'So anyone fancy the London Bike Show this week? We're on the press list!'. Forgetting that my mates are not on half term and are working, I turn to the wife with the proposition (no, not that one!). 'Love, do you fancy going?'. Like the possessed girl out of the Exorcist, she slowly rotates her head and gives me the death stare! She then turns back towards the TV to continue with her latest boxset of Ex on the Beach which showcases a completely different type of bike! So my bro' kindly agreed to be my sidekick for the day although his last experience with something with two wheels ended up with him getting lost in a Welsh forest and having to walk back to the HQ because he had fallen off so many times on the MTB, he had enough! Surely nothing will happen to him this time?!
With the show running from Thursday to Sunday, we decided we wanted to get in on the action on the first day so after an early morning train and tube (9am is early right?!) we arrived at Excel London with plenty of time to spare, there was even a queue waiting for the doors to open, it did resemble a queue outside Argos out of Black Friday! Was there huge discounts on premium bikes we didn't know about?! Sounds a bit sad but being directed towards the press office to pick up our passes was quite cool. Especially when we realised we were in the same room as Bike Channel's Rebecca Charlton and accidentally interrupting a random film crew recording some footage for the show. I was a little disappointed it was just a printed ticket rather than a laminated lanyard with my name broadcasted in 3D with accompanying music preferably something like the theme out of Knight Rider as we catwalk around the show! We had played this scenario out in our heads for a while!
Now, I gave my bro' a job for the day, he would be my photographer but I had to show him a few times how to get the angles I wanted and what setting to use. To be honest, as long as the flash wasn't on, I made the rest up! But he did well and managed to get some very arty angles I wasn't expecting. First point of call though was Manhattan Portage where they had pencilled me in to show off their range. They are a commuter based brand out of New York focusing on commuter and courier bags with the main clientele being the city cyclists. We were intrigued as to how vast their range is as we are a regular commuter and use a 30L Osprey bag which although great for compartments, can be bulky when full. I was expecting just some city satchels you throw over your shoulder, you know the ones you often see the fixies wearing? But their range catered for more than that. They had the more heavy duty rucksacks I would be keen on, mini bags for the female commuter and huge organ carrier size satchels that could probably squeeze in a full drum kit! They very kindly gave us a little press pack to take away and even though its small, the pouch has come quite handy with carrying coins, cards and keys when riding. Will let you know what the satchel is like soon.
So before we go onto the bikeporn, I make it our mission every year to take on a wattbike challenge or some sort of competition. A few years ago when the show was at Earls Court, we tried out probably one of the very first virtual rides where we climbed one of the famous Belgian climbs (can't remember which one!) but I just remember that the resistance in the trainer kicked up quite suddenly and my legs were like jelly in the end! Last year, I raced Dave aka @test_richie on Lee Valley Velopark's 160m wattbike race. Pleased to say I came out on top but Dave was no slouch although it took him a while to recover and return to normal walking pace! Couldn't see the wattbikes anywhere at first so when I spotted Science in Sport's power test, I made a beeline for it. A Dad and his son went before me so I sat back and watched to see what their average power output was. You had 20 seconds to warm up then 20 seconds to beast the machine (it was a Pinarello so does that count that I've ridden one?!). Think the son averaged 300W-ish and the Dad averaged 500W-ish. I stepped up, had the seat adjusted and set about warming up. I couldn't find the right gear to spin and I ended up pushing a higher resistance than I wanted to but still gave it my all. I averaged 709W over the 20 seconds but the Dad was watching and thought the combined 40 second average of 400W was my score. He began to gloat in my face how a 50 year old beat me. It took me a few times to make him realise he was reading the wrong number and I actually smashed him (don't like gloaters!) and he soon piped down. This put me at the top of the leaderboard but there was no way I'd stay there for the next 4 days so I grabbed the now annual SiS offer of 5 for £5 and headed off to find some bikeporn.
All the big names were here; Pinarello, Cervelo, Trek, Canyon and Specialized but although I'd happy take any one of those, it was some of the legendary or independent brands which caught our eye. Especially a tandem MTB bike by a company called Rose Bikes. We have never heard of these guys but how crazy must you be to design something like this?!!! First conundrum would be who would be your riding partner and who would even want to be at the back?!! Would love to see this thing in action and meet the guys who it seems are not scared of death!
