The Bike Show: Flying virtual visit - Bike Magic

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The Bike Show: Flying virtual visit

The 2005 Bike Show (Or The Bike Show 2005 to give it its official title) moved from its home of several years at the NEC a few miles down the road to Stoneleigh Park. Stoneleigh’s primarily an agricultural showground, but it has some smart modern buildings (as well as a lot of not quite so smart older ones) and it’s trying to establish itself as a wider-ranging exhibition/conference venue. It’s certainly got plenty of space.

Given that the organisers have spent the last couple of years trying to expand the road and touring side of things, the show felt very much like an MTB show. We don’t have a problem with that, but if we’d gone along to look at road bikes we may have been a bit disappointed. Then again, we’re not going to pretend that we saw every last thing on show – here’s some faintly arbitrary highlights and things we hadn’t seen before:

The Northwest MTB Centre was showing this Be-One DH bike containing a Petespeed derailleur-in-a-box transmission. It’s a sort of Honda RN01 that you could actually buy…

The BMX/BSX track and dirt jumps were off in a hall on their own, with plenty of space for seating (although some of the pillars were in the way a bit). Unlike previous years the track seemed to be pretty firm even on the first day.

Also in a separate hall were all the retail stalls (plus the BMX vert ramp). Most of them were packed to the rafters with stock, although Chain Reaction went for completely the opposite approach – it just had a load of PCs to let you place your order through its website at a discount.

Curtis is well known for its super-tough T45 BSX and dirt jump frames, but now its moving into a more XCish market. The XC frames are semi-custom – choose your tube lengths in the front end, decide whether you want to use an 80, 100 or 130mm travel fork, tick a few other boxes, plonk down your £599 and wait a few weeks. At around 5lb 4oz, the frames aren’t superlight but they’re certainly not going to break. And there’s an 853 version in the pipeline…

The jump builders sidestepped the “soft jump” issues of previous years by bringing in a wooden kicker, which seemed to do the job. Even though the roof was pretty high, Glen Coe still managed to bounce off it mid-backflip. And yes, it was as scary as it sounds…

Ventana importer Riverside is now bringing in Gravity Dropper seatposts with various amounts of travel. This is the £145 version with a remote lever on the bar – press lever, bounce on seat, seat locks down. To bring it back up, weight the seat and press the lever again. There’s also a cheaper version with the lever on the post itself.

Also from Riverside is the Hopey steering damper. If you’re troubled by the bars getting knocked out of your grip or scary speed wobbles, it’s quite a neat-looking device.

Holiday company Ticket2RideBC had a couple of new Iron Horse bikes on its stand – this is the Sunday freerider. Iron Horse supplies T2R’s rental bikes (which is why they were there) but we’re told that a UK distribution deal is on the verge of being finalised.

Also new into the UK is Commencal. The French brand was at last year’s show to test the water, but rather than “do” the UK itself it’s decided to pen a distribution deal with Revolution. This is the Meta520 5in travel trail bike.

Hot on the heels of the news that Pace has stopped making frames comes… A new Pace frame. Unlike the legendary RC200 XC frame, the 303 is in the long forked “extreme XC” mould. This is a prototype – production frames should show up in the summer. Also on the Pace stand was a bunch of new forks, including the air-sprung RC41 Fighter. At just over 1.5kg it’s claimed to be the lightest 150mm travel fork in the world.

Outside the BSX hall was a bit of a mini pit area where the pro riders had set up camp. Steve Peat was showing off his new Orange DH bike complete with, um, eyecatching yellow and black paintjob. Despite appearances, it doesn’t appear to buzz when he rides it.

There wasn’t a bike on the Bikelab/American Bicycle Group stand that cost under £2,500 (the 12.1lb road bike came in at rather more than that), but amongst all the shininess the Merlin Roots stood out. It’s cruiser-styled but with contemporary geometry. A Rohloff hub maintains the clean lines and a Brooks saddle is a suitably retro touch.

Several new things from Santa Cruz (although apparently SC top bod Rob Roskopp had something else with him that fell victim to airline baggage handling non-determinism). This is the Blur LT, a 135mm travel version of the popular VPP suspension frame. We haven’t decided if we like the metallic green or not yet.

The Blur is now a range rather than just a bike – the 4X version (115mm travel, long-fork-friendly, beefy), the aforementioned LT and the revised original, now known as the XC. It’s been slimmed down, remodelled and machined all over the place and now comes in at a claimed 5.1lb for the frame.

Solidlights had a couple of new things on show. We rather liked the 2x3W SLED dynamo light that automatically fires up the second lamp if you’re going fast enough to power it, but it’s not terribly MTB-relevant. This is a prototype of its retrofittable handlebar remote, complete with full-beam and low battery indicators.

As ever, The Bike Show was a treat for trials fans, with famous UK names like Martyn Ashton, Martin Hawyes and Danny Holroyd lining up next to international legends like Cesar Canas and Ot Pi.

Sideways Cycles had smart-looking bikes from Maverick and Spot on display as well as the Voodoo range. We’re not huge fans of 29in-wheeled bikes, but this Voodoo Dambala had a certain charm

So what did we think? The new venue has a number of benefits (not the NEC, free parking, vaguely affordable grub, not the NEC) but it’s not as easy to get to as the NEC and those that care about such things may feel that it somehow doesn’t feel as much like a “proper” show. Splitting the show across several buildings makes sense in some ways – pretty much everybody seemed to appreciate separating manufacturer/distributor stands from retail stands – but it also made the whole thing a bit sprawling. We never did find the BMX street course.

Given that Stoneleigh’s a cheaper venue than the NEC, it would have been nice to see cheaper tickets (and several exhibitors commented that somehow the stand space didn’t seem any cheaper either). Overall, though, we quite liked it. Whether it’s actually been a success or not is hard to say. Subjectively, the show felt pretty busy – we’ll wait and see what the official numbers say…


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