Interbike 2017: What We Saw at the Show

By Nick Legan and Alex Strickland

Rohloff goes electronic, sort of…

Touring cyclists have long admired the reliability and long maintenance intervals of Rohloff’s Speedhub internal geared hub. At Interbike, Rohloff showed off its recently launched electronically actuated hub. For now the hub is only compatible when paired with Bosch’s mid-drive eBike system. It uses the same battery and the two systems communicate so that the electric assist cuts out momentarily when the rider asks for a shift. The electronic shifting is fast, but after speaking with a representative from Rohloff, he made it clear that shifting on the manual version is faster, especially when performed by an experienced Rohloff user. 

So why consider the electronic version? Well, there are some clever features including single/multishift where you can tap or hold down the shift button for one or many consecutive shifts. This is great for people with wrist problems for whom the Rohloff twist shifter is a struggle. 

Perhaps more innovative is the Auto-Downshift function. The bike, when stopped, will automatically downshift to a pre-programmed gear (that you can change) so that taking off from a standstill is easier. The system is Bluetooth compatible as well for pairing and updates, and the shifter has an extra button for built-in future-proofing/programming. –NL

Shimano XC5 shoes

Lots of cycling shoes are made for road racing, plenty for mountain biking, and there are lots of options for flat pedal users. Shimano’s XC5 is designed for two-bolt cleats and what Shimano calls “mixed surface riding.” The XC5 will sell for $150 and sits at 7/12 on Shimano’s own stiffness rating. It’s designed for long days in the saddle where comfort on and off the bike is important. We have a couple rides on the new shoe, and its single compound Michelin rubber outsole is surefooted, even on slick rocks. The upper uses a lace-up closure and Shimano’s mini power straps that allow the wearer to keep the midfoot loose while tightening the upper part of the shoe, or vice versa. A large reflective heel tab keeps you visible before or after daylight hours. Available now for $150. –NL

Onyx hubs

Alex and I were both enamored with Onyx after first seeing them in person at last year’s Interbike. This year the Minnesota-based crew was back with some really clever innovation. They added an aluminum freehub body to its hub to save weight but with a replaceable steel wire insert that makes contact with the cassette. This means that the individual cogs won’t dig into soft aluminum, something very common with alloy freehub bodies. Onyx hubs are still quite expensive, but they are also made in the U.S. and use sprag clutches that are nearly immortal in terms of lifespan. From $450. –NL

Tern GSD

My Best-in-Show goes to Tern’s GSD. Tern had several of them on display, each in a slightly different configuration. Want to carry six (yes six!) panniers on your next trip? You’re covered. How about drop off two toddlers at daycare? Easy peasy. How about one kid and a load of groceries? All possible. 

The Bosch mid-drive on the Tern has a 150-mile range thanks to its dual batteries and can carry up to 395 pounds of cargo. Its small wheels keep precious cargo, human or otherwise, lower to the ground. They also reduce its overall length to that of a normal-sized bicycle. The handlebars fold like many Tern models, and the seatpost telescopes to fit riders from 4’11” to 6’4”. The GSD’s compact size also means it will fit in many cars. For storage at home, the GSD can be parked vertically using its rear rack as a stand. 

The GSD is the closest thing to a car replacement I’ve ever seen in the cycling world. A car-free life is a big commitment that not all riders can take on, but the Tern GSD makes it far more manageable with a long range, huge capacity, and a small footprint when not in use. Available in early 2018 from $4,000–NL

Burley Coho XC

Let’s get the burly jokes out of the way right up top — this thing is, in fact, built like a tank. The new Coho XC from Burley Designs is the company’s latest single-wheel trailer, and it’s a worthy addition to the line that’s lacked a single-wheel option. Equipped with a standard 16in. road tire, knobby, or plus-size 16x3.0in (seriously), the Coho is ready for any terrain.  

Capacity is immense, and the closed sides and included netting offer plenty of options for catch-all packing. Drop in a dry bag for more weatherproof options. The rear fender is also extra wide and matches the deck height of the trailer for taking long loads like fishing rods. 

The trailer’s best feature, though, is the dead-simple adjustable yoke that makes attaching to a variety of axle widths and wheel sizes a cinch. Simply use the right axle for your setup, pull or push the yoke and drop it on. The “Burley Ballz” dual hitch accommodates the changing angle of the yoke as it widens and a single handle releases the system with a satisfying disengagement. The yoke and rear axle assemblies are also held on with tool-free attachments and fold into the bed for easy storage. Available in Spring 2018 for $419. –AS

Pure Adventure Bike

Pure Cycles has expanded from its fixed-gear past to offer a range of city, cruiser, and road bikes. For 2018, an “adventure gravel” bike joins the lineup — and at a price we can’t ignore. For $649 buyers can get a 2x8 Shimano Claris-equipped chromoly frame complete with front and rear rack mounts, tubeless-ready 700c wheels and tires, and cable-actuated disc brakes. For $100 more, the drivetrain jumps to the 2x9 Sora group.

Pure uses a direct-to-consumer model, and without a shop as the intermediary, buyers will need to have confidence in sizing, but the tradeoff is a price that, frankly, left us a bit slack-jawed. We’d likely upgrade the brakes right away, but setting the Hutchison tires up tubeless would immediately improve the ride, and you’d have some change in your pocket to swap out cockpit parts as needed while staying well under four figures.

You usually get what you pay for, but at roughly half the cost of a Surly Long Haul Trucker, this has the potential to be a budget-friendly entry point into touring. Stay tuned for a review in 2018. –AS

Lauf True Grit

The makers of cycling’s most unique forks are getting in on the full-bike game with the True Grit, a gravel bike capable of taking on a light touring load or cruising Forest Service roads. Featuring three bottle mounts plus a direct-mount top-tube bag option, the True Grit forgoes rack mounts so any long-distance riding will need bikepacking-style bags for gear. Speaking of gear, the Lauf only features one up front, though Easton’s crankset offers ample option for dropping to a smaller ring size to gear down when loaded. There’s also a front derailer mount in case you prefer a twin-ring setup.

As for that fork, the Lauf relies on carbon leaf springs that deliver 30mm of undamped travel in this configuration. That’s just enough to take a little buzz off the road, but not enough to really be considered suspension in the way most riders think of it.

I enjoyed a short demo ride on a slightly too small model, and it was immediately obvious that this a bike aimed at performance — not a bad thing — and that for a gravel rider looking to race on Saturday and camp on Saturday night, the True Grit is an interesting option. Available in November from $3,330. –AS