Derek McLay is Mr Wheelsmith, and has been building wheels in one form or another for 27 years. His family have been in cycling since 1921. Six years as an independent trader, Derek custom makes wheels for all sorts of riders and racers from his own bespoke low emission workshop in Larbert, Stirlingshire. Derek works across a wide range of wheel types, from racer specific track wheels, touring and tandems through to retro wooden and classic rims such as Ambrosio. This is no production line and there are no wheel building machines. Derek ensures each wheel is built not only to the specifications of the customer, but offers advice on the best builds, spokes, rims, hubs and lacing patterns for a specific application. Building to exacting standards, Derek takes time and makes to traditional standards, he even leaves wheels overnight and re-trues the next day to ensure they don't creep on the threads. While his skills hark back to a time where dedication, craftsmanship and hand finishing are paramount, he's just as happy working with modern materials, carbon rims, bladed spokes and through axle hubs. If you want the best in hand crafted wheels, you'll struggle to find a more amiable and capable craftsman.
This is the first showing for an interesting take on home storage and security. Bike Shel is the brainchild of Tom Considine who already produces commercial bike shelters for industrial and business applications. Many customers had asked for a more secure and smaller footprint device for home use, so the Bike Shel was born. Available in two, four and six berth sizes, the Lockable Bike Shel securely housed adult and children's bikes and accessories such as helmets and shoes. Due to the half shell nature that pivots to open, the base size is almost no larger than the bikes themselves. All that is needed is a concrete base, as the product arrives fully assembled with ground concrete anchors. For added security the internal structure includes hardened points for extra locks. Products can be ordered in multiple colours, and in any combination including black recycled polypropylene at a discount. Units are delivered complete from stock in Ireland. Tom is looking for possible business opportunities, as well as retail sales.
One of the busier stands at the Scottish Bike Show was the Cyclists Touring Club. I got to meet the new Senior Marketing Officer for the CTC, David Dowling who was there at his first show, with plenty of very enthusiastic volunteer members from the local area. As a Glasgow local, David had a keen interest in how this show will work for them, and was keen to get the view of the show attendees. David now lives in Bramley, Guildford with his family, near to where CTC HQ operates from.
David and his new CEO, Gordon Seabright are heading up some new campaigns that are due to be announced later this year. Following on from gaining Scottish Charitable status, they are in the final throws of pending status in England and Wales, hoping to achieve this later this year. The CTC will continue to lobby parliament on cycling issues, work on campaigning on behalf of other organisations as a centralised hub, organise events nationally and locally and provide a social and supportive network for like minded people. The CTC is rightly proud of its heritage, the club and its broad appeal.
Scotland has traditionally had poor penetration per capita though that is now changing and membership is improving. Certainly, the take up of membership at the show was brisk and exceeded expectations. In total, the CTC now had more than 70,000 members, more popular than it has ever been. There has been a steady influx of younger members with the average age down to 41.
The CTC like these events, it promotes the modern view of the CTC, dispelling misconceptions. It develops a new stream of members as a result and gets feedback from existing membership. For the new Senior Marketing Officer, it was an excellent opportunity to see some of the volunteers in action, speak to grass roots members who are the core of his remit, and to understand more the role that the CTC has in modern cycling.
The friendly face and weird three fingered hand of Purple Harry's seems to pervade all sorts of events. Here for the second year of the Show, the Harry's (actually Dean and Richard) were showcasing what they do best ñ cleaning bikes. Prolific on Twitter, the self promotion social media right now, the original cassette cleaning 'floss' concept has now become six unique and five rather effective products. I say five because I can't yet vouch for the latest stable mate as it was only launched at this show.
That new product is a helmet and show sanitiser. We all hate donning a well used dirty helmet and this mild sanitiser is designed to clean and repel odours, and to do the same for riding shoes that often have a hard time of road and offroad grime. Might also be useful if you are a bowling obsessive.
Whilst still under wraps, Purple Harry's brand is still developing more products to support cyclists in managing their ride, bike and well being. By getting their message across through giveaways, attending shows and by stopping cyclists (I kid you not) and giving them products, the Harry's are gaining a Purple following. It helps that the stuff is so good.
This family owned and run business were briskly trading from their central location in the show. They had a number of great products for sale including the Parkours/Jump Bike/Slacklining inspired Five Ten brand shoes favoured by many a downhill rider, Danny MacAskill (who now has a signature shoe) and Hanna Barnes, who paid the show and the stand a visit on the Saturday. Freeflow were also selling the popular Cycloc bike holder, as seen on the Upgrade stand.
