2016 Interbike Awards + Exhibition Coverage
Our second annual Interbike Bikepacking Awards highlighting the very best bikepacking-related brands, products and booths in 10 categories. Plus, additional coverage of more new and notable products.
Interbike is the biggest trade show in the US and showcases hundreds upon thousands of new products each year. After riding a few bikes at Outdoor Demo, and several days of browsing the show, we formulated several categories and made our picks. Gravel and plus bikes were popular this year, with more and more accessory brands trying their hand in bikepacking bags. Bear in mind that these awards are based on initial impressions, rather than real world reviews…
Best in Show
Our top spot for sheer coolness in the bikepacking category.
Rawland Ulv 27.5+
Although they’ve been around since 2007, San Francisco based Rawland Cycles got a reboot with two new bikes at this Interbike. Rawland’s framesets feature exclusive, custom-drawn Rawland Staal, a super-premium, triple-butted 4130 chromoly. Included in the launch is their new Ulv — which translates to wolf in Norse — a 27.5+ drop bar adventure bike that’s part of Rawland’s Berserkerverks line. Between the slick graphics, a black camo set of Oveja Negra bags, the raddest sticker ever, and a sword in their booth, Rawland put on quite a show.
The Ulv features a 12×148 thru-axle dropout, a threaded bottom bracket, internal dynamo wiring ports on the drive-side fork blade, and all the bosses you can shake a viking sword at. Rawland is now pre selling Ulv completes for $2,999 or framesets for $950.
Best [Not] In Show
We had a difficult time picking the Best In Show, so we decided to create another category as a second top spot…
Jones Plus Ti
Technically Jeff Jones wasn’t really in the show. It was just him — and an incredibly lightweight and beautiful bike — roaming the hall. But out of all the bikes that were there, I think this is probably the most likely one I would have grabbed and run with, if given the opportunity. It’s the same Plus geometry that we reviewed earlier in the year, but this one is full titanium, including a Ti truss fork. Also, Jeff included an Eagle drivetrain on this build, as well as a carbon Loop Bar, and the new Jones carbon rims, which he designed with a flat, wide and strong lip. As Jeff said, “I’ve even tested them by repeatedly running in to curbs, head on with low PSI in the tires. They won’t break.”
Most Inspiring Booth
Of course there were lots of massive booths with lights, displays, and tons of free goodies, but there were also meaningful exhibits that told a story.
Revelate Designs/Baja Divide
The Revelate Designs booth was one of them. Nicholas Carman and Lael Wilcox were on hand and hosted a couple of events about the Baja Divide as well as Lael’s own philosophy on ride ‘nutrition’… which was a heavy dose of junk food, chips, and Hershey’s chocolate milk. A map of the Baja Divide adorned the wall too, as did Eric Porter’s Diamondback Haanjo EXP.
In typical convention form, there were plenty of handouts. This year the onslaught included tshirts, stickers, koozies, patches… and a toothbrush.
Bombtrack Bicycle Co.
It doesn’t get more creative — and appropriate for a bikepacker — than a travel toothbrush. Bombtrack is creating beautiful bikes built for adventure (see further below for the Beyond Plus), so it was only fitting for them to have adventure in mind for their perfect swag.
Runners Up included Woho, a new Taiwanese based bikepacking bag company who sponsored an expedition from Shenyang to Tibet to Shenyang (13,000km). The patch commemorates the trip. Also, Surly had some great koozies, and that Rawland sticker is hard to beat.
After riding several and ogling many more, here are our top picks for bikes exhibited at Interbike 2016. There were so many great bikes to choose from that we decided to narrow it down by picking three that were purpose built for adventure…
MOOTS’ shop is just a couple hundred meters from the Great Divide route and they see many riders come through. While doing so, they had a lot of ideas on how to make the perfect bike for this iconic ride. The Baxter is the end product after years of development — a purpose built 29″ titanium adventurer created with mountain bike capabilities in a monster cross build. Stay tuned for more on the Baxter.
Advocate Cycles Seldom Seen
Upon release, the Hayduke quickly became a popular choice for bikepackers. Advocate listened and came out with a bike that took that concept a couple steps further. The Seldom Seen is a rigid, 27.5+, steel bike that departs from the Hayduke with its load-bearing specific geometry, a full compliment of mounts, and proprietary tubing designed specifically for this model. In addition, the bike will ship with a bolt-on frame bag.
Bombtrack Beyond Plus
Bombtrack released their Beyond a little over a year ago and now have pushed the line a bit further with the Plus model. With 27.5+ tires, plenty of brazeons, a 4130 double butted chromoly frame, and BOOST thru-axles, the Beyond Plus geometry is designed for bikepacking, yet still agile and reactive enough for trail riding. And like other bikes in Bombtrack’s line, it has a beautiful paint job. It will retail in the US for around $1,800.
Best New Component
There were lots of great innovations and products at Interbike, but after riding the Lauf Grit, we can see what it’s gotten its share of accolades.
Lauf Grit Carbon Suspension Fork
It’s a curious looking fork, without a doubt. But as a bikepacker there are plenty of reasons to consider the Lauf Grit. Some folks think that traditional suspension forks aren’t well suited for gravel roads; they just don’t react to small bumps and washboards very well. The Grit is designed specifically with these roads in mind; the idea is to reduce upper body fatigue over long days on rough roads. Look for several gravel bikes to be specced with the Lauf Grit in the not so distant future. The Grit retails for $790 and weighs in at 900g.
