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With high-profile absences, bike brands report busy Demo

Published September 20, 2016
Pivot Cycles sent out a record 247 bike demos on Monday.

BOULDER CITY, Nev. (BRAIN) — Chris Cocalis, president and CEO of Pivot, sent out 247 demos on Monday of OutDoor Demo, a company record. And he expected to do more on Tuesday, traditionally a busier day for retail traffic.

Pivot, one of a handful of high-end MTB brands that brought a demo fleet to Bootleg Canyon, had a line of retailers waiting for bikes on both days. With several brands pulling out of Demo this year — Giant, Specialized, Scott, Santa Cruz and Intense, to name a few —
remaining bike exhibitors were sought after.

Most exhibitors reported foot traffic was down on Monday compared with last year, but it improved Tuesday, which offered cooler temps.

Transition Bike has been at both OutDoor Demo and inside the expo the past two years, but was only doing Demo this year, with 22 bikes on hand. "It seems like it's busier than usual for us, but maybe that's because of who's not here," said sales manager Chris Pascucci.

David Anker, director of international sales for Advanced Sports International, worked the company's booth both days, offering demos of Fuji and Breezer bikes.

"Yesterday definitely did not meet our expectations, but today has been good," Anker said Tuesday.

"Since 10 a.m. it's really been cooking. We probably have two-thirds or three-quarters of our bikes out right now," he said Tuesday around noon. "We ran the numbers yesterday and we were down on total rides about 30 percent. But we've been trucking here today. The real question is, is it extra demand because there's fewer big brands here? That's the mystery for us. Are people riding our bikes because there's not an alternative or are they really interested?"

ASI booked the same booth space and location as in years past and brought roughly 75 bikes for demo.

KHS Bikes' Quinton Spaulding has been coming to OutDoor Demo for 16 years, and said dealer traffic in the aisles on Day One was the worst he has ever seen. KHS had a booth near the entrance. "But in our booth it's 80th percentile. Maybe we're grabbing their traffic," he said of the brands who didn't attend this year.

Demo was notably lighter on exhibitors. One area farthest from the entrance was empty this year, and another area, typically where e-bike and road brands put up their tents, had several open spaces.

Show organizers didn't have demo attendance figures on Tuesday, but Pat Hus, vice president of Interbike, acknowledged that several brands pulled out last minute and that the reduced size is a reflection of a slow market and challenging environment in the industry. The indoor show was trending down 7 percent in pre-registration of retailers from last year, and 8 percent down in net square feet.

With fewer brands, wait times for test bikes were a bit longer. But Dane Higgins, part owner of Tucson Endurance Performance Center in Tucson, Arizona, still enjoyed spending two days riding at Bootleg Canyon.

"The trails are phenomenal and the organization is great," Higgins said. "It was the lack of brands out there that was disappointing. A lot of the brands we come to see weren't here including brands we carry. We carry Felt, Intense, Pivot and Devinci. Felt didn't come and Intense pulled out, so we can't test those bikes, which we sell. But other than that, they did a great job."

Higgins noted he likes testing bikes from brands he doesn't stock so he can compare them with what he sells and give customers an idea of where other bikes excel or fall short.

"Customers rely on us to help them through that process," he said. "We're going to go to Outerbike this year to test more bikes we want knowledge on."

Cycling Sports Group, which took a much larger booth space toward the entrance, where Giant exhibited previously, brought a much larger fleet of demo bikes for GT and Cannondale, and as one of the larger brands still exhibiting, reaped the rewards.

"We are pleased with OutDoor Demo this year. The turnout for us has been amazing and our number of rides is up over last year. Growing the fleet this year was well worth it," said Hannah Parish, North American marketing director for CSG.

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