Brick Lane, in the heart of London’s East End and formerly known as Whitechapel Lane has always been a vibrant melting pot of a place and the earliest known record of its existence was on a woodcut map that was printed sometime during the 16th Century. It has been home to many communities of immigrants throughout its colourful history. Always a staging post to upward mobility. That mobility sometimes being slow, sometimes quite rapid. It has been home to French Huguenots, Ashkenazi Jews, and then Eastern European and Russian Jews in the early 20th century. It has been an epicentre of changing small scale industries centred around the clothing industry. Weaving, Leather making, Exquisite tailoring and the sweatshops of the rag trade. Home to Fagin and Jack The Ripper. It still retains its flavour of an amalgam of the new and tentative amidst wide boy small entrepreneurs. Shops momentarily flourishing displaying “vintage” clothing….aka, overpriced elegantly displayed jumble sales. The earnest Guardian reading fashionistas leaving their tatty chic boutiques to browse scratched vinyl records and other vendors tatty chic furniture. 35mm cameras that will never be used and they buy their fabulous Indian sub continent, Eastern European and Far Eastern street food lunches in cheap and plentiful non eco friendly styrofoam boxes.
The Truman Brewery’s disused premises opened above a now drained well in 1863 are themselves a tatty chic exhibition space in keeping with the area and ideal therefore to house the show “SPIN” devoted to the urban cycling revolution taking place in London, with a nod here and there to the sporting and serious leisure cycling side of things enabling the hipsters their radical touch of the esoteric work of cycling.
Spin was a show for Hipsters. No doubt whatsoever about that. There was the very deliberate wearing of 20,30,50 year old continental race team kit. I saw one guy. Beard long enough to plait and use as a climbing rope in his Gan team kit, hanging on Chris Boardman’s every word and nodding sagely as he munched on his tofu burger before clattering away in an ancient pair of wooden soled track shoes, converted to take the cleats of a set of middle ‘80s Look Classic pedals. Yes, it really was that sort of occasion. The exhibition was a truly enjoyable reflection of Brick lane’s very nature on to the world of cycling. There was a plentiful amount of beautifully crafted clothing, hand built bespoke bicycles (in steel of course) and the feeling that rather like the place 100 yards down Brick Lane that has now ceased attempting to trade in contemporary Vietnamese Folding food, many of them, for all of their skill and genuine innovation would struggle to stay in business much beyond two years or so. That is a great pity, because in the reviews that will follow shortly, I am going to take you on a wander through the best of SPIN and introduce you to some of the start up businesses that are attempting to take root.
If you’d not seen Rollapaluzza before, you might have been forgiven for turning away before you entered the place. They’d set up their usually thriving space and were attracting their usually lengthy queues accompanied by music so loud and a commentary so unintelligible that you have to walk away or give in. We walked away and that was the point at which we recognised the advantage of this very solid old building, step into the next room and the sound that filled the entrance hall was all but eliminated by the purposeful 19th century walls. A moment to reflect on some art work, depicting some of the greats of our sport….up to the 1990s (yes that was the first indicator) Bartolli, Coppi, Simpson, Merckx, Rijs, Anquetil, LeMond, Hinault, Boardman, Obree, Yndurain, Abdujaporov, and my hero (shut up… its my article) the finest climber of all time Marco(Il Pirate) Pantani. None of them were particularly flattering, but at Brick Lane prices I wasn’t going to be hanging one in my shed anyway.
The whole feel of the show was not so much a display of products to do with the world of cycling, but products that were designed to fit lifestyle choices of which cycling is but a part. Cycling fits very nicely into the choices made by the eco friendly….correction, obsessively eco friendly and thats not necessarily a bad thing, but there is a pedantic quirkiness about almost every exhibitor that makes sense to some. Indeed, with the exception of one or two of cycling better known brands. Boardman Elite and Bianchi, most were at the end of the cycling spectrum that says commuter or courier rider that seek form over function. Indeed the more conventional the product on offer the more out of place it looked.
A number of the products quirky or not, really did impress and I shall review them and in some cases road test them too. There was the stuff that did interest me. The bespoke frame builders, some of whom were brazing but joint and brazed steel frames that are becoming popular again amongst some sections of the regular cycling community. Sadly when we were there these craftsmen were not drawing anywhere near as much attention as the stand selling those bloody ridiculous Dura Ace equipped Bamboo framed bikes…… yes, exactly what I thought!
As I say, there was a kind of studied pedantry to the wares on offer. Quill stems, rat trap pedals with old style toe clips barely a modern pedal on view. I fell in love with a gorgeous titanium framed bike… The frame was brand spanking new, but everything on it was a (admittedly beautifully done) restored and refurbished ‘80s item. The entire group and finishing kit was old style 5 speed friction shift Campagnolo record. It gleamed. It stunned….. its price tag made me wince……. no, trust me you don’t want to know.
