Tag Archives: bike

Korean Show

I am pretty sure I am the only westerner here!

It is a compact show, but pretty well attended. Unlike London Shimano and Giant bothered to be here, as well as Cannondale, Specialized, SRAM and Campagnolo (and oh dear, what have they done to their entry level groups?)

Visitors on the first day is a good cross section of ages with many riding here (glorious sunny day). Those who did ride don’t do casual bike wear, so it is a bit like a fancy dress party with many people, not just those riding here, wearing Lycra cycling tops.

As this is a local show for the Korean Market what surprises me is just how much effort the distributors are putting in to the brands they have. Many other countries should take note of the ownership that the companies here feel. Our distributor has had large banners printed up. Presentation is generally really good and the quality of booth materials is impressive. Basically it is more Eurobike than most shows, which at times look as if a half arsed Saturday boy has just lifted the contents of the shop floor up and plonked it in an exhibition centre. The newness of the venue helps here too.

As I suspected there is a large array of titanium on show. This Ibis caught my eye as I once fell in love with a Silk Ti riding it in California.

The other trend which is very apparent is that of the ‘Mini Velo’. These are based around 20 inch wheels with a non folding frame. The idea, I think, is that the bike takes up less room in an apartment. Clearly these arent cheap altenatives, as the carbon frames and these 20inch carbon wheels illustrate.

Another thing which caught my eye was bike storage solutions. The Pretty One should perhaps worry as after seeing the bike safe shown below, I now lust after a five bike version.

E-bikes are also on the march here too, although I am told that the price is still putting a lot of people off. Personally I not so sure about that, as I don’t think an e-bike and a standard bike really appeal to the same users. Good to see that as well as Bosch getting in on the act, Mando (who I am told are a large car components manufacuter) where also showing their cards. Those of you who automatically tune out at the mention of electric bikes – you shouldn’t. They will increase the acceptance of cycling in general as they open the door to users who may have previously decided they were too unfit to ride. Think 40 – 60 something golfers, highly paid professionals with money who aren’t the fittest people in the world. E-bikes may get them in the road and thus not in their Jaguars passing you far to close.

On he topic of giving bikes enough room Landlord were displaying their bike lane light. I have seen this concept before and would love to give it a go. Only real problem I see is giving every other numpty a laser to play with – they aren’t good for the eyes if looked at directly.

Unable to communicate enough in Korean to get one to play with though.

Elsewhere in the show there was a good array CNC MTB parts, available only in Korea from the likes of Fierce. I spotted another brand too.

Proving that annodizing and colours are also never out of fashion, or indeed are coming back continued were Chosen:

Another small Korean CNC specialist were there:

On the same booth was this frame and suspension performance recording and logging machine. All done with GPS and sensors all over the bike. Pretty cool, if tuning a frame.

Finally, my friends from Simplon were there with their mobile specification list (see Marketing Bollocks post from a few weeks back).

Any questions relating to any of this, please ask away (preferably here, and not Weight Weenies, because I don’t check in much). I have the brochure from Fierce (If I didn’t leave it in the hotel) and the other CNC people.

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Another day, another aeroplane

Spent last night at a friends house just north of Munich on my way to Seoul. With The Pretty One being away it gives me the perfect opportunity to visit my friends, not that she doesn’t get on with them, but that fitting things into our schedules isn’t easy. They are great friends and I feel so welcomed in their home.

On a Lufthansa flight now MUC ICN. Those of you not getting on with the codes, that is Munich to Seoul. There is a local trade show there and there are a couple of reasons for my going.

First off is that the Korean appetite for high end mountain biking equipment is extremely well developed. The numbers have been extremely large and of course good distributors are worth looking after.

Secondly is that the isolated location of he Korean peninsular means that some things happen in this Market which don’t happen elsewhere. It is a simple case of ‘out of sight’ and the close proximity of China across the water, means that plenty of replicas of our products are for sale in the market. The reality of this is that we are facing a losing battle. Legal action stops one source for a limited time, but others will open up in their place. What we can do, however is show that we aren’t taking it lying down. It can perhaps be likened to drink driving. Many people will continue to do it, and laws will not prevent it happening. However many will be put off. I intend to collect information of all distributors, importers and manufacturers which I can get.

