We're at the Cycle Show at Earl's Court, heads a bit fuzzy after a great night out that saw us winning the Bibkebiz award for best comnsumer website – more on that later! Anyway we've had a quick look round and there's lots to see, so here's a first roundup of some of the rands and bikes we've seen. There's plenty more to come including a video of Cy from Cotic talking us round his new cyclocross bike, so stay tuned.
There was lots to see on the Condor stand, with a bunch of new bikes and updated models for 2011. The first thing we set our eyes on was a steel prototype race machine that was ridden by Dan Crave in the second half of the Tour Series and some stages of the Tour of Britain too.
It's become know as the Steely Dan and features an asymetric head tube, the first we've seen (we think) on a steel bike. Dan apparently couldn't make his mind up about it, preferring the steel bike when he was riding his Carbon Leggero, and pining for Carbon when he was on the Steely Dan. There's no pleasing some people.
Condor have been busy revising their range, and while they had a good number of mixed-material frames last year with alloy front ends and Carbon stays, for 2011 they're sticking more to one material per frame. The Squadra was an alloy/carbon mix in 2010 but the new bike will be full carbon; the one on display had a standard head tube but the production version will be asymetric. The Italia on the other had has gone in the oppsite direction and it's all Alu for 2011. There's two geometries available, one slightly more upright than the other.
Cyclocross is an area that Condor have maybe neglected in the past but that can't be said of next season, with two new bikes on show in London. The Bivio-X is the more all-purpose of the two; though it's ostensible a 'cross bike it's also set up for all-purpose use. The Terra-X is more of a race CX bike and sports an asymetric head tube and flattened top tube for easier shouldering. The cables are routed internally across the top too.
The World Series is a new singlespeed/fixed frame that's being made in strictly limited numbers, the six at the show would represent about 5% of Condor's total output if the 150-frame limit is to be believed. The bike has been made to celebrate the 80th birthday of Condor founder Monty Young and there's a tribute to him, and all Condor's riders, running along the bottom of the down tube.
The Paris brand is owned by Condor; you'll probably have seen their Gate framed Galibier bike if you've ever been to a London Cycle show, although you'll have to wait a year if you actually want to own one. That used to be true of the Tour de France frameset too, because the manufacturing process meant that it was really difficult o produce in any numbers.
Those aren't lugs: the frame is built and then the decorative second layer is wrapped around the head tube and fillet brazed on. Condor have managed to streamline the process using laser-cut sheets, which means that the price for a frameset drops to £1,000 and you can have one in 4-8 weeks instead of a year.
Peugeot bikes have a long and illustrious heritage but they haven't really had any presence in the UK of late. That's all set to change though and there's a big range of new Peugeots on show at the London show. They have everything from shoppers to carbon race irons, plus a number of e-bikes too. We were quite taken with the Speed Sport Carbon road bike, which has a nicely detailed frame and a modern take on Peugeot's checkerboard branding. There's also a Moovit flat barred bike that appears to share the same frame, or at least a very similar one.
The Road Edition is sort of a pastiche bike, and sort of not: it has the traditional black and white branding and some nice Brooks finishing kit, but we can't help thinking they've missed a trick by making it out of Alu and not steel.
Bianchi we've already seen, having been out to visit them in Italy earlier in the year, but it's always nice to feast your eyes on what's a very good looking range of bikes. The range-topping, pocket-emptying Oltre is one we've already had a go on, and it ticks all the modern carbon design checkboxes with ultra-thin seatstays, an asymetric head tube, internal cable routing and a BB30 bottom bracket. Built up with Dura Ace it'll set you back six and a half grand.
