Friday, September 28th saw Helen and I plus two friends from Willand cycle club head off to the NEC, Birmingham to visit the Cycle Show 2018. Whilst Helen and I have never attended this show before, our two companions, Chris and Fran, had been in previous years. First of all, I really didn’t know what to expect from the trip – apart from seeing lots of bikes that I have no hope of ever affording.
Arriving at the NEC just as the show was opening, it seemed like miles from our car park (I had forgotten just how large the venue is). But, there was an air of anticipation. My first impression on entering the exhibition hall was “wow!”. It all looked super-slick and corporate…..and, almost instantly, I knew there was just going to be too much to see! If you are like me and attracted to bike porn like a bee to pollen, you know you are in trouble when there is that much on offer.
Start at the beginning of the show.
First stop, the Pinarello stand. Noteworthy is that I will confirm that it was not us who stole the Tour de France trophy! What a wonderful selection of trophy-winning bikes. Looking at the price tag of the most expensive bike on their stand almost made me have heart failure. At £19,000, it was more than 6 times the cost of the car we had traveled up in (yes, my car!). Feeling somewhat sobered by the price tags, we moved on.
The sheer diversity of bike “stuff” on offer was enough to make your head spin. I lost count of, how many innovative lights there were to be had. No bad thing, as I am a firm believer in “you can’t have too many lights”). Looking like the Blackpool illuminations may not be for everyone but, most importantly, inviting some derision is a small price to pay for my life. One brand that particularly caught my eye was see.sense. Their “Ace” front and rear lights weigh almost nothing, are superbly designed and react to the environment by flashing brighter and faster when slowing down at junctions, etc. Clever stuff.
It’s all electric!
Electric bikes seem to be gaining in popularity faster than I can climb hills. The number of stands offering e-bikes in some form or another was a surprise to me. There were electric forms of every bike you can think of: road bike, mountain bike, touring bike. There was even an example of a folding e-bike (asmobilesolutions). Try as I might, I cannot help seeing e-bikes as cheating somehow. Of course, I should be thinking in terms of e-bikes introducing a new type of consumer to cycling but, the nagging feeling remains.
The Cycle Show provided numerous (7 to be precise) test tracks offering punters the opportunity to test eMTB’s, Kids bikes, e-road bikes, standard MTB’s, standard road bikes, a Bosch e-bike ABS track and an Islabikes children’s bike track. Yet another track was occupied by “Extreme Bike Battle” – a BMX display crew headed by Lee Musselwhite. I must confess to knowing very little about BMX at present but, the skills on display here were awesome.
All a bit much..
There cannot be many things in the bike world that were not represented at the Cycle Show. Clothing, tyres, components, cleaning materials, holidays, accessories, and much more was on show which meant there was something for just about everybody. Oh, and there were cycling celebrities around too! Sadly, I am not very celebrity orientated – to the point where, if Mark Cavendish knocked on my front door, I doubt I would recognise him (sorry, Mark, nothing personal). Opportunities were available to meet and listen to Mark Cavendish, Kirsten Wild, Alex Dowset, Marcel Kittel, Sam Pilgrim, James Duotone and Lee Musselwhite.
Somehow, I doubt I have mentioned anywhere near everything on offer at the show. However, I did want to make mention of several stands that really caught my attention. Not all for the same reason, they are a random selection!
Bamboo bikes! No doubt, there will be many who say “nothing new” but I, for one, have never seen a bike with a bamboo frame before! Named “Boomers Bamboo Bikes”, the frames on display here are made Ghana. Completed frames are then built and sold by UK distributors (there are currently 4). The look of these bikes is incredible but, I loved the ethos behind them just as much. Sadly, I did not get a chance to ride one however, I will be aiming to do just that at some stage. A fantastic idea that looks amazing too and supports some excellent causes which means you should add one to your collection.
Another stand coming under the “worthy causes” banner was Elephant Bikes. Run by a charity called Krizevac Project, the aim is to help end poverty in Malawi. Elephant bikes are old Post Office bikes that have been re-furbished by young offenders. For each one sold in the UK, a bike is shipped out to Malawi where having a bike is life altering. A great idea – genuine up-cycling!!
Of the various gadgets and accessories on offer, one of my favourites was a tyre lever/coin holder/mini tool kit on offer from Stique. A really handy looking bit of kit. all of us bought a set of tyre levers (last of the big spenders). Nice folks manning the stand as well!
The list of interesting, useful, desirable, whacky and wonderful bikes and accessories goes on and on. In terms of the show itself, I have to say that I was impressed. As often happens to me, I got a bit bogged down in speaking to people on stands and admiring the amazing things on offer. The result? I did not see everything there was on offer. Also as a consequence I did, however, get my backside measured by a kind gentleman from Selle Italia. Quite apart from a photo opportunity, it did confirm that I had the correct size saddle fitted to my bike. Comforting.
What about the bikes I liked? Well, there were a lot! Models from Whyte, Swift, and Cube were some of my top favourites. It must be said, going by aesthetics alone, an utterly beautiful steel baby by Bottecchia really did it for me. Hand made in Italy by angels, apparently (well, handmade anyway). A seriously lovely bike, manufactured to modern standards in steel but, looking like a retro racer. Meaning, of course, that you get all the advantages of modern technology with the classic design of older bikes. Superb!
I must admit to being a little taken aback by some of the public attending. There really were some unbelievably rude and arrogant people in evidence. Snobbery is, apparently, rife in the cycling world. What a shame. That said, it was an enjoyable visit. We will probably visit again and would encourage you to give it a go. However, if you are like me at events like this, the recommendation must be that, if you want to see the whole show, spend two days there!
Look out for more reviews and pictures of show “stuff” in the near future so, do visit again.