We've just had a very busy day at The London Bike Show. Followed by a very tedious 5-hour crawl back to Bath in the traffic and the snow. Never mind though, it gave us a chance to get some words down while we pondered the meaning of life at 2mph outside Wokingham. If you're going to the show then good news: there's loads to see. We'll be drip feeding our bits and bobs through over the next couple of days, and here's the first tranche. Enjoy!
Genesis are busy keeping steel real, as is their wont. Most notably they're sending out the newly-formed Madison-Genesis team to race on Reynolds-953-framed stainless steel bikes in the big UK races. The team launch (and bike launch) is on Saturday but since they had the prototype bike on their stand (the team bike is finished differently) we though we'd chat you through it.
The Volare is an all-953 creation, and there's plenty of manipulation of the tubeset, work done by Reynolds themselves since they're the only ones with the experience to make it work. Even so, 953 is phenomenally hard to work. "We've seen plenty of cracked tubes," Dom the designer told us. "Not from frame failures but from the working process to get the shapes we wanted."
What are those shapes? Well the top tube is slightly wider in the middle than it is at the seat post, then it ovalises to meet the big XX44 head tube to make maximum use of the available weld space. The down tube is nice and big too 1t 36mm, and the bottom bracket is a press-fit shell to give maximum space for the 24mm chain stays that keep the rear nice and stiff. The seatpost increases in diameter towards the bottom bracket too, from 31.8mm to 34mm.
All this makes for a super-stiff structure. It's not as light as a top-end Carbon frame, the current frame weight is around 1700g. Genesis plan to revise the design to a more compact main triangle; that'll lop some weight off (1500g is the target) and also allow more seat post to take a bit of sting out of the back end.
There's a new Equilibrium too. The Equilibrium has been a firm favourite at road.cc towers for good while and there's a new version of the bike in the offing, made from Reynolds 853. Not only the frame but also the fork: this is an all-steel affair. The show bike was a prototype but the full production framesets should be landing in time for distributor Madison's in house show, iceBike, in a few short weeks. There's going to be a disc one too. You heard that here first.
The Fugio 853 cyclocross bike is nearing production as well; we should see the final bikes at iceBike. Genesis have had the all-purpose Croix de Fer in their range for a while now but the Fugio is designed to be a race bike; it borrows its geometry from the Vapour Aluminium bikes and features a tapered head tube for maximum front-end stiffness. It'll be available as a frame and fork, albeit with a different fork to the one pictured.
Chapeau! have been making a range of cycling-related oils and balms for a while but they've chosen the London show to launch a whole raft of new stuff. Firstly there's a range of bags, the most interesting of which is a shoulder bag that can be frame mounted.
The vaguely triangular bag mounts via four loops into the main triangle of your frame. When you get to your chosen destination you can sling it over your shoulder with the strap included and head off on foot. There's a more standard messenger bag too, and both are available in hard and soft leather and a range of fabric finishes too.
Also new is clothing. Chapeau! have started with a small range but there's plans afoot for more, and the stuff we saw at the show looked well thought through and stylish.
There's two bib shorts, for starters. The top-of-the-range model has a high quality Cytec pad and there's two different versions depending on your position on the bike; one is more upright, the other more racy. With a multi-panel construction and mesh bibs they'll retail for £120. The cheaper bibs get solid straps and a less expensive mulit-position pad that should cover all positions.
There's a jersey too, full zip and made from high-wicking material. Three pockets in the back (one is a thinner pump pocket) are augmented by a zipped waterproof pocket (with a proper membrane) and a mesh gel pocket at one side. There's cable ports for your music too and an elasticated waistband to keep everything in its right place when you load up for the sportive or club run.
Merino base layers are part of the start-up range; they come in long sleeve, short sleeve and sleeveless and are styled so they can be worn under a jersey on on their own. They're not to salty for Merino either, at around £40 a pop.
Rose bikes had a few new models to show us. The road disc bandwagon is getting pretty full these days but there's always room for a few more. Here's the Xeon DX, a 7005-Aluminium-framed road machine with Ultegra Di2 transmission and cable discs for the stopping of. There's 160mm rotors front and rear and the callipers themselves were prototype units on the show bike. All-in weight was 8.2kg and you're looking at just over £2,100 for the spec show.
Cable routing is very Di2-friendly and Rose had fitted a spiral cable tidy to run the Di2 and brake cables together. It looked quite neat.
The Aero flyer was worth a look too, not least because it was sporting the new Dura Ace Di2 transmission. Compared to Ultegra, which uses stock motors that are fairly bulky, the Dura Ace gear is very sleek indeed. The rear mech especially, which is barely bigger than a standard mechanical derailleur. The front mech is a lot tidier too.
One thing that always looks a bit phoned-in on Di2 bikes is the little controller box, which is usually found hanging from the bars somewhere, or zip tied to the stem. Not any more though: there's a new prototype Di2 controller on the Aero Flyer which is integrated into the stem. very neat indeed.
The frame itself is half new. The rear is unchanged but there's a new integrated fork and headset at the front. The front brake isn't hidden but it is a slippery TRP affair, while the rear brake has shuffled off under the bottom bracket as is the current trend.
