London Bike show 2013

  On a cold and snowy Sunday in London I headed off to have a look at the annual London bike show at the ExCel centre in the docklands area of East London.   It'd been snowing for a few days at that point, so it looked like I'd be pretty lonely at the bike rack.  One thing I have learnt about riding in snow, wear shoe covers or booties.  My shoes got covered in snow which eventually melted.

The ticket combined the London Bike show, International boat show, outdoors show and the active travel show.  The last one was mostly stalls trying to hawk sport related travel packages.   I had a quick gawk at the boat show, it was mostly huge blinged up yachts with attractive models telling you to put on shoe covers before you walked around the inside of them.

First up was the Brompton stand, nicely situated right at the entrance.  I've always loved Bromptons and I still secretly want one, although I really have to stop buying so many bikes seeing as I don't know how long I'll stay in London for.  The new 2013 model Bromptons have a nice redesigned alloy brake lever, new 130BCD crankset and stronger wheels.  Hmmm, older Bromptons aren't really all that expensive on Gumtree...

This was also the first time I've seen the recently released Campagnolo EPS electronic shifting system.  I had a quick look at it, the buttons are in exactly the same place as the traditional cable Ergopower shifters except with a much shorter throw.  Many bikes on display had internal cable routing to suit this, although quite a few frames didn't really have elegant solutions to stow away the battery, many of them just bolted them onto a tube.

Interesting was how I would describe this Corima wheelset with 12 carbon fibre spokes, I'm quite wary of any non metal spoked wheels, particularly in the wake of the Mavic R-Sys recall which had issues from it's tubular carbon fibre spokes causing the wheel to completely collapse and fail.  Personally I don't really understand the point of these wheels, they are a little lighter than most steel or alloy spoked wheels, however their spokes are less aerodynamic which negates the weight loss and their fragility makes them  impractical.

The London bike-style cafe Look Mum no hands had their own Microsoft Suface sponsored cafe stall with some cool bikes around it.  This one was a nice steel framed and disc braked road bike with some polished Hayes calipers.

Brooks had their stand with their usual assortment of nice saddles and overpriced bags and other accessories.  I find the contrast between Brooks and a Carradice quite revealing.  Both are quite old traditional English manufacturers of bike parts, however at some point Brooks hired some really good marketers and really stepped up their style game as well as their prices.  Carradice has still stayed up in Nelson in Lancashire making saddlebags and panniers as they always have, with still reasonable prices without the hipsterism.   Don't get me wrong, I love both brands dearly but it's just quite a contrast how much Brooks has really pimped the whole traditional twill and tobacco pipe Englishness of their brand to their advantage.  For example, £550 for a pair of panniers?

There was this interesting carbon bike with belt drive, Star Trek themed crankset and a carbon fibre torture device resembling a saddle somewhat.

A bit of a break from the bikes, once inside a huge exhibition hall like the ExCel centre, you are never really sure of what it is like outside.  This is a canopy above an atrium in the hallway covered with snow.

There was also a test track where you could try out bikes or even penny farthings.  There was also a pump track which they had set up.  After a little bit they held a little criterium race around the test track.

This bike had a 100 tooth chainring to commemorate some anniversary which I honestly can't remember, it sure makes for a nice bike to hang up on the wall.

There were quite a few disc braked road bikes, Surly's stand had the disc version of their classic Long Haul Trucker frameset and hope had a hydraulic setup with a cable converter underneath the stem.  Although these converters are a bit of a clunky stopgap the feel at the brake lever felt a lot more firm than any cable discs I've squeezed.  Rumour has it that hydraulic road levers are in the works from several of the major manufacturers, I'm a big advocate of disc brakes so I personally can't wait.  It's not about braking power for me, but more about the superior modulation and control you get from them in all conditions.

Lastly, Schwalbe had their stand with their cute little inner tube vending machine. 

It was time to leave and cycle home in the snow, it looked like there were a few other snow cycling aficionados that joined me at the bike racks a bit later.  There was a decent amount of snowfall as there was only a space of about 4-5 hours from when I parked my bike.  The last picture shows what is normally a segregated bike path adjacent to a busy road, no attempt has been made to plow or salt it so I ended up just cycling on the road which was clear of snow.  Thanks for reading.


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