The London Bike Show

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Last Sunday I visited the London Bike Show at the Excel Centre. It was held in conjunction with the Outdoors Show, the Adventure Travel Show and the Boat Show. Boats make me seasick but the rest sounded right up my street.

The Docklands Light Railway stops on the doorstep and I arrived at 10.00 am just as the doors opened which meant I got to look around while it was still fairly quiet. By lunchtime it was heaving with people. The first thing to grab my attention was the shouting coming from the far side of the hall. This turned out to be a bike polo tournament. Bike polo had virtually died out but has recently been revived as part of the London fixie scene. It was certainly skilful – if you can’t do a trackstand you might as well forget it – and the action was fast and furious. The goalie saved a shot then rocketed across to the opposite net, whacked the ball in, collided with the goalpost and demolished the net as bike and rider slid sideways along the ground. Fun, but definitely not my cup of tea!

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Bike Polo – too fast and furious for me!

I wandered off in search of something rather more sedate. The Brooks stand fitted the bill nicely but the display unfortunately confirmed what I suspected – my blue B17 isn’t as blue as it used to be! The guy on the stand admitted that the coloured saddles do get darker the more you sit on them. They also had some very smart Brooks panniers on display but I’m afraid if you need to ask the price you can’t afford them!

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A very classy touring set up

There were lots of stands selling reduced price clothing but despite my best efforts I couldn’t convince myself that I needed any more jerseys or shorts. I eventually succumbed to a rather natty skull cap which comes further down over my ears than the one (ok, than the three) I’ve already got. Shimano’s latest electronic shifting system was attracting a lot of attention but I’m afraid I’m quite happy with cables. As cycling becomes more and more high tech it loses the simplicity that is part of its appeal. That said, I can be a sucker for eye candy, and this Colnago in my favourite colour would certainly turn some heads. Shame it costs about five grand! I heard today that someone walked out with a Cinelli bike worth £5500!! A reward of £500 is being offered for its return. I suppose if you’ve got enough cheek you can get away with anything. I wish I’d thought of slipping this beauty under my coat!

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Italian style

I had hoped that the Outdoor Show would feature lots of lightweight camping gear but it seemed to be mostly devoted to selling clothing. Not a stove to be seen! There was however a demonstration of Trek Mates new wonder flameless cooking system which involved adding water to some sachet of chemicals in the bottom of a box to produce heat. It attracted a lot of attention but seemed to me like a solution in search of a problem. Hilleberg had their two latest models on display, both slightly lighter and designed for 3 season use instead of their bomb proof 4 season models. I enjoyed chatting to the guy on the stall, he seemed to have my dream job – I always wanted to be a tent tester!

By lunchtime it was becoming very hot and very crowded so I called it a day. It had been an enjoyable morning and I left with a pile of freebies – 3 water bottles, 2 magazines, various samples so I reckon I got my money’s worth. Not as good as actually riding your bike though!