Right, better fill out my landing card and customs declaration.

Sunblock

As I look above my head, I can’t see a single cloud.  There are birds tweeting and chirping.  I don’t know if they are pets, or if they are wild.  They could be either.  The beautiful sky is a rich blue colour.  The sun is beating down on me, as I sit, with my computer in the back yard of a colleague’s house.

The day started with an alarm call at 7am.  I got up, packed my stuff and met with a couple of the other guys outside our hotel.  We hopped into the rental cars and drove up the famous ‘Route 1’, the coast road, from Monterey to San Francisco, passing through Santa Cruz along the way.  It was a bit of a pointless mission, of that we were all positive, however we still had to give it a go.  We checked with the United Airline’s website to see if our flights to London had been cancelled, but there was nothing to tell us if they had or not.

The drive itself is lovely.  Just so beautiful.  I have practically driven all of the coast road now between LA and San Fran, and if you have the opportunity and the time, this is the best way to move between these two cities.  It is a road, so photos don’t really do it justice, but I will post this one just to give you the idea.

Arriving at the airport, things didn’t look good as I spotted a British Airways 747 literally parked up away from the terminal.  Near it were a Lufthansa 747 and a 340-600.  All parked up and sleeping.  From the monorail (this word always has me thinking of the Simpsons!) there were Air France and a Virgin jumbos in view.  They were parked practically nose to nose – also obviously not going anywhere.

The departure board then confirmed what we already knew.  The flight was cancelled.  Let the queuing begin!  At this point I split from my colleagues.  They are heading to Germany, and I am heading to the UK, so asking what my options were, the agent told me that I would be standby for all London bound flights as of the next day, and that they would need to re-book me onto the next available departure to London.  At this time, unfortunately, this was on the 29th!

The previous day I had hatched a back-up plan.  Return to LA and stay with a colleague there, until it literally blows over.   My thinking was that I would be able to book a flight from SanFran to LA paying full fare, and therefore making it fully refundable.  This would then allow me to fly to his house and hopefully get re-scheduled to London from LA without any penalty.  I explained this to the agent, and asked the availability LAX to LHR.  The first open seat was then on the 27th.  That is progress, of sorts, so I asked her to reserve it, reticket and change the frequent flyer number (I am collecting on a different programme) to reflect my ‘one up from the great unwashed’ status, and give me a slight priority on the wait list.  With the charm turned up to ten, I then went about enquiring rather casually, how I would get to LA.  It worked a treat, and the agent gave me a free transfer, allowing me to cancel and claim the refund on the previous day’s ticket purchase.  What was even better was that at the gate, the gate agent spotted the ‘one up from the great unwashed’ card, and upgraded me to a better seat in the ‘economy plus cabin’ rather than right in the back.  The difference is mostly in the head of those having their ego’s stroked, but there is little wrong with that!

So here I am.  Back in LA and sitting in the sun.  The volcano is still erupting, and I am to check the flight status everyday to see if I get a standby seat on a different flight.  In the meantime, I will work from here.  In my job there is very little that changes because of my location.  As long as I have my pooter and email I can work.

Pass the sunblock.

Where Oceans Meet

Today was the ride that I had been looking forward to.  The marvelous thing about having a bike on holiday is being able to do the normal tourist things, but not being one of those people to sit on a tour bus all day.  Or in a car for that matter.

We got up at 7.30am, and were out of the door by 8.10am.  We headed from Cape Town via Chapman’s Peak, to Simon’s Town and on to the Cape Point National Park.  It was Alex’s (my ride partner’s) longest ever ride, at 140km.  There was wind, 1700m of elevation and baboons.  Yes, you read that right…

What was especially great about this ride, is the fact that Alex only got into riding last year.  He bought a bike from me (which he destroyed, but that is a different story) and it got him hooked.  He now trains more than I do, and although I fared better than him throughout the ride today, that is only to do with muscle memory, and the fact that I have been doing this for years and years.  I also think there is a small element of fear too, when you go farther than you have before.  It wasn’t far off twice his previous max distance.  Towards the end of the ride the recovery that I have managed to build up throughout the years was apparent, as I was able to pull away on the climbs, recover and tuck in again.  What is true though is that his performance was impressive, and by March, when he leaves here, I am sure he will kick my arse on the bike.  I don’t think I will be able to train this much throughout the European winter.