When it comes to anything approaching regular bike choices these folk are cautious. Yes I want something that says serious cyclist, but I don’t feel comfortable going into my LBS, so I’ll stick my nose in the trough with names I recognise Boardman, Bianchi and Cinelli… We can’t be seen to be going into Halfords or Evans and buying something cheaper and far more appropriate to our needs, it has to say chic. It has to say, “at weekends my other bike is a Porsche and my winters are spent at Cortina or Chamonix”.
Yes it was a Hipsters show and if thats your thing, good on yer. You’re riding a bike and anyone who has read my drivel before, knows that this will always get my vote. I half begged to be given this assignment and I’m glad I went for the few products that were in my jaded opinion worthy of attention and for the wonderful (and well attended) interview and Q&A with my hero of the entire show, Martyn Ashton. Will I go again next year? No. But I love Brick Lane, the street food etc, the tiny record stalls and the markets. I even like the quirky nature of SPIN….it’s just that very little of it was for me.
Bioracer Pixel Jacket
This years show runs from 26th – 28th September 2014 and has exhibits from just about every brand you have heard of in the Cycling World and then some.
There are many highlights and there has been a push this year to get some of the fresh new equipment on show for the punters to drool over.
Kim Madsen presents New XTR Di2 Gruppo
Top of this list was the Shimano stand where Kim Madsen and his team have unveiled the new XTR Di2 Groupset and have set it up on a working bike along with a 3D interactive Trainer that when wearing the magic 3D goggles allows you to actually ride in the mountains!! There will be big queues to play with this so get there early!! Kim and his team are part of Shimano’s drive to keep the fun and excitement in cycling and when you see the faces on the grown-ups testing the new kit you will see this plan’s working!!
For Weight Watchers the big draw will be Treks stand featuring the new super light Emonda range which features there lightest ever production model. The excuse that they haven’t got one in the colour you want is out the window as they have a vast range of custom options to match your team or club kit, seeing is believing but this bike is measured on how fast your jaw drops when you lift it and say ‘Wow’!!
Bioracer have a fantastic simple stand which shows their new super safe Pixel range which reflects light the give riders visibility in poor light, ideal for winter and at the other end of the scale their much talked about Speedsuit time trial wear actually had people queuing to see what Martin and all the top testers have been using to help cheat the wind.
The exhibition is vast so take sensible shoes and enjoy the entertainment such as at 14.15 pm everyday Jules Thraser from ATG training giving a demo on how to program Shimano Di2 components, easy when you are shown well!!
When I decided that in November there were no balance bikes on the market that suited what I wanted for my nephew I decided I would build one. Where do you start when building something so simple yet so complex? Of course you could buy some tubes and knock one together in your garage with that old dusty welder of your great grandfather’s that sits in the corner. Or you could go and learn how to off one of the most popular companies offering such courses. I sought out The Bicycle Academy and made a few inquiries, as luck would have it they had space on their course on 2nd and 3rd December. That was it I booked on and arranged the hotel.
A 4.00AM start was not welcomed, however the hot shower was, only to be followed by a tedious 4 hour drive (traffic was awful). On Arrival I had no problem finding the workshop, greeted with offerings of large mugs of tea/coffee, I already felt very welcome. I had to decline this offer being an hour late I didn’t want to disrupt things too much. Andy took me and two other gents (both starting the 2 week advanced frame building course) through health and safety. I was told that I would be taught by a guy named Paul. Really genuine guy that knew what he was talking about he showed me what I needed to do and let me get on with it.
First thing to build was the forks, the tubes had been cut to approximate measurements and given a 45 degree bend, they still however needed cutting and filing to shape to fit the steer tube of the fork. This was done with minimal help other than a pair of tweezers to remove the tiny splinter of metal in my finger.
The next step was to file the hole where the seat tube would fit and then on to making the rear seat/chain stays (neither of which are correct as they don’t connect to seat tubes and also don’t pass through the centre of a chain).
Brazing is an art form and was taught to me by Sam who I must say was very patient and helped tremendously. The overall frame looked brilliant when I finished only due to the help of everyone at The Bicycle Academy.
The course is well run by a team of people that are totally in love with cycling and also have a passion to hand on their knowledge of frame building to others.
The facilities were very good, clean and working areas tidy.
I would highly recommend the course to anyone who wants to learn something that is totally unique.
I was so pleased with the course I will be booking onto their ‘Standard Frame Building Course’ next year.
