Ride Velo visited the London Bike Show at the Excel Centre this weekend - not the most cycle-friendly location - but a great show once you'd braved the traffic and the high winds to get to the East London venue. Some of our favourite manufacturers and retailers were there, displaying their latest wares on Valentine's Day, and here Ride Velo shares the Velo Love:
It's nigh on impossible not to feel passionate about the Boxer Rocket in ruby red, complete with Valentine's Day rose. This electric cargo bike is guaranteed to turn heads wherever she goes. It features sumptuous cream leather seats and even a handbag compartment. Ok, it's the price of a small car, but it's a healthy way to get around and good for the planet at the same time. I'm not sure that you can skip through the traffic on it in, but the Rocket was designed for taking the kids and the dog to the beach - and it's just the thing for a seaside cycle path.
We spent the lion's share of our day at the London Bike Show parked in and around the Velorution stand. This was because they stock so many gorgeous bicycles of all different shapes, sizes, gearings, drives, powered and non-powered, folding, sit-up-and-beg, traditional and ultra modern. They even sell an electrically charged retro moped! Velorution really are the most innovative bike stockist du jour. Not only selling cycles, but apparel, panniers, rucksacks, bike bits... the list goes on but all their products have one thing in common: they are creatively curated and extremely well thought-out. They really do have something for everyone.
Velorution have a really good idea about where urban cycling is going and they're not scared to embrace new and unusual products like triangular bikes, folding bikes, electric bikes, hub gears and carbon drive belts. Their products are really cool and tasteful, while celebrating the traditional too. Brooks England is a really big brand in their shop, while Pashleys still sell like hotcakes. I loved this Cooper prototype electric bike which will be on sale though Velorution in the summer - it's the best looking e-bike I've ever seen in real life and I wouldn't feel remotely embarrassed to be seen out and about on it - it looks like a classy urban 'fixie' style bike with hub gears.
This is the Italian designed motor which is cleverly, and attractively, concealed in the rear hub and given an eye-catching chrome finish. In fact we liked all the Cooper Bikes on show. Cooper are better known as British car manufacturers (of Mini Cooper fame) and all the bikes are named after motor racing circuits, hence Monza and Monaco. All of the bikes feature Brooks saddles, Sturmey Archer Cranks, Reynolds Tubing and Tektro Brakes. This electric version is so new it doesn't yet have a name but will retail at about £1,800 - we can't wait for the summer just to try it out!
Another offering from Velorution is this Nano all carbon fibre folding bike from new company LIOS. Created by two fascinating ex-services guys, Wayland and Steve, with the backing of Help for Heroes, the parters aim to turn the urban folding bike concept on its head. Brompton were also pivotal in the design and testing process, but this bike is everything a Brompton isn't. It's light, has disc brakes, a maintenance and oil-free carbon belt drive, and carbon fibre wheels and even saddle - the result is truly innovative. The story behind the bike is the best we've heard too but we'll save that for another day! The single speed LIOS Nano is available at £3,250 and the 8 speed hub version £3,500.
Ashmei is a reasonably new clothing brand introduced to us by Matteo Cassina MD of Passoni bikes. Like Passoni, the price point is pretty stratospheric (although on a par with Rapha), but what the brand aim to do is to create the absolute 'sky is the limit' clothing using the very best materials and technology available. There's no denying that the end result is fantastic, classy and light to the touch, the company use super-fine merino wool which gives a smooth non-itchy finish. "This approach is a culmination of 25 years experience as a sportswear designer and is continued with every detail, feature and component to engineer the ultimate performance product rather than focus on key price points or creating seasonal collections that follow fads or trends," says Stuart Brooke, its founder.
There were literally thousands of high-end carbon bikes on show but it was Peter Sagan's Specialized and Bradley Wiggins' Pinarello that drew in an army of admirers. At the cheaper end of the market we were pleased to see Portuguese brand, Orbita, manufacturer of city bikes, which has had a new look and overhaul. We think that their reasonably priced urban range will soon be wowing customers for their looks and value for money.
As well as bikes there was a vast array of apparel and accessories on display. Huez are doing a great job with their high end, excellent quality road wear. Their merino base layer is a glorious garment with a lovely texture. But we also admired their smart blazer jacket in Italian wool for the urban rider. We're looking forward to see how they get on with their crazy charity ride to Alpe d'Huez and back in 24 hours on Boris bikes! Talking of urban apparel, Lumo are ahead of most of their rivals in producing tasteful and stylish bike wear that lights up at night but remains discreet if you want to look normal when you step into the pub or restaurant. Their jacket is a lovely bit of apparel you'd be happy to wear anytime, anywhere, and in our opinion beats anything offered by Vulpine.
Last year we tried out the Henty Wingman suit bag - an ingenious design that allows you to roll your suit up around a gym bag which you can then sling over your shoulder for your ride into work. They've now adapted the gym bag so that it can be used on its own. The other new must have accessory for 2016 is the innovative Aftershokz headphones which, unlike normal headphones fit in front of the ear, "utilising bone conduction technology to deliver stereophonic sound through the listener's cheekbones to the inner ear" meaning that you can listen to your favourite tunes on the bike while staying connected with the outside world. Safe and sound, I guess.