Many blogs and magazines have gotten into the habit of printing year end lists, so I thought I would put together my own interpretation of this tradition. 2016 is not a year many will want to recall, but there were some things worth noting in cycling and clothing that brightened prospects for riders. And so it begins.
• Open Cycle – My summer in Europe was spent riding an Open U.P. This truly is an innovative bike that can easily fulfill the “do it all” category. It rides like a road bike while climbing and descending, but can handle almost any other terrain thrown its way. The brilliant design of the frame, and more specifically the chainstays, make this bike a standout among the others. The company’s philosophy, as well as their two current frame offerings, are a refreshing change from the way most bike companies do business. Open Cycle prefers to keep things lean and simple while providing absolutely top notch platforms to build the best possible mountain bike and road bike. I look forward to seeing what is in store for 2017, but in the meantime, I will happily be riding my U.P. up and down the hills of LA.
• Assos – A big shift occurred at Assos when the Meier family sold a controlling interest in the company to Phil Duff, an American businessman. The changes in the company’s business practices have been swift. First, the advertising is changing, and questionable ads have been retooled to be more amenable to current standards. Second, the brand is putting tremendous resources behind improving sales in the United States. This was evidenced at Interbike in September. They had a booth at the show, and a beautiful mobile pop-up shop at Cross Vegas. There was also a riding camp that took place in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, again with the pop-up mobile shop in tow. Best of all, Assos released a special line dubbed profBlack. These pieces were limited, and were in an all black colorway as the name suggests. I’ve longed for all black or white Assos pieces for quite some time, so this tease was a welcome surprise, and I hope there are more in the works. Assos already makes some of the best cycling clothing in the business, and I believe the company is making the necessary changes to appeal to a wider American audience.
• Bike Effect – This is a favorite of mine, and I believe that service oriented shops are the future, especially as more cycling companies adopt the direct to consumer model. Shops such as Bike Effect provide an invaluable resource for cyclists. From fittings to repairs, this is the prototype that will survive the transition the cycling industry is undergoing.
• Canyon – Speaking of direct to consumer, Canyon is poised to change the industry in the US. It has been long in the planning, but Canyon will finally be available to American consumers within 2017. This will roil the industry, but more importantly, Canyon’s arrival will allow US consumers to purchase some of the best engineered bikes in the world at pricing that will seem unbelievable to the American consumer. People ask me often what brand they should be looking at when considering a new bike, and my answer is unequivocally “wait until Canyons are available here.” They are that good.
• Eroica – I had the great opportunity to attend the 2016 Eroica with Dennis Christopher, and thought the event was great fun, the socializing with other like minded people brilliant, and the riding looked amazing. I am not yet sure what they have in store for 2017, but I will be there, and riding this time.
• SRAM eTap – Late in 2016, I was sent an eTap gruppo from SRAM to install on my Assos Goomah bike. I had been wanting to try eTap for quite some time, but the group set was hard to come by. That has changed, and the new product is now available to all. The innovation here is not the electronic shifting, but rather the wireless communication between the shifters and the derailleurs. This makes installing electronic shifting a breeze and available for all bikes capable of handling 11 speeds. There are no wires or internal batteries to contend with, just the shifters and derailleurs, and the shifting is rock solid. SRAM may have come to the electronic shifting game a bit late, but the wireless communication definitely sets them apart.
• Diablo Wheel Works – Diablo Wheel Works is another independent shop not adhering to the norm. Ryan Morse is the genius behind this wonderful service oriented shop run out of a house in Pacific Palisades. With the help of Justin Garrett, they both handle any and all types of wheel builds, complete bike builds and simple repairs. Service is the cornerstone of their business plan, and the thoroughness of their service is astounding. I’ve had two bikes built by Diablo, and both have come through flawlessly. I am not one prone to driving to the westside, but the trip to visit Diablo is worth the while.
• Swrve – I’d be hard-pressed not to mention my friends over at Swrve. They are an LA based clothing manufacturer that continues to innovate in the lifestyle clothing world. Their product line is deep, stylish and fairly priced. From sweaters to jackets to basics, they have you covered.
• 7Mesh – This cycling specific clothing company based in Vancouver was born out of the need for better cycling pieces. The jerseys and jackets I’ve tried have become staples of my winter cycling kit. From waterproof jackets to breathable long sleeve jerseys, 7Mesh does not disappoint. Also, the company outfits both mountain bikers and roadies, providing all on two wheels with the products needed to survive brutal winter conditions as well as warm summer climates.
These are just a few of the things in the cycling world that struck a chord with me in 2016. Sadly, the industry as a whole has suffered this year according to the numbers posted regularly in Bicycle Retailer. Folks at Interbike complained about low attendance and low sales across the country. The industry is definitely changing, but those who are forward thinking are finding ways to stay relevant. It feels a bit like the music industry in the 90s. The changes came quickly, but some of the major players were slow to adopt. I think the same is true here, and the early adopters stand to make a difference. Yet, as the business struggles, cyclists are taking over the streets. Here in LA, I see more and more commuters every day. On my weekend road rides, I see a whole new wave of cyclists hitting the climbs in Griffith Park and Malibu. Cycling is growing, just maybe not from a sales standpoint. Cycling makes sense, both for transportation and pleasure. There are dangers of course, as evidenced in my last post, but the benefits outweigh those dangers, and I hope to see even more cyclists taking over the streets in 2017. Happy New Year, and safe and happy riding in 2017.
Diablo Wheel Works
Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 9.0 LTD