What we love about bike shows is that however many we visit, they are always really different to one another. At this year's Spin, held at the Old Truman Brewery in trendy Brick Lane, we saw many of the same friendly faces - but there were also loads of new designers, manufacturers and retailers displaying their wares. And that's aside from the huge variety of guest speakers on offer throughout the three days too. Ride Velo not only heard Chris Boardman's very enlightening talk, but discovered some new brands of bikes to love and lots of clothing and accessories to die for. The only down side, we spent quite a lot of money! Thank goodness we'd cycled to the event or we would've bagged much more.
So what grabbed our attention? There seemed to be more women's road cycle wear on offer than men's, which was an interesting development. New brands such as Queen of the Mountains were represented alongside established retailers like Velovixen. But our women's pick of the bunch was a brand called Victor and Leap. They only launched last autumn and have a limited range, but the quality was amazing and we loved the subtle choice of navy and black with a quality gold coloured front zipper. One to watch!
For the guys, there was a great choice of urban wear. We liked some of the offerings from Chapeau! but our favourite was a brand called Kit and Ace who have a smattering of outlets in London and an online shop. They specialise in 'commuter clothing' but you don't really need to dress in any particular way to catch the bus! Their pieces are not cycle-specific, but would be great to cycle in, with trousers being made from water-resistant fabric with a four-way stretch, and shirts in 'technical' cashmere which they promise won't stretch or shrink. They felt gorgeous to the touch and if they weren't so expensive we would've bought the lot!
A couple of companies that we'd already spied via Twitter were displaying their fun T-Shirts at the show, and they lived up to expectation. First was Occasional Human, whose 'vélo' T-shirt would've suited us at Ride Velo very well indeed! They even had a cardboard cut-out velodrome on their stand and encouraged visitors to create their own paper cycling superheroes. The other was Bon Courage, whose products looked even better in the flesh than they do online. They were also one of the few retailers at the event to sell children's wear.
Another Twitter friend who we were looking forward to meeting in real life was Meame. This new company currently only stock two jackets and a hat, but they were exquisite! At a shade under £300, we didn't snap them up but - put it this way - we're saving up! Firstly, they have developed a tweed jacket for men and women which features clever technical features such as a light-sensitive reflective thread, vented shoulders for added stretch and a collar that you can button up when cycling in the cold. The tweed isn't at all scratchy and would be wearable nearly all the year round thanks to its 'wool assist' temperature regulation, and is water resistant with a Teflon finish.
I was even keener to keep the biker style jacket which comes in navy. Obviously it has all sorts of practical features such as reflective strips on the cuffs and breast pocket, but what I really liked about it was that it looked really good on! It has a waterproof lining and a pull down reflective bottom flap secured with magnets. But surprisingly, its sleeves zip off, turning it into a gilet if the weather suddenly warms up. Very nice.
Other jackets we loved: Lumo are bright sparks who've released a really exciting range of light-up clothing and accessories via crowd funding. Last year they brought to the market their Herne Hill jacket which was then featured in the Design Museum's Cycle Revolution exhibition. But the Harrington style jacket isn't the jewel in the crown of their collection - also for sale at the show were their Regents parka cycling coat and a gorgeous Bermondsey oil-skin rucksack, both of which we're going to feature in a separate review. Next month, the busy husband and wife team, Doug and Lucy Bairner, are bringing three new products to Kickstarter, the prototypes of which were on display at Spin. We'll keep you posted as we think they'll be every bit as popular as the first bits of kit in the Lumo range.
No we haven't forgotten the actual bikes! There were plenty on display to fondle and fantasise about, from Cinelli track frames to roadsters from Ruff Cycles and city bikes by Quella. Bespoked cycle designers such as Caren Hartley were also showcasing their talents. We were on the look out for something new to catch our eye and we found just that at the stunning Creme stand opposite the enormous projector screening of the exciting Giro d'Italia stage 15. But it was Creme that captured our attention, rather than Nibali being dropped in the last few kilometres!
Creme is a Polish brand very popular in Germany and other central European countries, and you can see why. They have adeptly mixed traditional bike design with subtle urban styling giving a very classic look while at the same time appearing modern and fresh. The bikes are understated but classy, sturdy but elegant and supremely practical for riding around town. The prices compare well with similar brands we like such as Cooper, while maintaining the great quality and robustness that you don't get with cheaper urban cycles.
There were loads of great accessories at Spin London: we loved the crazy range of saddle covers by Pedal Shed, and bought some beautifully made leather cycling gloves from start up Hackney St Cloud who are launching their first shop next month. We caught up with Target Velo, who we featured in our Christmas gift guides. They're now making cycle-themed earrings for women using coloured valve covers, single chain links and miniature gear wheels - I had to have a pair - and I've been wearing them non-stop since!
Ride Velo favourite, artist Eliza Southwood, was displaying a new series of mixed media works that were commissioned by Spin London to fill the entrance space. Featuring cycling legends such as Hinault, Armstrong, Burton and Pantani, all eight pictures were snapped up by a collector before the show even began! Luckily Eliza had brought along some other prints to sell including her new A2 sized 'Spring Classics'. We couldn't afford the A0 prints on display at Look Mum No Hands! currently but the A2 version was a winner and we ordered two!
The Summit brought together a collection of curated speakers including talks on The History of Women's Cycling and a comedy performance entitled "Lance" by Kieron Hodgson, which we're watching on June 16th in South London if you want to join us? We’ll bring you the full and fascinating Chris Boardman (interviewed by Rob Spedding from Cycling Plus) report in the next couple of days - so stay tuned to Ride Velo.
With BMX displays, tasty craft beers, great coffee, giant beanbags and the Giro touring the Dolomites in glorious technicolour - Spin London certainly knows how to create a stir. So thanks to Spin London (and Manchester) for another great weekend!