I actually shutter to look at the actual numbers, but we featured photos and videos from over 70 brands at Interbike. Those three days were a straight-up product overload on us, but in the wake of the coverage, there were a few products that stood out for various reasons. Bare in mind that "innovative" is subjective word. Some of the products featured are simply clever ideas like the wethepeople Smuggler seat, or a strength improvement and ease of use refinements like Odyssey's Keychain, or variations on the way things work like both Cult and Profile's new cassette options, or a reinvention of something that has been the standard for 25 years like the Affix Rotor System. All these products are in various forms of develop, but definitely worth probing into more. So, I hit up the point man of each company and asked them simply, "Explain what makes it both different and better than previous products before it?"
Tree’s 20mm Birch Hub/Fork Combo
“The hub will use a 20mm axle all the way through the dropouts and peg. The advantage of using the 20mm axle through the pegs is that it is many times stiffer and stronger than a 3/8" bolt (or a 14mm Bolt for the rear hub). This makes it's possible to use a hollow 7075 T6 Aluminum axle that will actually save a half a pound of the weight of a set of hubs! While at the same time it will be much stronger than axles currently available! I just received the hub and forks samples and we are in the initial stages of testing, so there is no release date set. But the system will be tested in the laboratory with destructive testing that will show us the strength and stiffness of the design compared to a normal axle. We will also be doing lots of real world testing with my crew of product testers that are some of the roughest riders out there. The Computer FEA testing has already been done on a 3D model of the design and the results were impressive.
I do realize the challenge that 20mm axle presents in that you would have to get a new fork and peg for the front hub and for the rear hub either grind out the dropouts and peg or get a new frame and peg. In the past BMXer's gladly replaced our frame, fork, headset, and stem for threadless system from the old Quill stem design because of the advantage in stiffness and reliability. Plus, if you're like most riders, your life revolves around BMX. I've never understood why some people spend thousands of dollars of customizing their car, but then say they can't afford a new tire for their bike? BMX is why our lives are so cool! So why not deck your bike out with the best parts so riding it is that much more enjoyable? Anyway, I'll get off my soapbox now, [laughs]! I do know that I am really stoked to ride the new hub and fork at the trails this weekend. Keep an eye on Tree's social media for updates as the testing unfolds.” —Sam Schulte
When we show the Keychain, people tend to focus in on the allen-key masterlink pins, and that is a great feature, but we don't want them to think that this is the only unique feature that the chain has to offer. When we started work on this design, the aim was to make the link between the pins and the side plates as solid as possible. If you have a 3mm pin and a 1mm thick side plate then you are limited by those two factors as to how secure you can make each joint. So we re-designed the inner structure of the chain so that we could use bigger pins and bigger plates. So where a normal chain has 3mm pins and 1 or 1.2mm plates, we use a 5mm pin and 1.4mm plates. This gives us 3 times the contact area of any other BMX chain at this critical juncture. By making the pins hollow we have actually saved weight, and by "waisting" (narrowing) each plate in the center much more severely than a normal chain, we not only save weight, but make the most vulnerable part of the chain harder to catch on ledges, etc. This also leaves more room to thicken up the most stretchy part of the chain, the half-link. So if you look at the side profile of all the plates you can see that the half link plates are taller at the bends to keep them stiff. And of course we have the masterlinks. Each chain will come with one normal masterlink (2 outer plates and special 3mm hex broached threaded pins) and one half-masterlink (to use if you need to get that exact chain length with your gearing). But spares of both of these will also be available. The pins use a normal 3mm hex key.
So the questions we get are most often about dialing in the chain length, the Keychain comes with a little adaptor to fit on a chain breaker and most chain breakers will work to shorten it. The breaker needs to have a big enough hole at the back for the 5mm pin to come out, and even most cheap ones fit this bill. Alternatively, you can use the adaptor on its own with a hammer to knock the pin out. To re-lengthen the chain you will be able to buy additional masterlinks. Re-lengthening using the original pins would be possible but very difficult and not recommended because you won't get that factory tightness (which is the same as any other chain). Additionally, if you carry a couple of spare masterlinks (which is a tiny thing to carry) then if you do manage to break the chain it is pretty easy to fix on the spot without the need for a chain breaker.
The weight of the hollow pin version is just 9.5oz (270g) for a typical 36" run (which is like 25/9 on a 13.75" chainstay). This is about the same weight as our Bluebird chain, and significantly lighter than most half link chains. The price is $42.99 for the hollow pin and $32.99 for the solid version. The Keychains will be available in early 2014 if everything continues to remain on schedule." —George French
Affix Rotor System
"There were really many special dealers and riders at the booth who told me that this new rotor was the best they saw at the show. The point is that if this new rotor will be the new rotor in the future it will really change the future look of many BMX bikes. The Gyro has been around for over 25 years and nothing really changed from this side. The Rotor called "AFFIX Rotor System" (not KHE Affix rotor). We own the Patents but we using the name Affix for it. It's better for other companies if the rotor is not called KHE rotor therefore we using the name "AFFIX Rotor System".
