By Eric McKeegan
An unseasonably warm weekend welcomed bike dealers (and a few media folks) from around the country to Minnesota for Frostbike, Quality Bicycle Products’ annual dealer expo. More than 150 companies were on hand to show off the goods and services you might see this spring in your favorite local bike shop.
Never heard of Quality Bicycle Products? QBP is one of the largest wholesaler of bicycle parts in the country, with three warehouses and adding more employees each year. They are also the parent company behind Surly, Salsa, Civia, All-City, Problem Solvers, Whisky, Foundry, 45NRTH, and a few other brands I’m probably forgetting. Here are some things that caught my eye and lens at the show:
Acros Hydraulic Shifting
We all love the juice in our brake lines these days, why not for shifting too? Those with the need for the newest fancy bits on the market can pony up $2,000 for a set of hydraulic shifters and derailleurs. That is admittedly a lot of cash, but due to the modular nature of the parts, they may never become obsolete. Currently the system can be configured for 8, 9, or 10 speed cassettes and dual or triple rings up front. The front derailleur can adapt to any type of mount currently on the market, and whole system bolts together so damaged pieces are easily replaced in case of a crash.
The shifters are a single lever type. Pushing the flat part of the shift lever shifts one way, push the angled part of the lever to rotate the lever as you push forward to shift in the other direction. Much easier to do than explain. Stay tuned, we hope to get in a set for review.
While 45NRTH only had tires to show, they are also developing products to keep hands and feet warm in the cold. The first tire to reach production is the Husker Du, an all-purpose fat bike tire. The tread pattern looks like it would work well just about anywhere, snow or dirt, and the prototype studded version shown in the ice sculpture could be the ticket for mixed snow and ice rides. Look for studded tires in more standard 700c and 26” sizes too.
Surly Ultra New Hub
There are no doubt thousands of Surly hubs out there, I have one myself on the bike I rode to work today. They are cheap and strong, but many folks have problems keeping the bearings in adjustment. The Ultra New Hub should fix that problem with an update to more modern non-adjustable bearing system. Gone are the lock nuts and angular contact bearings of the past, now press fit axle caps with serious knurling should keep things in place, although fixed riders may need a axle tug to keep the wheel in place with the new 5mm bolts that replace the track nuts of old.
Also shown is a prototype of a trailer hitch that slots into the accessory ports on Xtracycle compatible longtails. The hitch is specific to Surly’s own Bill and Ted flat bed cargo trailers.
This relatively new company has really expanded their product line this year, and two things caught my eye, a plastic pedal and a tire.
The Mesa MP pedal is built from some type of reinforced nylon, but unlike most plastic pedals these have real metal pins for traction when wet. So, who is going to like these (besides bike polo jocks)? Cold weather riders. Metal pedals act like a heat sink, pulling the warmth from even well insulated feet. Fat bikers are stoked about this product.
The Session tire might be aimed at urban riders and fixed-freestylers, but those with hankering for dirt and gravel roads may find a new friend here. I’ve found I like riding almost anything that resembles a road on 28mm tires, but most 28mm tires aren’t up to the task of bouncing down washed out roads at unadvisable speeds. The Session uses a wrap around tread pattern that should help fend off pinch flats and offer more traction on loose surfaces, and a Kevlar belt keep punctures at bay. Besides a variety of colors the tires are available in 23mm, 28mm and 35mm widths, 700c only.
In Issue #13 we reviewed All City’s singlespeed cyclocross bike, the Nature Boy, and now they’ve launched a geared version, The Macho Man. They were also showing off Mr. Pink, a sturdy road bike. While it was introduced last spring, this was my first chance to get up close and personal with Mr Pink.
Built with Columbus Zona steel with a matching steel fork, this isn’t just another 4130 frame. Fender mounts and mid-reach brakes mean tires up to 32s are possible, and 28s with fenders are no problem. The fork is classic box crown affair with a classic rake, and small details like water bottle boss reinforcements are classy touches on this modern frame. Available as a complete bike or frameset.
As the name states, Problem Solves mission is to identify problems and create problems to solve them. They had quite a few “why didn’t I think of that” products at FrostBike.
PF-30 Eccentric BB: This eccentric converts a BB30 Press Fit frame for single speed use.
Canti post light mounts: I have two bikes with disc brakes that have unused cantilever brake mounts (horray for discs!) sticking out like sore thumbs. This product makes them usefull again as a light mounting location, great for use with bikes with portuer racks or handlebar bags that would block a handlebar mounted light.
QR nut light mount: Maybe your bike is still using your canti studs, or maybe you don’t have any at all? In about 10 seconds you can unthread the nut from your quick release skewer, thread this on and mount up a headlight. Some people are big fans of the broad beam a low mount light provides. Not recommended for rear use, freestyle tricks, or a place for your friend to stand when you are riding home from the playground.
Singlespeed derailleur mount: Got a bike with track ends you want to run a derailleur on? This little gem will allow you to do so. Maybe do something with that 26” single speed you never ride anymore, or slap on a geared rear wheel for some bike packing action.
Two Pulley Chain Tensioner: There are plenty of single pulley chain tensioners on the market, and for the most part they work well at tensioning a chain. What they don’t do well is adapt to changing chain length. That makes the Tow Pulley tensioner well-suited to converting full suspension bikes to a single rear cog, or running 2 chain rings up front to give your single speed a road an off-road gear, making riding to the ride a bit more bearable.
Famous for their darn near indestructible vacuum bottles, Stanley is diretly targeting the cycling market with some pretty choice food transport devices.
The three bottles pictured here will fit in a standard bottle cage, and can be opened with one hand to drink on the bike, but seal up tightly enough to slip into a bag without fear of spillage. The middle and right bottles are insulated to keep your hot hot and your cold cold.
This lunch case fits into a bag much easier than the old-time steel worker luch box, and will keep your sandwhich, sushi or shrimp cocktail safe from smashing. An I have it on good authority that even though it is labeled for MAN LUNCH, it should work fine for ladies too.