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First U.S. Recumbent Trade Show Wraps Up

Published October 22, 2011

POMONA, CA (BRAIN)—Year after year at Interbike, show attendees from the recumbent industry would get together for a dinner to discuss the state of the market in their corner of the cycling world. Often, the talk would turn to creating their own trade show, said Chuck Coyne, publisher and editor of Recumbent & Tandem Rider Magazine.

This year, Coyne took it upon himself to turn the talk into action, presenting the inaugural Recumbent Cycle-Con Trade Show and Convention, which began Friday and wrapped up yesterday at the Pomona Fairplex in Pomona, California, outside Los Angeles.

Some 36 exhibitors displaying recumbent bikes, trikes, tandems, hand cycles, components and accessories—as well as representatives from advocacy groups—were set up in a 12,000-square-foot hall, with a demo area outside for test riding the latest in laid-bike cycles.

In addition, seminars and technical workshops covered such topics as special-needs cycling, recumbent touring and frame assembly and adjustment. Saturday morning, Jay Townley, a partner in The Gluskin Townley Group LLC, a market research and specialty retail consultancy, led a presentation on how recumbents can help bike retailers hold on to their customer base of aging baby boomers.

Saturday night, Recumbent Cycle-Con presented its first Recumbent Dealer of the Year Award, based on submissions from exhibiting manufacturers.

The first two days of the show were industry-only, but Sunday was open for the public to learn about and ride recumbents from manufacturers who have traveled from as far away as Australia, the Netherlands, Germany and the Czech Republic. Dealers from throughout the U.S. as well as from Canada also were on hand, Coyne said.

“I’ve come here to get rejuvenated,” said Jim Snider, owner of Brandon, Mississippi-based shop RideSouth, where recumbents account for about 35 percent of sales. Snider said he has avoided Interbike for the past five years because many recumbent manufacturers would either not attend or display too little product to make it worth his while.

“There’s a lot of junk there I’m not interested in, but here I’m interested in everything,” he said. Of particular interest to Snider were the trikes that are so popular at his shop, along with hand cycles and other adaptive offerings for cyclists with special needs.

Supplier Intrepid Cycles of San Diego, California, debuted its new children’s hand cycle, Rascal, alongside its lineup of adult models. The $999 trike, with a seven-speed internal hub, coaster brake and a lever-actuated parking brake, fits riders up to 4 feet tall who might have such disabilities as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy or cognitive impairment, said Pat Smith, manager for Intrepid.

Because Intrepid sells consumer direct, it can also advise customers on how to get financial assistance on its hand cycles from groups including Challenged Athletes Foundation, San Diego Adaptive Sports Foundation and Team PossAbilities.

Lightning Cycle Dynamics, meanwhile, had a new take on the four-wheel recumbent, debuting its Phantom Quad. Instead of two wheels in front and two out back, the Phantom has in-line single front and rear wheels plus two outboard stabilizer wheels, creating a diamond wheel layout. The outboard wheels are removable to convert to a traditional two-wheel recumbent bicycle. The result is a quad with a higher seat for improved visibility in traffic and a more stable ride, Lightning claims.

Another company vying for the attention of retailers—and also seeking a manufacturing partner—is Evolve Trikes, an Australian startup showing off its 16- and 20-inch folding trikes. They can be collapsed in a matter of seconds without removing the seats, said the company’s Eric Ball.

The 16-inch model folds up into dimensions of 33 x 23.75 x 22.5 inches. “You can fit these into a broom closet or under your desk if you wish,” said Ball. A laptop at Evolve’s booth shows the folded trike fitting into the back of a Smart car.

Also, the trikes can be partially collapsed so that the rider can roll it rather than carry it, well suited for commuters in large cities who might have to walk long distances through transit centers.

Evolve caught the eye of Bruce Hermann, owner of Neighborhood Transportation, a shop in Lewisville, North Carolina, dedicated to recumbent and foldable bikes and trikes. He admired the trikes’ portability, and believes they will come in at an attractive price point once Evolve sets up its manufacturing.

Hermann previously had a shop in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina, that was aimed at serving the commuting crowd, providing showers, indoor bike parking and other amenities. When that business model didn’t take, he moved to Lewisville five years ago and focused all his attention on the recumbent and folding market. “To do recumbents right, you have to put a good deal of energy into it,” he said.

When it came time this year to decide whether to attend Interbike or the new recumbent show, “we had to flip a coin,” he quipped.

But Hermann said he’s more than happy with his decision. “It’s a nice, intimate gathering,” he said.

For the full lineup of exhibitors and events at Recumbent Cycle-Con Trade Show, click on the link above.

(PHOTO: Intrepid Cycles’ Rascal hand cycle for children.)

—Toby Hill

Topics associated with this article: Tradeshows and conferences

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