Along with plenty of sensible, practical cycling kit, this year's Core Bike trade show included some special bits and pieces that made us do a double take.
Thomson are best known for their classic black stems and seatposts but at Core they were showing off some amazing looking multicolour 'Permadized' bike bits.
Apparently this new process is similar to anodising but instead of just being able to apply single colours to aluminium components you can cover them with a design of your choice using a paper transfer.
On show were seatposts and stems emblazoned with the Stars and Stripes and a Realtree type camouflage design. As with anodising, the finished product is made tougher and more corrosion resistant than before.
"We don't know if this is something that will sell," Thomson told us. "But we've made a load with the US flag for US national cycling and we've made a load with the Union Flag for British national cycling. It could turn into a once-a-year, limited edition thing; we're not sure. It's not overly expensive – it would probably add £25 to the retail price."
The Georgia-based company also had some intriguing prototype quick-release seatpost clamps on their stand. In an effort to develop a system that's lower profile and more elegant than a traditional seat QR, and doesn't apply too much force to fragile carbon fibre posts, they started off experimenting with ratchets and thumbwheels.
When they discovered the thumbwheels couldn't provide enough torque, they moved on to a tiny lever instead, and it's an evolution of this system that looks set to go into production in late 2011 or early 2011. Thomson are also about to release a direct mount downhill stem, and stems for 1.5in headsets are on their way too. Check out UK distributors I-Ride's website for details.
Sticking with the national flags theme, chain makers KMC now offer their X10 10-speed chain in this Patriot version, replete with Italian tricolour. RRP is £60, and it's available in the UK via Chicken Cycle-Kit. Judging by our experiences with the company's X10SL chain, it should hopefully offer the performance to back up its flashy looks.
Niner weren't even at Core Bike, they were at the rival The Bike Place show down the road. But they had to make it into this round-up, not because they only make 29ers – after all, after initial scepticism the big-wheeled mountain bikes are now finally starting to gain a foothold in the UK – or because of their stunning Air 9 Carbon hardtail but due to their new Raw Glow finish option.
As the name suggests, this is a special lacquer that looks like a standard raw aluminium finish but glows in the dark – just the thing for night rides and enduro racing! It's available on all of Niner's alloy hardtails and full-suspension bikes. In order for it to work, you first have to expose the frame to bright light. Niner bikes are available in the UK via Jungle Products.
SDG I Fly Storm saddle
The raised rubber knobs and strips on SDG's new I Fly Storm saddles mean they probably won't be the perches of choice for those looking to rack up the miles. For downhill and four-cross racers, on the other hand, they should be just the thing on those days when the track turns into a quagmire, providing vital extra grip.
Developed for Sam Hill and Brendan Fairclough of the Monster Energy-Specialized team, two versions are available – All Weather or Extreme. Both have a composite I-Beam rail, so they have to be used with one of SDG's matching I-Beam posts. The advantage is that they come in at a competitive weight – 175g (claimed).
Both models come in black with either black or green moulded traction knobs and an SDG logo design on the rail. Protective material on the nose and sides should protect them from scuff damage. UK RRP is £74.95, and they're available via Silverfish.
Urban riding more your thing, but don't like hi-vis gear? Brooks have some new retro waterproofing for the gentleman (or lady) cyclist about town. The £186.69 Oxford rain cape by John Boultbee is a traditional waxed cotton tent-style cape that hooks over the bars.
The cape goes well with Brooks's Islington rucksack (£254.58), in waterproofed cotton with a roll top and a strong hint of the World War II parachute about it. For more information, visit www.brooksengland.com.
Portland Design Works
As you might expect from a company based in Portland, Oregon, PDW's line (imported into the UK by Paligap) is strong on eco-friendliness and urban chic. Pumps and grips both use bamboo, and the company also do bamboo-decked racks and mudguards made from plastic from recycled drinks bottles. UK RRPs TBC.