LAS VEGAS, NV (BRAIN)—Bicycle manufacturers, retailers, advocacy groups and industry guests were optimistic about the market and its future as they gathered last week for this year's Interbike.
"The mood during both the Outdoor Demo and the Expo was incredibly optimistic," said Interbike advisor Lance Camisasca. "In particular manufacturers and retailers were talking about swelling interest for commuter, urban and electric and folding bikes, and a rise in people that are using bicycles to ride to work, a quick trip to the corner grocery store or an outing with their family. This new consumer segment is providing economic opportunities for the entire industry."
Buyers and media began the Interbike market week by testing the latest in road, mountain and cyclocross bikes and accessories at Interbike's Outdoor Demo, held Sept. 22-23 in Bootleg Canyon. Nearly 5,000 people contributed to record attendance at the two-day Demo and more than 200 brands helped make this year's event the largest Outdoor Demo since the pre-indoor expo was started 13 years ago.
"Outdoor Demo becomes more valuable to us every year," said Doug Martin, marketing director for Felt Bicycles. "It allows us to interact with shop owners and employees face-to-face, have an engaging discussion about our products, and then give that same person the opportunity to experience our product on the spot. There is no substitute for that kind of personal and experiential interaction."
Once in the Sands Expo and Convention Center for the indoor portion of the show, more than 23,000 exhibitors and attendees filled the hall. Retail buyers with extensive buying power were able to make informed purchase decisions by interacting with approximately 1,100 brands, as well as industry non-profit and advocacy organizations.
"Interbike makes the research and ground work for buying decisions easier by putting all of the major brands in one place," said Ronnie Bratcher from Reality Bikes in Cumming, Georgia. "I was extremely pleased with all of the product I saw and the renewed focus on bikes that fit the need of the average consumer."
"This year's Expo was phenomenal," said Pat Cunnane, president of Advanced Sports. "Not only was our booth busy, but our competitors' booths seemed busy as well. The addition of Breezer Bikes to our product lines, well known for its emphasis on bikes as an alternative mode of transportation, brought additional attention to our booth."
After months of high gas prices, the industry placed significant emphasis on the commuter, urban and lifestyle categories. This included several new exhibitors specifically focused on this market segment along with new bikes and product lines from established brands such as Dahon, Electra, QBP, Raleigh, Schwinn, Shimano, Specialized and SRAM.
In order to demonstrate business opportunities with this new category, Interbike added a new show feature by debuting the Urban Legend Fashion and Art Show presented by Momentum Magazine. The event highlighted how real people use the latest in cycling-friendly bikes, clothing, bags and accessories for everyday life. Models rode along a path that weaved through the audience showing off the form and function of the highlighted products.
Some of the other events surrounding Interbike 2008 were two separate Web 2.0 and New Media seminar's held during the show on Wednesday and Thursday, Wednesday night's Mountain Bike Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Sands, the CrossVegas cyclocross race, where Lance Armstrong raced in the Elite Men's category, and Thursday night's USA Crits Finals held at Mandalay Bay Resort.
"As the new show director, I tried to meet with as many attendees as possible," said Andy Tompkins, show director for Interbike. "It was rewarding to hear that despite difficult economic times, both retailers and exhibitors seemed to agree that their investment in Interbike was worthwhile and the event is absolutely necessary to attend to see what's new and further develop business relationships. All in all, Interbike 2008 was a great success and we are already working on plans to create a 2009 event that continues to provide a business and community platform for the entire industry to connect and ultimately grow."
In addition to strong numbers in sold space and attendees, preliminary numbers indicate close to 550 members of the media attended Interbike, a double digit increase compared to the previous year. With this year's interest in commuter and urban bikes, along with a special appearance from seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, working media attendees represented non-endemic publications such as the LA Times, Men's Journal, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Wired Magazine along with editors, writers and producers of cycling-focused magazines, Web sites, blogs and podcasts.
Interbike will continue next month with the inaugural Outdoor Demo East to be held in Providence, Rhode Island on Oct. 21-22, 2008. The two-day industry demo event is the first Interbike product testing event specifically targeted at servicing east coast dealers and their staff who may not be able to attend the Interbike Outdoor Demo in Las Vegas.
Interbike OutDoor Demo East currently has 45-plus bicycle and accessory manufacturers scheduled to exhibit.
The dates for the 2009 editions of the Interbike Outdoor Demo and International Bicycle Expo will be, September 21-22, and September 23-25, respectively.