It’s was the Annual Cycle Show at the NEC in Birmingham at the end of last week and over the weekend. I popped up on Thursday and spent the day wandering around the halls catching up with people, meeting a few new ones and looking for interesting things. I enjoy shows and attend as many as I can. In this day of the internet along with the terrific job news sites and magazines do, it’s hard to spot undiscovered new things at a show like this one, but what’s good is that you can get to see things for the first time in the flesh. It’s also interesting seeing how what’s on display changes over the years in terms of trends.
Wandering around the halls, some of the most interesting things I saw included the following:
Argon 18 Nitrogen, Gallium Pro and Krypton X-Road
I got the chance to try the newly redesigned Argon 18 Gallium Pro last November and was really impressed (http://girodilento.com/first-ride-review-2014-argon-18-gallium-pro/). The Canadian company has had a very busy year and announced it’s going to be in the Pro Tour in 2015. But that’s not all. They announced a new aero bike at Eurobike, the Nitrogen, which was on display and it looks great in the flesh.
I’ll see if I can get to try one at some point. They’ve tweaked the paint job on the Gallium Pro for 2015 and toned down the red a little and I think it looks better = more subtle. Both of those framesets retail at £2,099 which I think is very competitive. Argon 18 has also released a disc road frameset with extra clearance – a gravel racer if you like …. Or a ‘cross frame for people who mainly ride on the road. It’s called the Krypton XRoad and is part of an interesting new genre – do it all road bikes. The Krypton XRoad will retail for £1399 as a frameset.
Italian bike frenzy!
The UK is obviously a very important market for the Italian bike industry as they had a big presence. There was a huge Pinarello stand with seemingly even colour variant of the new Dogma F8 (and loads of their other models too).
Colnago also had a big stand with the new V1-r with a little Ferrari sticker on it.
They had the C60 in a range of colours and much of the rest of their growing model range on display.
Then there was De Rosa with two of the eye-wateringly expensive Protos on display (and looking great it has to be said), as well as the new Idol, SuperKing RS 888 – great colour scheme and many others.
Campagnolo had a good sized stand, as did lots of other brands like Deda, Cinelli, Vittoria, Sarto etc, etc. I lost count. It was a very impressive turnout from Italy. Vittoria had their new wheels on display, which is a significant move for their product range. Some good prices, particularly with entry level wheels at £200 a pair but they’re not the lightest. If they’re strong though – they could be great training wheels.
Another bike that whilst I’ve not tried, I’ve heard really positive things about is the Pivot Vault. It’s a full carbon cyclocross frameset and according to those I know who’ve ridden them or have them – it rides brilliantly on the road. So it’s both a great cyclocross bike and a great road ride too, which is not usual and makes it very versatile (as long as you’re not wanting to run mudguards). It was nice to see one in the flesh and it looked good!
City bikes – more than ever before including Royal Dutch Gazelle
I’m a big fan of “proper” city bikes and have been talking at people for a while that I think this is what we need in this country too (along with infrastructure) if we want to expand cycling beyond the 2% who’ll ride regardless. So I was pleased to see more city style bikes on display and I was particularly pleased to see Royal Dutch Gazelle moving into the UK market with a range of their City and E-Bikes.
Gazelle are a major player, so if you want a “proper” city bikes with hub gears, mudguards, chaincase, dynamo lights, roller brakes, built in stand, lock and a heavy duty rack all in an off the shelf bike – you can now get it from Gazelle in a range that runs from just over £400 to about £2500 for a top of the range e-bike. Gazelle have about 30% market share in the Netherlands, so you can’t go wrong.
It wasn’t just Gazelle though, there are always lots of e-bikes at the show but there were a lot more “City bikes” not all as I outlined above from a range of brands from Raleigh to Electra – lots of them. Excellent stuff.
