The London Bike Show closed its doors yesterday after four days in which thousands of visitors cast their eyes across the wares of scores of exhibitors and climbed aboard bikes from Aprire, Canyon, Fondriest, Rose, Scott and Vitus on the RoadCyclingUK Test Track.
An enormous success by any standard, show organisers the Telegraph Group told RCUK that the final visitor count is likely to exceed 45,000 – a significant increase on the 38,100 cyclists who attended last year’s show. The addition of the Triathlon Show to the offering will undoubtedly have boosted its appeal, but cycling’s popularity is clearly continuing its inexorable rise.
An event of such scale – the brands who choose to exhibit, the technology and services shown, the VIP guests who attend – tells us much about the direction in which the sport we love is heading. From the sublime (the leading-edge thinkers who attended the International Cyclefit Symposium) to the brilliantly simple (Squeezy’s self-sealing energy gel – a possible solution to the littering that blights the reputation of some sportives?), there was much to celebrate at the ExCeL Centre.
But what else can we learn from the show? Bike fitting services took centre stage – almost literally, with a cluster of stands displaying the latest systems in the centre of the hall – and the decision of brands as large as Specialized and Shimano to make this their only presence at the show might tell us much about the importance they place upon it.
The presence of specialist cycling holiday companies continued to grow, and with the weather in this blighted island going from bad to worse, business among those who provide a convenient escape to sunnier climes (not to mention climbs) is likely to continue to boom. We caught up with two at the LBS.
The biggest bike races in the world are heading to the UK and Ireland this summer, and so the absence of stands to promote the Grand Partenza of the Giro d’Italia from Belfast, or of the Grand Départ of the Tour de France from Yorkshire, not to mention the Commonwealth Games, was disappointing. Marketing budgets for such costly events will undoubtedly be tight, but was this not a missed opportunity to spread the good news to a receptive audience?
And if you’ll excuse us a moment of self-congratulation, the RCUK Test Track, voted the most popular attraction by visitors to last year’s show, continued to serve a seemingly insatiable demand, while the inaugural awards of our sister site, Total Women’s Cycling, seemed to attract almost the entire cycling industry – and Laura Trott’s mum and dad.
Here then, without further ado, are five observations on this year’s London Bike Show.