Observations from the Scottish Bike Show

I missed the Tour of Flanders to take my 5 year old to the Scottish Bike Show today. The show has moved towards a family event, and I’d like my little one to get into bike riding, but of her own accord, because she likes it. I have marketing on my mind right now, for various reasons,

I’d have liked to attend on the Saturday, of course, and hear what Sir Chris, Brian Smith and Finlay Pretsell had to say, and then catch de Ronde today with a few chilled Chimays. I suspect that is what many folks did, given today was reportedly quieter than the Saturday, but family is where it’s at for me right now.

I was greeted outside the show hall by David Brennan who was leafletting for the Pedal On Parliament Scotland event on Saturday 26th April. I have meant to attend this gathering in the past, as safer cycling is something I want for my own and my kids’ future. Guerilla marketing, perhaps, but David is always open for a friendly chat and was interested to absorb the views / observations I offered from the Stirling perspective – is enforcing a rule that kids must operate their own lock encouraging younger ones to ride to school, for example?

Scottish Bike Show 2014

Inside the hall, we headed for Kiddimoto’s inflatable track (above), which is a superb way for them to market their balance bikes, helmets and accessories and I5 went back for three shots on it. She has all but grown out of the Firstbike balance bike I bought her 3 years ago, and it has done it’s job of circumventing the need for stabilisers, so she was fully confident here and at the upper end of the age range for this attraction.

Scottish Bike Show 2014

One of my aims for the show was to try her on a variety of wheels and scope out what her next bike might be, so I steered her towards the nearby pump track. After shepherding her round, and helping her over the obstacles, she realised that they were a bit too big for her and pedalled round confidently, making me feel a proud Daddy. Commonwealth rider Eileen Roe (above) indulged us with some banter and made me laugh with her keenness to have a go, which led me to get on a jump bike myself later and scoot over the rockers and rollers. 

I sized I5 up for a Hoy bike – the word was that Sir Chris had caused a huge buzz when he made an appearance at the show yesterday. Evans are the designated retailer – similar to Boardman bikes choosing Halfords as their route to market, Hoy will be sold through a big chain. The range looks very nice and there is no ghastly pink.  I think it was a 20″ Bonaly model that we were lining up but I can’t quite remember.

Contrast Evans’ slight fail with Edinburgh Bike Co-Op’s approach, who were demoing the Frog range of kids bikes. Little details like giving out a flyer with your appropriate size and model circled in biro , and a free Frog bottle to help that brand name sink in. Ged Holmyard is as friendly as I remember him 20 years ago, back when I was drooling over purple anodised X-Lite bar-ends in Avanley Terrace.

People buy from people, as they say. Another nice guy is Adam the Lazer helmets rep who was on the Alpine bikes stand. I had seen his products at Dig In Around the Dock and his / Lazer’s support of the SCX series is a thing that draws me to the brand, and when Jon McComisky enjoyed a couple of laps at the front of the Crit on the Campus bunch, it stuck in thr mind that he was sporting an orange Helium. I was ready to buy one there and then, but they didn’t have my size. I got an armful of free bottles, which will probably mean I complete that purchase another time.

<a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/pelotonpedro/11779183914″ title=”Untitled by Pete Ward, on Flickr”><img src=”https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2873/11779183914_4276a291ce_z.jpg” width=”640″ alt=”Untitled”></a>

Marketing a product can require several approaches and attempts before your prospect becomes a customer, and the Planet X stand brought me a step closer when I had a look and feel at their XLS carbon cyclocross bike in Flanders colours. The styling hooked me in, and as a relative cross newbie I am excited by anything with the Belgian flag and the Lion of Flanders on it. The spec – Shimano 105, cable disc brakes and deep section carbon wheels – is amazing for the money £1600. However, the carbon doesn’t look the highest quality, unsurprising at that price, and given the recent experience a friend had with one of their frames it will take a few more shots before I become a ‘conversion’. I’d need to visit Planet X’s opening new store in Edinburgh before that happens, an event that has caused a bit of consternation amongst local cyclists who have seen long established retailers go to the wall lately. Wipe the drips of irony off the following comment that I saw lately: “I guess we can now size up at the Planet X shop then order open mould stuff from eBay?”

Last observation from today: Shand bikes are beautiful. On show on their stand was their Stoater cross frame, shown in three guises: a singlespeed, a drop-bar mountain bike style, a Rohloff-geared, carbon-belt driven version, and a traditionally-geared version built up with Shimano 105. The way the frame is engineered allows for several different dropouts to be used – and I now know what an Eccentric bottom bracket is… sort of. I wanted one of these immediately, despite the fact I have never ridden steel and don’t have the zeal for that material coursing through my veins. The delicious welds and paint jobs, as well as the versatile nature of the frame were sufficient to attract me. Shand don’t only make custom frames either, which was news to me, but nevertheless, it would be a bike to save up for.

Scottish Bike Show 2014