The most obvious thing about Core Bike Show was that despite it being a bike show, there weren’t a massive number of bikes. To be honest, it’s more about parts distributors than major bike suppliers anyway and the small size of the rooms means there are not really many places to show off a full family of rides.
What bikes there were, though, confirmed some notable themes. MTB is becoming increasingly electrified but approaches to create the best electric mountain bike definitely diversifying. Some brands like NS are finally adding a powered bike to its range without disturbing its proven design much. Thok is broadening its offering with a frame and Ohlins suspension package that comes with a wooden crate of essential parts and custom contact points, which means you need only add your own wheels and stop/go kit.
The undoubted show stealers, though, were new-to-the-UK Forestal. Concentrating on the increasingly popular lighter, lower-power e-MTB genre the brand has got some stunning-looking machines offering enough punch to lift average speeds and smash climbs while staying agile and drag-free on descents and tech sections. What was grabbing attention, though, were the multi-function touch screen displays built into the top tube of each bike. The onboard computers also include a 5Gb card for storing routing and firmware data and the bikes can be updated online direct from the Andorran HQ or tracked down if they get taken.
The level of tech, frame detail, and componentry means they’re certainly premium-priced but with warranties passing onto the second rider too, they’re introducing another new but very welcome concept to e-MTBs: reasonable resale value.
Speaking of Forestal, the brand‘s ambassador rider and legendary hellraiser Cédric Gracia had already leaked a new super-light Crank Brothers dropper with a carbon shaft and gold anodized hardware on his bike and the “under embargo” label fell off just long enough to take a picture of it on the Extra stand.
While getting enough existing designs to supply the demand is still the major issue for many manufacturers, some brands like Pivot and Ragley have at least managed to refresh colors for ’22. We already know that some bike brands like Specialized are concentrating on pushing their P&A ranges and Cannondale had some really good-looking affordable helmets and essential kit including an easy-view gauge on its track pump. The color-coding was a bit out as fatter rubber and tubeless tech means people running road tires in the 100psi range is no longer really a thing. The colorways on their bikes were absolutely spot on, though, and you can expect to see a lot of them being tested across Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews in the coming months.
Lyon Equipment continues its surge from a mountain rescue and hardcore outdoor focus into premium bike gear and neatly covered all the extremes of my tech nerding and new kit lust. The brand’s big show announcement was that it’s the new UK importer for the full “handbuilt in North Carolina” Industry Nine range of wheels, using its super simple-yet-smart, hyper-quick engagement Hydra hubs and anodized alloy spokes in custom colors matched to carbon or alloy rims. It also showed new jackets/jerseys from 7Mesh using a custom-developed (but now open-source) grid fleece fabric for super-versatile, shell-free weather protection. These join updated Glidepath, Pilot jacket, and other staple items from the habitually high-scoring, Squamish clothing brand. They also had first samples of new lightweight, quick-fit pannier racks for Ortlieb’s legendary bikepacking range and another brilliant-looking fast mount bag option we can’t talk about yet.
Gravel and bikepacking continue to be a massive growth area too, filling in the space between MTB and Road and taking influence and tech from both. Cannondale and Vielo have new high-tech bikes we can’t talk about yet while UK brand Forme was showing a very good-looking new alloy frame in various builds. More and more MTB brands are sliding into the drop-bar world too, with one of the Forme bikes fully loaded with new gravel kit from e*Thirteen. e*Thirteen was also showing off the other new must-have tech trinket: a high-flow, tubeless valve in assorted anodized colors.
While we all know the supply of big-name kit has been an issue, those shortages have been a great chance for other brands to grab some spotlight and spec allocation. It was great to see Mavic coming back into the game strongly too, with a refreshed range including affordable Deemax eMTB wheels, some properly light XC wheels, and new racer kicks. MicroShift gears really impressed us in testing and they’re getting well-deserved attention from a lot more riders, so it was good to see a new polished Axe crank option from DMR too.
DVO suspension was showing a new Topaz rear shock and MRP has introduced a new range of colors – including coil springs matched to forks – as an upcharge option. Jagwire had a really neat cable tester showing just what a difference quality control lines can make when it comes to cost-effective performance gains as well.
Peaty’s is set to expand its range of puncture-solving products with a new tire plug tool and CO2 blaster. To be honest, we’ve already been sneaked some samples for testing ahead of release and the “claw and a half” design that punches a smaller hole in the tire and doesn’t pull the plug out again is a genuine game-changer when it comes to sealing splits. The inline push to inflate CO2 inflator is a winner too, and, as usual for Peaty’s, there’s a full range of anodized colors and they come in eco packaging.
Other random kit that I’ve got on my “chase up post-show to get it tested ASAP” list include the expanded shoe range from Ride Concepts; tires from Hutchinson, Teravail, and Pirelli; brakes from Hope and Braking; new mounts and light software from Exposure; new bags from Camelbak, Leatt and Mystery Ranch; workshop kit and lights from Lifeline; affordable optics from Alpina; economical essentials from ETC; and stuff I know the rest of the team picked up (Core Bike Show was the first time 80 percent – we missed you Mildred – of the Bike Perfect team had actually met up) including a radical tungsten lube from Tru Tension.
Right now though – while it was lovely to see everyone again – I’m expecting the new aTAC and dFND Immune System Support range from Torq nutrition to potentially be very useful in keeping me healthy in the wake of all that uncustomary contact and crowding! I might even mix them up in my new, old-school Cat Eye mug which was a lovely reminder of when I was first manning show stands myself nearly 30 years ago!