Perfect for the gathered crowds to have a spin on the latest rigs, ATB Sales pitched up in Chipping Norton last month, with scenic country lanes in all directions for miles around.
Good thing too, as there was plenty of buzz surrounding the direction the distributor’s brands are heading, with Willier’s high-end technology ‘trickling down’ into mid-range price points and Whyte designer Ian Alexander having added three new disc equipped road rigs, as well as a handful of new sporty builds for the ladies.
Alexander told BikeBiz: “The emphasis for the 2014 bikes has been durability. We’ve used wheels that a wheelbuilder wouldn’t be shy of running, there’s no corners cut. We’ve used deep-section, eyeletted rims with brass nipples and our own locked skewers to ease theft concerns. The rim decals are reflective too and won’t be coming off with no rim-brake to scupper the finish.”
There will soon be matching Whyte mudguards at £29.99 a piece for those using the bikes through the winter. These will be plastic with an alloy inner to prevent damage.
The three 6061 hydroformed T6 rigs all come disc equipped, with the £1,199 top model – the Suffolk – carrying TRP’s new HY-RD cable/hydraulic brakes. The frame material is much the same as that used on Whyte’s cyclocross builds, so it’s built to last and with a tapered headtube carrying 1 1/8 up top and 1 1/2in at the bottom it’s a responsive front end. The mountain bike influence is evident in the inboard chainstay mounting of the discs, which frees up space on the outside for rack and pannier additions.
The entry build – the Sussex – comes in at £799 and carries many of the same features as its upgraded counterpart, such as a compact ergonomic bar, internally routed cables with rubber ports to keep the seal tight. This is the only model of the three that doesn’t carry the straight-bladed carbon fork, instead featuring an alloy one with the same eyelets.
With the progression in women’s cycling both on the performance and comfort fronts, Whyte has been busy. The Strawberry Hill is the new sit-up-and-beg style bike in the catalogue. At £599 the 6061 hydroformed T6 frame is custom drawn and butted, as is the fork.
Both carry colour-matched mudguards with good coverage. As with the men’s rigs, internal cable routing bumps up the style points, with ergon grips on a swept back handlebar providing a relaxed riding position. There’s some nice touches to keep the weight down too, with Selle Royal supplying mag railed Milo saddle. Another subtle detail, but a practicval one is the Tektro levers with built-in bell.
On to Wilier and the key talking point from the manufacturer is the value for money aspect, now particularly evident in the middle of the line bikes. As a result of ‘trickledown’, customers can now get their hands on the entry spec Gran Turismo for just £1,499. Going back two years, this bike would have been a flagship build in the Wilier catalogue, say ATB Sales.
At the entry-level, Wilier also now has a new alloy frame, as well as a full-carbon build at £1,299.
Leading the charge for the serious cyclist is the Centro1Air, a foray into bikes with aerodynamic credentials at the forefront of the design. You’ll find brakes sheltered by the frame, clever cable routing and an integrated aero fork.
Three builds are set for the UK, beginning with a Ultegra 11 speed spec at £3,750, Ultegra di2 at £4,249 and the range topping Dura-Ace at £5,499. Geometry and sizing will be much the same as the predecessor – the Centro1SR.
ATB will also be bringing in Wilier’s new mountain bike line for the first time this year, which spans £2,399 for the 501 XNXT, through £3,999 for the 11-speed XN XTR, built with high-strength 60 ton carbon. You’ll also find a full carbon rigid hardtail version of the range topper in the 101XN Rigid.
Finally, we unfortunately were forbidden from taking some snaps of what’s to come from Marin, but if you missed out this time around, you’ll be able to catch the label launching the range come Eurobike.
What we can say, is that Marin appears to now to be seeing the benefit of the brand acquisition that took place a few short years ago. There’s a new ‘Pro’ 650B version of the Mount Vision, which looks very tidy, with an internally routed Reverb post, among other high-spec features.
Another bike to look out from Californian brand Marin is the Rocky Ridge with its lay back seat tube, allowing the rider to really get behind the post on a descent for greater pedal efficiency.
To view a gallery of images from the event, see here.