WASHINGTON, D.C.—Some 15 editors from urban-focused cycling magazines and websites as well as non-endemic media met with transportation brands to see 2011 product and learn about what’s driving this important segment yesterday at the inaugural Urban PressCamp.
Held at the House of Sweden, home of the Embassy of Sweden and the Embassy of Iceland, the venue offered an intimate setting for journalists to meet with 10 brands as well as two competing companies that are making inroads with bike-sharing systems in the U.S.—B-Cycle and Public Bike.
Lifeboat Events, which also puts on DealerCamp and PressCamp, summer product launches for retailers and media, timed the new event to coincide with the National Bike Summit, which begins tonight. Breezer, Currie Technologies, Civia, CatEye, Cannondale, Fuji, Lazer, NuVinci, Raleigh and Schwinn set up booths in a room, where company reps met with editors during 45-minute appointments.
Many appreciated the opportunity to talk about bikes and accessories that usually take the backseat at other shows where glitzy carbon road and full-suspension mountain bikes steal the spotlight.
“This category gets to be the belle of the ball today,” said Michael DeLeon, who manned the Cannondale stand along with women’s product manager Lyriel Jordan, where it had its line of recreation-inspired Quick commuters, and the more urban Bad Boy and Hooligan bikes. “It’s a great opportunity to highlight a strong segment.”
Others also noted the strength in the transportation category as cities work to improve infrastructure and rising gas prices get consumers out of cars and onto bike saddles. Civia’s general manager Burton Avery said it has seen sales grow 20 to 30 percent in the past year.
Relatively new to the market, Civia has grown from one model to nine since it launched four years ago. It’s also expanded its P&A offerings, adding a line of fenders, racks and panniers. For 2011, it introduced three new models, including its first cargo bike, the Halsted, which features a frame-mounted rack for better load stability. With a 26-inch rear wheel and 20-inch front wheel, it has a much shorter wheelbase compared to the average cargo bike.
“We’ve gotten a lot of interest from dealers to have it as a shop bike,” Avery said.
JT Burke, brand manager for Breezer Bikes, said that not only are bike suppliers expanding their lines, component brands are also bringing innovation to the table. “Shimano has its new Alfine 11-speed hub and SRAM is talking about some new technologies as well,” Burke said. “This wasn’t the case in 2002,” when Breezer turned its focus to transportation bikes.
“It’s a great time for transportation bikes,” Burke noted, adding that Breezer’s 2011 Uptown Infinity, which features the NuVinci hub, has been well received in the market. “Let’s just say we didn’t order enough.”
While the fixie segment has flattened out, steel is gaining popularity as the material of choice, according to Raleigh’s Brian Fornes. Internally geared hubs are also more prominent in Raleigh’s lineup for 2011.
More and more consumers are looking for one bike to do it all, Fornes said, pointing to the Misceo, its top-selling bike with 29-inch wheels, front suspension or rigid fork and muted graphics. Retail price starts at under $500.
“The urban segment is definitely an area we see the most growth in,” said Fornes. “We’re focusing on bikes to run errands and that are more attainable and realistic in terms of price point for consumers.”
Urban PressCamp opens up to Bike Summit attendees today for a few hours before suppliers pack up their wares this afternoon.
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