Interbike 2017 – Top 5 Discoveries (Best Small Brands)

Written by: Reid Hemsing

As an entrepreneur, I relate to the small brands. Maybe it’s the overall sliding excitement in the industry for the Interbike show but stopping by the bigger booths lacked enthusiasm. Instead, I spent most of my time navigating the more hidden lanes of the show. These are the brands, products and entrepreneurs that caught my eye.

 

5) Brilliant – Reflective Strips

  • Founder: Robert Koppes, Safe Reflections, Inc.
  • Based in: Saint Paul, MN

Brilliant reflective strips are practical, decently cool and cheap enough at $15 USD per pack. Although this company blossomed out of the mega 3M family, one young entrepreneur had the foresight to apply 3M’s technology to the cycling market. The result was a collection of stick-on and iron-on pre-cut reflective patterns that can be added to any existing bag, jacket, bike (or any piece of gear) that needs some pop when riding at night. Good stocking stuffer.

Brilliant Reflective Strips for Biking

Brilliant Reflective Strips – Photo Courtesy of Brilliant

4) Thousand – Helmets

  • Founder: Gloria Hwang
  • Based in: Los Angeles, California

Thousand are Kickstarter media darlings that raised $228,714 on a $20,000 goal. Their line of colourful, fashion-forward (and very innovative) lockable helmets are crushing in the industry of brain protection. They focus on one thing at a time (a core Two Wheel Gear philosophy) and do it extremely well. Launched in 2015, they are already breaking into retail and distribution outlets that are on the 2WG wish list. The helmets feature a secret pop lock (with Helmet Thief Guarantee), magnetic lock and ooze with style. Over a whiskey on the rocks, Gloria and I talked about our companies. “I don’t want to have a life,” she said. “I want an amazing business.” Whoa, this company is going places.

Thousand Helmets Gloria Hwang

Gloria Hwang, co-founder and CEO of Thousand. – Photo Courtesy of Thousand

3) Smart Halo – The brain of your commute

  • Founder: Xavier Peich (X) & Team
  • Based in: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Another Kickstarter home run. I’ve watched these guys since their campaign totalled $538,723 in 2015. Their handlebar mountable tech unit is your bikes navigation system, alarm and anti-theft system, light, fitness tracker, and operates in conjunction with your smartphone via Bluetooth. It is motion sensor activated so no need to remember to hit “go.” The device is securely locked to the handlebars and only unlocked with a unique key. This device is smart and sexy. Although X and the boys ended up shipping the first round of product a year late, this one was worth the wait. I have one on my desk…A full on commuter review is coming soon!

 

2) Tern – GSD – The electric cargo bike that rides like a regular bike

  • Founders: Florence Chen, Joshua Hon
  • Based in: Taipei, Taiwan

Tern – GSD, Las Vegas, NV, Interbike 2017 – Photo Courtesy of Tern

Tern - GSD - Interbike 2017

Elvis commutes – Photo Courtesy of Tern

I love Tern. Their ingenuity in their bikes, their branding, and the people behind the company. I quickly covered their Vektron (renamed after some licensing issues with “Elektron”) in last year’s Interbike show photos. This year, they have come out with the ultimate electric cargo bike that doesn’t feel or look much like a cargo bike. Its the same length as a standard ebike at 180 cm and can carry 2 kids plus rider or 180 kg in total. Oh and its small enough fit in the back of a VW Touran. It has dual battery capability that can keep you powered up to 150 miles (241 km).

We were lucky enough to be invited to the Tern house party and I was able to sit and chat with the owner, Josh and his right hand Galen for a few hours around a picnic table. His enthusiasm was infectious still late in the night prior to the morning show and I was able to pitch him some major bag/brand collaborations. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Tern + Two Wheel Gear custom. I’ll keep following up : )

 

Tern Vektron Folding Bike with Two Wheel Gear Bag

Tern Vektron equipped with a Two Wheel Gear Pannier Backpack Interbike 2016 – Photo courtesy of Reid Hemsing

 

1) Road Runner Bags – The Jammer

  • Founder: Brad Adams
  • Based in: Los Angeles, California
Road Runner Bags - Interbike 2017

2017 Interbike Booth Master Award Winner – Brad Adams – Road Runner Bags – Photo by Reid Hemsing

 

The Jammer - Road Runner Bike Bags

The Jammer – Road Runner Bags

Your #1 is another bag company? You bet! Brad wins the Interbike Booth Master Award by a commuter mile. If you want to meet an entrepreneur with character and a true love for his craft, it doesn’t get more real at Interbike than Brad. His story is very similar to mine. He just started making bike bags out of necessity at his house. Bike packing is Road Runner’s jam and it’s easy to see Brad road testing his gear. I have followed the Road Runner Instagram account for over a year and when I walked up to his booth, I recognized him instantly.

The Jammer handlebar bag has a genius system to attach to any handlebar set that balances no matter the cargo. If you’re on a grocery run, you can leave your baguette and leafy greens popping out the top with no worries of a spill (hitting around the 10L mark completely full). Or use the rolltop to keep things neat, tidy and waterproof. They also make a Jumbo Jammer. A very clever belt loop system allows you to carry the bag on your waist if you’re trying to hit your 10,000 steps. Every piece is handcrafted with materials sourced 100% in the USA.

Road Runner Bags - The Jammer - Interbike 2017

Road Runner 2017 – Jammer Side

He has clever sales tactics too. For the product release of “The Jammer” in true Bob Marley fashion, Brad launched a 42.0% off sale on 420 (April 20, 2017) between 4:20 – 5:20 pm. He was so overwhelmed with traffic, he almost blew the server out of the website. Easily the most fun I spent at any exhibitor booth during the show. A true entertainer, artisan and business man. This brand is a jammer!