Things we learned at the London Bike Show:
People are nice.
Bikes are cool.
Bikes are not the same.
Neither are people.
Clif bars come in a wide variety of flavours.
We had a potter around the London Bike Show yesterday and I guess it’s only fair to share what were our highlights.
All the shiny things at the Excel. Well, not all of them.
Firstly you can’t miss the size of the Air to the Throne jumps. Some of the best in the world will be taking off and landing on those bad boys over the weekend and I reckon that could be pretty special. There is a fine array of big brands. Specialized, GT, Pinerello to name a few are out in force and the Venge on display is a real stunner. The aero drop bars an obvious sign of the attention to detail throughout the frame. Standing still this thing looks fast. The Dutch titanium brand Van Nicholas have a great stand with a guy who can talk you through all the benefits and indeed drawback of titanium. They do an incredible range of bikes for all purposes, from town bikes to full race machines all in timeless Ti. If you do get over there have a play with the gearbox they have. I’m not sure they could replace traditional mechs but they certainly have their benefits in particular fields, and in this case they are just fun to play with!
As close as we'll get to sitting on the 2016 Venge.
It is however the British brands that stole the show for us. We had a long chat with the guys at Cotic (www.cotic.co.uk) about all sorts of things, they make fantastic bikes, mainly for fun in the woods, but also CX and gravel. Kinesis (www.kinesisbikes.co.uk) were around with another big stand showing what we are capable of. Orange (www.orangebikes.co.uk) were showing off what is probably my favourite mountain bike of the show their new Orange Four. A newish breed of bigger wheel shorter travel trail bikes.
Guess the brand
Hope (www.hopetech.com) had a big stand. This British manufacturer may never live with the drivetrain giants certainly in the road world but with more and more disc brakes trickling onto tarmac they are well worth a look. Their lights, wheels and numerous other bits of hardware live with the best in the world.
Our own LBS Chelmer Cycles (www.chelmercycles.co.uk) were proudly flying the Essex flag showing off a full range of bikes and clothing and some more local friendly faces on the ISON stand.
Local boys in the photograph.
In amongst the bedlam there are some real gems. Henty (www.henty.cc), who make commuter bags that genuinely solve a problem for all commuters. We love ours and thoroughly recommend you go and see the guys there if you find your commuting and clothing storage an issue, which many do. There are a range of bike lights and inflatable helmets that again go toward solving issues in a new, more powerful way. Whether they are better than existing methods is up for debate but worth examining nevertheless.
Intense Cycles M16C. Probably over biked for Epping Forest.
Having always been to the Bike Show as a punter it was great to stroll around and see guys we have met over the past 18 months and make new connections. As newcomers it is easy to get a little overawed but under the bright lights everyone is essentially pretty sound. It can be easy to get distracted, thinking what we need to do next or differently. Who the competition are and all that rubbish. Easy to lose focus.
Van Nicholas prove Ti is adaptable! A GT back and Cannondale front inspired concept bike.
I read with great interest memoirs of Brad Wiggins. A man who finds the eternal romance of going training on his own. The solitude brings a certain satisfaction to his training. He knows that those cold winters will pay off and indeed championships are not won in front of great crowds but behind garage doors and often alone on frosty, windy, wet, sunny mornings and evenings. This is true in whatever you do. Perfecting solos, redrawing sketches, failing and improving before taking it to the theatre.
Introspection on that level brings a certain drive and indeed shows that, to some level anyway, you are doing it for yourself. Blackmore exists because riding bikes is the best thing we can possibly do with our time. No other reason. If we can make a living from it then all the better. When the spotlight comes it is however important to shine and that is when the wheat is separated from the chaff. And so here we are. A costa coffee and Out Come The Wolves. Blinded by the lights of Europe’s biggest bike show it would be easy to curl up in a ball and shrivel up. But we’ve learnt from the best. The next month or six weeks is big for Blackmore. A new range and a rejigged website and some potential new avenues. It’s all a new experience. The learning curve can be nothing but steep but then that’s the way it has always been and the way we’ve always done it.