Interbike 2015 Bikepacking Awards
Instead of typical day-by-day Interbike posts, we thought it would be fun to change up the format, and draw attention to the very best bikepacking-related brands, products and booths that were at the show. With this in mind, here are the BIKEPACKING.com choice awards covering 10 categories, followed by a list of other notable goods.
Interbike is the biggest trade show in the US that previews hundreds of thousands of new products slatted for 2016. After 5 days of browsing, we formulated several categories and made our picks. Plus bikes and bikepacking were certainly flavor of the year, with more and more brands offering up their take on adventure biking, with varying levels of success. Bear in mind that these awards are based on initial impressions, rather than real world reviews. That will come later!
Best in Show
Our top spot for sheer coolness in the bikepacking category.
Moots Mountaineer YBB+ with Porcelain Rocket Bags
The YBB+ is Moots’ take on an adventure machine. Combining a BOOST 148 chain stay with their YBB rear suspension unit and a Fox 34 fork, Moots created a drool inducing 27.5+ (B+) adventure trail bike. Moots’ YBB pivotless suspension adds 1 1/8″ of rear wheel travel and provides just enough cushion to take the edge off small bumps on any given ride. The complete display package included a full cadre of Porcelain Rocket bags including the Mr. Fusion V2 seat pack and a really cool bolt in full-size frame bag, allowed by the straight tube frame design. Limited production runs of the YBB+ start January 1st.
Most Inspiring Exhibit
Of course there were the large booths bedecked with massive photos, lights, and displays, but there were also more intimate micro-exhibits within booths that featured bikes, bags, and artifacts that told a story. With a sweet Breadwinner 29er, a well-worn saddle, and maps (we love maps), here’s the one we found most inspirational:
In 2015 Jocelyn Gaudi helped start the Komorebi Cycling Team. Komorebi is a Portland, Oregon based group whose Japanese name roughly translates to “women who go on bikepacking adventures.” Their website inspires through experiences, lessons learned, and success stories. Jocelyn works with Portland Design Works and set up her choice bikepacking steed, a Breadwinner 29er, with the new PDW seat pack/rack. The exhibit also included several photos, stickers and other relics from trips throughout Oregon’s backcountry.
In typical convention form, there are always plenty of handouts at Interbike. This year the onslaught included tshirts, books, business cards, shots, beers, koozies, bottle openers, and all kinds of other doodads.
Chris McNally, Park Tool Promo
In addition to his own personal drawings, illustrator Chris McNally has created stellar work for clients such as Ibis and Blackburn. For the show Chris produced this signed limited edition print depicting a well-stocked tool collection. The subject matter here doesn’t have too much to do with bikepacking, but Chris is an avid bikepacker, so we say it fits. Dare we call this swag!? Thanks Chris!
Being that this was a tough decision, we thought it best to show a couple of the other top picks, Industry 9 business cards, and ‘Camping With Your Bicycle’ by Limberlost and Blackburn.
After riding several and ogling many more, here are our top picks for bikes exhibited at Interbike 2015. Given that there were thousands of bikes to choose from, this was a tough decision that ended in a three-way tie. So we broke them down into three categories.
Scott Genius Plus (Full-suspension)
Is there something bikepacking specific about the Scott Genius Plus? Not really. Other than the fact that its frame/suspension layout leaves a nice cavity for a small custom frame bag, this bike is just a great riding bike. The Genius Plus has a dialed in suspension, a playful geometry, and confidence inspiring stability that leads to approaching new lines on the trail. If there’s one gripe about the Genius, it’s that it doesn’t have bottle mounts on the down tube.
Marin Pine Mountain 2 (hardtail)
We didn’t get to ride the Pine Mountain 2, but it’s an impressive bike. In the flesh, looks like a promising adventure bike, thanks to its Columbus Thron butted steel frame and B+ stature. The bike’s rack mounts, three bottle cage mounts and the grommets for internal routing are hand brazed into place, giving the Pine Mountain 2 a retro and raw look. The Pine Mountain 1 (pictured bottom left) is the entry level version, priced at just $989.