The range of bikes and accessories from the Glasgow based company was impressive with commuter and e-bikes mixing with top drawer downhill and freeride frames, body armour and clothing. That the business looks beyond cycling, into motorcross, manufacturing and holidays shows the brands penetration into leisure, and how synergies across different businesses can aid each other. Brands such as Kriega and Troy Lee Designs have a great crossover appeal, with undoubted economies of scale.
It might be unusual to highlight an individual within a show report, but believe me, this guy has a story worth listening to. John could only make the show for the Sunday as he is a professional Football Referee. He's been at the top of the profession for ten years. OK, what has this got to do with cycling?
John heard of a cycling trip from Lhasa in Tibet to Kathmandu, and wanted to give it a go. As part of that event preparation he decided to do some training in Scotland, choosing hills to maximise his efforts. He found he quite liked hillclimbs, in some sick and twisted way. (I do not like hills!)
He did his adventure, though he also found a whole number of lowland (that is southern Scotland) climbs and has created a pocket book to accompany his research. 40 Lowland Hill Climbs was born and has gone on to sell over 30,000 books. Handily sized (its a pocket book) and comprehensive in giving you the details you need to complete the climb, this is a great book, giving some amazing rides and summit topping views. Not content with just the Lowlands, John is currently researching within the Highlands to create a book of similar gravitas, but probably higher summits.
Just over a year in the making, the brainchild of Craig Middelton finally makes it to the mass market, with the first official outing of the brand at a show. Onix is unashamedly targeting the boutique end of the direct to consumer sales model, with a web configurator so you can build the bike to your budget and your dreams. Onix have based their product range around Carbon road frames, cutting its teeth on the well received Aurious and Azzuro frames in 2011. New for 2012, and ambitious in the concept and execution are the head turning blue accented Black RH and red accented RH Pro bikes.
These bikes look the business and are certainly some of the nicest looking bikes out there right now, with stealth looks, oversized tubes and bottom bracket areas and the signature of a certain Mr. Rob Hayles (hence the RH in the bike title) who has helped design and develop the frames and added his provenance to the brand. With some excellent reviews from the consumer magazines, and many test hours, Craig is keen to encourage riders to visit his website and showroom in Blackburn, to see what the buzz is all about. With a community already hooked on the brand, a successful 'Twitter Ride' under his belt with more to follow and race wins from its first outing with the Mountivation Team, expect big things from this micro brand. I don't expect it will stay micro for very long.
Onix is refreshingly challenging the normal way bikes are promoted. Honest, in your face and self promoting maybe, but they are raising their profile above the normal web based carbon bike brands, providing custom and customer services and giving more established bike brands a run for their money.
Other notable attendees at the show included:
The beautiful Paper Bicycles, providing comfortable sustainable and novel transport that is already in use within rental fleets throughout the world.
Alpine Bikes, who were demoing and showing Trek Bikes, and seemingly selling large amounts of apparel.
The Breakpad, a Kirroughtree based Bike and Hire Shop, part of the Seven Staines group of trails, who were showing trail videos and offering Staines details
Hooked on Cycling, who were showing their vast array of bikes, part of their large showroom in West Lothian
Pedal Power, promoting the Endura range of clothing, based in West Calder, East Lothian. Another really busy retail store within the show.
Overall, the organisers, Rowan and the team pulled off a great and diverse show with superb entertainment from the Rockstar team, who brought some superb flatland and jump BMX riders. While footfall is yet to be confirmed, the expectation is for a moderate increase over last year. The key to success is for more exhibitors to attend and support this valuable regional event. The event had the right mix of exhibitors, it just needs more commitment from the trade. Distributors were very thin on the ground, yet both Upgrade and NRG4 (the only people attending as distributors) picked up valuable contacts and trade accounts, both said this was more than worthwhile. Scotland is such a diverse community of cyclists and for many Northern England based cyclists, this is nearer than the NEC and certainly London shows. Scotland needs this show. Scotland needs you.
Crankphoto is a Freelance Photo Journalist, working internationally within Cycling and Cycle Sports, (though mainly in in the North West of England). With over ten years experience in print and web media, as well as private and published test articles for consumer and B2B, Crank is well established and experienced in Mountain, Road and Track cycling. Covering Bike and Product launches, consumer magazine and private images, racing, events and advocacy, Crank can advise, develop and support your business. In partnership with BikeBiz, Crank supports the UK cycle industry in its development.