I can’t resist a Cycle Show. I love Spezi for the fringe, the Hand Made Bicycle Exposition for the eye candy, and the Cologne show, Interbike in Vegas and Eurobike in Friedrichshafen for their sheer mind numbing enormity. Milan and Paris have their own individual characters, but I have the longest relationship with the London show. It’s been held at many different locations over the years: Olympia, Olympia 2, Alexandria Palace, and Docklands Excel. ‘Cycle Show’ (for that is what it is called, they couldn’t afford a ‘the’) has settled in to Earls Court, its latest home, very nicely. The last three or four years of steady growth has coincided with a substantial increase in cycling in the UK, particularly in London and the 2010 show (which I attended yesterday and runs until Sunday) is now as big as any I’ve ever attended.
It’s great to see the latest incarnation of The London Cycle Show expand year on year because it’s been through some lean years; a couple of decades ago a few cycle companies started the trend of hosting their own private dealer shows. One by one they pulled out of the one big annual, national multi-brand trade show altogether which left it severely diminished. I’ve been to a few of these individual dealer shows, usually hosted at some country hotel or other, where the day is mapped out and hapless dealers are herded towards bike sales programmes like cows to the slaughter. Ask the cheque writer in any bike shop if they’d prefer to finance many trips to many individual single brand shows or one trip to one big show…
Giant, Trek, Marin, Raleigh and Madison are all big players in the UK market but all are absent from the attendance register. You may not have heard of Madison but they are the UK’s official importer of Shimano cycling products, meaning that Shimano, who have totally dominated the world’s cycle component market for the last twenty five years had no official presence at the show (though of course the show was awash with bikes carrying their components). Some of the biggest brands in the UK cycling market, conspicuous by their absence. They’ve all made plenty of money from this particular ‘sales territory’ so I think the very least they can do is support our national show.
There was a lot to see this year – there was some fabulous new gear and the usual high-end blingy stratospheric carbon stuff always gets me salivating. Campagnolo, SRAM, Specialized and Bianchi had some extraordinarily beautiful products on display. Every year these companies up their game, I don’t know how they do it but so many of their bikes were profoundly, jaw-droppingly gorgeous. I suspect someone at Colnago sold their soul to the devil.
Encouragingly there were also a good number of small/new companies exhibiting new and innovative products such as Bike-Eye, Spencer Ivy, Breeze Blockers and MyVelo. If this show is anything to go by, the UK cycle industry is on an up and it was certainly a pleasure to see some familiar UK brands in rude health; Brompton, Pashley, Hope, DMR, Condor, USE, SiS, Endura, Moulton and Polaris. All UK companies and all doing very well thank-you-very-much and not just in the UK, internationally some of them and during a recession! Pure brilliant. I’ve known many of these folks for years so it really is a pleasure to see their success.
It was also good to see small makers like Bernds, Kemper Fahrradtechnik and Patria make the trip from Germany – they were a very welcome addition. Quest 88 headed up an expanded special needs section. I fully expected to find endless rows of cookie-cutter band-wagon flouro-fixies but there weren’t very many at all. The fixed wheel bicycle buyer certainly has plenty to choose from, every brand has at least one in the line-up, but it seems to me that the quality is on the rise and there’s a move away from the flourescent towards a more retro vibe. Bianchi and Condor had it nailed.
Strangely absent this year; cargo bikes, cargo trailers, kids trailers and trailer bikes. I understand why there were only one or two recumbents but there was hardly a kids bike to be seen. Unless I missed it there wasn’t a single trials bike so I guess that bubble has burst. What the industry is pitching at the trade (and by extension to the public) is still largely road bikes, mountain bikes and a few (increasingly trendified) city bikes. Shame.
My Best Stand Award (if such a thing existed) would go to Early Rider for their beach scene complete with vintage ice cream trailer (converted to serve beer!) And for me the Best Trend of the show was the very welcome re-emergence of spangle. Here and there throughout the hall (and in particular on at least two high-end De-Rosas) was glitter – proper big chunks of metal flake with high-gloss lacquer deep enough to swim in. It was metal-flake to make a seventies hot-rod proud. It may not be to everyone’s taste but I’m biased since I’m old enough to remember spangly boob tubes.