For more information on course visit: www.TheBicycleAcademy.org
Eurobike 2013 – Press & Industry Demo Day
Tuesday 27th August 2013 – 10.30 AM
The risks and sacrifices one makes for you, good readers of CyclingShorts. With aching joints, running nose and hacking cough – after a night of synchronised-snoring in a double bed with my esteemed PezCyclingNews colleague (our hosts, nice folk all, were confused as to the meaning of ‘friend’ when booking!) Somewhat optimistically I packed my cycling kit and drove to the demo day location. The decision was made to wander, get my bearings and a general feel of the place. Ten minutes later, looking like a giant pumpkin, I was, er, resplendent in X-Bionic bibshorts and jersey – biomimetic sports clothing no less, and more, much more, about them later – and about to leap aboard my first bike. Tern folding bikes captured my interest as the MD was great company and seemed to genuinely love his product and all things bike… just like us.
Mark Bickerton, MD Tern Folding Bikes with his top of the range Tern Verge X20. SRAM 20 speed. 8.6 kg. ©NickDey/CyclingShorts.cc
My chosen question of the Eurobike 2013, ‘Why should I buy …. Insert specific product?’ was met with a smile and good cheer by Mark Bickerton – whose father invented a folding bike about 45 years ago.
Mark told me a delightful story of riding his father’s prototype at the age of eight. He’s now in his fifties and has been around folding bikes for pretty much his entire life – a true devote of the genre.
Anyway, back to my question. Mark’s response of ‘A Tern fulfils all requirements, allowing you to use it in places where a full size is not possible” seemed fair but also hinted at the demonic hand of the marketing exec’! Mark then offered a mid-conversation quote that, coupled with the benefit of post-test ride hindsight, is spot on. I asked, with charming twinkle in my eye, why a Tern and not a Brompton?
“Brompton’s are good for storage, Tern’s are great for riding.”
Folding: The Tern folds quickly, in my hands quicker than the Brompton, but not as a compact. It does seem though to be small enough to hop on and off public transport though and it will sit unobtrusively in your office or home when not in use.
TEST RIDES: I tested two of their models as I wanted to try and get a relative feel for the difference over a price and specification range. My first ride was to be a low price Tern Link D17 (D for deluxe) with 16 gears and a mass of approximately 12 kg. It is coming to the UK soon and will be retailing for around £600.
The D17 proved very manoeuvrable and confidently stable as I stuttered my way through the crowds. The Link D17 traversed the short, steep cobbled ramp smoothly. On the road I found the stem to flex a little but not so much as to cause me any worry. I took it up to speed, both on and off road and found myself smiling… yes me… on a folder… smiling!
I wanted more…
The next bike. Tern’s top of the range Verge X20 (X for extreme) will not be available in the UK for a few months, possibly not until the New Year. It comes equipped with SRAM 20 speed as standard and with a mass of approximately 8.5 kg is incredibly light and comfortable to carry when folded or not…
Tern Verge X20. Price tbc. ©Nick Dey (also the, ahem, model!) / CyclingShorts.cc
The VergeX20 is fast, very fast. Smooth, balanced and stops on a sixpence. I loved it. No flex, no judder, just confidence and the largest smile of the day.
Should you be on the lookout for a folding bike – and who these days isn’t – then Tern will almost definitely have a model for you.
August 27-31, Friedrichshafen, Germany.
from a first-timer’s viewpoint
There’s a cliché about velodromes that, if you’re like me and have never been to one before, you’ll have heard a time or two on telly – it’s that the camera cannot show just how steep those banks are. You hear these things and you nod to yourself, and you file them away in the back of your mind – and if like me, you finally get to go somewhere like Manchester’s magnificent National Velodrome, well… If my experience is anything to go by, your jaw will drop open and you are going to spend fifteen minutes running around laughing inside your skull and going “that’s incredible!” No, the camera really does not do it justice. It’s like staring up a 75 degree slope from the middle. And from the outside, it’s like looking down a sheer cliff face – you’ll be impressed, trust me on this one.
If the banking looks steep from the bottom, it look like a sheer cliff from the top, like riding a wall of death – Image ©Paul Harris
One thing that you DON’T really hear is how much the camera slows things down, too. When I got there in the afternoon for Revolution 39, there were riders casually spinning around before the National Madison Championships, in groups and individually, fresh-faced youngsters and crusty old seasoned pros alike. Their pace was pretty impressive, even just as they warmed up, but my attention was seriously grabbed a few minutes later – without me really noticing, the composition of the riders changed subtly. The traffic slowly thinned out, and instead of groups going round at the bottom, chatting and practicing the odd changeover, all of a sudden it turned into stocky fellers, circulating slowly and silently on their own, high up on the banking. I happened to be sat facing the track when their purpose became clear – with no warning, a dark blue streak arrowed across my line of vision almost too fast for my poor unprepared brain to track. There was no sound in advance, and you could almost feel the whump of the air being forced apart by the speeding rider – the sprint guys, out for a final tune up before the heats that afternoon. I don’t want to exaggerate – they weren’t faster than a speeding train, or so fast they were blurred, but if you’ve never had a sprinter unexpectedly go past you at speed close up before, trust me on this too: it will make you sit up sharply and utter an involuntary expletive.
