Impressions of Eurobike 2014 – cycling with style

Photo by Kevin Mayne

Fortunately I am not a cycling writer, at least not one who has to write about bikes and bits for a living. There are over 1300 exhibitors at the world’s biggest bike show so it is hard to get an overview. I almost feel sorry for many of my fellow visitors to Eurobike who have to try and digest thousands of bikes and accessories and try to come up with the technical highlights for their magazines and web sites.

I don’t have to replicate their work and I have the licence to roam about when I can and just grab my personal snapshots and impressions.

The E-bike trend still dominates the overall momentum of the show but I have written about it in numerous other blog posts so I tended to skim past those. By far the most visible new trend were the fat bikes. I wrote about those in detail too after the last Taipei Show and I wondered if this might be a limited fad.

Photo by Kevin MayneHowever now it appears the whole mountain bike industry is scrambling to catch up, not only has every bike company got one in its range but the wheel and tyre manufacturers are chasing hard to add them to their portfolio. A very cute kids’ version from German brand B’Cool won one of the show’s design awards.

On the road bike front the endless quest for lightness and stiffness continues. Stephens put this 4.5kg bike on their stand connected to a weighing gauge. It was so light that every time somebody sneezed nearby the weight fluctuated. If I ever imagined owning one the idea that I could double the weight of my bike after a heavy meal and few beers would only haunt me when I looked at the credit card bill.

Photo by Kevin Mayne

From a professional point of view I was enthused by two bike launches.

It may just be that the most important bike at the show was a bike called the E-load on the Winora stand. Winora is the German brand of Accell Group, the largest bike manufacturer in Europe and equally importantly one of the leaders in city bikes and urban bikes. At ECF we have been looking at the long term trend for delivery bikes of all kinds in the cities of the future. So far the emerging bikes in the commercial or professional delivery sector have been handmades and specialities but the entry of Winora this year and KTM last year with mass market bikes equipped for shopping and delivery could be a big breakthrough.

Photo by Kevin Mayne

Similarly Canyon won an award for their futuristic urban bike with its streamlined cockpit and integrated electronics, a sign that urban bikes are getting some design attention, it isn’t all just road and e-bikes.

Photo by Kevin Mayne

That has covered the major trends and the professional issues, but that doesn’t mean those were my personal highlights.

If I had to pick out anything it would be the return of traditional style, but with modern materials and technologies. Call me old school if you must, but I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibits by companies that showed beautiful bikes that respected the traditions of cycling.

Gazelle, the bikes of the Dutch Royal family.

Photo by Kevin Mayne

Pashley. Now probably the UK’s largest remaining bike manufacturer, producing classic designs in Stratford on Avon since 1926. Their roadsters combined features like belt drives, disk brakes and modern hub gears with beautiful paint jobs and classic frames.

Pashley roadsters

I hadn’t spotted it until the show guide gave an overview but scattered round the show a number of manufacturers had produced new touring bikes which they classed as randonneurs. The European touring market is dominated by so called trekking bikes, a hybrid of the mountain bike and the touring bike, equipped for longer rides and panniers. Far fewer manufacturers build something modelled on the British or American tourer with a lightweight road frame and dropped handlebars but this year I saw several, again with modernised accessories but the classic shape. As the proud owner of a Dawes Super Galaxy this is my kind of touring bike, built for mountain passes as well as well as long distance cycle paths.

Photo by Kevin Mayne Photo by Kevin Mayne

My “show-stopper” for 2014 came into that category. It was a Tout Terrain randonneur model, but what caught my eye was not the bike but the luggage and the fit out. A complete touring range by Brooks combining attractive fabrics with Brooks’ traditional leather trims.

Photo by Kevin Mayne

Personally I think this has to be one of the greatest bicycle industry success stories of recent years. Brooks were a bit of a laughing stock among many bike enthusiasts in the UK – loved passionately by a certain niche market of very traditional touring cyclists, but unfortunately desperately out of fashion. The company was kept afloat briefly by Raleigh, liquidation followed and manufacturing was only kept in the UK because of a few industry people who were enthusiastic about the brand. In 2002 it was sold to Selle Royal of Italy and most people assumed that it would be shipped abroad or die.

Instead this has been a classic merger. The injection of Italian flair, an innate understanding of emerging fashions and some great product development means that “Brooks of England” has flourished alongside the boom in hipster chic and retro-cycling across the world. The Brooks range has moved out far beyond the saddles for which it was famous and now includes a wide range of leather based accessories.

If you want an oasis of style at any bike show of the moment – the Brooks stand is it. Great work.

Photo by Kevin Mayne

For other impressions of bike shows like this click on the tab “Cycle Shows” at the bottom of the web version of this post and you can see roundups from past Eurobikes, Taipei Show and others.