Jot down some of the most desirable brands in cycling and names like Chris King, Castelli, Enve, Silca, Stages, Sidi and 3T will be near the top of any list. Forward-thinking companies delivering innovative, boundary-stretching product, from Chris King’s drool-worthy hubs to 3T’s Strada aero bike, Sidi’s Tour de France-winning shoes to Silca’s heirloom-quality tools.
All seven of those brands are part of the Saddleback portfolio – the distributor dubbed the ‘UK home of elite performance products’ and itself a company not content with the norm. Saddleback, a long-time supporter of the Rouleur Classic, will use this week’s show to present its ‘The Future is Now’ exhibition.
“This is our fourth year coming to the show,” says Saddleback’s Declan Deehan. “This year we wanted to do something more in-depth and more engaging, creating a space within the Rouleur Classic which is closer to an exhibition. We had to raise the bar again.”
Saddleback will use cutting-edge digital delivery to bring its products to life and visitors to the Saddleback’s exhibition within the Rouleur Classic will be able take a journey through three rooms. “The first will tell the Saddleback story, using augmented reality to show why we are the chosen home for elite performance brands in the UK,” says Deehan.
The second will use a set of virtual reality goggles to delve into the history of Castelli and the clothing company’s close ties with the top-tier of professional cycling, most recently through its sponsorship of Team Sky.
Castelli joined the portfolio in 2006 when it was looking to break the UK market and Deehan now describes Saddleback as an extension of the Italian firm. “We help to shape what the product is and what the range needs to complement UK riders,” he adds.
The third room, meanwhile, will lead into a custom-built showroom with designated ‘brand zones’ featuring some of the latest products to land at Saddleback HQ. Once again, augmented reality will be used to digitally-deliver key specs and the room will be built from internally-lit perspex boxes. “It will be very colourful, neon and almost with a Blade Runner feel to it,” says Deehan. However, just as crucially, it’s a dedicated space for visitors to get hands-on.
“Rather than looking at products sitting on the shelf, we want guests to the show to sit down with their mates, have a beer, and get to examine the products themselves,” says Deehan. “There will also be an iPad to scan particular areas of each product – the rim, for example – to tell them the back-story and importance of that technology.”
Highlights will include Enve’s brand new SES Disc rear wheel, which has a one-piece moulded construction, as well as the Utah-based carbon specialist’s tubeless-compatible SES 5.6 wheelset – Enve’s most versatile aero wheelset to date.
Mark Cavendish, who rides for Enve-sponsored Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, will also be signing posters at the show on Thursday November 1. In fact, Cavendish is one of 14 world champions set to attend the Rouleur Classic over three days.
Otherwise, Deehan describes Silca as a brand ‘going from strength-to-strength’ thanks to the American company’s chic, beautifully-crafted tools and accessories. Look out for the cutting-edge SuperPista Digital track pump and the versatile Ypislon Y-Wrench.
There will also be the latest garments from Castelli, including the new Alpha ROS winter line-up and the latest Free Aero Race kit, while Sidi’s box-fresh Wire 2 and Ergo 5 shoes will be on display.
Also keep an eye out for 3T’s new wide tyre-optimised aero bike, the Due, and Stages’ updated power meters. You get the picture, there’s plenty to feast your eyes on.
“We’ve got a lot of product that has just come to market, it’s only just been released” says Deehan. “This is the first chance most people will have to see it in the flesh.”