The London Bike Show 2018

Trade shows are crazy things, you see too many and you really do get brain melt, I love their ever inspired titles ‘The London Cycle Show’, ‘The Birmingham Cycle Show’ and of course ‘London Bike Show’, are we that thick as consumers that if you don’t spell it out for us we won’t turn up?

Boring titles aside, you have to take my advice, go ever 2 years. Even better, every 3 years. For me and a couple of mates we used to religiously hit our September show every year and walk with militaristic determination, visiting EVERY stand available, grab every goody bag and listen to literally every sage word the exhibitors had to say while pretending we had a clue what the bike boffins were going on about.

These days, I keep it simple, roll in early, walk around like a drunk bee, hone in on the shiniest and prettiest and the minute I start nodding off mid conversation about ceramic bearing friction or some such other blah, I pull the rip cord and run for my life, sorted!

We loved the stand commitment, Stanton bikes aren’t going to be out done on the long wheel base front, the more we see em the more we love em.

Where were they?

So today was Kuurne Brussels Kuurne and the start of the Spring Classics, to my mind the Holy Months of cycling and with that in mind I was somewhat disheartened to see precious little eluding to the Spring Classics, what gives?

No shrine to Van Avermaet bedecked in the shattered souls of crushed opponents? No hammered BMC with magical Belgian mud standing proudly opposite a beleaguered Specialized stand? What better time than at a trade show to remind cycling fans (and especially competitors) that it was they, BMC, who thundered home first in 3 of the sports biggest races in 2017 and topped it all off with the biggest cherry of all Paris Roubaix?

Nada, not a thing, no Specialized mega truck, no Canyon technical area, No BMC, no Merida, no Colnago no…you get the picture. It was not really a trade show, trade show, but more a slightly happily confusing amalgamation of start ups and regulars all supported by distributers and a few shops, this was more ‘lifestyle’ show than hardcore trade show, no biggie but it kinda kept taking me from the highs of new fangled bike tech to the ‘I don’t know how I’m meant to feel about this’ wilderness of bicycle and personal claim insurance, eesh, weird.

What was right then?

There was a lot right, you just had to look for it. New brands popping up, local dealers, the Monster Energy Drinks freestyle area which was enough to reignite hope that you could still leave a show going ‘how the hell?!’ and then familiar faces that have been entrenched in London’s cycling scene, I gravitated to a few brands I knew and ones that have supported us in the past before pastures new, all in all I was pleasantly surprised and reassured by what I found.

Torq Energy – new Bulq range
Protein pasta, orzo and whey protein crisps? Whats that about? Well the bottom line was these were protein dense products that could be used in meat free dishes that would net result in the same protein intake, it was interesting stuff and Torq being Torq they had a couple new crazy flavours which I had to try, ‘Lemon Drizzle’ (yum) and ‘Cheery Bakewell’ (mega yum).

A truly interesting startup, Motionlabs Bags promises to remove many of the aches, pains and annoyances of conventional backpacks – Pic: Motionlabs

Motionlab Bags
Really interesting, soon to be launched backpacks that claim to reduce all that jigging about when running with a bag and the general aches pains and problems we suffer commuting with bags everyday, interesting tech and one to keep an eye on. Chatting to founder Rob Moncreiff this has been a long journey, and we’re keen to see how these bags progress.

Louri straps are the minimalist solution for frame and saddle spares – Pic: Cyclorise

Cyclorise Accessories
These guys were repping two brands which caught my attention, Smoove Lube the Pretoria based universal chain lube and their own Louri frame and saddle straps, those super nifty ‘surely that’s gonna fall out’ minimalist pump and gas holders that scream ‘pro’ and we’re dying to test before Transalp this year.

Hackney GT
Russ Jones is a well known London bike racer who has taken his vibrant clothing manufacture up a notch releasing several of his own impressive lines and offering a custom small batch, ‘Made in England’ service, turn around times are simply way more practical than going offshore and the quality is outstanding. Loved what we saw and can’t wait to see what next with the man in the bad ass Beetle.

FlareMAX by Cotic, its long, very long, but we love it!

Crikey has MTB geometry come a long way! Its an ever shifting world and Cotic were only too happy to let me get my hands on their newest iteration of their long wheel based slopey headtubed 29er or plus rig the FlareMAX. What a pretty beast, they also have a turn up n ride demo service. Basically you get your mates together, say the bikes you want to ride, and a man in a van meets you at your local trails to thrash em to hell. Now that’s how to win some fans for sure!

Factor Bikes
OK I’ll be honest I really didn’t these bikes the first time I saw em, it was like they were trying too hard to re-engineer everything while ticking all the boxes of being aero and exclusive while missing the ‘desirable’ part of the equation completely. But I have to say, they’ve grown on me, and in the flesh these crazy split tubed pricey morsels of speed are pretty tasty. But at £8500, this is strictly the land of big bellies and bank accounts unfortunately, sad face.

In the end…

Ultimately I enjoyed myself, and thats the main thing right? It wasn’t quite the sensory overload I was possibly expecting but it kept me focussed for 4 full hours and that alone is a mammoth achievement! There was a LOT of good product on show and mostly all the stands had made it to Sunday without losing any enthusiasm for repeating their pitches for the millionth time, another staggering achievement. I reckon I’ve opened a can of worms, I really want to see what next, roll on September!