Wednesday, February 7, 2007

8/16-18/06 - Madison, WI and Trek World 2007

It is one part of my job that doesn't feel like work, but at the same time will exhaust me to no end: Trade Shows. And as a Trek dealer, our trade show season starts off in August with a trip to beautiful Madison, Wisconson for Trek's annual dealer show: Trek World. This was my fourth year travelling to the show and it's something that I always look forward to. This year was especially cool because we were invited to the opening of the show which is only for the largest Trek dealers. We were among the first to see Trek's plans for 2007.
Madison is perfect this time of year. The weather is absolutely beautiful and it rarely rains (although it did rain a little this year and last year's show hit town one day after a tornado...). Built on an isthmus between two lakes; the major one being Lake Monona, their capitol square is at the very middle of the isthmus with the scenic campus of the University of Wisconson nearby and the stately but modern Monona Terrace Convention Center; designed originally by Frank Lloyd Wright (a favorite architect of mine), built directly on the shore of Lake Monona it is a quite picturesque location for such a meeting. And the riding isn't too bad either!

So, I thought I would share some of the exciting new things we saw at the show to give you a little glimpse into Trek World. Here's the whirlwind tour:
Trek has been pushing the envelope of carbon fiber bicycle frame production for more than a decade. And with pretty good results - they have a decent win/loss record at some little bike race in France. This year is no exception. The Madone 6.9SSL is the latest generation of the best-selling brand of carbon road bike. With new "defense-grade" carbon fiber, a special light-weight "low-solids" paint and drilled-out headset skirts the 6.9 is the pinnacle of the pursuit of light weight without compromise. It is the lightest "traditional geometry" frame available and lighter than most of it's "compact geometry" competitors. The frame they had on display actually came in under the claimed weight of 890 grams on the digital scale they had provided for us to weigh the frame ourselves. No smoke, no mirrors - It's that light!
Many people were asking, "What will life be like 'After Lance'?" Well, Trek began work on their answer to that question years ago and has now unveiled what appear to be the most well-researched and meticulously designed mountain bikes currently on the market. Trek has studied all their competitors; major and minor, and identified what their own strengths and weaknesses were and set out to accent the former and eliminate the latter. With new hydro-formed aluminum frames, Fox shocks, and re-designed rear ends on the full-suspension bikes Trek is making serious strides into a market they have been accused of ignoring for the last few years. The bike pictured is the Fuel EX 9.5 - a full-carbon 4" travel bike that perfectly exhibits Trek's know-how, ability, and dedication to the "other" side of the industry. If you have the opportunity - test out one of the new Fuel EX bikes. Trek's work has paid off!
Those of you who know me well know I love wheels. If you've had multiple conversations about bikes with me, you've already heard me bring up wheels many times! This will be no exception. The Bontrager Aeolus wheels that debuted last year at the Dauphine Libere race have been made into an entire series of wheels for many purposes. The ones I'm most excited about are the Aeolus 5.0 carbon clinchers. These wheels are a cousin to the already released Aeolus 6.5 tubular but use a lighter, more Middle-Tennessee-friendly 50 mm deep rim and incorporate the carbon clincher rim technology found on the Race XXX Lite wheels you've probably seen in our store. Light and fast enough to be a weapon, strong enough to ride every day, and practical enough to be, well...practical. I must have them!
Finally, something I'm really excited about. If I didn't live so far from work or lived in a seriously bike-friendly community, I would own a couple of these bikes. The Trek Lime incorporates Shimano's new "Coasting" components and is truely revolutionary. Sometimes hand brakes and shifters aren't practical - and let's face the facts: some people find them intimidating and see them as a serious reason to not ride bikes. But, you need brakes and multiple speeds do have their advantages. So, to solve this problem, Shimano and Trek have developed a bike that does something no bike has ever done before: Multiple speeds with a coaster-style pedal brake system and no shifters. How's it done? A three-speed internal rear hub from the Shimano Nexus family is attached to a small electric servo motor which manages the shifting based on your speed. The servo motor is powered by a dynamo in the front hub (remember the light systems on older bikes with the little "wheel" you'd set against your front tire to power the light? That's a dynamo - only this time it is enclosed in the front hub and creates nearly zero resistance). And, because there's no hand brakes, there's nothing to do with your hands but steer.
Late on the second night of the show, H.A., the manager of our store in Hermitage, and I were in the exhibit hall. We had stopped and got coffee while out earlier in the evening - so we were still carrying our partially full cups of coffee. We decided to check out the Limes while there was no one in the exhibit hall to impede our serious scientific tests (ha, ha!). We were cruising around the hall on the demo bikes - at times probably reaching 20 mph - coffee in hand, and nothing to worry about other than whether or not to pedal faster or push the pedals backward to slow down. Just the ability to ride while sipping coffee is enough to make me lust after a bike, but the effortless shifting which is so smooth you almost don't notice it is just fun to ride. Look for the Limes in our stores after their release in February. They're the perfect bike for cruising around Vanderbilt and West End, running to the video store or coffee shop, or a Sunday afternoon at Crockett Park or the Greenways.
So that's a quick look at what will be going on for 2007. I'm not doing as much travelling to shows this year because of my new responsibilities as a Father (last year I logged 20,000 miles in August and September alone!), but I will be travelling to Las Vegas in late September and look forward to giving you a report after I return.
Thanks for reading.

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