Thursday, 29 September 2011

Cycle Show 2011

In its tenth year, the Cycle Show has moved from Earl's Court in London to the Birmingham NEC. It kind of had to -- Earl's Court's due to be knocked down and redeveloped. And say what you like about the NEC, it beats a pile of rubble. Just about.

The big question is what effect this'll have on visitor numbers. In London the show picked up plenty of passing trade, what with being in the middle of a major conurbation. There just aren't the same numbers that near to the NEC -- close to Brum, yes, but for anyone in the south-east it's a proper day out. And it's a marginal proposition as a day out. The big guys -- Specialized, Trek, Giant, Scott et al -- aren't there. Not exhibiting, anyway, although we spied high-ups from most attending as visitors (and some high-level schmoozing from the show organisers to boot). Felt is probably the most mainstream brand with a stand.

That's not to say that there's nothing of interest at the show, though. If you're only into one kind of bike you may be disappointed, but things look up if your bicycular tastes tend to the diverse. Here's a few things that caught my eye:

Bamboo bikes aren't particularly new, but this is the first UK-made one I've seen. It's from the imaginatively-named Bamboo Bikes and is made in Scarborough. Although not, you'll be amazed to hear, from native Yorkshire bamboo. I never knew you could order bamboo in specific diameters and wall thicknesses, but apparently you can.

 Joints are made with woven flax and epoxy resin, and the whole frame is coated with polyurethane yacht varnish. Claimed frame weight is 4lb, which isn't too bad.

 Any dings or scrapes in the frame can be sanded, filled with epoxy and revarnished. The frame's CEN-tested (it ran twice the required number of cycles without failure). You'll need to find £1,000 to buy one (or £2,000 for a Fox/SLX full bike) but given that each one takes three days to make that's not unreasonable. Road bikes are set to follow.

Very elegant 29er from Enigma. Integrated seat posts lack practicality, but it's soooo pretty. Bonus marks for the colour-matched Niner carbon fork.
 Also in the UK (kind of) 29er camp is this titanium offering from Qoroz.

Disc-equipped cyclocross bikes are everywhere, with a concomitant selection of cable-to-hydraulic brake adaptor gizmos to let road STI levers drive MTB brake calipers. This is TRP's Parabox, which is supplied as a complete system with calipers. There's a neat feature in the shape of a pin that can be put in to hold the pistons closed while you clamp the cables -- pull the pin and you get just the right amount of lever throw. 
Hope's offering scores style points by looking like a tiny V-twin engine.
Neatest of all, though, is this USE prototype, with the benefit of completely concealed cables. Despite appearances, no XTR brake levers died to make them. Zip ties may not make production...
Condor's Terra-X Disc prototype, meanwhile, makes do with cable brakes.


Dolan carbon fibre track bike is made from 100% pure FAST.
Swag Of The Day award has to go to Lezyne's splendid new CNC-machined stainless steel and aluminium pedal spanner/bottle opener. Unbeatable "heft" and monumental overkill for merely opening bottles. Also available with a wooden handle...
Pinarello make ugly bikes. FACT.
More tomorrow, possibly...

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