This year's Cycle Show, officially the UK's biggest bicycle symposium, is making a special attempt to appeal to women, with "female-friendly features" including fashion shows and women-only maintenance sessions.
But the absence of a queue for the ladies' loos at the Earl's Court venue, in London, spoke volumes about the male-dominated cycling fraternity. Women were outnumbered 20 to 1 at the trade-only opening day, suggesting the bike world has some way to go before getting the Fawcett Society's seal of approval.
Despite the gender imbalance, the visitor numbers for the first day of the show were up 60% on last year, suggesting the bike industry is not just recession-proof but a beneficiary of these economically dicey times.
There was little sign of wallet tightening, particularly on the stand belonging to Moulton, the British manufacturer of full-suspension, small-wheeled bicycles. Pride of place was the £14,500 New Series Double Pylon, a shiny space-aged number with a silver-brazed frame made from stainless steel. Despite not yet being in production, the bike has already attracted a waiting list of 13 months, with demand particularly high in Japan. Shaun Moulton, great nephew of Alex Moulton, the brand's inventor, was on hand to explain its merits. It is very light yet very strong, and the lack of paintwork means it is completely scratch-proof, apparently.
For those who wanted to admire but not buy, there was a chance to touch the saddle graced by the professional bike racer Fabian Cancellara just weeks ago when he won the time trial at the World Championships in Switzerland. His red time trial bike was not for sale, but any wealthy enthusiast could pick up his Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3. For a cool £5,500 they could order it in any colour but yellow – that hue is reserved for Cancellara, produced to match his jersey when he led the Tour de France for several stages this summer.
For the weight-obsessed, there was carbon fibre everything, from forks to frames, to bicycle shoes. Funny how many portly men you could see lovingly fingering these featherlight products, as if it is the heft of their group-set rather than their gut that slows them down.
There was a notable increase in cycling fashion brands this year, with two young designers, Anna Glowinski and Amy Fleuriot of Ana Nichoola and Cyclodelic respectively, producing stylish yet highly functional cycling fashion. Both have achieved that rarest of feats: attractive cycling anoraks.
Cyclodelic's anorak is a blue soft shell, with gold zips; Ana Nichoola's military ruffle is a demure green, with pleats on the rear. Both are low cut at the back to keep a lady's bottom dry in a rain shower and will sell at around the £130 mark.
For the sartorially minded gentleman cyclist there was a breathable "smoking jacket" with a reversible fluorescent lining – perfect for the evening rider and costing €200 (£184) from Two n Fro, a new British company aimed at the modern cyclist for whom safety and style are jointly important concerns.
There was a big buzz around the Transport for London stand, which was premiering the bikes and docking stations to be used in Boris Johnson's bike rental scheme. If all goes well, 6,000 navy blue, three-speed, sit-up-and-beg bikes with an inbuilt lighting system will be whizzing around the capital's streets next summer.
A test ride found these sturdy steeds were not made to go fast, but they felt safe and comfortable. With luck they will be hard to vandalise. Given that half a million bikes were stolen in the UK last year, it will be interesting to see how many of TfL's machines will still be in circulation by 2010's Cycle Show.
Biker grove: Five Cycle Show finds
1 Pet basket Fancy transporting your pooch by bike but can't trust him not to make a break for it en route? Liix, a German company, has a solution: a portable cage with a quick-release fixture that attach to handlebars or a back rack like an ordinary basket. (liix.de)
2 Pashley Clubman Demand for Pashley's classic bicycles has soared in recent years, with sales up 80% this July compared to 2008, despite rotten weather. Next year the British brand is introducing the limited-edition Clubman, a dashing "fixed three-speed" road bike which taps into the trend for vintage-looking fixed-gear bikes with the advantage of being able to change into an easier gear when your legs get tired. (pashley.co.uk)
3 Armlite Pretend you're captaining England in the dark with these luminescent armbands, which can also be worn on the ankle. Solar-powered, they don't require batteries and the manufacturers claim they can be seen from 1km away on a clear night. (pedalite.com)
4 AC/DC bell If simply wearing a T-shirt bearing the name of your favourite Australian rock band is not enough, now you can buy a bike bell customised with their logo. The insignia is printed on a magnet which can be swapped for a picture of David Bowie if you prefer. (liix.de)
5 Claq reflector For riders who want to be seen in the dark without wearing a luminous cagoule, there is the Claq, a versatile magnetic reflective tab to clip on to your clothes, hair or bike. (twonfro.com)