Surly Wednesday (Fat Bike)
The Wednesday is Surly’s latest addition to their ever expanding fat bike lineup. New for the brand, it uses a 170mm symmetrical rear end that features a nifty dropout, allowing it to run both 170/177m hubs, and 10/12mm thru axles. The bike is suspension compatible, and features a trail geometry commonplace in several of their fat and midfat bikes, such as the Krampus and Ice Cream Truck. We took it out on a couple of laps of the demo loop – and it’s a whole mess of fun. True to Surly ethics, it’s also a real do-it-all machine – there’s even braze-ons in all the right places for bikepacking. And at $1500 complete, you might even have some spare cash for a trip…
Best Bikepacking Bag
Again, there were a lot of bikepacking specific bags on exhibit as more and more companies are entering the bikepacking game. We picked a new version of the original waterproof seat pack.
Revelate Designs Terrapin V2
The Terrapin features a holster-like mount that integrates with Revelate’s specially shaped drybag. It’s a 100% waterproof system where the load can be quickly removed from the bike for packing or unpacking. The new V2 on display has an integrated air valve for compressing the bag after it’s packed. And just like other Revelate bags, the connection points are beefed up using layered rugged materials. Looks like a winner.
Apidura Waterproof Saddle Pack (Runner Up)
The new Apidura waterproof saddle pack hosts the same clean look of their other bags with a new waterproof fabric and design.
Best Go Go Gadget
We’re always looking for gear that can be used for multiple tasks. Here’s a genius idea from Industry 9, a thru-axle that doubles as a toolkit:
Industry 9 Matchstix Thru-axle
Industry 9 unveiled Matchstix, a slick new thru-axle that houses a multi-function took kit. Four bits are held in a rattle preventing rubber sleeve with a slit to allow single bits to be removed, while the aluminum end houses a pair of quick links. The lever doubles as a chain tool and a bit driver. The new Matchstix will be available in the coming months for around $65 and will come in sizes to fit both FOX and RockShox forks in 15x100mm and BOOST 15×110, as well as RockShox Maxle 12×142/148/150/157, ABP 12×142/148/150, and Syntace X12.
The Best in Circles
Thankfully nobody is bikepacking on electric bikes, yet. Although I seem to remember a conversation where a gentleman threatened to be the first, doing so in a mexican wrestling mask out of shame. While e-bikes were definitely a trend at the 2016 Interbike, so was B+ (27.5+). Here are a few circular items in the B+ category that we found particularly interesting:
WTB Wheels and B+ Tire Lineup
WTB seems to be leading the B+ party with three tires including (from left to right) the Trailblazer 2.8, the Bridger 3.0, and all new Trail Boss 3.0 (shown below left on their Scraper rim).
Several other B+ items that impressed (from left to right) were the Schwalbe Rocket Ron, Schwalbe Nobby Nic, and Industry 9’s new Back Country 45mm Rims. Click on each for more.
Yep, the title says it all. It’s always fun browsing bits, bobs, and cogs. Here is our top pick for eye catching shiny objects:
Paul Klamper Brakes
After years of development, design, and robust field testing, Paul Components released their USA made Klamper mechanical disc brakes. Technically they were released during the 2014 Interbike, but now they are ready and on the market. The Klamper is a beautiful replacement for the finicky BB7, popular with long-distance bikepackers. Not only does the Klamper have a nice aesthetic, Paul designed the brakes around dual dials that adjust each pad and make it easy to tune in the field.
