A few weekends ago I found myself at Eurobike in its new Frankfurt übervenue. Eurobike has always been huge, but this year I was made acutely aware of the distances involved by the cab driver who dropped me off at the wrong entrance, and then charged an additional nine Euros for the 10-minute cab ride to the correct entrance. I bumped into another journalist who showed me her step count for the day, which prompted me to check mine, showing that I’d walked almost 60km or 40 miles of Shimano blue carpets over the space of two days. Shocking!
So yea, Eurobike is massive. There’s no way a single person can make it round the show in two days, although thankfully there was a huge number of average e-bikes, which is what made up the majority of the show, so I felt fine about skipping chunks at a time.
To be clear – Eurobike isn’t a show to casually browse. It’s set up as a centre of business, so a lot of the larger brands had meeting rooms on their stands over display space. As a business centre it’s also very chilled; there was a man wandering around with a bike I couldn’t even see because it was in expedition mode, people hanging out with dogs, and a (e-bike) test track. All that said, there was a lot on display and a lot of really interesting stuff I’d never seen or heard of before.
Kettler had a vast expanse of German-made cargo bikes and e-cargo bikes on show, which were pretty impressive and featured hub centre steering, which looks good and makes a lot of sense on a cargo bike. On the scale of electric car to fixie, there was definitely a bent towards electric car when it came to German made e-cargo bikes, with all sorts of stuff on there from full body shells, to front and rear suspension. Kettler felt like they were still bikes, useful and considered, I want one.
One wheel closer to the car end of the spectrum was Gleam. Gleam, while being a high-powered e-trike with three gates drive belts, offered an innovative tilting mechanism, so while looking completely bonkers, Gleam offers a genuinely useful, European-made cargo platform that I guess is targeted towards businesses and professional users, as an alternative for transporting goods in cities.
Having been both cargo and rider for 30 minutes looking for my locked bike, while pedalling is only a token input of energy, the trike feels otherwise surprisingly normal. They’d have been a great alternative to service the Eurobike show, for example, over seemingly every Daihatsu Hijet ever made, pulling trailers of kegs of beer and snacks around, dropping off full bottles, and picking up crates of empties.
I’d expected to see both Pinion and Gates, and I did. Pinion had a surprisingly modest stand, and we talked about them being a surprisingly small company with stretch marks from their rate of growth. Gates on the other hand had a huge booth with a focus on showing bikes, which were well chosen to show a wide scope of users. It’s the only booth that I photographed more than one thing on, because while they did have a Strida on show, the least rideable production bike I’ve ever ridden, they also had my favourite bike of the entire show, Bernard’s cercle the world.
Loving this bike requires off the bat, to realise it’s a pretty considered and intricate bit of design, that’s seen three years of development to arrive at. It’s a long way from being just a circle-shaped bike, someone has knocked up in a garage for the love of circles. It’s designed to fit on European trains for example, and has built in the most comfortable folding bed I’ve ever tried. The adjustable bar position and the way that works with the cable-actuated steering system is incredible. While its origin could have been concealed by removing the plastic housing there’s a retractable (German made) dog lead attached, whose mechanism is used to fold and unfold the bed/backrest for the seat, because it was the best mechanism available, and it’s funny.
Also on the gate stand was a Mokumono e-bike. I’m not super fussed about the e-bike variant because normal town bikes are the bikes that need motors the least, however I really appreciate the Mokumono design, which is centred around making bikes cost-effectively in Europe by using technology used for making car chassis.
That alone wouldn’t be enough to make the bike special, but it’s weird futuristic utilitarian design is perhaps the best version of that aesthetic bicycles have seen for 70 years. The last bike I photographed from the gates stand was a kooky Sour bikes klünker with a belt drive (obviously) on a homemade tubular steel crankset, although there was more incredible work on show by Wheeldan among others.
Cruising around the show I bumped into another Sour prototype steel enduro bike being wheeled about, and got chatting to Sour about their current process of onshoring. Sour are currently in the process of moving all their production from Taiwan back to Dresden in German. It’s an interesting move that I think a lot of companies will be making in the next few years, as they are forced to think about geo-politics in a way that the cycling industry hasn’t needed to for a long time.
The Sour prototype was fitted out with parts from SQlabs, who I’d not heard of before, but who were also at the show. While pretty obscure outside of Germany, they offer a range of bits starting with saddles to improve the ergonomics of a number of different kinds of bikes. They made time to show me what they’ve been working on, which included a saddle made from infinergy foam, which is commonplace in the soles of high end running shoes. The saddles are pretty well designed, getting around patents for dual-density foam in bicycle saddles, by using layers of tape that alter the compression of the foam in certain areas of the saddle.
