Thursday, February 28, 2013

Frostbike 2013: Part 4

Sunday was the closing day for Frostbike and I awoke at Ben's home to get ready. We then peeled out to his folks place for poached eggs and toast with some fresh coffee on top and then we hit the road northward.

I didn't have a whole lot on the agenda. A few things that I needed to hit up, then I just needed to wait until 2pm for a meeting with a Salsa rep concerning the shop. The pre-order for 2014 was on the agenda. My boss from the shop was supposed to show up for it.

Interestingly, there was a good, long conversation in the Challenge Tire booth with their rep and a person very high up in the chain of command at QBP. The overall feeling I got was that gravel road and fat bike segments were very high in focus and priority with QBP. It doesn't take much to see that is true when you check out some of Q's brands and how they have refocused over the past few years.

Salsa Cycles threw out that Mukluk in late 2010 and when the bike sold out, they brought a three bike line up the following year. 2013 saw the addition of a full on race bike in the Beargrease, and I thought that was pushing the limits. Nope! Now for 2014 we're going to see a high technology, super-fat bike in the Carbon Beargrease. Amazing! Add in those Warbird gravel road racers, the Vaya, and you can see a focus on those categories quite easily.

The new All City Macho Man Disc gravel/cross rig.
Another brand, this one switched up to cover cross and gravel riders, is All City. I remember when that brand was just Jeff Frane and a bunch of fixie-hipster componentry.

All City then branched out to offer urban bashers and fixed gear frame sets. But then one day this single speed cross bike appeared called the Nature Boy. It was touted as a cross rig, which it is, but gravel riders were attracted to it in significant numbers.

Then came the Mr. Pink all-road bike, then the Spacehorse, which really hit the gravel riders as a good rig, and then the geared version of the Nature Boy, the Macho Man appeared. Now when you walk into an All City booth at a show, it's hard to find a fixed gear selection. Sure, they have one hanging on in the line, and a couple of frame sets, but this brand has gone completely in another direction. Gravel and cross. The all new Macho Man Disc will only further that feeling.

So gravel and fat bikes are certainly where the action is at with the Q brands. Foundry, the oddly named carbon bike brand, is all cyclo-cross, for the most part. There is a token 29"er there, but whoop-de-doo. It, (and the other Foundry bikes),  looks like an overpriced refugee from a Chinese manufacturers catalog. Surly? Well certainly they are, (pardon the pun), the odd man out, but with the seminal Cross Check, and two very popular fat bikes, they have their bases covered already. Add in the 29+ Krampus, and you just may have a whole nuther segment created right there. Surly may be "anti-establishment", but they can't be blamed for not being at the front end of most of these niche cycling categories. Cutting edge misfits, those fellers!

Gravel grinding: It's the new black...
Well, I had all those conversations at one point or another during the weekend that I can tell you about. However; there was more. A lot more that I can not speak of......yet. But mark my words here- fat bikes are being fast tracked and what you see now will be prehistoric in terms of tech and performance in three years tops. I know gravel grinding stuff may see the same treatment. Fat bikes will be first though. It's going to be super exciting to see how it all comes down.

After jawing all that time, a guy can work up quite an appetite. Fortunately Jeff Kerkove put a bug in my ear to go to lunch with  him. We caught up on things and had a great time.  For those who haven't been along here for the entire ride, Jeff used to work at the shop with me and was the co-founder of Trans Iowa. Now he's with Ergon, and riding bikes all over the place. We get to see each other very rarely, so it was good to sit down with him.

And that meeting I was supposed to have at 2pm? Well, my boss changed the timing but neglected to inform me of that small detail. So I found out at 2pm that Ben and I could have been gone already, and my wife could have seen all of the Academy Award ceremony, and....... Meh!....... is sort of important. 

So Frostbike came to an end for 2013. It was a whirlwind of a weekend and I had a lot of fun. Seeing many people I don't get to see very often, and meeting new folks too was certainly the highlight of the time spent there. Bikes were the added icing on that cake.

Thanks! I wanted to give special shouts out to: Ben and Meg, the Witt family, Mike's Bikes: Mike, Stuart, and Jon- Salsa Cycles: Mike Riemer, Tim K, John Gaddo, Aaron Stehly- QBP: Jason Boucher, Mary, and all the staff- The Vendors: Jeff Kerkove, Morgan Nicol, Chris Clinton, Donn Kelogg, Matt Ruiter, and all the good folks there to show their wares. Friends old and new, and everyone that made the weekend what it was. Thanks!

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