Eurobike has something for everyone and most definitely those who want to hit the city streets in style. Whether you want the performance of what are essentially flat barred road bikes, or a machine with an accent on comfort or durability it was all there.
For those who ride fast, no matter where they are going, there were plenty of flat barred road bikes. Indeed for the ultimate in heads up performance, some of the smaller Italian manufacturers simply took their top of the range road bikes and fitted flat bars.
Others though took a slightly more considered approach. This was the second year that De Rosa were showing the Down Town, a very elegant machine boasting a high modulus carbon frame married to Campagnolo's flat bar Record brake levers and shifters, Record drivetrain and Campag Eurus wheels. There was no price information on this baby, but De Rosa don't do cheap.
Performance was also well up in the mix on this offering from Orbea with this flat barred version of their Diem Drop Disc - this time without the drops but with the discs. Discs make sense on this sort of bike, cutting down on rim wear and maintenance, and the component spec mixing Shimano 105 and Ultegra, while still high end for a street bike, is more real world than the De Rosa. Orbea's prices reflect that.
When it comes to colour, black still means urban for a lot of manufacturers and Cannnondale's legendary Badboy can take much of the blame for this. Top of the Bad Boy range for 08 is the minimalist Singlespeed version, black as ever. You only get one gear, (38x14), and you only get one fork leg too, courtesy of a rigid Lefty. Braking is handled by front and rear Shimano discs and this certainly looks every inch the purposeful urban tool. Less is more, so expect to pay around £680 for this in the UK. As for prices further down the Bad Boy range, you can have a bike with gears from £450 or you can go right up the scale to the Bad Boy Rohloff at £2,199.
While the Bad Boy is bike as urban tool, the steel Peacemaker, from German brand Fixie Inc, is more of a weapon. Check out those 'Carscratcher' (Fixie tell it like it is) handlebars machined to a paintwork and pedestrian-friendly point. Fixie also up the ante in the rider toughness stakes too, taking one gear to its logical conclusion with a flip flop hub giving you the fixed option. Brakes? Apparently they're for softies on those mean German streets.
Another German manufacturer, Riese and Müller (R-M), show that it is possible to attempt to crack the same urban performance nut as Fixie and come up with something completely different, the Delite Gold. This is another attempt at the classic street bike combo of performance, comfort and durability, and with typical German thoroughness R-M go for it on all three counts: this is 26in wheeled full suspension bike with a Rohlhoff Speedhub. Change the wheels and you've got yourself a mountain bike.www.r-m.de
A welcome splash of colour will be coming to European streets next year courtesy of Bianchi with the latest version of its Milano range, already a hit in the US. The emphasis here is more on comfort and style than outright performance, but these should be pretty durable machines too - you get a choice of three speed Shimano Nexus or eight speed Alfine hub gears, which should cut down on maintenance, while chainguards and mudguards should keep bike and rider clean too.
The Milano is also available as a stepthrough model too.
Another bike with an Italian connection, at least in its name, and for which 'style' was very much on the designer's mind is Viva's Mille Miglia Bamboo. One of a range of very stylish urban bikes, this is the only one featuring aluminium tubes hydro-formed to look like bamboo! Like many of Viva's bikes though, this uses a shaft drive instead of a chain. That should reduce maintenance but at the cost, unless shaft drives have improved, of efficiency. Viva were not the only manufacturers showing off shaft drive machines. Rest of the kit comprises a Shimano 8-speed hub gears and roller brakes.
All of the detailing on the Vivas was beautifully done. Check out the internally routed cables. Our theory is that this probably has something to do with the difficulties of externally routing them over the 'bamboo' ridges (although all the other Mille Miglias have it too). All of this does make you wonder why Viva didn't just make the bike out of bamboo in the first place? To you €999.
If the Bamboo will have purists spluttering, this bike will make them choke. The Wire is a beautifully executed exercise in getting as many deviant design ideas into one bike. Shaft drive? Check. Slingshot-style cable instead of a downtube? But of course. You also get a front disc and a rear roller brake plus a Shimano Alfine 8-speed hub. There is also a limited edition version with a chain, but that just smacks of compromise. €949 buys you something different. Possible downsides are less options for locking and the possibility of some nasty person snipping the wire.
Here's another reason why the Viva stand was one of our favourites - the lugged steel Extravaganza. There's not a wire or shaft in sight, just a full-on retro-steel experience with a twist: Novatec singlespeed drivetrain, sidepull Promax front brakes... and a coaster rear. Good for skidding competitions, then. Oh, and look at that saddle. As well as this beauty, Viva also do a number of hand-painted custom options. Yours for €1799, as ever, less is inevitably more.