One of the sources we use at Southern Ascent for trends in Triathlon and Ironman gear is LAVA Magazine. LAVA lives and breathes triathlons. That’s their singular focus, treating triathlons as if it were a lifestyle. And as part of the World Triathlon Corporation, the organizer for Ironman 70.3 and full Ironman branded-events, LAVA has a front row seat when it comes to the latest news on triathlons, athletes, gear, and trends.
Our favourite feature of LAVA Magazine is the annual Kona Bike Count. Every year in October at the Ironman World Championships held on the Big Island of Hawaii, industry personnel descend on the Kailua-Kona pier to gauge the latest trends in Ironman gear. They spend about five hours literally counting bikes, wheels, saddles, aerobars, helmets, shoes and accessories as athletes check in for the race. It’s considered a litmus test for what’s trending in the industry.
At the just concluded 2012 Ironman World Championships, Cervelo continued its dominance on top of the bike count, with nearly the same number as Trek, Specialized and Felt combined. This differs little from 2011 except for Specialized having made up some ground. The same could be said for wheels, with Zipp cornering the market, a presence almost 10 times that of the next closest competitor, Hed. And Shimano was the first choice in components for over 70% of the athletes, with SRAM most of the rest.
Preferences for saddles, however, were a lot more varied, with Fi’zi:k: the leader, but ISM close behind and gaining from their 2011 position. Aerobars belonged to Profile Design and Vision, but with Bontrager and 3T showing a bit more strength than in 2011. Pedals were little changed with Look, Shimano and Speedplay the dominant players. Same in Helmets with Rudy Project, Louis Garneau, Giro and Lazer at the top.
Where things did get interesting was in Power Meters with Quarq having pushed their way up the list in front of CycleOps PowerTap and SRM, both more popular in 2011. As well, the bike counters managed to split hydration between front and rear mounted systems, which highlighted the differences this year between Profile, who dominated the front, and XLab, who dominated the rear mounts.
Lastly, the Kona Bike Count added running shoe preferences this year, with ASICS being the most popular, though a long list of brands were all close behind, including Saucony, Newton, Brooks, Kswiss, Nike, Mizuno, Zoot, Adidas and so on. One athlete even finished in Crocs. And thanks to Blueseventy, a swim count revealed B70 and TYR to be the favourite wetsuits.
So if your interest is in Ironman, triathlons in general or simply cycling, running or swimming gear, LAVA Magazine is hard to pass up, with over 100,000 subscriptions already in circulation. While print issues of LAVA Magazine are generally distributed only in the United States, LAVA also has a digital subscription available worldwide. A year’s subscription costs US$29.95 for 9 issues, or US$39.95 for a two year subscription of 18 issues.