Bike blog: Wheelers meet dealers at London's annual Cycle Show

The Cycle Show at the Earls Court exhibition centre in London, which opens to the public tomorrow, is the UK's biggest annual showcase for all things bike, and a good pointer for growing trends. Here are a few things I've learned from wandering around the stalls this morning:

• The new hire bike – coming soon to 400 docking stations around London from next year – is, as you can well imagine, a solidly-built beast. Seemingly built from iron bridge girders, you wouldn't want to carry it up a hill. But – albeit on a flat course in the middle of an exhibition centre – it's surprisingly fun to ride, with three smooth gears and a nice feel. Here's a man from the BBC trying it out yesterday.

Folding bikes are increasingly big business. They're everywhere at the Bike Show, with ever more Heath Robinson-style folding mechanisms. I tried out one from a Slovenian company called Big Fish, who are new to the UK market. Their sales pitch is that their bike doesn't have a hinged frame, which makes it more stable and responsive. It felt OK to me, but then I'm a folding bike novice.

• The industry's also getting excited about electrically-assisted bikes – they're everywhere. As battery technology improves they're getting lighter and quicker, though they're still generally on the pricey side. Don't be surprised the next time you're climbing a hill and a beaming grandmother whirrs past at 20mph.

• Retro-style single-gear and fixed-gear bikes are spreading from their traditional home among the graphic designers of east London. More or less every brand is bringing out a shiny chrome fixie with an old-school narrow steel frame, tapeless road bars and a single, tiny front brake lever. I'm ambivalent towards them but still found the Bianchi ones very pretty. There are even spin-offs – one exhibitor, Quoc Pham, is making office-style shoes designed especially to fit into the toe-clips beloved of single speeders.

Those are my thoughts - please add your own observations below if you make it to west London over the next three days.

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