The annual gear fest that is Eurobike is done and dusted once again. The largest cycling trade show in the world, it’s a chance for brands to meet with distributors, retailers, and journalists – to show off what they’ve created for the coming year. Many use the trade show as a launch pad for new creations for the coming year, and the 2016 celebration of all things shiny was no different.
- Eurobike by numbers
- The show is housed over 11 air hangers and covers over 1 million square foot
- 45,870 trade visitors from 103 countries
- 1,350 exhibitors
- 1,766 media representatives
The show takes place in 11 air hangers, covering well over 1 million square foot. We haven’t got the 2016 numbers in yet, but the 2015 celebration of bicycle geekery attracted 45,870 trade visitors and 1,350 exhibitors. Plus 1,766 media representatives – just like us. It would be impossible to write about every bit of bling and every piece of new tech that graced my retinas at the show.
However, there were of course a few pieces of kit that caught my eye and I've narrowed my top picks down to just five. I'd say it was 'no easy task' but actually picking out five products that really resonated with me wasn't hard at all, though justifying in my mind why it was that they seemed far and away more memorable was more of a labour.
Here are the five pieces I couldn't get out of my head, and why...
Quick view galleries:
Fizik's Women's Saddles
Fizik have invited me out to ride with them and a few other journalists in Italy next month, to try out their new creation on what I expect will be some pretty hefty mountains. The first glance I got at Eurobike was promising.
I’ve got history with Fizik saddles: I’ve only ridden one before, and it was on a clothing brand's press ride. The bikes provided were stunning BMCs, but unfortunately fitted with Fizik’s Arione saddle. True story: I honestly could not pee when I returned to the hotel without wincing. It was a bit like cystitis that only lasted for a couple of hours after exposure to the saddle. And no one in the world has time for avoidable cystitis. To be clear: there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with the saddle, but it certainly wasn’t created with my lady bits in mind. Regardless, the whole experience meant that I’ve not sat on a Fizik saddle since.
The brand told me at Eurobike that they were actually the first to create gendered saddles – 15 years ago. However, though their men’s models are incredibly well respected and specced as standard on a wide range of bikes, their women’s models haven’t received quite as much attention, perhaps due to limited choice. All this is due to change with the new model.
The new designs were created using feedback from women who carried out three hour surveys around their experiences in the saddle, followed by more in depth focus groups.
This is Fizik’s first ever saddle with a cut out – in the past they’d avoided creating one due to the frequency with which competitor models sag around the hole after a few months of use. They wanted their model to be different, and it certainly looks sturdy and long lasting.
When fitting men to saddles, Fizik (and most other brands) take flexibility into account. However, their research showed them that due to the placement of women’s genitals, they don’t ‘rotate forwards’ like men to, regardless of flexibility so their new model doesn’t place so much emphasis here. The rear of the saddle is super bendy, and the rails are long to allow a wide range of positions. The saddle is available in 'Medium' and 'Large', and there are models for race focused riders (who sit less on the sit bones) and leisure riders (who need more padding at the rear).
The proof will be in the pudding – I’ll be writing up my experiences with the saddle next month.
BioRacer Epic Bib Shorts for Women
Sticking to the saddle comfort theme...
BioRacer make custom kit for pro teams such as Rabobank Liv and Boels-Dolmans, as well as a host of grassroots clubs and teams. This year they unveiled a brand new pair of bib shorts: Epic Bib Shorts for women. The new invention picked up a Eurobike award at the show and BioRacer told us that the pros have already tried, tested and rated them.
The shorts feature a zip at the back for quick toilet breaks, which is great. However BioRacer are hardly the first to look for a solution to pee breaks and it’s not actually that which impressed me the most.
What really stood out was the ‘Smooth Epic Pad’. The chamois aims to counter the discomfort riders are experiencing as a result of bikes, frames and saddles becoming stiffer and lighter – without offering a thicker, heavier pad.
The pad is constructed from a blend of two foams, and it’s completely smooth. There is an ‘Evapor’ layer to aid circulation and keep the rider feeling fresh and comfortable.
Finally, the pad is smooth welded into the shorts. That does mean they look a bit ‘different’ and the chamois isn’t completely covered (but not as 'different' as other designs), meaning it’s less discreet as you can see an outline of the padding. However, there’s absolutely no stitching, hopefully completely eliminating issues arising from chafing.
I’ve yet to test the shorts out, but I’m looking forward to the first ride.
Luck Power Meter in Shoe
Spanish cycling shoe creators Luck announced that they were creating a shoe based power meter in 2014 – but we only got to see them at Eurobike 2016. The new Luck ‘Potentiometer’ sits in the sole of a Luck shoe and weighs around 200g. It’s exciting to me because it’s perhaps the most versatile, user friendly option in power meters which requires no changes to your bike such as crank or hub based versions.
You can opt to fit one power meter, and let an algorithm work out your overall output, or have two for absolute accuracy. Luck also have their own app, which displays the data on screen – and can show a left and right figure if you’re power-ed up in both shoes. The system works with ANT+ and Bluetooth though, so you can use any bike computer that displays power data using either transfer approach.
Luck shoes start at around €200 and top out at about €300 – and you can have them printed with your own design which is pretty cool. The only downside is that Luck aren’t that set up for the UK market yet. Currently, customers can only buy the shoes online or at ‘Colchester Cycles’ in Essex.
'Today's Plan' is a training programme that helps athletes to plan their workouts and coaches to track what their minions are up to.
The programme isn't the first of its kind - others include Training Peaks, Garmin Connect and in fact Strava. It's also not brand new - but it's not so well known in the UK at present.
What sets Today's Plan apart is that if you give it enough information about your fitness and goals, it'll generate workouts for you - and progress them gradually as your power output and/or heart rate zones change as a result of your hard work.
Planing training (today I will do intervals, tomorrow I will do a steady ride) isn't rocket science. But periodization - making sure the workouts steadily become more difficult as your body adapts, is quite a science - and Today's Plan can do it for you thanks to a selection of clever analytics tools. I've not tried it yet but I intend to.
A 16 week training plan that will tailor itself and adjust as you strengthen will set you back £39.95. That's a lot less than four months with a dedicated coach, who might not even check out your data in detail anyway. There are plenty of coaches out there selling rolling month contracts for £100 a pop, and sending out identical 'cookie cutter' programmes to all of their clients without a lot of personalisation.
Interestingly, Today's Plan work with a number of events to provide training schedules, and they told us that though most participants are male, those registering for training plans are mostly female. You know what they say about men and directions...
Bobbin Bikes Scout
There are a LOT of bikes I could listed here. I spent a good three days snapping stunning track bikes (current obsession), time trial bikes with disc brakes (really, see Parlee's new creation) and all manner of ingenious box bikes.
After much deliberation, I've forsaken all the shiny tech and gone for my gut emotional response. For some reason, the bike that sticks in my head is Bobbin Bikes' Scout. Bobbin are a London based independent company and the Scout is not completely new, but the 2017 model which retails at £770 is just far too beautiful for words. The pearlescent 'Topaz' (midnight blue/purple) paint job is also pretty impossible to photograph under bright lights, which is why I gave in and used the studio shots above!
The Scout is a steel road bike, with bar end shifters that combine the nostalgia of downtube shifters with convenience. It's got full mudguards (in a lovely dimpled silver metal) and it just makes me want to ride around town and forget about average speeds, climbs, races - everything except the simple pleasure of a bike ride.
Those are just my personal favourites - there was A LOT to see - take a look at the galleries for some more of many highlights...