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Unibike unites clashing Spanish bike festivals

Published September 22, 2014
Approximately 30,000 visitors passed through the halls of the three-day Unibike show.

MADRID (BRAIN) — The Spanish bike industry heaved a collective sigh of relief this past weekend after two rival bike shows that have competed for the same September dates the past two years joined forces to produce Unibike, which took place at Madrid's IFEMA exhibition hall over the weekend.

Since 2012, when newcomer EXPOBIKE faced off against veteran Festibike, dissenting brands balked at having to choose between the two events or having to spend resources on maintaining a presence at both shows. Both events featured the same scheduling format with a professional day limited to industry members on Friday, and public days open to consumers on Saturday and Sunday. This compelled distributors, retailers and media members to elect one or the other or hustle between the two on Friday, which earned complaints from those participants as well.

To resolve the conflict, the Asociación de Marcas y Bicicletas de España (Association of Spanish Brands and Bicycles, AMBE) took command following a disastrous weekend in 2013 that suffered both shows plus got sideswiped by the Vuelta a España finishing in Madrid the same weekend.

"What we have done with AMBE is unite the brands and agree that one solo show is necessary," explained Ignacio Estellés, AMBE's president. "AMBE and its member brands contacted IFEMA directly to organize the show in conjunction with IFEMA and we integrated both Festibike and its organizer Last Lap, and EXPOBIKE and we are all here: Last Lap, EXPOBIKE, IFEMA and AMBE — both as organizer and melting pot for everyone present."

According to Estellés, this first edition of Unibike is the largest bike show in the history of Spain. Festibike boasted 6,000 square meters of expo space, but Unibike has more than doubled that with 15,000 square meters to accommodate 210 exhibitors representing more than 500 brands, and to host a variety of activities that claimed a third of the total space. Friday counted 3,500 industry professionals and overall, approximately 30,000 visitors passed through the halls of the three-day show.

Specialized, Trek, Shimano, Cannondale and WD-40 as well as domestic brands Orbea and BH Bikes put their stamp on the Spanish market by buying the largest expo spaces, which raised some interest especially after Specialized publicly abandoned Eurobike and Interbike earlier this year.

"We can't compare Eurobike or Interbike with Unibike because this show is a national event, which draws national distributors and importers," said Yuriy Tomas, marketing director for Specialized Spain. "Specialized, same as other brands like Trek and Giant, are here for national recognition."

Los Angeles-based Pure Fix Cycles traveled to Madrid on a mission to capitalize on the Spanish market, which offers the opportunity for late-season sales thanks to a reasonably mild climate.

"We opened our European headquarters in Rotterdam four months ago so we just started in Europe and that's why we decided to come here," said Eddy Pauls, Pure Fix's European manager. "We are interested in the Spanish market in general because we see that it's really growing and we should focus on Spain, Italy and France because we can also sell bikes in wintertime whereas the rest of Europe is probably too cold by then for our bikes."

Throughout the show, the Unibike Forum was center stage for discourse on topics related to health, mobility, infrastructure, tourism, and even helmet aerodynamics. Using bikes as a utility is still an emerging trend in Spain, yet the greatest gap in bike use in Iberia may be a yet unrealized windfall for cycle tourism here.

"I think Spain is probably 5 billion euros per year behind its competitors in terms of a potential revenue stream from cycling," said Kevin Mayne, development director for the European Cyclists' Federation.

In his presentation "A National Cycling Plan for Spain — The European Perspective," Mayne cited Spain's assets as the third most-visited country in the world, its rank as the third country with the most UNESCO World Heritage sites, and its rich bicycle heritage. Currently, Spain brings in 1.62 billion euros annually for cycle tourism, which drifts far in the wake of Germany's 11.37-billion-euro cycle tourism market. Mayne believes that Spain could rival France's 7.49 billion euros in annual revenue from cycle tourism by promoting ideal cycling areas that double as popular tour destinations as well.

"Andalusia in particular, wrapping around the culture of the great Andalusian cities — you can sell that culture to very high-value consumers," Mayne said. "The highest-value consumers are the northern Europeans and they've got the highest rate of cycle tourism. The fact that Spain has really only exploited sporty cyclists coming to Mallorca, there's this huge gap and other countries are doing it much better."

Evident in this fact is Spain's opportunity to borrow from successful models of cycle tourism, which is also a strategy that could be applied to crafting a national bike plan or improving next year's edition of Unibike.

Topics associated with this article: Events, Tradeshows and conferences

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