By Colin Dennis
Better late than never as they say!
Here’s our belated overview of what turned out to be the busiest Cycle Show on record. Happy days!
Initially housed at the Business Design Centre, Islington in London, the fabled glass arches of the old Royal Agricultural Hall certainly had its charms as an exhibition hall, but trade demands and visitor numbers soon out-stripped any Dickensian quirkiness.
Thanks to its centralised UK location and ease of road access, the UK’s premier Cycle Show has now found its natural home in the NEC. But the journey has not always been a smooth one.
A short tenure at London’s Docklands, ExCel venue followed, but London though, is not necessarily the centre of every cyclist’s world.
Getting to and around London for many is nothing short of an expensive pain in the saddle, and so the welcome move to the Midlands has ensured that the NEC, in all its lack of subtlety, is now the hub of British cycle shows.
And 30,000 visitors this year can’t be wrong …
First port of call for us is always the Schwalbe stand, mostly because they always keep a secret stash of Pringles in the cupboard, but we sticking with the shopper’s convention of naturally veering left on entering a shop.
Being the cyclocross season, we eagerly eyed-up the new X-One and X-One Bite knobblies.
The former being the intermediate hoop, while the later offers more ‘bite’ and a mud-shedding open tread. Both models come tubeless ready, or as Schwalbe term them; tubeless easy.
There were more bikes on show at the 2016 Cycle Show that I have ever seen, either as a bike shop owner or Cycle Reviewer. It’s a jungle out there, but what an eye-full it’s become.
We bounced from stand to stand and finally came to a short rest at the 2Pure stand where we were given a tour de force of POC’s newest offerings including the Octal Cyclocross specific helmet.
The cyclocross specific Octal is much like a normal Octal, but built a little stronger with a little more meat around the front of the helmet to reflect the rigors of the sport.
The new Octal will also inherit the switch to black chin straps. Apparently the white straps mark too easily. Can't say I've noticed while abusing our Octal helmet.
Also catching our eye were the latest jersey’s including a whole new women’s range that continued with the theme of naming the kit after famous big tour climbs and Cols.
Cycling Sports Group (CSG)
If the Cannondale CAADX Apex 1 cyclocross bike looks familiar in the photograph at the top of this article, it’s because it’s the bike we now have on loan from Cycling Sports Group UK (CSG) to review. Nice how this all works out!
Quite possibly the busiest stand at the show, the number of bikes on display from CSG was quite staggering. It helps of course, if you are the UK distributor for not only, Cannondale, but also the likes of: GT Bikes, Charge, Mongoose, We The People and Hoffman BMX Bikes.
There probably wasn't enough room on the stand for the complete ranges from CSG, but what there was on display was more than enough to whet any discerning cyclist's appetite, regardless of which strand of cycling they might be into.
And if bikes wen't enough, there's the ever-growing range of products and bikes from in-house brand, Fabric. Spring-boarding from what was originally saddles fitted to Charge Bikes, Fabric has grown to what now seems almost a life of its own.
And rightly so. The quality and ingenuity that makes up Fabric components is quite striking and definately worth having a closer inspection.
In modern cycling parlance, if it glitters like aTeam Wiggins bike, it probably is Gold …
Or in the case of Condor Cycles, Copper!
So beautifully decked-out in Campagnolo’s finest components, the Anniversary Leggero is painted in what has to be one of the finest licks of paint I've ever seen on a bike. So impressed was I, I went and bought a Lottery ticket later that evening.
The unique gloss and matte paint finish on the Brooks Anniversary Leggero is of dyed chrome paint, which is the preferred, and clearly the best way to replicate the colouring of those original copper rivets used in early Brooks saddles.
The photo here doesn't quite do justice to the depth and lustre of the paint. Close up, I could almost feel the warmth and smell the copper of those rivets being pressed home.
The Condor Stand was certainly one of the largest trade stands at the show and displayed what looked liked the majority, if not all of their custom-made bikes.
While we were on the Condor Stand, we were able to grab a few minutes with Condor’s MD, Grant Young, who was, and still is, one of the founder members of the Cycle Show board. Grant told us with a broad smile on his face …
“it may have been a long-haul getting here, but at last we're truly getting to see the fruits of our labours. The Cycle Show now has a proper home here at the NEC – just look at the crowds, it’s amazing!”
We pinballed off the trade stands until we found refuge at the Oasis of coffee at the Bikmo cycle insurance stand that integrated seamlessly into the huge Bianchi emporium. A steady stream of visitors clearly paid tribute to their flexible insurance cover, or maybe just the delicious Bikmo coffee.
Ready to climb the walls after a strong intake of caffeine, Andrew Griffiths from Cycle Europe, the long-standing importers of Bianchi Bikes, gave us a detailed rundown of the forthcoming 2017 range of bikes.
The one bike that’s on everyone’s radar at the moment is of course, the new Oltre XR4. A visually beefed-up version of the 2016 super lightweight XR2. But with the inclusion of Bianchi’s road-taming Countervail carbon frame technology.
The XR4 must surely be a contender for bike of the year.
Andrew kindly offered Cycle Reviewer a number of Bianchi bikes to review over the coming months, these included the rather sleek-looking, Ascent power assisted MTB hardtail, which if memory serves me right is 27+ wheel/tyre combo.
Powered by the battery that sits neatly behind the downtube, the athletics of the Ascent aren’t too dissimilar from a standard-looking hardtail. Only the out-sized bottom bracket area that houses the motor gives the game away.
We are also hoping to get our grubby mitts on the race-proven Methanol 9.5 CV hardtail MTB.
Sleek as you like and weighing in just over the 20lb mark, we can’t wait to chuck the Methanol around our local singletrack to see how it handles with its full Monocoque design and Countervail technology.
The prize for the biggest smiles of the day must be awarded to the staff on the Cube Bike stand.
Rushing around doing a hundred and one things to please the general public, Carola Noordermeer, the Marketing Manager for Cube Bikes UK and Netherlands, along with Cube's new UK representitive, Chris Astle, gladly took a short breather to place yet another cup of coffe into my hands before giving us a quick overview of their 2017 Cross Race cyclocross bikes.
All four bikes that make up the German Manufacturers’ Cross Race range come with internal cable routing as standard. Differing levels of well-spec’d components and colour schemes make up the differences in cost to each double-butted 6061 aluminium chassis.
We’re also hoping to get hold of the striking-looking, top of the range; Cross Race SLT before the end of the cyclocross season. I t would be good to see if that glossy blue coat of paint stands up to some good-old British mud. Not that the German’s are short of any mud.
Although we weren't quite the last to leave, a one day visit to the NEC hosted Cycle Show simply isn't enough time to enjoy everything and everone that's on display.
We'll be back next year for sure, only we'll be booking overnight accommodation!