BikeBiz travelled to Hotlines’ Southampton exhibition knowing that just days prior a deal had been struck to bring ex-Riding High UK brand Spank on board. It was with some surprise that a comprehensive preview of the brand’s goods were on show to the crowds in a matter of days following the announcement. Further to this, another last minute deal had been struck with cycle computer brand Ciclosport. Read on for a brand-by-brand run down of the exhibition highlights.
Tucked almost out of sight, NS had a prototype full suspension frame, tentatively named the ‘Sodaslope’, on display, which in the coming season you’ll see Sam Pilgrim using as his rig of choice. If production runs to schedule, Hotlines will have stock towards the end of 2011.
As with many slopestyle builds, the suspension revolves around a bottom bracket pivot meaning there’ll be no chain issues should the rider choose to roll with either singlespeed or gears. Two versions are in production – a 120 and 140 to 160mm travel frame, both built with a tapered headtube and 73mm Euro BB.
Dirt jumpers and street riders have quite a selection to choose from in the NS Holy and Metropolis lines. The Holy, the more dirt orientated of the two, spans from £460 to £700, while the Metropolis series tops out at £1,000 and each build carries front suspension.
Though created at Hotlines’ request and designed specifically for the UK sportive enthusiast, the Lynskey Sportive build is now a big seller across the Atlantic.
Hotlines marketing manager Martin Astley told BikeBiz: "The Sportive build is doing well in the UK. I’m not convinced that people know exactly why they’re buying the same bike in the US, but it’s selling nonetheless, despite the scene still developing out there."
More Pro 29 frames than ever are selling too, confirmed Astley. "Mark Lynskey reckons these are the fastest, most responsive bikes that he’s ever ridden. In fact, he’s convinced the mountain bike market will eventually grow to love and embrace the 29er with perhaps the same success the 26-inch bike has had."
The ‘Back Road’ touring frame is the latest addition to the catalogue. Designed to be durable and easily fixed, the design omits to use the BB30 bottom bracket for good reason. "If you’re on the road, touring in this country, or worse, somewhere totally unfamiliar, finding spares for touring bikes is essential. That’s why with the touring model Lynskey have kept things clean and easily serviceable," explained Astley.
With the first samples of Spank’s line landing with Hotlines just in time for the Southampton show, dealers who came along were treated to a first look, and smell, of the majority of stock now available.
If you’re wondering why guests of Hotlines would have been sniffing the new gear, allow BikeBiz to introduce the Tweet Tweet grip, costing £9 and available in a rubber scented with vanilla, grape, apple and berry, depending on the chosen colour. Alternatively, 130mm non-scented lock-ons are also available at £14.
With each and every component you’ll find a variety of colour options, making the Spank brand a perfect addition for the retailer specialising in dirt jump, street or downhill equipment. For each of these sectors you’ll find tailor made parts too, particularly if your customer needs handlebars, a stem or rims.
There are a few manufacturing processes unique to Spank too, such as the 3D CNC bending technique used to create some of the handlebars. This construction method ensures a more consistent thickness of metal throughout the tube, eliminating any weak spots of faults in the metal.
In an interesting new addition to the line-up, Ciclosport joined the party down in Southampton and will soon be available to order through Hotlines.
Specialising in both wired and wireless computers and heart rate monitors, the German firm has plenty to offer the bicycle retailer, not just in product, but in clever point of sale equipment to assist the sales experience.
The firm is diversifying too. GPS units also feature in the catalogue, but most interesting of all, particularly to urban retailers, the firm is now manufacturing glasses with built-in recording equipment, capitalising on a trend to film a cyclist’s journey, often for safety reasons.
Sadly, details at the Southampton show were thin on the ground. However, Hotlines and its representatives will be able to offer dealers further information on pricing, availability and point of sale material.
"Answer is having a major resurgence," according to Astley. "The brand tailed off after having a spell of immense popularity a decade or so ago, but it’s back and has some great product this year."
Among that product is two new handlebars, the Protaper 720mm carbon handlebar at £120 retail price and an aluminium counterpart suited for downhill, the 780mm DH bar at £60.
Having scored well in numerous magazine tests this year against increasingly stiff competition, Gaerne is enjoying a period of increased interest. There’s plenty going on to sustain that interest too.
Take the firm’s 2011 ‘game changer’ – the G.Coste with ‘Reflex’ material – that fancy sounding material coat is actually reflective in much the same way Scotchlite products are, meaning commuters can literally now show up in a car’s headlights from head to toe.
The G.Coste revolves around an EPS carbon sole and utilises an adjustable instep closure system with easily tweaked aluminium buckles, so rest assured it’s a highly functional and tailor-fit design. As with all Gaerne product, this model is handmade in Italy.
The long awaited NukeProof Scalp is now in production and will soon be in stock with Hotlines as a frame-only option, though a complete build will eventually be available. Two frame kits are said to be on the way, starting with a Rock Shox Vivid build at £1,500, or a higher-spec, more adjustable Cane Creek shock at £1,800.
Carrying a 63-degree head angle, the ride strikes a balance between super slack and some steeper frames on the market, though with the installation of a Cane Creek Angleset headset tweaks in the ride feel are simple.
Both the Scalp and Mega frames are due to land toward the end of April. Retailers should also look out for a new durable, yet lightweight nylon pedal that carries tough metal pins and retails for £35.
Some serious research has gone into developing the Leatt Brace line, which has three main price points – £260 for the Ride, £360 for the Comp and £600 for the carbon fibre 600-gram Pro.
Each features a back plate designed to absorb impacts and snap at around 20 per cent the pressure that the typical human spine would break at, meaning any impact will be largely absorbed on this plate before any damage to the spinal cord.
The design has also now been tailored to the downhill market with each brace lowered at the read to accommodate full-face helmets as rider ‘look up’ on descents. Cutouts have also been included in the design to ensure prior worries about pressure on collar bones is now a thing of the past. For the serious downhill rider, a Leatt Brace could be a lifesaver.