New bikes offer plenty to drool about in Steamboat Springs |

New bikes offer plenty to drool about in Steamboat Springs

Orange Peel's Essam Welch rides a bike fitted with a Bionx battery pack, which can offer a pedal-assisting boost or just power the bike. It can go 20 miles per hour.

Joel Reichenberger

— The supposed rule in Steamboat Springs is that you always need one more bike than you currently have in the rack.

If that's true, gear heads — no matter their ride: cruiser, mountain bike, road or even motorized — have plenty to consider this summer as a new collection of rides has slipped into display cases in Steamboat's shops.

Comfort added

James Koch at Ski Haus insisted that if you're looking for a light-as-air road bike perfect for crushing a race, he can hook you up. If you're looking for something almost as fast, but much more comfortable, he said the perfect bike just entered his shop's lineup.

The Specialized Roubrix SL3, available from Ski Haus starting at $2,000, has the layout of a winning road bike, but small shock absorbers built into the frame.

"It's a race bike, but with comfort built into it," Koch said. "It's designed for cobblestone, but that helps everyone else who still wants great performance, but some comfort, too."

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The bike doesn't feature shocks, like a mountain bike might, but small dampeners built into the frame in two places. Koch said it could be ideal for a skier suffering from years of knee abuse, or older cyclists still looking for speed.

"Then the top tube and the seat stay aren't designed super thick or super harsh, so they take some of the road vibration," Koch said. "But you still get race performance from the bottom bracket and the chain stays. The lower part of the bike is stiffer, bigger, but the top is thinner, less carbon and that helps with the road vibration."

Lighter is better

Of course, there's a lot more to a bike than a frame, and it's there that Orange Peel in Steamboat has something it hopes all serious locals will be salivating over.

A pair of Enve rims for mountain bikes can turn any bike into a whole new ride, the Orange Peel crew insists. At $2,500 a pair, there are certain expectations, and they say they're met.

"They're to die for," shop owner Brock Webster said. "They're made in the United States, a Utah company, and they're super light, strong and sexy looking. The carbon fiber mountain bike wheel has been on the market, but you haven't seen a lot of it. Now it's getting a lot more traction.

"People are reluctant to spend $2,000 on a wheel set, but now the manufacturing process is getting to where it's strong and light, and that's the Holy Grail for wheels."

According to those who've taken them out, the difference in weight does dramatic things to a bicycle.

"It turns so easy, so smooth," Orange Peel's Essam Welch said. "With a big, heavy wheel, there is some resistance. With this, the first time I took it up on Emerald (Mountain), I was all over the trail. The wheels immediately had less influence of where the bike was going, and I had more control personally. I had to adjust to it quickly."

Feather-weight wheels aren't the only way local bikers can lighten their load. Steamboat shops have debuted electric pedal-assist bikes in the past few years, and Orange Peel is getting in on the action, selling a kit that allows bikers to fix their own bikes with a silent battery-powered motor than can provide a major boost.

The top line version of the Bionx "Intelligent mobility" system rings in at $1,995. It features various levels of boost that can get a biker flying in no time. There is a governor to keep it under 20 miles per hour, however.

A less powerful version sells for $1,250.

"It's like dropping a Prius motor into any vehicle you already have," Webster said.

Fitting in

There's only one real step after a motor-assisted bike: a regular dirt bike.

Travis King, at Steamboat Powersports, said a new offering by KTM for this summer could prove to be a perfect fit for the Routt County riding environment.

KTM's 350cc bike is unique in that it has no rivals at its size. KTM and other companies have more powerful bikes, and they all have less powerful bikes. The 350, however, is new this year, and has the potential to fill an important hole in the market, King said.

"A 450 is a little too much for some people, and a 250 isn't enough for a lot of people," King said. "This one will be a lot easier to control for some people. It will be just right for a lot of them."

The bike is available for $8,200.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email

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