January on the edge of a race track in the centre of England - time to break out the bike bling for another year.
Core is the show where the UK distributors of top end brands like Colnago, Rocky Mountain, Reynolds, Wilier, Orange, Pace and Marin get together to show their wares to dealers and the media. The accent is on higher end more specialist bikes and products aimed at the core bike market.
An array of the latest Colnagos at the show's entrance sums up what the Core Show is all about. This is a show to make any hardcore roadie or mountain bike rider drool - and there was plenty for the growing higher end commuting market too.
Here's a first look at what caught our eye we will be adding more pictures to this story soon:
Colnago Ferrari 60th Anniversary
Carbon lugged frame with an eye-catching pain job released to celebrate Ferrari's 60th anniversary and yours for an eye-watering £5,499 complete. Mind you for that you get Lightweight wheels, Campag Record and the option of a custom build. If you want one you'd better hurry this is a limited edition of 60 bikes with only six earmarked for the UK - this is the sixth the rest have all been sold.
Colnago Master X Light
Early candidate for the most beautiful bike at the show, the frame and fork are constructed from Bi-conic DT15V steel tubes with micro-fused lugs. Frame and polished steel fork sell for £999.95. You can also have the Master X with a carbon street fork for another £50. Oh, and it is also available with horizontal dropouts for those who want the last word in fixie chic, Windwave, Colnago's UK distributors expect this last option to be popular.
The Master wasn't the only steel road bike on show - Surly's Steamroller is also a bike that can turn heads.
More of a commuter/tourer/utility bike (with a performance edge), the fixie version on show here certainly exuded understated, practical minimalist cool - a neat trick for a brown bike.
Wilier's Pista was another fixie to turn heads, no doubt soon to be seen on the streets of all major (and relatively flat cities) there's nothing understated about this bright red Italian track bike. £799 buys you a one gear, no hassle fashion statement.
Fixies might be fun and trendy, but women's bikes is a trend with a much bigger potential pay off for bike manufacturers and Wilier have made moves here too with two carbon women's bikes: the Mimosa (pictured) based on the latest incarnation of the Izoard frame selling for £1899 with Campagnolo Veloce 10spd, and a women-specific version of the Mortirolo complete with Campag Mirage.
Prices on the latter have yet to be finalised but the men's version sells for £1299 with the same groupset.
Core isn't all about road exotica though, there are plenty of exotic (and not so exotic) commuter bikes on show as well.
The first hybrids combined road-sized wheels with mountain bike frames and though many were heavy they were also very popular. Hybrids are now horribly unfashionable so what do you call its 21st century descendent? A 29er of course.
Step forward the Marin Hamilton.
Its fashionableness doesn't end at its wheel size either, it's also available as a fixed/singlespeed with a flip/flop hub and a choice of gear ratios when you buy.
All this combines into what should be an intensely practical bike for the bigger rider. In the UK the Hamilton will only be available in sizes 18.5" and up. We hope to be testing one soon. Big lads and lasses can have the Hamilton's combo of function and fashion for £349.
The Marin Larkspur's new for '08 curved top tube is more fashion than function on an urban commuter which is not going to withstand the same torsional forces as the mountain bikes for which it was originally intended. £349 will catch this particular curve.
A more practical off-road design import crops up on the new Marin Point Reyes
A 26in wheeled urban bike from the performance end of the spectrum which is based on last year's Indian Firetrail mountain bike frame. Amongst other design tweaks the disc callipers are now placed inside the rear triangle, a nod to the fact that even performance-oriented commuters often want to fit racks and panniers to their bikes.
Expect to pay £849 for Point Reyes in the UK.