Frostbike Report: New and updated components and gear

Frostbike is an annual dealer gathering hosted by Quality Bicycle Products (QBP), the parent company behind several brands such as All City, Foundry, Salsa, Surly and others. The event takes place at QBP headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in late February and allows shop owners and media types to gather, drink beer and talk shop.

With the Taipei International Cycle Show and Sea Otter looming, not to mention the countless company-specific product launch events now usurping big trade shows, there was not a glut of new product to be explored. Here are some of the new and noteworthy products we stumbled upon.

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Garmin Varia Rearview Radar

$200 (rear monitor/light, only), $300 (rear monitor/light and head unit indicator)

Garmin has so much bike stuff going on that, according to its brochure, you can conceivably hang up to 10 bits of the company’s electronics on your bicycle, from cameras to power meters to remote controls for some of the other items. The highlight of the show was Garmin’s wireless Varia Rearview Radar. The two-piece setup includes a radar device/light for your seatpost and a small indicator for your stem or bars.

The radar can detect vehicles up to 153 yards away and—either on the indicator, or on your existing Garmin Edge computer—will display up to 8 vehicles (or anything moving faster than you), how close each is to your rear tire and how fast they are approaching. The 16-lumen tail light brightens when it detects an oncoming vehicle. Each individual unit has a lifespan of five hours per charge in high power mode. The bundle weighs 3.2 ounces.

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Garmin Varia Smart Bike Lights

$200 (headlight), $70 (one tail light), $300 (headlight, one tail light and remote control)

If you already own a Gamin Edge computer, the smart lights might be your next step. Depending on which Edge model you own, the Varia smart lights will automatically adjust to changing light conditions and your speed. The front light will focus farther down the road as you ride faster while the tail light will shine the brightest if you’re rapidly slowing down.

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Set yourself up with two tail lights and a handlebar-mounted remote control and—voila—your bicycle has turn signals.

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Garmin Varia Vision In-sight Display – $400

If looking down isn’t your thing, turn your sunglasses into a heads-up display. Weighing just 1.1 ounces, the Varia Vision In-sight Display will show directions, performance data, trip information, incoming phone calls and text messages and vehicles approaching from behind, depending on which myriad of devices you pair it with. You can also set it to vibrate to alert you to any of that stuff. The device and its various screens are controlled by a touch panel that is intended work with gloves. A charge should last you eight hours. No word yet on what your ride buddies will think.


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Rever mtb1 and mcx1 disc brakes

mtn1 – $164.99 (complete kit for one wheel), mcx1 – $149 (complete kit for one wheel)

Rever’s mechanical disc brakes are not brand-new, but they were updated for Frostbike to include calipers designed for Shimano’s flat-mount standard in the case of the mcx1 drop-bar model. We simply like the idea of high-end mechanical disc brakes that are designed to be easy to service. Why? If you’re riding in extremely cold temperatures, extra-grimy conditions, foreign countries or doing long-distance bikepacking, hydraulic disc brakes might be more fuss and trouble than they’re worth.

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Rever’s brakes feature dual-piston design for better adjustment, stopping power, modulation and easy installment. The brake pads can be swapped without removing the wheels or disconnecting the cables. Each kit has everything you need to set up one wheel, including 160 mm brake rotors for both road and mountain.


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Teravail Lickskillet – $65 (60 TPI), $85 (120 TPI/Premium)

Teravail is a new tire brand from QBP focused on all-road and gravel tires with understated graphics. New to the lineup is the 700c Lickskillet all-road tire in 28c or 32c. It’s tubeless compatible and features grooves specifically designed for grip and water dispersement. The 60 TPI version features flat protection under the tread while the 120 TPI model takes that protection from bead to bead. The 700×32 version can be run with as little as 45 PSI.

The tire is named for the infamous Lickskillet road near Boulder, Colorado. While only one mile long, the dirt road’s average grade is 14 percent with a max grade of 18 percent, and it tops out at over 8,000 feet. The Lickskillet 28c weighs 270 grams; the 32c weighs 350 grams. The Premium version of each, featuring that extra flat protection, weighs 5 grams more.


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iSSi Flip Pedal – $75

The new iSSi pedal is a party on one side and business on the other—you choose which is which. The Flip is both clipless and platform with adjustable spring tension, SPD cleats and 4 degrees of float. As with all iSSi pedals, you can swap out the spindles to customize your Q-factor with one of three spindle lengths. Available soon in six colors.


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Portland Design Works (PDW) Bindle Rack – price unknown (about $100)

PDW’s lightweight aluminum Bindle Rack was previewed at Interbike but as of March 1 is still not available. The clever Bindle is designed to support a rear dry bag, tent bag or similar via a seatpost clamp and seat rail cinch straps that keep items from drooping onto your rear tire or legs. Integrated compression straps hold your gear snugly. The whole thing allows you to forego a rear rack or a dedicated bikepacking saddle bag that might be too restrictive for your needs.


