I went to the Cycle Show yesterday looking out for the big themes that will help define cycling in 2010. I tend to glaze over in of the forests of identical crabon road bikes and hydraulically-enhanced mountain bikes, so if you want the latest on road and MTB, I’m afraid you’ll need to go elsewhere. Last year’s show proved that the fixed wheel craze had well and truly entered the mainstream with every bike company and their sister coming out with pared down ‘urban fixies’, some bringing the aesthetic of the flamboyant trick bike to the established form of the entry-level Langster and Pista. The fixed wheel bikes are still there this year but in much smaller numbers. What I found most interesting in this year’s show was the rennaissance of the hub gear, with Sturmey Archer leading the way.
I’ve already written about the S3X three-speed fixed and the SC2 two-speed kick-shift with coaster brake. The S3X features on a prototype ‘Clubman’ bike from Pashley. It’s exquisitely styled in a ‘milk tea’ colour, picking up where the wonderful Momovelo of Berkeley, California left off some years ago. As you’d expect from Pashley it’s an exercise in historical recreation, and it harks back to the hub-geared lightweight club cycles from the 1950s. The tubeset is 531 and the handlebars are Lauterwasser-style shallow drops. There’s plenty of clearance for mudguards and the bike is trimmed in Brooks leather. Pashley appear to be adding to their established utility and sit-up-and-beg rides with a few lighter, faster, higher specification models, not a million miles from the kind of bikes made by Rivendell in the US.
Five Speed Pashley Clubman in Pashley’s own burgundy colour:
Condor have a similar bike equipped with the S3X. The Tempo a popular fixed/singlespeed Tempo with the great advantage of sufficient clearance for full mudguards.
Meanwhile, over a the Moulton stand, there was yet more ‘looking back to go forwards’ with the prototype TSR2, a modern, Pashley-built reincarnation of the AM2, one of the first two Moulton ‘space frames’ first released in 1983 (the other being the derailleur-equipped AM7). The AM2 (itself a reworking of the 1960s separable ‘Stowaway’ Moulotns) featured a Fichtel and Sachs Duomatic hub that offered two gears operated by a kick-shift and a pedal-back brake. That hub is long since out of production but Moulton persuaded Sturmey Archer to bring out their own version, the SC2 that does exactly the same thing. The TSR2 on display at the Cycle Show had a belt-drive which is almost as efficient as a chain yet completely non-greasy. This will be a sub-£1000 bike that’s fast and light, with full suspension, good load-carrying capacity and separates into two halves for easy transport and storage. Ideally suited for longer city commuting and utility riding, I think it’s a winner.
Moulton TSR2 prototype:
If a revival for hub gears is the big story, the other thing that really caught my eye is the proliferation of really good-looking bicycle accessories. There were ‘hip helmets’ like these that evoke Vespa helmets:
…these with nice fabric covers:
…and these with more of a surf aesthetic:
Brooks continue their accessory range with a very tasty waxed cotton cycling cape, although the price tag of £250 will put some people off:
They’ve also got saddles in all colours of the rainbow:
These guys had the best stand at the show by a mile, with a revolving sushi-bar serving up plates of candy-coloured gizmos and gadgets:
The amount of space given over to ‘utility riding’ is a sign of the growing popularity of cycling as a mode of transport not just a sporting pursuit. This cat basket caught my eye:
There were at least four companies selling a tool that enables you to use a hub dynamo to recharge electrical devices like GPS receivers, iPods and mobile phones. They are all different and is unclear which one is the best, though Velovision have a group review. Here’s one from Busch and Mueller:
And another, more elegant version from Tout Terrain:
Arkel, the great Canadian maker of panniers and other luggage, were exhibiting a new rear rack that is mounted in part on the seat-post but with most of the load borne by the saddle rails. This is a boon for people with carbon seatposts that can’t handle a powerful clamp. Very neat.
With the fashion for all things retro it was nice to see the National Cycle Collection with a large stand, kindly given gratis by the event organisers. It’s a volunteer run museum in mid-Wales with over 250 bicycles on display dating as far back as 1819. They had some great bikes on display including this original Paris Galibier:
And this crazy machine, which I’m sure I’ve seen parked up outside The Foundry on Old Street of a Friday evening:
The battle of the bling saw a three-way fight between a new all-stainless steel 953 Moulton Speed (rrp $14,000):
… a diamond-encrusted lowrider from Swarovski, on show with its own dedicated security guard:
… and a gold plated Brompton from the Environmental Travel Association:
Just the bikes for these difficult economic times!