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Ins and Outs: Outerbike attracts grown-up mountain bikers

Published October 1, 2013
The 2012 Outerbike expo. Photo: Whit Richardson
Utah demo event opens Friday

MOAB, UT (BRAIN) — It's likely that few folks have accused Ashley Korenblat of thinking small. 

The industry veteran, mountain bike advocate and entrepreneur wears many caps, including that of organizer of Outerbike, a consumer demo event opening for its fourth edition Friday in Moab.

To Korenblat's thinking, Outerbike is the cure for at least two industry plagues: first, the endless — and often uninformed — debates over the merits of various new bikes and technologies and, second and more seriously, retailers' frustration over early and awkwardly timed product introductions.

Positioned two weeks after Interbike closes, Outerbike allows consumers to ride many of the same 2014 model year demo bikes that retailers rode at Interbike's OutDoor Demo and at summer product launches. About 1,000 consumers attended last year's Outerbike, and Korenblat expects about 1,200 this year.

"We think we are getting people excited about next year's bikes at the right time," Korenblat said. "We aren't asking people to change model years in the middle of the season:  The people trying bikes here are willing to wait through the winter to get next year's bike next year. That allows dealers to order what they need and manufacturers to make what they need to make."

That might explain why about a dozen retailers, from all over the country, have bought tickets to Outerbike for themselves and for a few key customers and employees — and why CompetitiveCyclist.com decided to sponsor the event as its official online retailer.

And, back to the first averted plague, Korenblat said some real-life saddle time could end confusion among consumers about the best bike (and wheel size? -Ed.) for them.

"This is the end of the endless drum of discussions. Never mind what the media is telling you, or the forums are telling you, or the retailers. Just come and decide by riding a bunch of bikes on real trails," she said. 

Outerbike differs from other consumer festivals on the calendar because it focuses narrowly on the demos. 

"We are 100 percent focused on getting consumers onto demo bikes. It's not about the race, it's not about the industry meetings, it's not about the band — although I'd like to have a band maybe, someday. It's just about the people."

The remote location and $150 registration fee draw an affluent, hard-core group of riders, but not racers. Korenblat has a word for them: "grown-ups."

"They couldn't name a mountain bike racer to save their lives, but they are really into having the newest thing, and they are really into riding. They are grown-ups, they are professionals. They are serious about fitness and serious about cycling."

And another thing? 

"They wouldn't even think about asking for a pro deal. They aren't looking for handouts. They are adults."

Not that the attendees are opposed to a little fun. 

"The first year [of Outerbike] ... we had too many demo bikes and not enough people. The second year, we had way too many people and not enough bikes," she said.

So the tradition began that on the opening day of Outerbike, participants lined up at the gate for the 9 a.m. opening, then sprinted on foot, Le Mans-style, to get the bike they wanted to demo. 

"Last year, we figured it out and we had the right number of bikes for the number of people. So I said, 'We don't need to do the Le Mans start. There are plenty of bikes.' But everyone said, 'We like doing that. It's fun.' So we still do that."

Outerbike opens this Friday at 9 a.m. Bring your running shoes and sharp elbows.

Outerbike organizers said Tuesday that they expect no problems as a result of the federal government shutdown.

"Rest assured that the government shutdown will not affect the event at all! Everything is moving forward as planned," an email to participants read.

More information: www.outerbike.com.

Topics associated with this article: Consumer Expos and Rides

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