That's mostly what I saw at Cycle Mode International today. This was my first 'trade show' (I don't ACTUALLY know what that means) and I spent most of my time looking for things that weren't covered in decals, ugly, and over 2,000$. I was barely successful.I was lucky to find a small booth where a wonderful sage of a Japanese man was displaying his handmade bicycles! Fortunately for me he speaks English quite well and we chatted about bike culture in Japan and America. Kazusuke is his name and he has been writing about bikes for over 30 years, recently publishing a book on the history of the bicycle (which he showed me, confessing he hadn't bothered to translate it into English yet) Wearing a tweed coat, black and white beard and glasses, standing behind 2 beautiful antique replicas, I felt like I had hopped into another century. Startlingly he invited me to send him an e-mail to meet up sometime and he'd show me around by bike and go out 'for tea'. He even said he'd lone me a bike for the ride, which I will surely take him up on.(This great frame is a double top tube and diamond frame with a slight upward curve going into the stem with advantages that Kazusuke explained in detail)
Other than Kazusuke's bikes (he has yet to have an official brand name yet, but said he was going to call them ’bizen’, the name of a type of Japanese sword, and made up of the characters 'beauty' and 'truth' 美全) there wasn't much in the enormous hall that sparked my attention. I did hop on a carbon frame for the first time and race around the track they had set up. Very smooth.Osso bikes had an interesting set up with a live DJ mixing music and an artist doing bike related designs on an overhead that someone else was distorting in kind of a kaleidescopic way. Although the display was mostly geared toward those who like their gears fixed and single, the creative media is worth mentioning. There were also a bunch of interesting folding bikes and one really crazy recumbent with a rather complicated chain get up. (the bike was a prototype, and that foot is not the rider's.)
Mont Bell and Columbia also had camping gear and some bike clothing, but there was an absence of hybrid work/bike clothing and what some would call 'lifestyle' bikes that was kind of disappointing. I think if I'm to get excited by anything in the commercial bike world it's going to be new marketable products that get more people on bicycles and try to bridge the gap between riding and living. I can appreciate individual racers, fixed gearers, bmx-persons, etc but huge companies promoting their products repulses me a bit, and I find myself talking with people in tweed instead of snapping photos of the latest release from Eddy Merckx. (there was a bicycle fashion show going on as well with a runway and everything! ah spandex...)
So in conclusion, it wasn't really my scene, but meeting Kazusuke was wonderful, and it didn't hurt that I got my ticket free from a friend.
have fun riding this week
(and just because I don't ride a carbon frame or wear spandex doesn't mean you shouldn't with gusto!)