My name is Thomas Göring. I've started to ride BMX in 1981. I'm one of the owners of the BMX Company called KHEbikes, founded in 1988. To find a way to make a better Rotor System was all the years in my mind. Around eight years ago we come up with the F-SET Rotor system. This Rotor was also an integrated Rotor, but the size of the headset was bigger as than regular headtube. The new Rotor system we designed is a mix between an inner and outer Rotor. This allowed us that we can use a regular headtube size!
The Affix Rotor is a super clean design compare to all other Rotor systems. No Steel plates needed between the stem and headset. Single cables can be used to keep the look clean. The top cable pulls the rotor in the center of the headtube/fork shaft. The lower cable is really close on the fork shaft where the rotor parts are moving. The moving Rotor parts slides real clean on each other even if the brake is pulled with much power.
The dealer/Riders save much time because the adjustment of the Rotor is not necessary anymore. There are no screws around the Rotor. The rear cable will be always the same and the "hook" cable head makes it easy to assemble or disassemble the bike. To build up the bike is really simple. Please see the video: http://vimeo.com/69608185
The weight of the two Rotor parts is just 16g! The upper and lower cable has less weight as a regular single cable. A bike with the Affix Rotor will have the same weight as a bike with a single cable. Bikes with an Affix rotor compare to a bikes with a regular rotor are 300g/10,6oz lighter!
There are no parts between the cables which can flex. The Affix rotor feels much more powerful without special adjustments.
Main Power Points: simple adjustment, clean look, no sharp edges, more brake power, stem can be lowered, 300g/10,6oz lighter as regular Rotor bikes, Affix Rotor bike weight not more as a bike without a Gyro" —Thomas Goring
Cult's Freecoaster Hub
"Our intention was not to redesign the freecoaster hub; it was to take Joe [Vee's] vast knowledge base obtained from years of riding almost every incarnation of the freecoaster hub and build the best one we could. The drive-side and driver bearings were the main weak points on precious freecoaster hubs. For the driver bearings, we used a very similar needle set-up to the one we use in the regular Match hub, but it was the drive-side bearing on which we really focused. One of my first designs for the bearings incorporated an "integrated headset" style bearing with a 45-degree chamfer on the driver. The design worked well, but I was not happy with the bearing and scrapped the idea. My idea for a taper roller bearing came from a few applications I had personnel experience within the past. I remember replacing the wheel bearings on a VW bug, and thinking they would be great in a bottom bracket with a pinch bolt style crank. I also recalled replacing taper roller bearings used at my old job in the Coal Mill department at Drax PS. These bearings were always used in high-speed, high-load applications where a regular roller bearing was just not up to the job. The first samples we had produced used an off-the-shelf bearing featuring a polymer bearing race. The initial tests were fine, but any problems we ran into all involved that bearing. The only fix was to have a custom bearing made. The tooling fees and minimum bearing orders were high (they always are), but with a bit of persuasion, I got them down to figures that worked for us. On the first samples with the new bearing, we tightened a few tolerances, adjusted the pre-set "slack," thickened the axle, and installed a needle thrust bearing behind the clutch. The samples were perfect and are exactly the same as the production hubs arriving October 21st." —Neal Wood
Profile's Freecoaster/Cassette Hub
"The internal mechanism on the prototype is, from what we know, a new and unique design. We want to thank Tyler Gilliard for working with us on it. To make it simple (as to not release the component makeup), it's a cassette hub that can be disengaged into a freecoaster. Unlike the Ezra freecoaster, it is not either or, but both cassette and freecoaster. As far as what makes it better? We don't know yet. We do know that this concept allows for pedal pressure. Our plan is to get it to some seasoned riders who have gone through the reigns of multiple freecoasters over the years. With their input, we can hopefully make it as best/durable as possible." —Matt Coplon
Wethepeople's Smuggler Seat
"I guess the idea behind the Smuggler Seat is simply to create more ease when going riding, having a small section with a hidden zip means you can easily store your Allen keys in a handy bag that doesn't rattle around either. Combining this with a 17mm socket built into the seat post means you don't have to take a bag for your tools. Personally, I love riding free; it's just dope to hop shit while riding to spots. The seat itself is a regular wethepeople pivotal with a strong sturdy base; nothing has been comprised here, it's just a nice hidden section. Also, the section is divided into two, this is done on purpose so the divider acts as part of the structure, in case you thought you would fall through [laughs]!" —Paul Robinson