The Dolan bikes are always a head turner too. Known for more of their track bike range, some of their TT bikes were just gorgeous. The bigger names obviously had their top spec' on show from Pinarello's Dogma to Canyon's Aeroad, I had to contain my emotions as my bro' would of thrown the camera at me and tell me to take my own photos! Think he was quite taken back as to how much some bikes are worth but he could understand too as his talent lies in drumming and drum kits can run into the thousands as well. He also noticed that bike shows attract a certain type of person just as drum shows attract their own fans. I think he meant shows attract the people who are interested in the theme, right bro'?!!
Legs were still a bit jelly from the SiS power challenge but I spotted Lee Valley Velopark on the side of the exhibition only this time it was a 250m speed challenge. I had to give it a go so I strapped my feet in and waited for the count down. You wasn't allowed a rolling start so I prepared myself for high resistance again but once I started spinning, I hit the sweet zone straight away and focused keeping myself there. Being pushed on by one of the velopark guys, I was just aiming to get a respectable time so when I was told the test was over, a wow from one of their staff made me realise I had done better than ok. Again, I left the sprint challenge on top of another leaderboard with a time of 15.36.
There was one particular brand we wanted to pop and say hi to and that was Threo. Rhian, one half of the female focused brand, was the face of Threo for the show and had their 2016 range on the racks. Their 2017 range is due to be released and we cheekily asked if there was plans for any mens wear?! We love the combination of the modern design patterns and the thoughtfulness of the clothing, it really does look like apparel you can't wait to wear. They have built themselves a solid and respectable reputation in the cycling and triathlon world and we are really looking forward how far Threo can go. They'll hate us for this but they also have their own song too. If you know the words, sing along; 'Her name is Threo and she dances on the sand!'
An increased level of noise was coming over from the ramps and the air to the throne guys were doing their thing. Think I even caught my bro' clapping at one point. I could never work out how guys like them do what they do.. I've tried little bunny hops when I was younger and probably could get an inch off from the floor! Throw in the crazy moves these guys do and you realise it takes some cojones to pull of their tricks as well as the right physical attributes. After treating the missus and myself to a couple of woolly bobble hats all kitted out in certain cycling colours (opted for the Italian flag colours and a Flemish style hat!). Not the most well timed purchase as Spring is nearly upon us! We were also on the hunt for new tech' and innovations and came across Sunnycam and Coros. Sunnycam produce glasses with a built in HD video camera with a simple record button to capture your cycling adventures. Its more expensive model can hold a 32G SD card so it would definitely save on fiddling about with camera mounts and attachments! Coros have developed helmets with an integrated sound system so you can listen to music and even talk to your friends via an app on your phone. I had my reservations on this as we feel it is quite crucial you are aware of you surroundings especially on urban roads but the hearing pads are sat by your temple so your music becomes more of a background accompaniment.
Just before we were heading out the door, one invention did catch our attention. Now bike indicators are not unknown in the cycling world but there hasn't been a design that has oozed respect and success. Blinkers by a brand called velohub have a created a set which I could definitely see being used especially on commuter bikes. The bold case displays an even bolder indicating light both front and back which is controlled by a GoPro sized control mounted on the handle bars. The rear case also displays a lasered boundary line so road users behind you are given more of an idea as to how much space they should give the cyclist (if they didn't know already! Don't get us started on close passes!). Most nifty aspect about this creation is that the light casing is locked in by a magnet so there's no zipties or straps, just a very easy but solid magnetic connection holding the casing in its holder mounted on the seatpost. We were definitely intrigued by this and will keep a close eye on this concept.
So overall, a very interesting bike show. You can clearly see each year the popularity of cycling growing and the amount of people who want to be part of it also increasing. The bikeporn will always be there and out of reach of my financial limits but for every premium item, you have those start up brands who want to show that they've got what it takes too to make a difference. Because that's what cycling is, yes it's a form of transport but historically and culturally, it's changed and changes lives. It's brought travel and trade to people across the world, it's brought friends and families together and obviously it's given others platforms to showcase their impressive physical potential. For us, it's shown the world is a better place than it's reported to be. Start talking bikes with someone and you have made a connection. Climb a hill with someone and you've experienced an achievement. Discuss a technical issue with someone and you've solved a problem. 2018 London Bike Show? The momentum is there, keep that wheel rolling.