Well, that's the end of bicycle exhibitions for the year. The Cycle show in Earls court was a good show although I am still not that sure what its exact purpose is? It isn't quite a trade show for brands to show case new kit and it definitely isn't a place where you can purchase the latest bit of bike jewellery.
It is there for people, no, fanatics to perv over bicycles and I loved it. I am always intrigued with what may become the next fashionable accessory or the next innovation that will revolutionise cycling as we know it today. As it so happens the apparent emerging movement is in belt drives.
Yep, belt drives, bike manufacturers have been trying to flog us this for decades, in fact Archibald Sharp mentioned belt and steel band driven bike transmissions in his 1896 text “Bicycles and Tricycles”. But this time it is looking pretty convincing as a viable alternative to a chain. The main advantage to using a belt, incase you don't already know, is the weight saving. A typical belt only weighs something like 30 grams, that's a 200 gram saving over a normal chain. Plus you have the added benefit of not getting a diry mark on your calf. The negative points historically associated with running a belt drive like stretching, reduced efficiency, one piece design and reliant on hub gears have all improved enormously.
With the popularity of single speed and the advances in hub technolgy means that the dawn of the belt drive has arrived. Even beardy chops had one on his bike that pedalled round the world and he only had to change it once after 14,ooo miles! One bike that caught my attention was the Moulton TSR2 with an old 2 speed kick back Sturmey Archer hub with pedal back brake that the guys at Moulton found in the cupboard under the stairs and modified it to run with a belt (or a story to that effect). http://road.cc/content/news/10156-cycle-show-2009-sturmey-archers-new-s3x-and-s2c-hubs. I believe that this hub, the Sturmey Archer S2C, could be the next big thing and the top dogs are going to be using it with a belt drive.
I don't think it will be the S3X three speed fixed hub which I have nightmares about despite it being available in a variety of colours. With the S2C you can mate it to stripped down, sleek, skinny, fixie looking machines but have the secret weapon of an extra gear plus you can remind yourself of the heady, nostalgic feeling of freewheeling that modern cyclists enjoy
It was funny to see the number of exhibitors going for a 'retro' living room look for their stand. 'Demon' who porduce delightful, hand crafted frames out of Southampton, had a lovely collection of iconic artifacts on display where as our buddies at Singletrack visited a house clearance on the way down to Earls court and achieved something that resembled a student dwelling! I want to know what happened to the cabinet they had, I quite liked it?
Basically, the things that tickled me most were old things brought back and adjusted to work to the way we use them now. The best example of this is the PK Ripper, one of the iconic BMX's now re-incarnated as a freestyle 700c fixie. I feel like I have never got older.