A friend of mine moved to China. His wife had taken a one-year teaching contract and so as fortune would have it, he had quite a bit of free time on his hands. So being a fit and athletic person by nature, he took advantage of local gyms, the running track and swimming pools. He also decided to buy a mountain bike.

As he tells the story, he admits he wasn’t really a biker per se, and didn’t have much product or brand awareness; he only wanted a decent bike that he could ride on the local trails to help with training. After asking around, he found out about an area that had two bike stores right near each other. When he got there, the stores were literally side by side. He didn’t recognize either store or the brands they carried so he picked the smaller, less commercial looking one and walked out with a pseudo-custom built “Dainty 6” aluminum frame hardtail with front shocks and mechanical disc breaks and LX Shimano shifters and derailleurs. I’ve seen the bike, and despite the name, it’s pretty good for what it is. And considering it cost him a whopping $300 USD, it’s a really good bike. Now, but what was the other store next door? Well, just a little brand called Giant. When my friend told me that, I almost couldn’t believe it! I mean, Giant. He didn’t recognize Giant… How could he not know that brand?! I mean to me that would be like going out to buy a car and not recognizing the four linked rings of Audi as you walked on past the dealership toward the lot next door. But there you go. It just shows that unless you know, how could you know? And this got me thinking about all the bikes I saw on the Transrockies this year that I had never heard of. I mean, prior to this year’s TR would I have looked at buying a Cube, or BMC, or LaPierre? I can’t say that would for sure. I’d like to think I’d recognize a super high end rig when I saw one no matter what the name on the downtube, but I think it’d be more likely that I’d still lean toward the manufacturers that I knew best – or the ones I knew at all.

So with that said, there are some really cool bike manufacturers out there and here are the ones on the top of my “want” list:

BMCBMC – Bicycle Manufacturing Corporation. Swiss cycling technology = kick-ass bikes. I saw just one of these on the TR but I have to admit I was smitten from the first moment. Haha… Yeah, yeah…

Cube Sting SuperCUBE – This German bike builder was a brand of choice on the TR for several of the European racers. Nice sleds. Nice indeed. I could see myself on one of these easily enough.

Ghost RT Lector WorldcupGHOST – Bavarian cycling passion gave birth to these beautiful rides. Again, I’d say it’s easy enough to see why I might want one.

Of course with any of these, it’s going to be hard to tell if they ride or perform anywhere near as good as they look. Spec sheets and component lists will tell you part of the story, and I can say I’ve seen BMC and CUBE in action on the Transrockies. They certainly held up to that from what I could tell, but as wicked as they seem, it might be a while before I start shopping abroad for my next ride.

LaPierre X-Control 900Now that said, I heard a rumour that we might be getting a new brand here in Edmonton as soon as 2010. LAPIERRE might be coming to RVC! This would be a great chance for someone like me, who is interested in getting to know these brands from abroad a little better, a chance to actually go for a trail spin. I hope it’s the case – the X-Control 900, sooo HOT, HOT!!!!