InterBike shows off latest road equipment

The annual InterBike show showcases the latest cycling gear  Credit: Courtesy Schwinn
At this year's InterBike in Las Vegas, the bicycle industries annual trade show debuted many new components and accessories that will shortly begin appearing at your local bicycle shop. Here are a few of the highlights of what was new and hot at the show.

Power measurements

If Polar Electro has its way, it won't be long before all cyclists are able to monitor nearly every function of their bodies and cycling performance while riding. Polar's new S-Series models of heart rate monitors, which the company is marketing to "serious athletes," will collect more vital training data than any other handlebar-mounted heart rate monitor and cyclo-computer.

First-time features new to some models from the company's line include real-time power readings in watts, V02 max, calorie consumption, power pedaling efficiency and infrared technology that allows wireless downloading to any PC. Standard features in the S-Series line are numerous features. They include maximum heart rate, percent of maximum heart rate, average heart rate, recovery heart rate, an interval function, lap splits with average heart rate, upload settings, time in/above/below target zone and a low battery indicator.

The S-710 model includes real-time power output in watts, speed and heart rate displayed on the watch receiver unit mounted on the handlebars. Data from the S-710 can be downloaded to any Windows 95 machine through infrared technology. For machines that use Windows 98 and 2000, an optional IR interface is necessary for downloading.

Carbon road bars

Next season, Easton Bicycle Components, the tubing and component maker, will be moving more heavily into the road bike market. John Harrington, Easton's vice president of bike, said the company's new EC90 road handlebars might be the first and perhaps only widely available super-lightweight carbon fiber road handlebars on the market.

The flaming-red handlebars cap off Easton's 2001 road product line, which includes aluminum road handlebars, a magnesium stem and a welded aluminum stem. The EC90 handlebars feature a unique anatomical bend, incredible strength, a weight of 195 grams (6.8 ounces). The ride characteristics are phenomenal. They just smooth the ride out. Easton designed the laminate so if you pull up it's stiff, but if you hit a bump it flexes enough to absorb the bump but you aren't able to feel the flex.

Web racing

FitCentric Technologies, (www.fitcentric.com) debuted NetAthlon, its new virtual athletic training system. NetAthlon allows users to train and/or compete in a realistic, outdoor environment via a simple connection between the user's fitness equipment and a PC.

NetAthlon showcases three years of R&D and dramatic improvements over the company's first virtual training software, UltraCoach VR, with cutting-edge quality 3D real-time graphics and many new features such as steering, collision detection, a simplified user interface.

FitCentric's ongoing demonstrations highlighted Web Racing, a NetAthlon feature that links multiple users to a common virtual course for group training and competition over a LAN or the Internet. NetAthlon works with many types of fitness equipment and most bicycle trainers.

"NetAthlon applies the latest in virtual reality and interactive entertainment technologies to create a realistic training environment that sets a stunning new gold standard for indoor interactive fitness training," said Dr. Kenneth P. Burres, CEO of FitCentric Technologies.

Performance shades

When performance is all that matters, there is no eye protection preferable to the M Frame, which Oakley (www.oakley.com) recently improved with articulated hinges and better fit. The selling points of the M Frame: ultra-Light "0 Matter" frames, Polaric Edipsoid Lensgeometry and Iridium lens coatings for optimum visual clarity, hydrophilic Unobtanium earsock to prevent slippage, and Hammerfang ear stems to accommodate different head sizes.

The practical reality is that at less than an ounce, these shades provide full eye coverage and 100 percent protection against UV and harmful blue light. No fog. No sweat accumulation or slippage. No light creeping in from the sides. No distortion in dappled or excessively bright light. They are available in four configurations and five easily interchangeable color combinations.

Edmund R. Burke, Ph.D. is professor and director of the Exercise Science Program at the University of Colorado. He served as coordinator of sports sciences for the U.S. Cycling Team leading up to the Olympic Games in 1996 and was a staff member for the 1980 and 1984 Olympic Cycling Teams.


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