A couple of other things surprised me early on – the first was how small the arena as a whole is. With a capacity of around 3500, the National Velodrome can only seat about 6% as many people as the City Of Manchester Stadium over the road. The second was that it wasn’t sold out for the National Madison Championships. It wasn’t empty by any stretch of the imagination, but I would estimate it was only between half and two thirds full, which is an absolute crying shame not only because the racing itself was superb from start to finish, but also because tickets were just six quid – for £6, those with the foresight to be present got to see the likes of Fostermann, Hindes, D’Almera and Pervis in action during the early sprint rounds, they also got both Boys and Girls rounds of the DHL Future Stars Madison, and the race for the first National jersey of the year. Six quid – they should have been queueing ten deep at the doors!
Pervis’s sprint win was warmly welcomed – it was to the credit of the knowledgeable crowd that away team wins were so readily applauded as home victories. – ©Paul Harris
The Madison itself was an incredible race, going right to the wire after a smidge under an hour’s racing, and there was a wait of an hour or two between that and Revolution itself – and when that started, you couldn’t have got a seat for love nor money. The quality of the competition was absolutely top draw – even when there was a “favourite” for an event, it was by no means certain that they would win, and frequently they did not. Spurred on by the world-class racing, the crowd were vocal and enthusiastic all night long which really added to the atmosphere, and one aspect of that that I was really pleased about was that it wasn’t just people cheering for the home riders –when one of the less-fancied riders, or a rider racing for France or the Rest Of The World won, even if it was a British rider they beat, even one of the stars, the crowd stood and cheered the performance. Pete Kennaugh’s astonishing ride in the Points race drew plenty of praise, of course, and was a hugely popular win – but the crowd cheered just as loudly when Robert Bengsch and Marcel Kalz smashed the kilo Madison TT field apart like a well-aimed bowling ball scattering the pins to all corners. I really liked that lack of jingoism.
Was there a downside? Not that I can think of – only that tickets are hard to come by, but the series can’t be faulted for being a successful draw. The only thing that I did come away thinking was, I wish I could have a go – but then, having said that, a handful of brave and hardy souls took to the boards for a taster session between the afternoon and evening events when the velodrome (thankfully for them!) was free of spectators. And watching them gamely spin round, another thought occurred – the gap in talent and ability between the national pro and the keen amateur man in the street is a gulf so vast as to be virtually insurmountable. They make it look easy, the pros, they really do – that’s another thing the camera doesn’t show you. Would I go again? I can’t wait for the next one…
Revolution is a brilliant evening, it’s truly action packed you don’t get a moment to blink. The Manchester Velodrome is an amazing venue and now contains a BMX Park. The seating is comfortable, the Velodrome staff are the friendliest you’ll come across at a sports venue, even the guys stood out in the freezing cold directing you into your parking space have a smile and a joke for you. The car park is well organised but if you are attending an event you do need to check the Manchester City Football fixtures beforehand as the velodrome traffic can get caught up in the Football queues as the stadiums are opposite each other. The Velodrome is very well signposted from all sides of Manchester.
Food at the Revolution is ok, there are a couple of nice kiosks that sell good coffee and pancakes, but most of the food is burgers and hotdogs, the queue’s tend to be huge, if you’re travelling a long way I would suggest eating before or taking something with you, there is a large supermarket next to the venue if you get stuck. Ticket prices are excellent, sporting events tend to overcharge but the Revolution and most other cycling events held at the National Track Cycling Centre are peanuts in comparison, it only cost £6 to attend the National Madison Championships in the afternoon! Revolution will set you back between £10 and £20 for a single standard ticket but discounts are available for family tickets, carers and pensioners, season tickets are the best buy, you get a British Cycling early bird ticket buying option if you’re a member. If you want to get up close and personal with the riders and teams then the VIP tickets or Track Centre Lounge tickets are for you.
There are some great stands from bookstalls to cycling brands and some things for you to have a go at including Watt Bikes and Rollapaluza, it would be good to see some more though.
We give the Revolution Series our Star Buy rating!
The next and final round of the 2012 series will be held at The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow on Saturday 2nd February 2013
For more information on the series visit: www.cyclingrevolution.com
Standard tickets are sold out for Revolution Series Round 4 but Track Centre Lounge and VIP tickets are still available – buy Track Centre Lounge tickets here.
Watch Revolution Series Round 4 highlights on Thursday 7th February at 8pm on ITV4 and catch up in ITV Player