Most Likely to Save Your Ass
Riding all day can take a toll on your tush, and finding a good fitting saddle is an important endeavor for bikepackers. Here’s a new option from Ergon that stuck out:
Ergon SMC4 Saddle
The SMC4 is touted as the most comfortable MTB saddle in Ergon’s lineup. It features a pronounced relief channel, flexible side wings, and gel technology in the padding. The Ergon SMC4 and SMC4 Comp saddles weigh 300g and 285g, respectively. Also, shown below right is the SMA3, Ergon’s ‘all-mountain’ option.
Best in Technology
With all of the electric bikes and digital gadgets at the show this year, we thought it appropriate to give a nod to a technology relevant to bikepacking.
Pink Bike’s Trailforks is a mountain bike trail database and management system for riders, builders and trail associations. Users can contribute and local trail associations have the control to approve and curate the data. This process ensures the best, latest, and most accurate data. Trailforks is relatively new, but it’s growing quickly and could be a great tool for finding trails and creating bikepacking routes.
Other Notable Brands, Products, and Booths
Not everything could fit into the awards format, so here is a list of other products, booths, and various bits that impressed.
Revelate Designs Booth
The Revelate Designs booth seemed to be home base for us bikepackers. Here are a few shots and other products by Eric and team:
Revelate’s New Pocket Plus
The new pocket plus is a little bigger and a little stiffer than the original Pocket. Like the Pocket, the Plus version connects to the Harness or Sweet Roll. It can also be connected directly to the handlebar, and even a drop bar as shown in the photo below right. The Pocket Plus has good potential for camera stowage.
Cycle Monkey and Rohloff
Aside from being great wheelbuilders, Cycle Monkey are purveyors Rohloff, Shutter Precision, and many other parts and wheel components. In addition to the 150mm fat bike dynamo hub by Shutter Precision (below), their collective booths were showing off all kinds of fun bits. Click thumbs below for more.
SOPWAMTOS (Society of People Who Make Their Own Shit)
We ran across a combined booth manned by Bruce Gordon, TwoFish Design, and King Cage. Bruce’s beautiful Disc Rock n’ Road (below) was on exhibit with PR bags. Unfamiliar with SOPWAMTOS? Click here to find out more.
Arkel has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 1988 when they launched with a set of bicycle panniers. Arkel now offers a full suite of products including a bikepacking bag based around a simple rack that’s clamped to the seatpost. They also have a streamlined seat pack and for those looking for a long-distance lightweight setup, a really nice minimally designed Orca watertight touring pannier.
Ortlieb and Tubus
Orlieb has been making waterproof panniers for some time. Their new flip-top fronts look great and are fairly light weight. Paired with a Tubus Vega, these could be a great option for someone needing to carry a slightly bigger load. They are also a go-to solution for a shorter rider who can’t quite fit a seat pack.
Blackburn had an amazing booth complete with faux campfire. If we had a category for best large booth, they would have won. Blackburn also showcased their full suite of bikepacking bags, panniers, and racks.
Built on a COLUMBUS “Crmor” double butted crmo tubeset, Bombtrack’s Beyond boasts rack mounts and 5 bottle cage mounts making it fit for a hearty adventure. The Beyond retails for about 2,000 Euros. Check out Bombtrack’s promo page for some inspiration.
Orange Seal has developed a couple new products including the Sub Zero and Endurance. Sub Zero, as it’s name implies remains effective in temperatures down to -20 degrees. The Endurance formula os designed for a longer life span.
Camelbak Skyline 10 LR (Low Rider)
Having a lower center of gravity results in better stability and balance. With this concept, Camelbak has created a pack with the weight as low as possible, the Skyline LR. The Skyline will retail for $130 and be available in 3 color options.
Five Ten Kestral Lace
For their 2016 line, Five Ten released several new options including the Kestral Lace (shown below). The Kestrel Lace will be available in both men’s and women’s versions, in multiple colors, and retail for $150 when they hit the shelves in 2016.
So, that’s what caught our eye most in the world of bikepacking at Interbike ’15. We looking forward to trying some of these products out shortly, and giving you real, honest feedback over the next few months.