One of the amusing diversions at our recent Bike2work event at Eurobike was guessing what bikes the company CEOs would ride.
In theory it was a bit complicated. They all had to drag themselves out of hotels all over the Bodensee region to come to Friedrichshafen station while the bikes were either on display at the show or had perhaps been bounced around by the press and customers the previous day at the show’s Demo Day.
So we laid on a fleet of 60 shared bikes from our friends at Nextbike which covered our team, some of the press and the people who just didn’t have a whole bike fleet on standby.
However that was never going to work for those who just had to be seen on their company’s product. Logistical wheels were put in motion to make sure the bosses had the right kit at the start.
And because it was supposed to be a ride to work I was pleased to see some really nice commuting bikes and interesting e-bikes mixed with the bike hire machines.
In the gallery I can pick out very sleek, grey Kalkhoff pedelecs for the management team from PON, Tern were out in numbers with their fleet of folders and Mark Bickerton on the revived Bickerton folder that has brought back a really innovative British brand from the 1960s.
But two people sort of stole the show by showing up on head-turning machines that were probably NOT in the spirit of Bike2work.
Accell Group is probably the biggest bike company most people have never heard of, but their well known brands like Batavus, Raleigh, Lapierre, Mercier and Atala that make them Europe’s biggest bike manufacturer. I am sure all the staff at Accell’s Dutch head office ride sensible Dutch bikes to work but perhaps it is appropriate for Eurobike that CEO Rene Takens was given a monster bike to ride, the Haibike fatbike e-bike.
It gave him the serene air of someone who knows that his bike could crush cars should they get in the way.
And then there was the bike with the unmissable colour scheme that managed to appear in the front row of almost every photo.
My regular readers will know that I have a soft spot for the celeste blue of the Bianchi brand, whether it I am reflecting back to the classic Fausto Coppi race bikes of the 1950s or the delights of the Bianchi café in Stockholm.
Through my work with the bike manufacturers I have been working closely with Tony Grimaldi, President of Cycleurope, the Swedish company who own Bianchi along with a stable of other brands. Now for our Bike2work ride I suppose I thought Tony would turn up on a nice sensible Monark or Peugeot e-bike to show what the company was doing for commuters. However I couldn’t help but burst out laughing when he rang me a week before the show and said “I am bringing Bob from Bianchi (Bob Ippolito, CEO of Bianchi) and we are going to ride Specialissima.”
For those who don’t frequent the review pages of bike magazines and web sites Specialissima is a super-light specialist climbers’ bike designed by Bianchi for the pro teams that they sponsor. It is part of the fleet being used by the Lotto Jumbo pro team on the World Tour this year, carrying Robert Gesink up to 6th place overall in the Tour de France. It has been getting some rave reviews in the bike magazines and shows with a French magazine calling it “Bike of the Year”. Apparently they retail at over €10,000 for the ones with the full Campagnolo groupset.
I think have single wheels that weigh more than the whole bike.
But when I laughed out loud and said “no way” Tony’s response was “I’m doing it for you because I know you like Bianchi and this one is special”. I may feel honoured and amused by that but I am very sure that the prospect of Specialissima in the front row of an industry gathering and a lot of press was always going to be too good to miss for the Bianchi team.
And in due course the bikes were delivered for Tony to take his place up in the front row where the bikes really did stand out, and not just because they were the only elite racing bikes in our commuting peloton. These show machines were in Bianchi Celeste Blue, but a turquoise blue that has been doctored by the addition of some sort of fluro ingredient that makes it extremely bright. Maybe not a colour for the classic Bianchi lover, for those who enjoy 1980s cultural references this is celeste “turned up to 11”*
But certainly unmissable, as was clear from the team photo when our two special bike riders were checking each other out.
But the real question is “A Specialissima to bike to work?” As one of my colleagues said “it’s like using a Ferrari to go to the mailbox”. So this is probably the only time when we will see a man in a suit riding one, a man who doesn’t have to answer the question “where do I put my sandwiches and the laptop?”
For the rest of us….well we can dream a bit.