Velofollies serves for a biker’s fantasies, wants, desires and daydreams

Mountain bike at the Velofollies.

VELOFOLLIES – Otherwise known as This Is My Bike (In My Dreams). Every fantasy about what could, should be your bike if money, space, time and the realities of carrying groceries and children were not an issue. This is about bikes – not the people who ride them.

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - The Merckx exhibit at Velofollies

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – The Merckx bike exhibit at Velofollies was constantly occupied. There would be a rare Belgian, or anyone who wants a racing bike, who would not be pleased with a Merckx frame. Just the association to one of the greatest, if not the greatest, racing cyclist.

I spent my day at the Belgium bike exhibition, Velofollies, trying to satisfy my urges for more bikes, more equipment and the daydreams that come when staring at the best, the most interesting, bikes on the market.

Otherwise known as, This Is My Bike (In My Dreams).

Oh, not everything was fantasy. There were plenty of solid manufacturers offering very attractive bikes, and even the elite levels bikes under 2,000 Euros were there.

But so were the fantasies.

Bikes that cost 17,000. Bikes that weigh just 4.5 kg. A carbon fixed gears graphite bike that weighed slightly less than the office stapler (without staples). It was enough to lead me across the exhibition halls, moving from one point of obsession to another, as fickle a rider as I could be, moving my affection and allegiance from one paint job to the next decorated rim.

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Stevens bike, 4.5kg

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – A German manufacturer, Stevens had the top price I could find on the stands. The bike weighs in at 4.5kg and a price of 13,2109 Euros. The pro teams bikes all over the exhibit are not available to the public – and would make eyes water at the price tag.

For so many of us, this was the closest we would come to the bikes ridden by the top teams. By the heroes we watch throughout the season, in classics, tours, and stages. To be able to ogle and drool at the time trial frames, delight in the geometry and design that is offered to such a  minuscule collection of riders, and imagine that even we might be able to do right to such a piece of craftsmanship – even if only for a kilometre.

There were other obsessions to bask in. Some of the designer custom bikes that would be affordable for most of us, as well as the smaller additions that could be added to our current steeds to celebrate them, make them appreciated in the new year.

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - American 'fat bike'.

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – The American ‘fat bike’ named after the wide tires. They have become immensely popular even with hard core riders, as an off-road bike. There are plenty of images of riders on snowy trails with them. But they are also a luxurious city ride. And some dealers are offering them as electric bikes — with considerable interest at the exhibit.

If I were to make a prediction for the coming year, it will be the appearance of the American style ‘fat bike’. There were a dozen or more exhibitors that either specialise in the bikes, or have them in their collection. As there are now electric models, as well, the fat bike is prepared to enter the European marketplace. In the coming months, they will likey start to appear – and they will be noticed.

Speaking personally, I have yet to reach a point where an electric bike is wanted, or needed. If I were ever to spend serious money on a bike, it would be the classic road bike design. There was no shortage for this fantasy. It is the backbone of 99% of the men there who still have dreams, or delusions, about their ability to inflict pain and suffering on all who dare slip onto their wheel.

Eddy Merckx bikes was constantly filled with people, with men, dreaming of the possibility. And there are few riders who would not be happy to have that connection to one of the greatest sporting heroes in the world – and certainly the most famous of all Belgian cyclists.

I slipped over to Origin bikes. A new venture from a French frame builder, their bikes are beautiful Not overly decorated, but relatively simple in presentation (this is all relative, of course). They offer bikes in carbon or aluminium, the only difference being the frame material.  Oh, and price being the other difference. They have only been making frames since 2012, and their frames offer that same curved geometry found in most elite bikes today.

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Origine bikes

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – My personal favourite was Origine bikes. They offer the same frame as carbon or lightweight aluminium, clean design, nice paint job – not so flash as the, bike gets lost.

I slipped out after five hours and went back to my bike. Yes, I actually rode a bike to the even, something only a few people did on the day. Far from the post-2,000 Euro prices, my bike is a DIY/bricolage assembly made up of inexpensive wheels, parts scavenged from another bike and a frame I bought on e-Bay for under 50 Euros. It still rolls well, is comfortable and, to my delight, I can still inflict a bit of pain on people who slip onto my wheel.

While I still want, need and desire one of the frames I saw in the Velofollies exhibits,  I might have evaded the primordial need to buy yet another bike – but I doubt it.

And there was the insane delight. A fixie, made of carbon fibre and titanium that was so light, I would think the stapler in your office weighs more. Well, it weighs in under 2500 grams, (2.5kgs). The weight to expectation is insanely wide. I think I have a paperback book at my house that weighs more. There is more at their website…

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Superlight carbon fibre bike at Velofolies

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – Carbon fibre and titanium and a final weight under 2.5 kgs. Look in your bookshelf – you have a book that weighs more than this bike.

The next event on my calendar is the May 1, 2, 3 “Come & Try Me!” mountain bike show in Houffalize, Belgium. Many of the exhibitors will be bringing their bikes, road, MTB and electric, for the general public to ride through the local landscape, and give the off-road beats a proper trial before separating with their money. Or, just another chance to ride a lot of cool bikes in the woods. See more at Happy Bike Days website.

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