MILAN, Italy (BRAIN)—With a modest footprint but majestic hopes, the historic Milan bicycle show was relaunched this weekend as a stand-alone event.
“We need to have a show dedicated to the bicycle,” said Pier Francesco Caliari (pictured), director general of the ANCMA, the national association for bicycles, motorcycles and accessories. While this was billed as the 69th edition of the Milan show, until now bicycles had always been paired with motorcycles. The motorcycle segment became so dominant that after the 2008 show, bicycles were dropped from what was known as the EICMA show.
This year, organizers relaunched the bicycle show as EICA (the missing “M” reflects the absence of motorbikes.)
Although the show attracted only 60 exhibitors, some of the Italian brands that attended said they came to provide a foundation for future shows.
“We cannot let the Milan show die. We have to support the show,” said Ernesto Colnago, who perhaps is the best-known ambassador for today’s Italian bicycle industry.
“I would like to be brave and keep the [show] in Milan, because Milan is the center of the high-end bicycle and the high-technology bicycle,” Colango said through an interpreter.
Show officials said they are looking ahead to the year 2015, when Milan will host the Universal Exposition, expected to be a huge event. The city, which operates a 2,500-bike bike share system, hopes to build bicycle paths that will link its historic center to the expo grounds, which will be Europe’s largest.
Meanwhile, organizers say this year’s show is a test from which they hope to determine the best timing and format for future shows.
“You have the European way and the U.S. way. We have to match these two ways to do shows,” Caliari said.
He said EICA should be open to both trade and consumers, and include opportunities to test bikes.
“We want to do something more, not just the classic fair,” Caliari said, mentioning Sea Otter as a potential model for a future event.
Some exhibitors said Monday, the last day of the three-day show, will be important because that is when most retailers are expected to attend.
“Monday is the real dealers day, because on Monday most of them are closed. If this year we can catch between 400 to 500 dealers, it would be already a big success,” said Max Colombo, CEO of Milan International Commerce, Shimano’s Italian distributor.
Santini, the high-end, made-in-Italy cycling apparel brand, is ensuring its dealers will attend the show by hosting its traditional dealer meeting at the convention center Monday.
Some 55 international distributors, agents and dealers are expected to attend the line presentation, said Paola Santini, the company’s marketing and PR manager.
DeRosa has also invited its Italian dealers to attend the show on Monday, instead of hosting its traditional independent line introduction at its headquarters.
“I think that this is a very good tool for the dealer and I hope that this show continues,” said Cristiano DeRosa.