Cycle Show NEC 2016 Top Ten

Road Bikes

When it comes to the look of a road bike, no one does it better than the Italians. Or do they? Look’s new range of road and TT bikes go back to their Mondrian inspired detailing which we thought was pretty special.

Colnago were displaying some gorgeous frames. We all love the C-60, but what about this cross bike for a spot of off-roading?

Of course their classic steel Arabesque and Mapei had punters drooling. Sticking to the Italian inspired them, Tifosi have a great range of road bikes that offer great performance and stunning looks. But if you want value for money as well as Italian heritage you should think about the range of Cinelli bikes on offer at the moment. 

Titanium

There are some lovely titanium bikes out there and you don’t need a six figure salary to afford one. J. Laverack are a British company hailing from Rutland. We loved the J.Ack, a road frame that will tackle rutted cobbles, broken and graveled roads or ribbon-smooth asphalt. We were also taken by Dutch brand Van Nicholas who make a range of commuter, road and mountain bikes with titanium frames at a reasonable price. Their Yukon is the ideal tourer/commuter bike and comes with the option of the hassle and maintenance free internal hub gear.

 The Yukon by Van Nicholas 

The Yukon by Van Nicholas 

Bamboo

Talking of different materials, these bamboo bikes by Kate Wood are pretty special. From a fixie to a fat bike to a city bike commuter, these will stand out from the crowd. They’re lightweight, flexible and are just incredibly beautiful to look at. Love these bikes.

Mountain Biking

If you’ve had enough of just looking, have a go test riding an electric mountain bike on a great dirt and north shore track built inside the show. There are ramps, twists and turns and various other obstacles to challenge yourself with. Great fun.

E-Bikes

A substantial section of the show is devoted to e-bikes – a massive market that is about to be flooded with countless new brands and models. We wonder how many will stay the course. But among all the new guys trying to break into this lucrative market, is a 1960s design that has heritage and staying power. The Moulton bicycle is a city commuter that was designed to improve ride comfort and efficiency 50 years ago. Arcc Innovations have developed a power system for this unique bike that is light, efficient and discreet. You can even charge your smart phone on the battery pack once you’ve got to the office.

  The Moulton brought up-to-date

The Moulton brought up-to-date

Food

There are lots of new natural food and energy bar products coming onto the market. The days of the sticky gel pumped full of e numbers may thankfully well be over. We loved the taste of Bocadillo’s Luch Dillitos that have no additives or preservatives. In fact this product consists of only two ingredients: guava and sugar. It comes in solid blocks that are dry to the touch and melt in your mouth. Even the wrapping is natural – a biodegradable dry leaf. Lucho Dillitos come from Colombia and have been the traditional choice of cyclists there for years. We thought they tasted pretty special and apparently one block will give you the same energy boost as a traditional gel.

  100% natural including the wrapper

100% natural including the wrapper

Speakers

Of course the Cycle show lay on a great panel of speakers over the weekend. Ned Boulting, ITV’s Tour and Vuelta commentator will be hosting. Sean Kelly, one of the most successful cyclists of the 1980s and Classics hard man is top of our list. But also worth catching are Chris Boardman who’ll be talking about the Rio Olympics, Ed Clancy and Callum Skinner. The mountain bike scene is well represented on Saturday kicking off with trials legend and YouTube star, Martyn Ashton. Over at the Schwalbe stand we met the fascinating Markus Stitz who cycled around the world on a single speed bike.

  Markus Stitz at the Shwalbe stall

Markus Stitz at the Shwalbe stall

Women’s clothing

Velo Vixen tout themselves as the UK’s leaders in women’s cycling kit. Check out their stall for the very best in women’s apparel with brands like Findra (lovely merino wool garments), Morvelo (cute bird-print road kit) and their Queen of the Mountains range. You could do worse than picking up a pair of best sellers, Chamois Panties. Velo Vixen are hosting some great speakers at their ‘hub’ today and over the weekend, including Olympic medalist Joanna Rowsell, ultra endurance rider and former cycle courier Emily Chappell, and cycling blogger Jools Walker AKA Lady Velo. 

Men’s Cothing

Sadly men’s clothing wasn’t as well represented at the show this year, but it was good to see Huez exhibiting their wares. They always stand out from the crowd with their cool road wear, but they also do an urban city range that’s cool and innovative. Thankfully not only skinny cyclists are catered for: Fat Lad At The Back offer a fun range of jerseys and top quality gear that fits all sizes. Jura cycling make some beautiful merino wool retro inspired jerseys that are a must for anyone thinking of taking part in a vintage ride. Meanwhile we love the T shirt designs of Endurance Conspiracy which are all the work of one man, artist Tony Deboom.

Books

Cycling has become big business for the publishing industry in recent years and Bloomsbury seem to be spearheading the pack at the moment. Have a browse on their stall for both old and new titles. If you haven’t already got it you must pick up a copy of P for Peloton with illustrations by the talented Mark Fairhurst. New titles include Greg Lemond, Yellow Jersey Racer - a beautiful looking book, while Ridestrong gives training advice for those of you wanting to get that edge over your mates on the Sunday club ride.

  The first ever Goodyear Welted bench-made road shoe with cleats

The first ever Goodyear Welted bench-made road shoe with cleats

Lastly, I was fortunate enough to bump into the ever chirpy David Smith of REW Reynolds. I can’t include him in the top ten because he wasn’t formally exhibiting at the show but he was excited to show off his new leather soled, Goodyear Welted road shoe that includes fixings for your cleats - the first time this has been done, apparently. It’s still a proto-type but he’s hoping to be able to go into production of this classic, beautifully bench-made shoe in a couple of months.