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CycloFest connects consumers with brands, draws regional retailers for four-day festival

Published October 24, 2016

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (BRAIN) — CycloFest, Interbike’s mixed trade and consumer demo event held at the U.S. National Whitewater Center here, brought together bike enthusiasts, local trail riders and families from all over the Southeast for the event, which wrapped up on Sunday.

Open to industry only Thursday and Friday, CycloFest was free for consumers to attend Friday and Saturday to visit their favorite brands, see new product and ride the stellar trails located a stone's throw from the venue.

A local cyclocross series race held Saturday drew riders and spectators from all over the region, and on Sunday, a social road ride and a cross-country mountain bike race gave attendees a chance to further explore the Whitewater Center's 1,100 scenic acres. Evening activities included happy hours and free concerts, including headliner Trombone Shorty, who played Saturday and attracted a mix of Whitewater Center regulars, weekend visitors and CycloFest attendees.

Overall, the consumers BRAIN interviewed were excited the event happened in their backyard.

The Whitewater Center's trails attract hundreds of riders each week, including Charlotte residents Adrian and Janice Henning, who said they came because they wouldn't miss the opportunity to see many brands at the same time.

"It's a great one-stop shop, and we've been able to visit a lot of smaller companies we wouldn't normally get to see," Adrian Henning said. "We don't get many chances to do that so close to home."

"A lot of locals are here but it also seems like a lot of people have come from out of town," Janice Henning added. "So I think it's been a good draw from other parts of the Southeast, which is good to see. I'd love to see it happen next year."

Final attendance numbers are not yet available, but many exhibitors said that Thursday and Saturday — the first trade and consumer days, respectively — saw the highest booth traffic over CycloFest's four days.

Interbike stated ahead of CycloFest that 1,150 retail buyers from around 600 stores had pre-registered for the two trade days. About 375 of those buyers attended opening day Thursday, according to Interbike vice president Pat Hus.

"We were thinking that if we could double that (on Friday), we would do good. Well, they didn't show up, and we ended up with about 500 retail people between Thursday and Friday," Hus said.

"But then Saturday, the day everyone was counting on, we had over 2,000 verifieds that came in with (demo) waivers. There were also 350 cyclocross racers. And this was just Saturday. So we're figuring today it could be much lighter, but it could be another 800 to 1,000," Hus said Sunday afternoon.

Hutchinson Tires' Roy Hough was disappointed by the turnout, especially on the two trade days.

"We had really great, engaging conversations with unique dealers that didn't attend Interbike or DirtDemo in Vegas. We just wish there were more of them that attended," he said.

But several bike suppliers said they were busy throughout CycloFest getting both retailers and consumers aboard demo bikes.

Pivot Cycles' Bryan Mason said consumers waited up to 3 hours to try out the bike they wanted. "Both consumer days, I wish we had twice the fleet," he said.

On the trade side, Mason had hoped CycloFest would attract retailers from a wider geographic area. "We knew it would be regional, but not this regional," he said.

Several suppliers said while they didn't know what to expect for a first year event they hope to see CycloFest return next year and have a chance to grow some legs.

Ken Miner, U.S. sales director for Haibike, said he kept expectations low since CycloFest is a new event on the industry calendar.

"No one knows what to expect. And the first two days were dealers I've never seen before. We've had people from Minneapolis who came by; New York, some folks from Puerto Rico, some contacts you don't normally get. That's been good," he said.

Look for more CycloFest coverage in the December 1 issue of Bicycle Retailer.

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