Any organised rides planned for the CSG show in Poole last month may have been rained off, but the distributor is on a roll, nevertheless. Less than a year on from Dorel's move to acquire Hot Wheels and the Cannondale brand owner, alongside Russell Merry's men (and women) put on the firm's first ever house trade show, which if footfall is anything to go by has been well received among CSG’s customers.
“Our brand managers are telling me they’ve seen quite a diverse line-up, with both larger firms and smaller independent stores kindly making the journey to our Poole distribution centre," says joint managing director Russell Merry.
With many samples freshly delivered, this was an opportunity for many unable to make Eurobike to get a first-hand look at the investment placed in each and every brand's 2011 catalogue. Take, for example, popular bike brand Charge. The Duster frames have shaved 25 per cent off the frame weight thanks to some super-skinny Prestige tubing.
Brand owner Nick Larsen told BikeBiz: “It’s not been easy to achieve this weight saving; there were a lot of design tweaks to spread stresses on the frame evenly and to get the bikes through a super-strict CEN test. But the finished product is really something to look at. What’s more, we’ve tested these quite heavily, even against prior models and titanium models, and nearly all our testers are saying these ride like a titanium frame, if not better.”
Though not heavily publicised before the event, two new brands, both courtesy of the long-standing link-up with WeThePeople, were on show. These are Radio Bikes, an entry level BMX brand to sit below WeThePeople's minimum price pints and also Almond Footwear, designed by the very same minds behind the bikes, with input from two UK-based BMX riders.
Read on for just some of the show’s product and news highlights:
Almond has been a fairly well kept secret for a little while now, only emerging on a handful of BMX-dedicated websites in the months before the UK debut at CSG’s warehouse. The four models shown are nearing the final sample stages, though many professional BMX riders have been testing the brand’s product for some time now, including Jared Washington who is the first to receive a signature model.
Having spent the last two to three years in the design and development (much of which was spent sourcing a factory capable of producing the desired quality), Cycling Sports Group UK now think availability to the trade will come in early spring. There will initially be four models boasting three colourways each.
Radio and WeThePeople
Another very well kept secret from Klaus and Harry at WeThePeople is the creation of a budget-friendly brand to sit below WeThePeople – namely, Radio Bikes.
BMX brand manager Chris McArdle explains:
“WeThePeople have always sought to offer on-a-budget BMX bikes of a considerable quality, though the WTP name is associated with performance quality product. That’s where Radio comes in, spot on the £200 to £350 price points which are so popular with beginners. To begin with we’ve got a three bike range to sell, each in two colours, though all carrying the 25/9 gearing that’s so popular with kids wanting a respectable BMX."
Radio bikes will be kitted out with Salt components, while WeThePeople’s main line now carries an enhanced version of the Salt brand – Salt Plus – offering the weight savings plus the performance of higher-end parts.
"We've picked up on a few trends in recent years, which are all considered on Radio’s bikes. Things like wider tyres and larger pedal surface areas are all taken into consideration in each bike's spec,” adds McArdle.
25 per cent lighter tubing aside, Charge’s Nick Larsen was enthused by the debut appearance of some Charge branded 120 tpi gumwall tyres, which will appear in much of the range going forwards, thanks to the firm opening a new mould.
“We think these are the only 120tpi gumwall tyres around," says Larsen. "And they'll be available as aftermarket tyres too. It’s not cheap opening a new tyre mould, but we think the investment has paid off nicely and the Charge tyres really look great on the bikes they're carried on.”
Charge’s Cyclocross line has become increasingly important this year with the addition of the £799 Filer Mid, which is described by Larsen as the perfect commuter and cyclocross cross breed and multitasking bike – an area which he feels is taking off in the UK.
Recent press interest has revolved around Charge’s Hob, a unisex town bike that has gone down a storm with the mainstream fashion press. This, alongside the Steamer – Larsen's cruiser and ‘dutch’ style crossbreed – again drew plenty of attention. Larsen told BIkeBiz that Eurobike attendees should look out for a 700c version of the Steamer at the show.
Riding high on the back of the announcement that CSG will cease supplying Halfords the GT brand and focus on independent channels, the brand was prominently displayed. Stock of most models arrives from the beginning of this month, particularly cheaper lines such as the Aggressor and Avalanche lines. These budget models have been given a spec boost, despite a near negligible price increase this year. This is mainly thanks to the return of GT's parts brand AllTerra, specced on much of the low-to-mid price bikes.
Product manager Ashley Clark was quick to highlight some of the progression in much of the higher end bikes to BikeBiz.
“Within the Zaskar range our carbon frames are totally new this year and have lost a whopping 300 grams thanks to a more expensive weave of carbon which is force optimised to remove and trace of bubbles or defect."
The urban lines have received some impressive touches too, with rubber bumpers now carried on top-tubes as standard, meaning no accidental scratches. The decals carry a nice touch too with the use of 3m Scotchlite reflective material used in the graphic work. Two 29-inch wheel models are also now on offer in the GT catalogue at £649 and £799.
GT’s BMX line remains largely unchanged aside from the speccing of Xposure stems, brake levers and sprockets on higher-priced models. The range begins at £219 for the Slammer and tops-out with the £500 fueller.
The Mongoose Salvo turned heads at Press Camp and did the same in Poole. The new adjustable suspension travel system is the bike’s unique selling point and utilises your ‘bottle cap’ bearing covers, giving the linkage a customisable edge. Despite not costing the world, the entry-level full-suspension bike packs a punch with an SLX derailleur and a claim to 'never need to adjust the shock's air pressure with travel adjustments'. Three variations are available – a comp, sport and elite model, with the elite costing just £1,000.
As usual, anything fixed gear related turned heads and the Mongoose Maurice was no exception. Suited to fixie freestyle, the geometry is designed around tricks, as are the components. Take the stem for example, the clamp placement is based around the barspin trick and a rider's tendency to catch their knees as the bars rotate.
The £369 model comes in four colours, though CSG only displayed two of these and it was not able to be confirmed all four would hit the UK.
Merry hinted to BikeBiz during the show that he feels “Xposure could be the UK’s largest volume BMX components brand thanks to keen pricing and the wild, standout colour range”.
As this year’s catalogue goes, there's not a massive amount to shout about, though behind the scenes Chris McArdle showed BikeBiz some coloured ED finish bars that are could make it to production in the coming years.
Sporting an almost translucent coloured finish, the rust-resistant bars are cheaper to produce than the current powder coated handlebars and look twice as stylish.
Mcardle also told BikeBiz that Xposure's price points may advance past budget components in the future, though is unlikely to go as far as performance parts.