Held at the NEC Birmingham from the 21nd to the 24th of September, The Cycle Show is a huge exhibition of the very latest in cycling technology and heaven for the fans of moving around on two wheels. From lightweight carbon frames and streamlining helmets to new nutrition and evolving technology, there was a stand for everything and everyone.
The stands covered road, track and mountain biking, attracting cycling enthusiasts of all types, with a somewhat disappointing ratio of male to female visitors and professionals, but with products and brands specifically for women or unisex cycling there was a sense that the industry is moving in the right direction.
As well as stands for purchasing, perusing and ordering the lasts gadgets, there were opportunities to try out new wattbikes, take a bike for a spin or ride around a dirt track for the MTB enthusiasts, as well as interesting talks and Q&As from industry experts and professional cyclists such as Dean Downing talking about training strategies and personal experiences of cycling and racing.
Highlights of the show for me were looking at the trend in endurance sports nutrition of stomach friendly natural energy gels and sports drinks, as I know many athletes that I train with struggle with the feeling of consuming energy gels when racing and the nasty effects they have on their stomachs. Products based around ginger, Manuka honey and PH neutral ingredients were definitely a highlight for many. With plenty of tasty tasters on offer it was also great to the see the allergen free options to protein bars and energy supplements as well opening the sport out to a wider audience.
Another highlight was seeing the Canyon Speedmax CF SLX, a bike that has been rated as 10/10 by cycling weekly, which was drawing in an impressive crowd, . However, on the other end of the price scale there were some beautiful cheaper bikes and more accessible bikes, including e-bikes, bringing the joy of cycling to a wider audience. However as the show was specifically for cycle enthusiasts ready to splash some cash, the attention was definitely taken by the impressive high end time trail bikes.
With a wide range of winter cycling attire on sale it was tempting to spend all your money on the bright and colourful custom kits, helmets and bags but I resisted and opted instead to watch a few of the talks on the Wattbike stage listening to some of the latest scientific thoughts on racing and training. There were a number of talks throughout the day but my favourite that I caught was about realistic training schedules for endurance events and how to get the most out of winter training, which is something I struggle with but am looking forward to putting into practise some of the tips I heard.
Overall, The Cycle Show was definitely more accessible that I had thought it would be and the range of stalls on offer was far more varied than just the latest ultralight carbon bike frames. The only disappointing sight were the showgirls at one bike cleaning brand stand, which was a contrast to the other stands offering a more wholesome gender equal stance to the sport. However, I would definitely venture up to Birmingham again for the expo and will look forward to going next year to see how the trends have changed and what new technology has evolved over 12 months.
Time to get back on my bike!