We’re just back from the gigantic Eurobike Expo in Friedrichshafen, Germany. There were something like 17 huge halls and one zeppelin hanger full of bicycle porn. At least it was bike porn for those who see cycling as something exclusively for recreation, competition and adrenaline.
There was more carbon fiber there than you could shake a burned stick at. Titanium frames are now rare but Columbus now offers nobium alloy and stainless steel. Other “iums” present at Eurobike included Scandium, Zirconium and Helium (in the zeppelins of course). We also found evidence of carbon nanotubes, ceramic bearings, titanium nitrides and Continental Tire’s latest secret weapon: Carbon Black (which, if I’m not mistaken, has been a standard ingredient in tires for decades).
The downhill racing mountain bikes seemed less abundant, making room for thousands of shapely, ultralightweight road racing bikes… luxuriously displayed by European and American firms but almost entirely made in Taiwan and China. The spartan booths of the actual manufacturers could be found in the back corners of the halls. There you can sometimes spot the same beautifully crafted frames and components, but without labels. Of course the smoke and mirrors game is never so simple. Not ALL of those components are actually the real thing.
Also reaching the over-the-top Roccoco stage are the choppers, lowriders and cruisers. Chopper bikes were omnipresent and since extreme is the name of the game they ranged from the outlandish to the absurd. Motorcycle rear wheels, at least 144 spokes per wheel, handlebars higher than the rider’s head and two meter long forks were de rigeur.
Also present in considerable numbers were high-end “commuting bikes”, typically equipped to impress with Magura hydraulic rim or disk brakes, Rohloff 14-speed hubs, fancy wheels, suspension forks and/or frames, Tubus carriers and a host of other high-zoot stuff. A handful had carbon fiber frames and wheels. I never knew riding around town required such fine machinery. Perhaps its different elsewhere but these fancy townie bikes wouldn’t last a week in Amsterdam: if they didn’t get stolen, they’d be trashed by the bike racks, multiple passengers and groceries, and rainy nights parked on the street.
Photos and glowing descriptions of all of the above products can be found on hundreds of other sites and in a few weeks in your favorite glossy cycling magazine. Thus I’ve added some Eurobike “highlights” you won’t find elsewhere. Enjoy!
It wasn’t exactly clear what the purpose of this small-wheeled bicycle with side-wheels was. Each of the side wheels was independently and rather softly suspended, making them ineffective as balance aids or training wheels. Perhaps its just a complicated way to make a bike that stands up on its own, yet rides like a normal bike?
I’m equally baffled by this one. Its a folding bike where the front fork and wheel have been replaced by a single-leg fork, two independent suspension link arms and springs and two single-sided wheels, each with its own little disk brakes. The proud inventor rode it all over the Eurobike expo so its clear that it can be ridden. He also demonstrated that the bicycle still folds, albeit into a rather unwieldy package about twice as wide as the unmodified folding bike. It was all very nicely designed and crafted… but why?
This well-designed and crafted electrically assisted sidecar rickshaw was on display outside. As you can see in the fotos the sidecar has a hinged connection with the bicycle, allowing the bike to lean through curves while the sidecar remains upright.
The purpose of the electric sidecar rickshaw was unclear; It has no significant cargo capacity, carries just one passenger and is equipped with enough high-end parts to drive the price into the stratosphere. In gleaming white it’d look appropriate in a psychiatric hospital.