KendaFest Tech Report

One of the best parts about the KendaFest is the opportunity for attendees to be right in the thick of things, just as much as us journalists, as far as new bike products go. There were a lot of opportunities for folks to not only see, but to ride the latest offerings from a large and varied group of bike manufacturers. There were also many parts and accessories companies on hand, some also offering demos, many offering deals on their wares. (Quite a few stuffed shopping bags were spotted on Sunday.)

One of the most interesting things we saw on display was not for sale, but was actually a venue: EcoPioneer’s Alpha Tent. This was the place to watch Le Tour at the Fest. It’s basically a “green” tent installation designed for outdoor events put together by Wingnut head honcho Scott Gibson out of a combination of products. The tent’s electricity for modern conveniences is produced with a combination of wind and solar power, courtesy of a neat little wind turbine and a bank of thin, foldable, durable solar panels from Global Solar. The whole thing is delivered to a site via a military surplus 4×4 converted to run on veggie oil. Scott has been developing his system for some years now—in 2006 he put together the VIP Lounge, a true oasis in the desert, for the Interbike Dirt Demo—and has some really cool and far-reaching ideas for the future.

The folks from Moots drove some 2,500 miles out from Colorado to be at the Fest, and they made it count by showing off their lineup plus two new bikes: an updated Zirkel and a 26″/29″ combo, the Gristle. The new Zirkel edition has its travel increased from 3″ to 4″, which according to Moots rider Ruthie Matthes, makes the bike “right there.” Lucky Festers got to ride one of the first six made.

The Gristle’s name was inspired by a 96oz. steak in the movie “The Great Outdoors” (you gotta see it to get it). It’s a custom offering that will be available as a hardtail, softail or the 3″-travel version shown here. It was brought to life to fill Moots staffer Jon Cariveau’s racing needs, and should fill those of anyone who likes the stability of a 29″ front wheel combined with the acceleration of a 26″ rear wheel.

On display, but sadly off-limits to eager demo-seekers (being only one of a handful that yet exist), was Trek’s new downhill and freeride platform, the Session. It’s got the same innovative Active Braking Pivot rear suspension design as the Fuel EX, and weighs less than 40lbs. even in DH configuration. First production bikes should ship in October. Trek’s hardworking booth keeper had to hide this sick-looking bike by the end of the weekend.

Here’s a shot of one of Titus’ futuristic Exogrid bikes, a TRX cyclocross steed made out of True Temper OX Platinum steel tubes reinforced from the inside with carbon fiber. The tubeset’s pattern of diamond carbon windows is not just for looks, it turns out; it’s a way of combining the best characteristics of both metal and carbon. Cyclocross bikes in general were prominent display items throughout the expo, as New England is a hotbed of ‘cross action.

OK, now this is stupid-light, but I want one: Storck had a carbon-fiber hardtail that weighed in, fully built except for pedals, at a freakish 16lbs., the Rebellion 1.0. Storck’s representative gave the frame weight in grams: 1080g, to be exact. I imagine the booth-workers had to tie that thing down during the windier times. Storck’s bikes were among the more popular demo items, and riders could be seen lofting bikes with amazed looks on their faces.

Pivot is another company that traveled across the country to be here (and to visit the DRHQ earlier this month), and their demo bikes saw heavy action all three days. Justin just recently received a 429 and used it for our Expert Ride at Intermediate Pace to start off his testing.