Once again we were on the road at 5.00 am last Thursday morning . The new motorway to Cork is speeding the journey up every time I’m on that road . Very soon Fitzy will not be the only person capable of making it to Cork airport in under an hour . Fog in Heathrow meant that we were sitting on the Cork tarmac for 40 mins but at least it wasn’t the 90 mins that the pilot had anticipated .
Within twenty minutes of touching down in Heathrow we were on the Piccadilly line heading directly towards Earls court . I am always fascinated whenever I travel by tube , metro , subway or whatever form of metropolitan mass transport it may be . Looking around there will always be dust covered construction workers reading a tabloid newspaper , tailored suited executives tapping blackberries , shuffling and refolding their F.T. or Wall street journal , students nodding slowly to the beat of their Ipod nano and at least twenty people of all ages texting or playing games on their mobiles . I often think of how great a leveller that is , just like a group of cyclists training together . At that moment it does not matter how much or how little you have , everybody is the same . In a parenting article recently the author said that they always told their kids that they were no better than anybody else but just as good as everyone . Life is much easier if you don’t look up or down , just beside you . Then you might just spark up a conversation and learn something that you might never have known otherwise .
We arrived at the Earls court tube station and exited just across the road from the venue . As we walked in to the exhibition our immediate impression was that we would need at least two days to see everything .
Our first port of call was the Viner stand . For some time now we have been looking for something extra special for the shop . We had read Marcel Wust’s review stating that the Viner Maxima was the best bike that he had ever tested , and I had come across a further bit of insider info about some of the Worlds top riders this year who were riding Viner custom framesets which were re-branded in their bike sponsors colours and decals . Viner offer a full custom build on all of their top end framesets at no extra charge . The guy who does all of the bike fitting for the Italian National team was there and set Ray and I up using a special bikefitting machine which measures absolutely everything including left leg , right leg power output . There is a handheld remote control which allows the settings to be altered as you are pedalling and Australian designer was also there . There is also a more basic version of this just for bike position which we should have in the shop within the next few weeks . We moved on from that stand well impressed and looking forward to having what is probably the ultimate in bike technology available in our shop before next season .
Next stop was Madison’s stand where both new Dura ace groupsets were on display . Whenever a new version of a tried and trusted product is launched there is always a breaking in period . The new mechanical Dura Ace , I think , looks fantastic although some people still prefer the look of the old chainset . The electronic version still looks a bit chunky and it will probably go through a few more transformations before it becomes ‘normal’ looking . The weight is down on the mechanical groupset and shifting efficiency is supposed to be up twenty percent . I just think the concealed sti cables look the business .
Continental sell tyres but many people left the stand not quiet sure what product they were after viewing . They were running a competition for a week long downhill mountainbiking trip to Bavaria but once again many were entering this competition without knowing what it was for . This may have been a contributory factor :
Yellow ltd. had a good range of Pinarello’s on display . The Valverde spanish Prince looks great and there will be just a limited supply of 25 available to UK and Irish customers , so get your orders in quick .
The stealth black really looked fantastic , or as Barry Hoban said ‘ that little black number wouldn’t look out of place in the bedroom ‘. The one thing I wasn’t convinced by were the garish Most lightweight stickers plastered over the wheels . The bike would have really looked fantastic with much more subtle labelling .
Mavic had all of the 2009 wheelsets on display . The 800 euro approx. Carbone cosmic set look to be the wheels to be had for next year . Lighter than this years model and 300 euro cheaper . The black R-Sys look much better than the silver ones and should be more popular .
Paul Mannings track machine was also on display , fresh from Beijing . Check out the Rolls saddle , the choice of the eighties . Track riders can experience up to 2g in the bends so an extra comfortable saddle can be very necessary and weight is not such a big issue .
BMC had their full range on display on the Extra stand . Having ridden the demo model we have in the shop I have been very impressed with the Racemaster and the range of colours available for next year should add to their appeal .
Cube had a really well designed stand and their bikes were very impressive . The finish was really well thought out throughout the range with everything subtly colour coordinated . The spec of the machines was very high and priced well .
By 4.30 pm we had pretty much seen all that we had to see and made our way back to the tube and on to the airport . Arriving home at 9.30 pm was a lot better than our usual trade show return time of midnight and even allowed time for some reflection on what we had seen . Viner was the big one of the day for us as this really is something special . We have even ordered two for ourselves for next season already .