Down The Pike

A'ME's heated handlebar tape

For as long as there have been handlebars, there's been handlebar tape and there is of course no shortage of handlebar tape on the market today. What there isn't much of a market of yet is heated bar tape. Until now. While traipsing through the aisles of the Interbike show we came upon the A'ME booth where they were showing off a prototype version of their new battery powered heated bar tape.

In case you haven't heard of A'ME, they've been in the grip business for over thirty years and actually got their start making motocross grips for Oakley long before Oakley became a sunglass company. Following last year's introduction of a heated mountain bike grip, they moved on to road bikes with an under-wrap tape that offers up to two hours of heated relief for cold weather riding.

The A'ME wrap has a heating element running through it that runs off a small lithium polymer battery (that can mount under the stem or top tube). The temperature range is easily adjustable via a push-button circuit board with six different levels of heat which range from 95 to 135 degrees. Each piece of wrap is five Inches In length and can be applied in specific areas on the handlebar.

We tried a prototype version and can report that even with thick winter gloves on, more than enough heat can be generated to keep your hands warm and easy to articulate. A'ME product developer Bob Rutten said using a carbon handlebar is the best way to maximize both heat and run time as the carbon does not act like a thermal conductor the way aluminum does.

The American-made kit will sell for $365 and include the under wrap and battery. The under wrap is also sold separately for $55. www.amegrips.com

IS LEVI IN YOUR BUCKET?

The King Ridge Gran Fondo

By Patrick Brady

Riding in Levi Leipheimer's Gran Fondo gives you the opportunity to have your picture taken with the man himself.

Bucket lists are all the rage. We're supposed to climb Kilimanjaro, run with the bulls in Pamplona and skydive without a parachute. As cyclists, we deserve to have a bucket list of our own, one that requires two wheels to complete. You've probably already begun amassing one of your own; like climbing Alpe d'Huez and rounding "Dutch Corner" just hours before the riders charge up the hill this July.

France is nice, but if you can't make it to the Tour, from this day forward, Levi Leipheimer's King Ridge Gran Fondo should be at the top of your list. However, calling the ride Levi Leipheimer's King Ridge Gran Fondo leaves out what would seem to be a necessary part of the sales pitch for most people—the ride takes place in the wine country of Sonoma County. Serious wine country.

At 103 miles in distance with some 8,000 feet of climbing, Levi's Gran Fondo isn't easy by any means (there is also a 65 mile medio fondo and a 32 mile piccolo fondo) .The reward for your efforts is a chance to not just meet Levi and a host of other top American racers, but also celebs like Patrick "Dr. McDreamy" Dempsey. Riders also encounter the gorgeous rolling hills of Sonoma County, some steep climbs, technical descents (including two black-diamond-like 18-percent pitches), dynamite food, spectacular seaside views and a downhill-to-flat run into the finish.

The 2-year-old event has grown beyond expectations. In fact, just getting chosen to ride in itself is an accomplishment worthy of a bucket list dream. This year 6,000 riders made the day one to celebrate as it maintained complete organization. So how does a ride with

6,000 people remain completely manageable? Well, one way is by letting riders queue up to start relative to how fast they hope to ride with the fastest riders rolling out first. No matter where you line up, within the first 20 miles, you're likely to be surrounded by riders who pedal at the same pace as you, whether that's a killer pace, or a pleasant spin.

No matter how fast you ride, one of the best features of the ride is that police from each of the towns the ride passes through come out and... stop the traffic. For once in your life, you get waved through stoplights and stop signs, and as you cruise through towns and neighborhoods, people line the road and cheer. It's as close to being a pro as you'll ever experience. Word to the wise and bucket holders, watch the dates and be prepared to pounce—the entries go fast, www.levisgranfondo.com

Despite what we told you in our last issue that the Interbike trade show was moving from Las Vegas to Anaheim, well, that's all changed. Within days after the 2010 show, the move was rescinded. For 2011, the Interbike trade show is staying in Las Vegas and keeping its date in September (12-16).

No matter where the Interbike trade show is held, Specialized's Mike Sinyard (here with RBA publisher Roland Hinz) is not one to miss an opportunity to meet dealers and check out the competition. Unfortunately, with the Vegas date change came the continued exclusion of consumers.

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