Trendhunting at SPIN: London’s urban cycling scene
The ‘hypest’ urban bicycle show in London, SPIN, held its third edition last weekend. More than 50 exhibitors took over 35,000 SQ FT of space at the The Old Truman Brewery at the end of this March. I’ve been there for a day to get an update of where the city cycling is heading to.
With the cycling season 2014-2015 just started, another bike show lets cyclists and non-cyclists alike catch a glimpse or two of what are the latest trends on two wheels. If London Bike Show that took place earlier in February was still a good mix of city cycling with off-town riding, SPIN aimed at a more urban audience. I learnt about the latter from a friend, Dave, who gave me an invitation (Thank you very much, Dave!) and was spared this way from paying the 10 pounds ticket.
As always I was firstly interested on bikes and accessories, and missed almost everything else. The program of the show was pretty diverse outside the exhibition itself, with bike polo sessions, stand up comedy, workshops of all kind as well as a ‘Speakers Corner‘ where engaging talks took place.
Back to the objects then. When I wrote down some impressions after the London Bike Show I noticed some features of the urban cycling scene in London: nostalgia, safety is fun and irony. After the last SPIN some more categories came into existence. I made a list of them and then I give examples in pictures. These categories still don’t claim to be complete or universal, maybe you can help me reshape them.
Nostalgia: for certain spaces and times: the 20th century France and Italy (especially in the case of sport cycling), childhood, golden age of local craftsmanship, early 90s and their fluorescent chromatics);
Safety is fashionable: no need to say why the risks of cycling need to be carefully played, as the fear of traffic is still the main deterrent for most non-cyclists. The fluorescent colours of the 90s are one example of that. They are back in business on clothes and frames alike. Sometimes they can’t be reflective as well, sometimes they are not.
Irony: Because hipsters and post-modernity, that’s why!
Apprenticeship: workshops on how to build a wheel, how to build a saddle or how to build a whole steel frame.
Coffee addiction: The coffee and the bike go well together. Just look at the the bike cafés that popped all over the UK. The more organic and fairly traded, the better.
Design is king: Because bicycles DO evolve! And because Paul Smith has himself a passion for them.
Hipsters > MAMILS: There is a constant battle between ‘slow hipsters’ and ‘fast MAMILs‘ on the cycling scene. At events such as SPIN, the hipsters are more prevalent, of course.
Smaller and simpler is the new black: I tend to think that simpler and perhaps smaller bicycles will sell like hell in coming years in London. It’s just a prediction, let’s just see what the time has to say.
Now, I’ll just let the photos I took at SPIN do the main talking and only make some observations on their captions.
[Irony] A bike insurance company commissioned a special bike, with a huge horn ‘to make the drivers of the lorries in London more aware of our presence’, as I am told by a representative of the company, called ETA.
[Hipsters > MAMILS] Bike polo is became a more and more popular urban sport. Not yet approved at the Olympics! London Hardcourt Bike Polo Association organized the games at the venue.
[Design is king; Nostalgia] Some posters with nice graphic designs playing on famous ‘vintage’ racing teams. As seen at Paniagua‘s stand.
[Coffee addiction; Irony] Same guys from Paniagua (that is ‘bread’ + ‘water’ in Italian and stands for what a ‘drugfree’ race cyclist should consume) sell an assortment of coffee called EPO (that’s a drug used by professional cyclists).
[Smaller and simpler is the new black; Design is king] The Dutch from Minute Cycles want to conquer the British market with a bike with small wheels and just two speeds in the rear hub. The scarcity of parking space for bikes in London will help them sell well, I think.
[Irony; Nostalgia] Somebody still produces penny farthing bicycles. The company is called Tatts & Beards and for £2000 which, they say, ‘given the amount of time that has gone into this is something of a bargain’.
[Design is king] Vanhulsteijn, also a Dutch company, designed these aggressive bicycles. Bike porn has never been more in your face!
[Hipsters > MAMILS; Safety is fashionable] London Bike Cartel is a web-based business selling fixies. The frame of the yellow bike is covered with a fluorescent paint, so that it can be seen in the night.
[Design is king] The Italians from Rizoma are responsible for this stylish carbon frame bicycle. Its price tag: £3500. All Formula 1 fans should consider buying one.
[Apprenticeship] The Bicycle Academy, which credits itself for being ‘the most popular frame building school in Europe’, offers classes for the masses. Details about the initiative based in Somerset, here. London Bike Kitchen offers as well classes such as Intro to maintenance, Build your own bike or Wheel Building.
[Design is king; Safety is fashionable] Guess what is the super-sized scarf my friend Peter is wearing around his neck? It’s a inflatable helmet called Hövding, produced in Sweden. They made a live presentation of the ‘airbag for cyclists’ at the show and seemed pretty convincing. A video of the airbag in action can be seen here. They also issued a promo video these days warning about how unsafe all other helmets on the market are which is likely to cause a stir in the industry.
[Design is king; Irony] Cyclehoops is a team of ‘architects and designers of cycle infrastructure solutions’. One of their iconic/ironic parking racks lays down at the entrance of the bike show.
[Smaller and simpler is the new black] The small wheelers from Moulton, still in fashion. Moulton and Bromopton’s supremacy on this market is more and more challenged these days.
[Coffee addiction] Did I tell you about the bikes and the coffee venture? Here’s another proof: Espresso Wheels sell bike wheels with a taste of Arabica.
[Hipsters > MAMILS] Quella bikes are hand build in Cambridge. Fixed gear, a BMX mag front wheel and the behind all the love story between cycling and the famed university town.
[Nostalgia] Leather handlebar tape and cork plugs from Michaux. Rachel, the creative director of the company, told me that last year she was the only girl at the show selling such stuff, now she finally has some competition.
[Design is king] The online urban bike shop Victor & Liberty had one of the biggest stand at the show. I was most impressed with the posters on the walls.
[Hipsters > MAMILS] Just so you know that Adidas (well the ‘vintage’ branch of Adidas) is into fixed gear. Not that it would matter any more, so many brands are into fixed these days.
[Uncategorized] Urban Legends is a bike clothing company from Hungary. Why would Budapest make a sell in London? Maybe because they had the largest ever critical mass in Europe: around 80.000 participants some years ago. At least that’s what Zsófi hopes. I bought a hoodie from them, they look so cool!