London Bike Show 2012: Mountain bike round-up

Whyte, Genesis, Saracen, Intense, On-One, Topeak, Exposure

The second London Bike Show kicked off today at the Docklands ExCel centre. It's a lot bigger than last year's debut event, with plenty to keep the crowds entertained, including bike polo, Animal Bike Tour stunt demos, the DMR Pump Track challenge and BikeRadar’s own Training Hub, where you can get your fitness and biomechanics appraised by professionals.

Of course there's plenty of shiny new kit on display too, from brands both large and small. What Mountain Bike’s Matt Skinner has been trawling the aisles and here’s what's caught his eye so far, on the off-road side of things...

Whyte Bikes

Whyte’s designer Ian Alexander – whom you can read an in-depth interview with in the forthcoming issue of What Mountain Bike (#131), out on Tuesday – was proudly showing of the final production version of the new alloy 829 29er. With heavy use of smooth/double pass welding on both the head tube and seat-tube junctions, it could easily be mistaken for a carbon frame, but a look down into its belly shows the telltale alloy fishscale welds to undermine this first impression.

For a 29er it’s slack, although not as radically laidback as the early prototype that Guy Kesteven tested last year. With our initial test rides showing up the new bike’s undoubted fun factor, with the only fly in the ointment being its slightly high weight for its class, Alexander revealed that next year’s version will further push towards more radical thinking to better complement the 829’s fun and fast-riding trail bike feel.

Genesis Bikes

Dom Thomas at Genesis was showing the first real fruits of his labours after taking over design duties from James Olsen. The result is the Fortitude range, made up of three 100 percent rigid 29er hardtails. There's the singlespeed-specific Fortitude SS, the 1x10-only Fortitude Race (£1,250) and the Fortitude Adventure (£1,500).

The latter uses an Alfine 11 hub gear and comes complete with rack and bottle cage mounts. None of the bikes has provision for front mech cable routing. All share the same basic Reynolds 725 steel frameset with a rolled seat tube to get around the rear tyre clearance issue.

Geometry is designed around the rigid fork – upgrading to front suspension would slacken the head angle, raise the bottom bracket and spoil the handling. Suspension forked 29er hardtails are, however, in development for next year. And Genesis’s first full-suspension bike is still coming, too. We hope to see a prototype within the next six weeks.

Also on the Genesis stand was a very tidy looking alloy framed Core 24 24in-wheeled kids’ bike for all those dads wanting to share the biking bug with their youngsters. It was a very tidy looking package with a 6061 alloy frame, Suntour XCR fork, Shimano Acera/Suntour 3x8 transmission and Shimano M445 hydraulic brakes, all for £550.

Finally, Genesis are reportedly playing with a 1x10 fat bike prototype with a geometry based on the Fortitude, and will also be playing around with 650b wheels in the very near future. Could the inbetweener wheelsize be on the ascendancy? If industry rumours are to be believed, then it’s a definite yes. But how and when exactly remains to be seen…

Saracen Bikes

Saracen have just unveiled their new range for 2012 and top of the pile is the refined Ariel platform. Tweaked framesets and revamped specs and aesthetics now make the bikes better lookers than they were before.

The Ariel 143 gets a trail-ready spec featuring a Shimano Deore XT based transmission, Fox Float RP23 shock, Fox F32 FIT RLC QR15 fork, dropper post – complete with intelligent routing – and collar-and-cuffs colour matching for a smidge under £3,000.

Intense Cycles

Intense’s impressive 18lb complete Hard Eddie 29er has finally made it to the UK and was on show together with its specific rigid carbon fork. UK pricing for the frame alone is confirmed at £1,599 from distributors Extra UK, with pricing on the straight-blade post-mount fork still TBC.

On-One Bikes

On-One’s mission to do for the fat bike market what they did for singlespeeding looks one step further ahead as the British company were again showing their fat bike prototype. It’ll be officially launched on the longest day of the year – 21 June – to underline that it’s a ‘fat bike’ rather than a ‘snow bike’. Endurance racer John ‘Shaggy’ Ross has been helping with development. On-One will be selling it as a complete bike only and are aiming for around £1,000 complete.

Also on the On-One/Planet X stand was the Titus El Guapo 29er, a long-travel trail machine that aims to subvert the 29er stereotype that they’re only good for short-travel applications by being bloody good fun.

Topeak Cycling Accessories

It might not be the best thing sliced bread but it’s certainly a great idea: Topeak’s new Shock & Roll pump combines both a tyre pump and a shock pump in one, together with a smart head that unscrews for Presta valves and screws in for Schrader.

It’s rated up to 300psi and has a two-stage high/low pressure selector so you don’t have to be as strong as a bear to get your shock up to pressure. It's 25cm long so it’ll fit into most riding packs with ease and ensure you don’t have to travel with two separate pumps on those epic rides. Claimed weight is 270g.

Exposure Lights

On a completely un-mountain bike-related note, Exposure Lights were launching a maritime range of waterproof, floating lights for use on, well, erm, boats. For anyone wondering why they'd launch these at a cycling expo, the London Bike Show is held alongside the Boat Show, the Action Travel Show and the Outdoors Show, with a single ticket granting entry to all four.

What caught our eye was the clever dive lamp prototype. Essentially a Six Pack bike light in a dive casing, its clever talking point is its total lack of buttons. Exposure have deployed clever motion gesture technology to control its three power modes.

You turn it on by tapping its side five times, then rotate it in a clockwise direction to go up through the power levels, one flick of the wrist at a time. Rotate it in the opposite direction and it drops down again. Point it downwards and rotate it a few times anti-clockwise to switch it off. Clever stuff indeed but still at the prototype stage.

London Bike Show ticket offer

The London Bike Show runs until Sunday, 15 January. You can buy discounted tickets by entering the code 'radar' at checkout. Entry with the code costs £15 compared to an on-the-door price of £20. While you're there, why not check out the BikeRadar Training Hub?

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