The ride, and the scenery and being at the point of two oceans meet was a great experience.  Riding through the Cape Point National Park is almost like riding through a lunar landscape, well, okay, there is vegetation, and the sea, but a little imagination is all it takes.

Oh, and then there were baboons.  There are also quite a lot of warning signs saying how aggressive they can be and to keep your distance.  I think we were safe though.  Lycra is scary whatever!

Shinkansen

Traveling now to the next destination on the fabled bullet train – the train which is the benchmark for all other high speed trains. Literally as I type this we are pulling into Kyoto. My trip so far has been typically Japanese, from the bento box yesterday, to the sushi last night (best sushi ever, more later) to the mere fact that I seem to be doing a tour of places that sounded exotic and almost mythical two years ago. Kobe, for example bares no scars from the earthquake in 95 for which it is famous. Sure, it is a lifetime ago but the devastation was almost absolute. Reclaimed land sank into the ocean up to 40cm. The city hss recovered, but stories if the quake and it’s aftermath are just below the surface.

Dinner last night was at a sushi restaurant that my host knew.  I was aware of the other diners looking at me and my mastery of chopsticks (questionable).  I had read that the Japanese will do this, automatically expecting that any westerners would not know how to use them.  His reason for choosing it was the chef’s command of English, combined with excellent food and it was wonderful.  As fresh as you would expect from a coastal Japanese city.  My order was simple.  I told him about my love for Sushi and particularly sashimi, but that in England, and in my experience in the US too, it is difficult to actually get anything unusual.  I mean, everyone knows about the delights of Tuna and Salmon, and the standard fish…, but other varieties of fish are neglected.  Wen I told him this, he gave me freshly hatched and completely transparent eels, bonito fish, eel, and a tiny, tiny little fish about 3 cm in length, which is a local delicacy.  We would also instruct me which ones to add soy sauce and wasabi to, and which ones were best eaten as they were.  It was a real treat – those who are interested, let me know and I will give you the address in Kobe.

Today, work was on the cards, so those of you not interested in my job, please skip down to the next paragaph!  I have visited bike shops all over the world now.  USA, Italy, France, Denmark, Taiwan…. You name it, and I have looked at, and compared prices there.  Today, however, I will safely say that I went into the best stocked shop that I have ever been to.  The level and variety was impressive.  Shimano was expected, and in vaste quantities, but the Campagnolo full selection was not.  Klein bikes were also present, their distribution being something which in Europe has long since been given up.  They were well priced too.  The challenges of running the international sales part of our fledgling brand was discussed at some length.  The frustrations relating to pricing and supply being shared on both sides as well as the ever present conversations about the state of the Worldwide economy.  Hopefully we can build on what we discussed, and come out in a better position.  That is the reason for this jolly.  There is only so much that can be discussed via email and there is even less that can be seen.  The company (Marui) are at the absolute tip of the industry here in Japan, and I have no doubt in them, or the people behind them.  The fact that they are so close to the industry’s most mighty player (both in terms of business and friendship) is also a big plus.

Back to today… the bullet train is to Tokyo.  So far Japan appears to be a beautiful country, somewhat juxtaposed with the uncomplimentary modern arcutecture of industry and modern cities.  There are many very small looking, somewhat unattractive, or in the least anonymous small and tightly packed single family homes, with typically Asian tangle of overhead power lines with a tiny, but stunningly cared for Japanese rock garden every now and then.  The town planning seems to be random, although in Kobe, owing to 1995’s tragic need for a rebuild, it isn’t, and the signs of an expanding economy, and modern architecture literally reaching for the stars that I have seen in Osaka, and Kyoto on my way through (and I have read of Tokyo) remind you of what a powerful economic force Japan has been for the last few decades.  This might seem to be scathing, or a criticism, but there is something honest and yet secretive about it.  The towns are very take me as you find me, but you know that if you delve deeper, around every corner, there is something beautiful and awe inspiring waiting for you.

Tokyo should be interesting.