FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany (BRAIN)—For Chris Speyer, Raleigh’s vice president of sales and marketing, Eurobike used to be the time to cruise the show floor to check out trendsetting ideas or scope competitors’ product. But, as the product cycle continues to creep earlier in the calendar, the industry’s largest trade show has taken on a new importance.
“It’s a launching pad for 2012. It’s really the first step in our 2012 process,” said Speyer during a break from meetings with Shimano and SRAM to discuss Raleigh’s line plan for the upcoming model year.
More are taking advantage of Eurobike’s global reach—the show attracts trade visitors from 75 countries—to start early talks with OEMs.
“I think if you take into consideration the first official meetings in Taiwan begin in December at Taichung Bike Week, I could imagine people meeting here to talk first,” said Stefan Reisinger, Eurobike’s project manager. Other brands use the four-day trade event as a communications tool or to write orders, he added.
The 19th Eurobike trade fair Sept. 1 to 4 was as busy as ever, according to Reisinger. Although 200 fewer retailers turned up at the Demo Day this year due to heavy rain the night before, attendance at the first two-and-a-half days of the indoor show at the Messe Friedrichshafen was up over last year, he said.
E-bikes took center stage as many brands used the venue to make their debut into the category. Bosch, the German electrical engineering giant, introduced its new e-bike drive system, with the group spec’d on about 10 bikes including Cannondale, Scott, Merida and Centurion. Several brands also showed electric mountain bikes for the first time.
Another trend taking hold in Europe is 29ers. While big-wheeled bikes have seen significant growth in the U.S. market over the past several years, brands have not seen similar success thus far in Europe. But, some say, European resistance is beginning to loosen.
“It’s such a change from last year,” said Carla Hukee, brand manager for Niner as she perused the bikes at the Ghost booth looking for 29ers. “From booth to booth you can see it. At Demo Day, people’s 26-inch bikes were languishing but all the 29ers were out.”
Trek, which pulled its Gary Fisher brand out of Europe last year, returned to the show with three 29ers under the new Gary Fisher Collection by Trek banner. Most European brands have not yet embraced 29ers, but a few like Corratec, KTM, Bergamont and Merida showed at least one model during Eurobike.
Aside from the product, much of the buzz on the show floor focused on Interbike as speculation swirled about a potential date change to early August and a move out of Las Vegas to either Anaheim, California, or Salt Lake City, Utah, next year.
Eurobike’s Reisinger said the Friedrichshafen show had no plans to follow with a date change of its own. “Our customers are confident and we are confident that we have a good time for the industry. They are used to the timeframe. There is nothing to think about for next year,” he said.
Eurobike 2011 dates have been set for Aug. 31 to Sept. 3. Organizers are considering whether to add a fifth day to the show in the future, Reisinger said.
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