Trek’s full range: road, cyclocross, womens
I was impressed with the new 2015 range when I saw it at Trek World a couple of months ago (http://girodilento.com/trek-world-2014-highlights/), so it was great to see a lot of the bikes again at the cycle show. Often the big brands seem to skip shows like this, so I think it’s worth congratulating Trek on being there with a big stand and lots of bikes. I guess the temptation for the big guys is to say “we’ve got a big dealer network, so we don’t need to go”. But when did you last go into a bike shop and they had a full range of display. Never. Or almost never. Yes, I think it’s lazy and showing a lack of interest in their customers when big brands don’t bother showing up (I’m looking at you Specialized, Cannondale and Giant to name three repeat offenders) so again Kudos to Trek for a great and repeat presence.
I’ve got lots of favourites in the Trek range the moment. I love the orange Domane 5.2, the new super light Emonda is very cool as are the Boone ‘cross bikes and women’s Silque and Emonda WSD.
There’s lots of goodness there without even mentioning my new favourite shoes again (http://girodilento.com/bontrager-rl-road-visibility-shoe-review/).
Genesis goes carbon with the Zero….
Tucked away in depths of the show was one of the Madison Genesis Team bikes – the new carbon Zero. It looked pretty good too but I’m still personally a bit sad that they’ve launched a carbon bike after such a great job of marketing steel frames including the Volare. Yes, I know the team riders now have a choice of bikes like plenty of other race teams have and yes, I know a couple of the team riders still rode the Volare through the Tour of Britain. I’m still just a bit sad about it.
Aero shoes and winter boots
On the Shimano stand I saw the new R321 top of the range race shoes which feature an aero cover over the straps for a little bit of aero smoothing. My friends at Shimano said they were surprised when they saw the aero data from shoes and that whilst it wasn’t massive – there is a measurable difference (marginal gains!). Of course they also said that the R321 was the best road shoe they’ve ever made and I’m sure it probably is. Fortunately for my price point they’ve also released the R171, offering a similar aero gain for a more affordable price and also improved over the old model. I have a pair of Shimano R190s, which are now two generations behind the R171 but I’ve been really happy with them.
The £150 mark is a good price point for getting great shoes. As it’s getting towards winter, Northwave had their winter boots on display as well, which are also well regarded and worth contemplation if you don’t like getting cold feet in the winter.
Yet more disc brake bikes
The wave of bikes with disc brakes continues apace with new bikes from Wilier and Whyte and whilst they’re obviously different kind of bike, with the Wilier and high end road bike and the Whyte a gravel style go anywhere road bike – it’s more choice in the disc market. There were a lot of disc bikes on display but they were all still far outnumbered by caliper braked bikes. The tide may turn but it was far from there this year. Still if you’re in the market for a disc bike, you’ve got more choices than ever (and more to come).
Zipp Firestrike 404 and Zipp SL Aero road handlebars
It’s been four years since the (in my opinion) game changing Firecrest wheels were launched by Zipp to great acclaim and success. Much of the Firecrest range is still in the market and selling but the 404 has been updated again to the Firestrike with better crosswind performance, better braking and a claim of being the best wheelset Zipp has ever brought to market. It’s also the dearest at just under £2700 a pair. It was also the first time I’ve seen the very tasty looking new Zipp SL Aero road bars that bring Zipp’s aero focus to road bars. They look cool and would be an interesting update for those of you (and me) who have an aero bike. One for the Christmas wish list perhaps …
Lots of new clothing brands….
If you think the bike market’s grown in the last few years (and it has) then you might have been as surprised as I was at the large number of new or nearly new clothing brands with small displays. It’s got to be a challenge to be launching a clothing brand into such a crowded market and I wish the newcomers success. I saw this very nice retro woollen jersey from Italian company Pella and whilst they’re not a new company, they’re relatively new in the UK.
Very cool retro jersey from Pella
One last thing!
As they do at an Apple press event … there’s one last thing….
I thought the blinged up Kinesis Aithein looked very good indeed. Dura Ace Mechanical and Reynolds Assault SLG wheels – very nice and I bet it was light as well!
Thanks for reading