Best Bikepacking Bags
Again, with a lot to choose from, it was a tough decision. So we’ve included our three favorites from the show.
Revelate Designs Ranger Frame Bag
The Ranger is nothing new; in fact it’s been around for a few years now. But this past year, Eric and team applied changes based on rider feedback and made a few tweaks. Most notably, they added big, burly, and highly useable zips, and changed the design to a single zipper instead of two. Also, they are now using a coated X-pac with added water resistance and more Zipstretch fabric taking a great bag to the next level. Stay tuned for a deeper review.
Apidura Accessory Pocket Dry
In addition to their Handlebar Pack Dry and Seat Pack Dry, Apidura had their new Accessory Pocket Dry on display. In addition to its seam welded construction, a unique zipper opening flap — complete with a unique zipper garage — helps keep water out of the bag and provide maximum weather protection. The Pocket works with their Handlebar Pack Dry and retails for £50.00.
New Revelate Designs Pockets
Revelate unveiled three new Pocket designs. The first two are roll-top designs. The small version is constructed of sewn X-Pac and the large will be a seam-welded design made of waterproof material with a padded interior. Both will work with the Handlebar Harness or Sweet Roll. We tested the small one in Kyrgyzstan and absolutely love the quick access system and expandable design. In addition, Revelate introduced the new seam-welded waterproof submersible Pouch, complete with a Hydrolock zipper. Aimed at riders who like to go off the deep end and add packrafting to their adventures, it looks bomber and we’re excited to see the final product.
Best Go Gadget
Acepac Plus Stove
Acepac, the Czech outdoor gear company, had their wares on display. Most notably, a full line of bikepacking bags and their tiny Plus Stove canister cooker. At 60g, the stove is extremely lightweight and breaks down to nest in a medium sized canister, which can then nest in their Minima Pot.
Best In Circles
Wolftooth released their Camo interchangeable chainring system just a few months ago, and at Interbike, a line of stainless steel rings to go along with it. By reducing the steel material with the alloy spider, weight can be saved while retaining the incredible long wear properties of stainless. More soon…
A couple runners up include the Schwalbe Smart Sam 27.5×2.6, the Schwalbe 2.8″ plus version of the G-One, and the WTB Riddler 45c.
Most Likely to Save Your Ass
Blackburn’s Loaded Fatback
In addition to a speargun, Blackburn loaded their display Fatback with a surf rack and a full compliment of their limited edition camo bikepacking bags. This rig could get you though anything.
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.
A couple other gadgets that caught our eye: 1. The Blackburn Switch Multi-tool, a handy little pouch based set with a wrench, four ball-end hex bits, two torx bits, and screwdrivers… ball ends are always nice for assembling a bike off the plane; 2. Lezyne Lever Kit, includes a metal scuffer, six glueless patches, one tire boot, and two Power Levers for $8.99.
Is 3T’s new aero-gravel bike trying to invent a new category here? I don’t think so. Is their “SQAERO” aero tube shapes and RealFast technology going to make a difference for gravel racers? Who knows. But it’s an interesting bike that looked pretty sweet with a set of Apidura bags on board. The Exploro is designed to fit big gravel tires in 700c or MTB tires in 27.5 sizes.
The new Wolftooth BarBag offers a nice compact storage solution that’s great for an iPhone and wallet. The magnetic velcro closure makes it easy for one handed operation too. The BarBag retails for $34.95.
Ergon GE1 Grips
Ergon rewrapped their grips with a new rubber compound… one they found in the cooking knife industry, on high end cutlery. The compound is touted to have minimal slippage, even when wet.
Topeak Bikepacking Bags and Bikamper
Topeak launched a new line of bikepacking bags this year. In addition, they had their revamped Bikamper on display.
It was nice to see an outdoor gear company at Interbike this year. You might be familiar with Klymit for their X-Frame sleeping pad; but they also make the Light Water Dingy and a whole host of sleeping pads and accessories.
Ortlieb Waterproof Framepack
Ortlieb released the first completely waterproof frame pack on the market. It’s designed with a Hydrolock zipper and is submergible for 30 minutes without leaking. The pack comes in two sizes and looks a little more fit for mountain geometry. We are hoping to spend a little more time with this pack in the future… stay tuned.
Stampede Bikes (formerly Tykes Bykes)
Stampede had their Kids Fat Bike 20 set up with racks and panniers. This bike retails for $489. Get your kids ready…
Wilier Triestina Jaroon Plus
This Italian company created a couple of new adventure bikes for their 2017 line. The Jaroon+ features an incredibly clean look afforded by a high end chromoly frame that’s internally welded. The frame wraps a 29+ wheel/tire combo and a SRAM Rival 1×11 drivetrain. It’s priced at $2,700 US.
Blackriver.cc is a new web application that allows route sharing in the form of stories. Based on the demo, it looks like it could be a pretty nice solution for planning and sharing bikepacking routes.
2017 Marin Pine Mountain Family
Marin’s Pine Mountain line got an update. This is the new Pine Mountain 2, priced at $2,999 with an XT drivetrain and a Fox Float 34 fork. They also have the red Pine Mountain 1, which has the same frame with an SLX drivetrain and a RockShox Recon fork for $1,299. And, the Pine Mountain, which has a rigid fork at $989.
2017 Breezer Radar Pro
Another bikepacking bike sighting… this one’s the all new Breezer Radar Pro, a new adventure touring bike with five bottle mounts, rack mounts, a double-butted chromoly frame and a $1,489.00 price tag.