The London Bike Show 2015 came up in conversation last Friday evening over dinner and before you could say “rusty bike chain” my ticket was booked. I haven’t been to this before and so I was really looking forward to it. An extra box ticked was the 6 mile run to the train station, followed by the 6 mile run back. I went with my friends Barry and Angela and it was really nice being able to meet up with the McCroys and the Hobbs at lunch time.
The first thing to strike me was the huge scale, pretty much as I expected. What I hadn’t really clocked beforehand were the other industries also exhibiting. It was amusing to see the contrasting difference between us runners, cyclists and triathletes compared to the queues for the neighbouring motorcycle exhibition. It was Barry who summed them all up as being 5 stone heavier and balding. He was being polite.
The show spanned the big names (Specialized, Trek etc) right through to smaller fledgling businesses. Aside from the trade stands were some cycling displays, such as BMX stunts and the like. Arguably the most popular was the opportunity to try out some bikes yourself – this was great fun and fantastic trying bikes in identical conditions right after each other. This exposed a surprise or two, I will blog about this soon.
First up I need to give a mention to some of the enterprises which really caught my eye…..
These guys make smart phone holders for use in cars but also there’s a pretty impressive cycle version too.
Goes without saying I am always sceptical when a manufacturer makes an outrageous claim. So I put my phone in and gave it a good wiggle around; fair play it didn’t move a bit which seemed pretty impressive. A fuller review is now in the pipeline to make sure this good security holds up in real life on the road. In the meantime, here’s their website and it’s worth mentioning they do dashboard clamps with a really powerful sucker pad – click here.
Jura Cycle Clothing
Jura had a welcoming stand with mother and daughter proudly showing their Merino wool cycle clothing. These unisex jerseys are unashamedly retro in their appearance and quality. Nice colourways with interesting combinations, almost as if they’re depicting the different seasons or possible complexions of the cyclists who would go for these.
In terms of who would go for these, well there is a personalisation service where you could have your name, club or event embroided onto the jersey.
It has to be said these are a little more expensive than jerseys mass produced from synthetic ‘technical’ fabric. Merino wool is said to have all the advantages of body temperature regulation, comfort and the all important odour resistance i.e. after a while Merino wool does not smell in an unmentionable way (unlike like my Smelly Helly tops which cause all kinds of complaints in our house!).
It was really nice chatting to the owner and to hear the fuller version of setting up this business. As with some of the others, I admire these folk who have the courage, drive and vision to set up a business which then becomes successful. I particularly like these small internet based businesses (and often wonder myself….).
Jura Cycle Clothing website
Another interesting and new enterprise making it’s presence felt at the show was Cycle Origins. The experienced and well connected owner Richard Allmark has an interesting range of eye catching cycle accessories on offer. These cover quite a wide range from boutique style bags, some of these are feminine in their appeal, through to other very practical looking bags. All this supporting the principle that you don’t have to be an ultra-functional, Lycra-clad performance orientated powerhouse of a cyclist to have your place on the road. The range also includes a couple of leather saddles (can’t help but think “Brooks” except they’re not Brooks and considerably cheaper) which are very attractive through the inclusion of a lightweight titanium version.
Amongst the other lines which grabbed my attention was the interestingly named Ugoe Pilot Extremely Powerful Headlight and at 3000 Lumens I think that’s an understatement. I tend to think of my own front light at 280 Lumens as being pretty bright but this dwarfs it! At £200 it seems a snip (i.e. cost per Lumen) and providing it performs well in daily life it seems incredibly good value for the enthusiastic night rider.
The Cycle Origins website is clear, clean and, I think, still developing nicely. If I read it correctly, you place an order here in the UK (or wherever you are) and it gets shipped to you directly from Taiwan, thereby avoiding middlemen, agents, warehouses and the like. While I haven’t tested this out myself, I think there’s a good chance this would work well. My family are getting into the expectation that our mail order shopping arrives within a few days (we use Wiggle, Amazon etc quite a lot) and I think we are fairly average with this view. So shopping direct from Taiwan in that time? Meeting the needs of the fussy UK buyer? Well, I think they’ve made a great start with an interesting business model and certainly wish them well! Check out their website here.
Plenty more reflections of the London Bike Show to come, must blog on these soon. I can’t help but be impressed by the variety of different businesses represented at the show and I did like those on the fringe of cycling, encapsulating other healthy pursuits. These include nutrition, food and other sports. In fact I have been pretty impressed by the climbers I’ve seen in recent years and come to appreciate the skill, physical strength and mental strength needed for this sport.
With the different businesses that are new and at the fledgling stage, I admire people who take the plunge and have a go. Naturally some of these will fail; others will tick-over and some will truly succeed through offering what the market needs and wants. I imagine the key to long term success is the need to keep things under review – what sells well this year might change completely next year and trying to predict this is difficult. Even neater is being able to influence the future demand through being ahead of the game – strikes me that’s risky business but potentially lucrative. Others maybe in slightly different markets which are more stable – one of these is Cherry Active. I will blog about this soon but I think this is an under-rated product which needs to be known more out there. This doesn’t need to change as such, it simply needs a greater exposure.
In terms of the overall impression of the show, it’s clear the cycling scene is still alive in the UK, the bubble has not got anywhere near bursting. This is encouraging. Less encouraging is the cycling infrastructure in the UK but that’s another subject entirely!