Sensible progress has undoubtedly been the big issue at Eurobike this year ... but sensible progress is hard to hype.
In an industry that thrives on innovation and the excitement of new product launches, it's amazing how many times you hear "there's nowt new under the sun" from the old cynics at the big bike shows. But the cynics are missing the point. The best sort of progress is the slow refinement of sensible ideas that work, and that's exactly what's happening in the bike business at present. It's all new, and some of it is good.
Eurobike is the biggest and best bike show on the planet, but trawling the halls for the last three days hasn't really produced many blazing gems of innovation. The hype is undoubtedly still there, with all manner of weird and wonderful flamboyance in frame and rucksack shapes, and even the odd flicker of wisdom towards a future urban utopia in the form of better batteries for electric bikes. In fact, come to think of it, the world of electric bikes is finally coming to life and moving away from clumpy and dowdy looking hybrids to a whole host of highly styled lazyboy cruisers that may well signal the end of arriving at work with a very sweaty back ... although you'll need to spend almost as much again on a pedigree attack hound to look after it if you need to park it anywhere. And of course we'll all end up slightly less fit as well as less sweaty.
On the mountain bike front, SRAM have undoubtedly grabbed the hype highlight with their new HammerSchmidt two speed planetary drive crankset system. It's bound to catch the 'next big purchase' imagination of anyone with ISCG tabs (bottom bracket tabs for chain retention devices) on their frame. SRAM's system is effectively a first stab at something that could run and run as more development occurs: fixed rear sprockets and a quality freewheel in the bottom bracket anyone?
Of course, it's all been done before, probably for the longest time by Swiss maker Schlumpf. Schlumpf's new planetary drive two ratio MTB crankset looks the part, but how many mountain bikers want to have to think about pushing a button with their heel for front shifting? Purist single speeders looking to move on (or cheat) perhaps? Anyone feel like organising the inaugural two speed World Championships?
Nicola's new B-Boxx
As expected, Nicolai has a two speed 'gearbox' too... the B-Boxx. It won't be seeing the light of day for a while yet but that might be a good thing as it remains to be seen whether HammerSchmidt will survive typical gritty cruddy trail conditions in the UK. The expected price tag of £600+ for a Hammerschmidt unit would certainly make me wary of committing before someone else has subjected it to long term durability tests. I may be getting the privilege of that duty, as we've been promised one of the first production units to test for What Mountain Bike. I think I'll be getting Chas Bland, my friendly neighbourhood frame plumber, to add ISGG tabs to my old steel DeKerf as soon as I get home.