The 2010 European Handmade Bicycle Exhibition turned out to be an even bigger feast for bike lovers lucky enough to make it to the show. All types of bike were on display, from low-riders and high-wheelers to cutting-edge composites and artfully-finished classics - and there were a good few 'firsts' revealed at the show.
Marco Bertoletti's Legend range
The Legend range from Italy is by one of the best-kept secrets in the Italian bike trade, Marco Bertoletti. Bertoletti has spent the last 20-odd years building frames for many of Italy's better-known labels, but until now, has rarely produced frames under his own brand.
The Legend range, seen for the first time at EHBE, finally makes his superb craftsmanship accessible to a wider audience. Models are built from steel, titanium and carbon, so there's a model for every taste and scenario.
If the chance of a cheap Ryanair flight to Bergamo comes your way, why not take the opportunity to marvel at his work in his new showroom in Presezzo, on the other side of town from the airport?
Meanwhile, European customers of Matt Klucha, one of the finest of the current crop of US framebuilders can take advantage of his 'European Delivery Program'. This combines a visit to Matt's workshop with the chance to tour in the spectacular scenery and quiet lanes surrounding his New England base.
As well as getting the chance to see at close range how your frame was built and have Matt personally complete the final bikefitting process, generous discounts on complete bike builds mean the cost of the flight to the USA is offset. All you have to do is let Matt know when you'll arrive at the airport and leave the rest up to him as you enjoy a week as a guest of the Klucha's!
Julie Racing Design
Julie Racing Design had a very interesting design on their stand, reinforcing their position as one of France's most creative framebuilders. Their mono bike, with single blade fork and single, drive side stays was nothing short of a work of art. Not only was the design superb, but the execution of the build is proof, if proof were needed, of Christophe Vacheron's superior framebuiliding skills. 'Plug-and-Play' framebuilding doesn't cut it at the Vacheron workshop and with each new build his work continues to improve and grow evermore inventive.
Selle Royal let us have a look at a re-working of their ground-breaking 1970s 'Contour' design. The patented nylon shelled model was much sought-after by top racers of the day for its comfort and (relatively) light weight and often had its branding removed and fitted by riders sponsored by other saddle firms. The 2011 version promises the same comfort as the original moulds and tooling have been brought out of mothballs to reproduce the saddle which, with its hand-stitched leather cover, is intended as a luxury item for those not obsessed with gram-shaving.
German builders Riccorsa, based in the same town as the EHBE venue, had a great frame for those stuck in the middle of the 'great frame materials' debate.
They were showing off one of their designs which featured titanium main tubes bonded to carbon 'lugs', with a wishbone rear stay formed from Nivachrome steel. It may be the ideal solution for those stuck between being at the cutting-edge, but still wanting to embrace traditional materials!
We'll be back...
All in all, the 2010 version of EHBE firmly sets it as a not-to-be-missed fixture in the bike show calendar. The rate of progress made by the organisers in the few short years they've been hosting the show is incredible.
With future support promised by the local town authorities, who are planning a week of 'bike culture' events in the lead-up to next years event weekend, as well as extensive coverage locally by both press and TV, the show is no longer a curiosity and something for the town to get behind.
For the exhibitors, setting up was all but flawless, with a few concerns about less-than expected visitor numbers. However, tie-ups with local cycling clubs and bodies, together with a date change, should see favourable growth in the numbers of show-goers next year.
If the smiles on the wide-eyed bike lovers leaving this year's event are anything to go by, word-of-mouth may proved to be the biggest asset the show could hope for. It's doubtful if one single visitor went away less than thrilled by the talent on display and the overall quality of the event. Roll on next year!
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.