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Bont Vaypor + – $400 (estimated)

Bont’s high-end Vaypor + road shoe was designed particularly for all-day comfort with a soft Kangaroo leather upper, one-piece carbon chassis, memory foam padding and a BOA retention system. The entire sole of the shoe is heat moldable for a custom fit. The shoes feature ventilation holes across the tongue, along the top of the forefoot, and through the front bumper and arch area of the shoe. The Vaypor + weighs 230 grams and has a stack height of just 3.6 mm. New colors include brown, orange and blue in addition to black and white. A custom color program is available but will push the price of these kicks over $500.


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Lezyne Steel Travel Floor Drive pump – $60

Small apartments, cramped cubicles, backseats of cars, bike bags. There are plenty of tight spaces where you might want to stash a floor pump. Lezyne has you covered with its streamlined, machined aluminum Travel Floor Drive that lays flat. It weighs 2.4 pounds, maxes out at 160 PSI and works on Presta, Schrader and Dunlop valves.


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Surly Straggle-Check Bag – $170

Surly Bikes dropped a new frame bag specifically for its Cross Check and Straggler models, but it will probably work with other bikes, too, considering the triangle frame design is rather ubiquitous. The bag is made of Polyant VX sail cloth by Revelate Designs and features a hydration port, foam bumpers to protect the frame paint and a large main compartment with a map pocket.


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Velo Orange Mojave Cage – $28

The stainless steel Mojave Cage isn’t brand-new; it’s simply a nifty idea. The cage features five holes on the mounting tab and is designed to carry a 40 oz Kleen Kanteen or 32 ounce Nalgene bottle. Since 16 ounces of water weighs just a hair over one pound, using one of these to carry your designer bottle of cucumber water to work takes a couple of pounds off your back. It also means you can haul more water on tour, which was the inspiration for the design and the name.


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Revelate Designs Terrapin – $90 (holster), $38 (drybag)

The Terrapin is one of Revelate’s big seatpost bags for bikepacking. The Terrapin support holster was updated for 2016 and is now RF (radio frequency) welded to be completely waterproof.

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The Terrapin Drybag also gets RF welding and an air purge valve for simple compression. It is also now made of 210 denier mini diamond ripstop fabric to be more durable and available in more colors, including red. Together, the pair weighs 19 ounces.

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Also new from Revelate is a limited edition white camo color on all of its frame bags that will appear in bike shops soon.


We also previewed new and updated bicycles from Frostbike. If you missed that, find them here.

 

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SRAM unveils wireless, electronic drivetrain group

The inevitable march of technology continues, and today SRAM made official one of the worst-kept secrets in the industry, the new wireless drivetrain known as Red eTap. The new shifters and derailleurs work in conjunction with existing SRAM Red cranksets, chains and cassettes. As bicycle frames become more and more complex, the absence of wires or cables allows them to take on even more aggressive forms. Modern wireless technology, battery technology and tiny servo motors all converge in the new system.

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To shift to a harder gear, tap the right hand button. To shift to an easier gear, tap the left hand button. To shift the front chainring back and forth, click both buttons at the same time. Up to four extra remote shifters, SRAM calls them Blips, can be positioned anywhere on the handlebars for sprinting or climbing positions. The shift levers themselves have carbon fiber blades and offer reach adjustments for a perfect fit.

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Small, removable battery packs on each of the derailleurs are interchangeable and can last a claimed 1,000 kilometers between recharges, which take 45 minutes. The wireless transmissions are encrypted to make it almost impossible for outside interference to influence the system. It uses a proprietary communications protocol and has been tested by the professional peloton for years. Firmware updates can be made with the included USB memory stick.

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The SRAM Red eTap group will go on sale in spring 2016 and it won’t be cheap: $2,758 for the full aftermarket setup. It will also be included on several 2016 model bikes from the major brands.

This type of technology is still far beyond the reach of average cyclists, but it’s interesting to how the bicycle continues to evolve with technology, and it might someday be more common than mechanical shifting.

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Enter to win a ride connection prize package from BioLogic

Whether you’re on the open road or on your way to work, it’s nice to stay connected. This prize package from BioLogic includes a waterproof WeatherCase, a Bluetooth speed and cadence sensor and a Bluetooth heart rate monitor strap. Together with the free BioLogic BikeBrain app they turn your smartphone into a powerful cycling computer. All together it’s a $135 value.

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Enter to win by filling out the entry form below, or by opening it in a new window. Please read the terms and conditions before entering, and don’t delay, the drawing will be held Thursday, July 23.

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