Further down the range there's some interesting bikes too. We were quite taken with the Centostrade which in the Veloce build pictured comes in at just under £1,700. The C2C range is more of a sportive setup (C2C is Coast to Coast) and the Centostrade is an interesting design in carbon with a very deep head tube section and Kevlar inserts (we're not sure what the Kevlar inserts are for, we'll report back)
As always Bianchi had a wide range of fixed and singlespeed bikes on show, from the super retro Pista Via Brera to the much more of-the-moment Pista Dalmine, which sported Bianchi's excellent 'NO BRAKES' decal on the top tube even though it did, in fact have brakes.
Pearson lay claim to being the oldest bike shop in the world; they're celebrating their 150th anniversary which by our estimation means they were sitting on their hands for 35 years with an empty shop, waiting for the Rover to get invented. We're being facetious of course, and Pearson do have a long history. In fact the first thing we saw when we arrived at their stand was a bike they'd lent to a customer to do L'Eroica, complete with race number and genuine Strade Bianche dirt.
Pearson seem to be fairly evenly split at the moment between feeding London's seemingly insatiable lust for fixed gear bikes – they claim their Touché is the most sold fixed gear bike in London and we've seen plenty about – and knocking out nice looking Carbon frames. The Carbon Audax is certainly worthy of a mention; while many audaxers are looking to the sportive bikes of the big manufacturers to handle long distance riding, this is a proper Audax bike in every sense.
It's designed to be ridden with mudguards (it'll take a 28mm tyre under them) and a quick swap of the seat clamp means you can fit a rack too. If you want something a bit faster there's the Pavé, and faster and racier still is the Carbon Pro, with all three bikes sharing some common design touches.
On the fixed side Pearson have been collaborating with esteemed London Tailor Timothy Everest to bring us the Kipper, a fixed bike – the one on display was sporting Sturmey Archer's three speed fixed hub – that's bedecked with sections of Everest's favourite hound's tooth cloth. Saddle and grips are also finished in the same cloth, though we wouldn't want to venture out in the rain and risk spoiling the look.
The Touché continues into 2011 and Pearson were keen to point out that it's very much a custom speccing service for their bikes; the frames themselves aren't custom built but everything else is up for discussion so that you can get a bike that's individual to you.
Veloti are a new brand who are licensing Vyatek's Exogrid technology and combining it with Titanium to produce some very nice looking frames. If you're not familiar with Exogrid then the basic gist is that holes are laser cut into the substrate (Ti, in this case), then the carbon is pushed through with a bladder process to create a combination tubeset. The carbon extends past where you can see it and adds stiffness and extra vibration damping to the frame. Apparently. It looks jolly nice too, which is presumably just a serendipitous by-product of all those performance gains.
Veloti are making three different frames and the one pictured is the top of the range model with race geometry and Exogrid sections in all three main tubes and the seatstays; it'll set you back £2800 which means that the bike on show was worth something the wrong side of seven grand. They'll also be doing a cheaper Exogrid bike with a more sportive geometry and carbon sections on the top and down tubes, and a Ti frame at the bottom end of their range.
We've had some bikes from Red Bull over the past year, from German online-meisters Rose. Suffice to say that we liked them, but got a bit bored of explaining that no, it wasn't anything to do with the energy drink that gives you wings. Clearly Rose have got bored of explaining that too, as from 2011 all the Rose road bikes will be Rose branded in the UK, although the range stays ostensibly the same. We can't help thinking that's a good move, not least because the Rose branding is a good deal classier.
Other new stuff that's coming to the UK includes these rather classy-looking frames from Cielo who hail from Portland, Oregon. They're handmade, and although they're not custom in terms of geometry you can have your say on colours and braze-ons. There are three framesets – sportive, CX and 29er – coming into the UK and if you want one you'll need to find £1,900. You certainly get a very distinctive frame with some super detailing though.
Every year you turn up at the bike show to be presented with a bike brand you've never seen in the UK but looks like it's been around for years elsewhere. This time it's the turn of Whistle, who had a full range of road, city and mountain bikes that are apparently built in Turkey. Whether or not we'll actually see them in the shops or not will depend on how well they're received at the show, so fingers crossed for them, eh? They look alright!
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