The London Bike Show was the place to be for Cyclists in London last weekend (11th to 14th of February 2016). It was for me a new experience since I had not been to one before. It was a bit of a Marathon to get to the ExCel, with trains, the underground and the DLR, but it was worth it. Since I was covering the show for the Brazilian Cycling Magazine “Revista Bicicleta” I manage to get a press pass to the show.
Now, with the show over, the stats I found on their website indicates that they had over 50.000 visitors and more than 300 different brands in categories such as Clothing, Bicycles, Electronics, Innovation, Performance, Charity, Components, Nutrition, Tourism, Retail, Accessories and others.
There where over 50 different bicycle brands or manufacturers exposing the best of what is available in cycling today. Among them some brands I personally had never heard of (doesn’t mean they are unknown) such as Radon, from Germany and Wilier from Italy. Of course, most of the big names were there too in the likes of Specialized, Cannondale, Cube, Giant, Scott, Boardman, Surly, Orange and many others and they have taken a lot of the space of the show. I felt, however, that there were names missing there also. For instance I don’t recall having seen booths for Fuji and Bianchi in the show, but then I could have missed them, even though I was there for 7 hours (and they are not in the list of brands I got either).
My impression was that electric and hybrid bikes were big on this year’s show, but then I didn’t go to last year´s show to make a proper comparison. Every brand in the show had at least 1 electric or hybrid option available and there were those brands that all they do is electric bikes such as Oxigen from the UK and Stealth from Australia.
There was really a bit of everything in the show and sometimes it felt like there was too much of something as well, enough to get a bike loving person somewhat dazzled by what it was on offer, especially those with big pockets. It wasn’t hard to find bikes with £7,000 to £9,000 price tags in them.
The show also brought to stage cycling celebrities like Sir Chris Hoy, the most decorated Olympic cyclist of all time, with six gold medals in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics and 11 times track world champion. Other celebrities included Greg LeMond, 3 times Tour de France winner, and Steve Peat, a downhill MTB legend.
During the show over 40 of the best freestyle bikers competed for a € 10,000.00 price on an event called “Air to the Throne“. They competed on a purpose built course with some huge ramps that allowed the riders to showcase some mind-blowing tricks for the crowds. It was nice to watch their domain of the bike.
The ticket to the bike show gave also access to 3 more events taking place in the same area: The Triathlon Show, sponsored by Honda, the Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show, sponsored by the Telegraph (a British Newspaper), with lots to see for nature loving camping people and the London International Dive Show, that enabled visitors to actually try the equipment in the big swimming pools built on site.
Although those were nice to see, the bike show was the main event, at least for me. Given that my current interest is in bike touring and long distance cycling, that is where I tried to focus my attention to.
I did look around in the outdoor and adventure area to check the options for tents and other camping equipment which I intend to use in my next long distance trip. Here the highlight goes to the Terra Nova Laser Ultra 1 tent with a total weight of less than 0.5 Kg (1.1 lb). I bought myself an all-in-one stove and cooking pot that I thought was on offer for a good price in the show (that was actually the only thing I bought during the show).
The number of items in the show were in fact so varied that a visitor that didn’t have in mind something specific to look for, could easily be visually overwhelmed by all the information available and by what was on offer.
The show had a large circular test track on one side which enabled the visitor to “test-ride” many of the bikes on display. Of the 7 hours I was there I only tested 3 bikes: 2 electric and an urban one. I didn’t find many touring bike options during the show and that was for me a bit disappointing, but I found interesting innovations in areas such as lighting and efficient use of space and weight, which for those who intend to travel long distances by bike are worth checking.
I was impressed by how far dynamo technology has come since the old days of the mechanical bottle dynamos. Exposure lights had an electromagnetic dynamo + lights kit, the “Revo Dynamo” on show and I was amazed by how little drag the dynamo produced on the wheel to keep the 800 Lumens light on full power. On the same booth they had their battery operated LED lights on display. The strongest one, the “Six Pack MK6“, with a massive 4,000 lumens of power and a battery to keep it going for 4h at full power or 31h at low power (which is actually quite strong). I liked the small OLED displays on the back to indicate their status and remaining power left in the battery. Needless to say all of these don’t come cheap, with the Dynamo kit costing around £300 and the big 4,000 lumens light at around £400. There were several other brands showing their innovations in this area.
Topeak brought to their booth some very interesting bicycle bags. From frame and tool bags to a variety of panniers. Things that captured my attention were the a combined water bottle cage with a small tool bag underneath and the air pump designed to fit into the seat post, part of their Ninja series. Another interesting product I’ve seen in this area was a behind the saddle support made by NEOS called AQUAir which allows you to have 2 water bottles, as well as 2 CO2 cartridges, an inflation tube and an extra inner tube all neatly stored behind and under your saddle.
For those that like gadgets, Kodak was showing their latest 360º, 4K action camera. In this area, I missed the presence of players such as GoPRO and Sony, which I believe are market leaders in this segment.
Another area I though was under-represented was the one for special bikes, like Recumbents and Tricycles. Yes, there were a few brands showing their products, but in relation to more conventional types of bikes (Road, MTB, etc) their presence was almost insignificant. In this area one bike that made me turn heads was a rather strange looking tandem from Circe Cycles named Morpheus Aurora. The rear cyclist seats in a conventional saddle and pilots the bike, while the front cyclist seats and pedals in a reclined (recumbent) position and holds a fake handlebar for support. A very interesting concept to say the least.
In terms of accessories I must confess this was an area I didn’t particularly focus on, but I did visit the booths of Continental and Schwalbe on the look for the ideal tyres for my future bike travel plans to Rome. I also found some interesting devices such as LiteLok’s Boa Green lock which, according to them was awarded the highest ever Secure Gold standard by Sold Secure, a British testing agency for security products.
Also worth mentioning is the Overade folding bicycle helmet, which due to its folded size might be an interesting product for those short on space on long bike journeys.
Those of us living in cold winters might also have also been interested in the Virtual Reality Cycling Simulation
game brought by Tacx to be used with their Turbo Trainers (rollers). The online game connects to servers on the internet and allows the rider to compete with other riders (that obviously have the same system) anywhere in the world.
The simulation has several types of tracks available and the resistance in the roller is controlled in accordance to the terrain displayed on the high resolution simulation in the screen in front. I do believe that depending on the size of the screen the simulation has the potential to be very immersive and it is an excellent exercise, as I could myself experience in the 2 times I had a go at it (it was fun).
In conclusion, those owners of Basic Lamborghinis will now be happy to know that they can carry their precious bikes on the roof of their vehicles through a support with special suction cups and but if they end up scratching the red paint of the car, please don’t come complaining to me.