Last Rose for now: the Xeon CW. This is Rose's new aero platform and you get a deep head tube, flat-topped top tube and deep-legged fork. At the bottom bracket everything's smoothed down and the seat post wraps around the tyre. The seat stays are interesting; whereas we've seen plenty of bikes recently where the stays flatten off and meet the seat tube a bit further down, the Xeon CW's seat stays do the opposite, kinking up at the last minute. It looks like it might be to make the back end a bit more compliant.
What have Carradice been up to? Last year they were showing off their Harris Tweed Barley saddle bag, which they made in very limited numbers. This year they had an even limiteder limited edition of the same bag, crafted from reflective Lumatwill fabric. They only had enough for six bags, mind, so be quick if you want one. They're £100 a pop.
In other news: there is nothing new under the sun. We've seen Brooks have some success recently by thumbing through the old catalogues and seeing what they could resurrect in the modern age. Carradice are playing that game now too: back in the day they used to make a bag mount that fitted to the belt loops in the back of your saddle to allow you to run a big saddlebag. Belt loops went out of fashion and the bag mount passed into the land of shadows, but with trad leather saddles making a comeback there's a new demand for them.
The one in the pic isn't new; it's a 1970s Carradice original that the company managed to get as new old stock from ebay. Currently it's being studied and the design improved, and we should see some prototypes later in the year. Carradice are planning to have them manufactured in the UK.
One other new venture for Carradice is Banner Bags: these use upcycled advertising banners to make pannier, messenger and Brompton bags. Each one is unique, obviously, and they're available in a plethora of different colours and styles. They're not expensive, either; most of the bags are in the £40-£50 price bracket.
We asked Hope if they'd been up to much of late and they dug about in the booth's cupboard and came out with this hub they'd been fooling about with. Basically it's a flip-flop hub but with both sides featuring a 6-bolt fixing the same as you'd have on your disc. You can either attach a cog so both sides and use it in a flip flop capacity, or run it singlespeed and mount a disc. Or, presumably, run it fixed with a freewheel disc brake. That doesn't sound like such a great idea though.
Is it a good idea? Well, to be fair Hope weren't really attempting to justify it, it was more of a think piece. But the six-bolt fixing for a singlespeed or fixed cog isn't unique to Hope, other companies make them and in engineering terms it seems like a much better solution than the standard screw thread. It restricts you to a minimum of 15 teeth due to the diameter of the bolt circle.
Hope's full wheel range is now in production, so look out for those. One they're planning to make but haven't yet is the popular Stan's No Tubes Alpha 400 rim laced to their Pro 3 hubset with CX-Ray spokes. That should be a very dependable all-purpose wheelset that'll cost less than £500 and weigh around 1,500g. We're looking forward to those, as well as trying the new Carbon clincher.
Remember the Copenhagen Wheel? All the gubbins for an electric bike inside the wheel? Well, here's a production one: the RevoWheel. There's an 8Ah battery and a 250W motor inside, and it's controlled by a wireless, bar-mounted computer. Well, it's wireless except for the wire to the pedal sensor; this is a pedelec system so it needs to know if you're trying.
There's three levels of assistance and RevoWheel claim a range of 40 miles on the flat. The kit itself is super simple to fitso it's a home job rather than needing specialist help, and the wheel and controller cost £699; you'll be able to have 20", 26" or 700c although currently the 26" is the only finished one. We're going to try and get one to have a play with, to see if the weight of the battery and motor in the front wheel affects the handling much. If not, it might be a quick and easy way to electric up your bike…
Canyon weren't showing anything new, but they did have the Ultimate Al 9.0 Di2 on the stand, road.cc's bike of the year for 2012. We've talked plenty about that, so instead here's some shots of J-Rod's pink bike from the Giro last year. Looks very pretty, no?
This is one of the few pro bikes we've seen that hasn't sported a 130mm – or even 140mm – stem. They like 'em low and long, do the pros. Rodriguez uses a shorter one (looks like 110mm to uss), but you'll be reassured to see it's slammed to the max. Those bars are super-deep too, almost a track bend.
It's Dura Ace Di2 for J-Rod, and some flash Cosmic Ultimate wheels to seal the deal.
More road discs from Ridgeback: their Advance range has a disc-equipped model, the Advance 7.0, for £899.99. It's based around an ALX9 alloy frame and Carbon fork, and it gets a full compliment of Shimano's Sora nine-speed groupset. Well, except for the brakes because those are Avid BB5s. There's masses of tyre clearance – you could probably fit a 35mm tyre in there, though the spec is 28mm Continental Contacts – and there's mudguard and rack mounts too, although at the back you'll have to tiptoe round the calliper at the back which is mounted on the seatstay rather than inside the rear triangle.
It looks like a very sensible spec for a bike that'll make a good commuter or all-rounder. Ridgeback have gone with a triple which will give you all the touring gears you should need, and there's cross-top levers on the bars for easy braking from all positions.
Finally, how about one of these round the back of your house? The BikeShel will swallow four bikes easily enough (in the big size anyway) and it's a piece of cake to use, just lift one side and pull your bike out. The cover is lockable and the steel frame of the BikeShel has mounting points for your lock too. Prices range from £600-£900 depending on size and spec; the more expensive ones are coloured and have a clever key lock; the cheaper ones are black and come with padlock mounts for keeping things secure.
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.