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Fat bikes are fun!

I don't go to trade shows to be wowed by novelty. I am happy when my regular suppliers are doing a good job at improving stuff a little. But between the restrictions of the UCI and the desperate need to create new market “segments”, the bike trade seems to be caught in a bit of a trap.

Since the UCI have effectively prevented the manufacturers from doing anything useful to their bikes (they even have rules on where you can hold your handlebars and how far you can pull up your socks) they are a bit stymied on the innovation front. Shimano are even trying to make a virtue of it with their "you can have what the pros can't" ad campaign for road disc brakes.

The mountain bikers are being promised huge benefits from marginal technical changes that inevitably require the purchase of a brand new bicycle. So now 26" wheels are passe, 29" wheels sold them a few new bikes and now everybody claims that what everybody really needs are 27 1/2" wheels. These are apparently a massive breakthrough because they combine the best qualities of both the other sizes. Please don't ask me to explain, just visit the website of any large mtb manufacturer.

I mainly just go to visit my regular suppliers with one eye open in case there is something I need to know about. I loved the Biba bikes from Barcelona. They are coming to see me soon. HP Velotechnik are selling more and more expensive tricycles - they are offerring their Scorpion 26 with knobbly tyres for off road riding, check out their video. Power assist is very big for them, they now produce a machine that has a special category in Germany, a bit like a moped, which will allow you to have a motor which will take you to 45 kmh.

I tried out the Pinion Drive and was really impressed. It seems smoother and quieter than the Rohloff and the weight is centred on the frame, which makes good sense on a full suspension bike like the Tout Terrain Pan Americana. The main downside is the weight, about 2.5 kilos. Belt Drive bikes were well represented, the cost and technicality being outweighed in many peoples opinion by the quietness, cleanness and potential longevity. Time will tell as always.

Tout Terrain also had a new child trailer for 1900 euros with full suspension and weather protection for two kids. I am sure it will sell well in Germany, let us know if you want one! Next years Fahrrad S300 is higher spec and higher price, which I think will be good for many of our customer. most other models have stayed the same and continue to sell well.

There was plenty of nice luggage, new reflective (all over!) panniers from Ortlieb, lovely Rixen Kaul baskets in new colours and the full range of the new Thule luggage system. We have almost the full range of racks and bags in the shop now. My eye was caught by the Bikesuit, good for the laidback rider?

Recumbent manufacturers mostly don't bother with such a general interest show, but it was good to meet Han Van Vucht, the new owner of Challenge, who had a beautiful Chamsin and a Fujin SL2, both in red. Still can't decide if I prefer High Racers or Low. Hans is this week in Battle Mountain, with his wife Ellen, and  with Graeme Obree, all trying to set a new land speed record.

The bicycle industry is doing pretty well from pedalling a combination of myth, ignorance, false controversy and empty promises. It seems as if the more cautious and risk averse they become, the more they prosper, so they have little incentive to change their ways. In the meantime, the mavericks and the the innovators keep doing their own thing...

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