Cycle Show 2009 - Enigma, Basso, Swobo, Garmin, KCNC and more...
Lots more show highlights from Earl's Court
Well we're back from the show now – thanks to everyone that came and said hello, it was great to put a few faces to names. And sell some T shirts. When we weren't sitting on our inflatable sofas drinking the wine that the Belveder girls had brought to the party there was plenty of time to have a snoop round the stands, and there was plenty to see.
Normally after Eurobike we're a bit showed out but This year's Cycle Show had plenty of stuff we hadn't seen in Germany, and seemed a lot busier than last year. Just goes to show that recsession or no, we all still love our bikes. Here's another quick run through some of the new, or interesting, or both, stuff that we stumbled across.
Enigma have built up a big following for their top-end Titanium over the past few years but last year's Cycle Show marked a turning point for the company when they unveiled their first steel frame, handmade in the UK like the Ti units. Since then the company has seen unprecedented demand for steel, and now half the bikes the Sussex-based outfit produce are made from Cromoly or stainless tubesets. The star of the steel range is the Elite XCR, a £1500 stainless-tubed road beauty that's superbly finished. Enigma head honcho Jim Walker is passionate about reviving the UK as a producer of bikes and there's no better advert for British craftmanship than one of his immaculate frames; we try not to spend too long on the Enigma stand because we're afraid we'll end up buying one. Or another one, in Jo's case...
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin were showing off their new Edge, the 500, which is a much more compact unit aimed at riders who don't need a whole host of complicated mapping functions. It still uses GPS location to get your ride stats, and you can still upload your ride data to Garmin Connect, but most of the time it looks like a fairly standard, well-featured bike computer. You get a fully customisable interface so you can look at the data you want, and it's pretty straightfoward to use: something that can't really be said of the more expensive edge units. You can upload a route to the 500 and follow it but there's no real mapping capabaility, you just have to follow a crumbtrail on the screen. The retail price is around £200, expect to see a review on road.cc soon.
There's plenty of shiny things to look at when you visit a cycle show, but among the shiniest at Earl's Court were on the KCNC stand. KCNC are a Taiwanese engineering firm that specialise in lightweight Aluminium and Titanium accessories, and when we say lightweight we really mean it. A single bar end that weighs less than a packet of crisps? Now that's light. They were also showing off their tiny knife pedals aimed at road riders who don't want to go clipless. At 150g a pair they're absurdly light too, as was pretty much everything else in their cabinet. Standout products for us were the brakes, both the dual pivot callipers and the skeletal V-brakes. They're not cheap, but they're a lot cheaper than most stuff you'll find that's as light.
Not a name you might associate with bikes but Swobo had some interesting machines on display at Cycle 2009. Best of the bunch was the Crosby, a singlespeed 'cross bike with a SRAM Torpedo rear hub – free to fixed in just a few turns of a screwdriver. Fixed cyclocross, anyone? The bike's much more versatile than just a 'cross iron though, it'd look the part about town too with its semi-deep orange rims and muted blue-grey paintjob. The Baxter was an interesting bike too, with an Alfine drivetrain and swept back bars for less extreme urban adventuring.
Corima were showing off their MCC wheelset at the show, and a very nice looking set of hoops it is too. We didn't get to speak to anyone technical at Corima (they were hiding) so we're still in the dark about quite how the rear wheel works. Normally on a rear wheel you'll get crossed spokes on the drive side, the forward facing ones transmitting the torque from the hub and the backward-facing ones dealing with the braking forces which twist the wheel in the opposite direction. The MCC real wheel has the torque spokes but no opposing spokes, so won't it just fold up under braking? We're assuming it doesn't, but can't work out why. any ideas? Answers on a postcard...
Basso were showing off their road range as it is in the UK, which is a fraction of their total output. They are bringing over the range-topping Diamante though, a very purposeful looking Carbon road machine. Basso make all their bikes by hand in Italy, so you really are getting European chic for your (significant) outlay. Basso have, like Trek, gone along the integrated bottom bracket route which allows them to use a much wider BB moulding, 86mm in Basso's case, for a stiffer pedalling platform. It certainly works on the Madones so we'd expect it to on the Basso too, though we haven't ridden it. They were also showing the new Astra which is a good looking machine too. Mr Basso is very passionate about his bikes: "He calls me every other day and he's usually shouting", Adam at UK distributors Moore Large told us. The original Diamante prototype frame was nicked from its box on the way over to Britain; "When I told him", say Adam, "I'm pretty sure he was crying"
We reported on the Paper Bicycle last year, a very classy step through machine that's designed for fuss-free daily use. Well, now it's nearly in production and it's still a great looking utility machine. There's a clever new kick stand that extends from the rear of the frame (it looks a bit like an exhaust when it's raised!) and a few refinements to the design. Orders have already been taken for hire fleets in other European countries and UK production is just a case of crossing the t's and dotting the i's. Oh, and clearing up the warehouse...