Yesterday, Friday 27th September 2013, was the day of my usual annual visit to the Cycle Show at the NEC, Birmingham. I usually love this event, now in it’s third year in Brum, the 2012 event was indeed a fine day out for all the cycling tribes – however, this year’s left me feeling somewhat disappointed.
Yes, there were loads of bikes for adults, kids and most disciplines – road, mountain, commuter, utility, BMX, free ride. But there was a massive and disproportional focus on electric bikes – almost a whole hall of the three – and big names were conspicuous by their absence. I had gone to investigate tyres and luggage – yet my favourite tyre manufacturer, Schwalbe, were not present as they have been previously. Luggage was non-existent, too, as Carradice, Ortleib and others weren’t there. There were no stands by Fisher/SRAM, Brooks Saddles or Wellgo. Good bike manufacturers like Madison, Pearson, Charge were absent. To add insult to injury, Madison Genesis displayed only their team bikes, out of reach atop team cars.
The displays of riding were good, and there were all the usual test tracks and chances to tire-kick; but at £14 a ticket in advance (including a weaselish £1 booking fee for what amounts to the supply of a barcode you print yourself) it simply wasn’t worth the cash.
Yes, I saw some great stuff – Enigma, the disability bikes, Hope Technology, Van Nicholas were all great, as they always are. But this event needs more than these dwindling numbers of regular brands to pull in the punters.
Cycling in the UK is an expanding market, increasing annually despite the recession, and local bike shops cannot hold the range to give true choice. A show like this is surely the best opportunity to reach out to cyclists – both the committed enthusiasts and the curious beginners. It’s sad that a show that was going well has been reduced to this.
The show runs tomorrow (Sunday 29th), but if I were you, at £16 on the door, don’t bother – go and ride your bike instead.