Bike heaven

Today, I visited the annual bike show, this year held at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham. This is the first year in Birmingham after years at Earl’s Court, London. Cycle Show 2011 was all the better for the change of venue. Much larger than before, with a more relaxed, open plan atmosphere it was a great day out, and a chance to moon over the latest in bike technology and fashion. I know several readers were interested, so I tweeted stuff as I went around and took some regular photos too, 50 of whichwhich I’ve uploaded to my Flickr account.

If you’re into cycling, thinking about getting into it, or just fancy people in fluorescent jackets and lycra, it’s a fun show. You can test ride bikes, talk to manufacturers and buy kit at decent prices. It’s on all weekend and finishes late Sunday. It’s just over a tenner to get in, but if you like cycling it’s a bargain. For those interested in cycling for people with special needs, there are some fabulous custom machines on show, as well as electric bikes, BMX and road machines, accessories and clothing.

To visit the flickr stream, please click on any image below.

A bike made from Bamboo. Ummm.

Yes, this bike is made of bamboo. Yes, it's commercially available, and owners swear by it. I'm a traditionalist, and find this all a bit mad, frankly.

Condor tourer

But not that much of a traditionalist. Nice bike, but those leather panniers must weight a ton. Condor make some lovely machines, though.

Electric bikes were heavily in evidence.

Electric bikes were very much in evidence this year. Personally, I think they're cheating, but they do seem to be improving in both build and technology. Some are scooters, really, rather than bikes.

Bikes designed for very specific needs

Wheels for Wellbeing make and sell bikes for people with special needs. I was very impressed with their approach and products. They're not cheap, but the quality speaks for itself.

Belt drive

Belt drive technology is really beginning to mature. It feels as good as a conventional chain, but with none of the oil or noise. I'm keen to try this out on one of my bikes.

CNC parts seemed less ubiquitous this year

The fashion for coloured, CNC machined components seems to be passing, but I did rather like these, particularly the jockey wheels.

Mixte. The perfect ladies' frame. From Linus.

One of my favourite bikes of the show was this Mixte frame ladies bike by Linus. This is a classic, strong female specific frame design, traditionally common on the continent. A gorgeous machine.

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10 Responses to Bike heaven

  1. stymaster says:

    The bamboo bike is maybe not so mad: it’s common for scaffolding in Hong Kong, I was amazed to see, because of it’s low weight and high strength.

  2. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    some very intreresting designs! Like the Linus
    Is there still a Superb bike these days?
    How are the gears accommodated on the belt drive bike? Inside the hub? Not see one of these on the roads yet

    I saw a real Dutch sit up and beg bike this morning..never seen one in England before..Lichfield town centre..and also a Knight in chain mail armour..and the Town Cryer…..and a whole swarm of Lambrettas and Vespas…! Such is Lichfield !
    the Dutch bike caught my eye most..

    David Evans

    • Hi David

      Superb dissolved into Raleigh (I think) years ago.

      The Linus was lovely. The mechanical elegance of the Mixte frame design is lovely and makes for a great fixie.

      You use gear hubs with belt drives. I don’t have belt drives, but I ride gear hubs on two bikes. Versions now available up to 14 gears. I use 8 speeds, and soon an 11. Belts are popular on commuters because of the cleanliness and lack of maintenance required. Tiny percentage at the moment, but bikes like the Trek Soho making them more common. A technology in it’s infancy, really.

      Dutch bikes are popular, too – or at least the style is. Raleigh, Pashley, Real all produce roadster models. And then there’s the Dutch and Danish brands themselves. Guy in Pelsall rides a Christiana cargo bike – featured on my 365 days journal.

      Best wishes


      • Neil says:

        Hi Bob, can you recommend any hub-geared bikes? I’m aware of the Pashley models; are there any other good recreational bikes with hub gears? Do they use Sturmey Archer gears?

        Thanks, Neil

        • Hi Neil

          Hub geared bikes are widely available now.

          Genesis, Ridgeback, Cannondale, Trek, Linus (featured above), Airnimal, Carrera (Halfords) all do models.

          Sturmey Archer still make hub gears, as do Sram (Sachs), but by far the most popular are Shimano. These come in 7 speed (nexus) and 8 and 11 speed flavours (Alfine). There’s also a very high end system by German company Rohlhoff, 14 speed, but we’re running into over a grand there just for the gears.

          I really like the Trek Soho, Genesis Day One and Ridgeback Journey. Not keen on the Cannondale implementation. Best thing to do is toddle along to your local bike shop and see what they’ve got. Hub gears are coming back into favour, and you don’t have to ride a Pashley tank to get them…

          Best wishes


  3. Ian says:

    The Town Cryer was there to shout out re the Oktoberfest, plus to promote certain nice market stalls…! Re the Lambos, isn’t it the ride to the wall this weekend?

  4. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    thanks Ian…..saw a TV news clip when I got home. It was the Ride to the Wall..thousand of bikers taking part, growing annually…very sorry to have missed this but delighted to see the superb amount of money being raised by those taking part. The Alrewas National Memorial is a moving monument and shows humanity and respect for our many heroes.
    David Evans

  5. Pingback: No, it really is about the bike « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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