay tuned for customs, tandems, accessories, oddballs, and my favorite local shops.


Anonymous said...

yummm... shiny bikes!

Am I imagining that the ti bikes are well represented in this report? Were there that many ti bike, or is this just part of titanium's attempt to take over the world (including a femur here and there)??

Gravel bikes.. other than the involuntary shiver I get when I hear the phrase, I'm all in favor of a practical, fun bike.... especially in the land of gravel roads!
Not sure how I feel about frame bags. The straps aren't going to do anything good to the paint. I suppose a bit of clear tape would take care of that, though.

People are still using bamboo tubing?? Again... it seems to be more fashion than practical. Oh well.

Despite my grumpy mood, it's good to see new bikes and people who are excited about them. Thanks for the report!

Steve in Peoria

Jason T. Nunemaker said...

Steve -- that's two ti bikes out of six (the GT is -- I think -- al-yoo-minium, one FitWell is steel and the other is Al, and then there's the bamboo). But yeah, 33% representation is probably overstating the actual presence of titanium at the expo. Must be my femur bias.

Hang in there -- the steel is coming. Though today's post may not be the steel you're looking for (he said, hinting ominously...)