They also designed their own tooling for cost-effectively making their one-piece carbon rails in Switzerland, to avoid sweatshop labour. They measured my bum and sent me home with a saddle and some of their unparalleled inner bar ends, which have blown my mind for the week that I’ve been using them.
Other small stuff at the show that struck me as maybe making bicycles better for people was the un-glamorous but awesome new Enduro Bearings headset. Building on the old adage that less is more and bigger is better, Enduro have redesigned their internal headset. They’ve sacked off the weird aluminium liner that most headsets come with, making the stainless outer cup fit the head tube instead, leaving more space inside for bigger balls. I was shocked by the marble sized bearings on the stand, however they were brought along only as a comparative illustration of the scaling up between a normal headset and the new one.
On the Scott/trickstuff/dangerholme stand there were a few cool things… some of which I caught only by chance. The horse-legged Dangerholm was there showing off some of his super duper extra mega lightweight builds, made up of an eclectic blend of exotic parts, my favourite featured a custom titanium crankset made by Sturdy. On the same stand, taking advantage of lever squeezing as a bikeshow pastime, there was a fun little rig on display to illustrate the braking resistance of two different brake pads on a wheel using identical brakes.
While I was there, I also happened upon a man milling about with a fancy fork. He turned out to be Cornelius Kapfinger, the designer and engineer behind Intend, the lightest fanciest telescopic forks going, and what almost every fancy mountain bike at the show had on it. He was holding the 1385g prototype of the new Samurai 120mm cross country fork, with a raked crown. The crown rake allows for smaller, lighter dropouts and reduced wear on bushings and the Rockshox charger raceday cartridge inside.
I drank my body weight in coffee from the SRAM stand where the straight-laced baristas shut down any non-coffee interaction after I asked what they were going to do about the DT Swiss baristas across the hall, shit talking their coffee. I was forced to look at more bikes while chugging lattés. For the record – the SRAM lattés were the finest among vendors at the show, predominantly because they were the only ones not to use UHT milk. I know this because I drank at least one coffee at every vendor serving it, which was 100% necessary to make it round the halls.
During the awkward silences drinking coffee, I had a good chance to properly look at Dan Cravens Onguza, which is the first bike I’ve seen with a full set of the new SRAM Rockshox Zipp XPLR everything on it, resplendent with its double seat stay bridges, in the Onguza trademark yellow cow colourway.
An endless stream of Redbull riders contorted their silhouettes against the sky with a never ending torrent of flips and tricks as I crossed the courtyard into the next hall. A few other highlights included an OEM chain and skirt guard manufacturer who with admirable disregard for seriousness, presented their wears in a blacked out space, with zero information beyond a Zoolander-esque fashion show of mannequins.
The Rapha Palace Cannondale bike on the vision wheels stand has fun paint.
Swiss lube makers, Motorex, sucked me into their stand with a MUSA Foes Prototype from 1993.
Orange, who began as sheet metal fabricators and still build frames in the UK in a super unique way, had a bike on show with the new Intradrive gearbox/motor, which is a really good idea and super interesting for builders who are into that sort of thing.
Cybro Industries brought a road bike! There were less road bikes by percentage than at any other show I’ve visited. It seems like gravel was a gateway drug to get road cyclists into mountain biking, and now those gravel riders have realised singletrack is more fun on a bike designed for singletrack, rather than mixed terrain. Cybro also brought some super fun looking mountain bikes, and gigantic track bikes.
QUOC brought along SPD Chelsea boots. There’s a part of me that thinks if you need the performance of a clipless pedal, chelsea boots won’t help you, the flip side of that, is that you can just slip them on and off and ride. Having owned pedals with a clipless side and a flat side, clipless Chelsea boots seem like a really good alternative solution to the same problem.
Acto5 brought along a purple anodised monster of a bike, whittled from a billet in one piece, which was basically insane and incredible. That’s a lot of chips to recycle! The end result is brilliant, and there’s nothing else made in the same way to compare it to. The bike was fitted with new QVIST hubs, which use their own proprietary high engagement ratchet mechanism, and a new Acto5 crankset fresh from being tested.
My personal highlight of the show was bumping into old friend Alex Clause of Portus at the Fahrstil crossover event; having missed him at the Rohloff stand, where he had an extra silly bike featuring a chainsaw with a gates belt drive. I was super jealous of his Erik Noren electric cargo trike T-shirt.
While being pretty close to Dante’s description of the Inferno, in that it was just too much of a thing I love, it was also pretty fun to see things and meet people in real life, in a way that hasn’t been possible for a while. It was great to see new stuff and actually try out bikes, although next time I’ll try and sneak in a Brompton just to get around the show.