September 28/06 2:50 am - Interbike Report Day 1
Posted by Editor on 09/28/06
Interbike 2006 - Day 1
Once again, it is time for the Interbike trade show. This is the largest bike industry show in North America, and the bike industry literally takes over large portions of Las Vegas - the bar in the lobby at the Treasure Island hotel becomes ground central every night for the Canadian portion of the industry, and there are many blurry-eyed sales reps staggering into their booths the next morning...
We begin the show by walking the floors, meeting up with old friends and acquaintances, and getting an overall feel for the state of the industry on the first day.
Interbike 2006 is the largest in its 25 year history with 309,900 square feet of exhibit space, which is the most in Interbike's history. Filling that space are 735 individual bicycle and accessory manufacturers, ranging from the heavyweights like Specialized, Giant, Shimano, etc., to newcomers who are hoping to break into the market with something new and innovative. The entry level is where some of the coolest (and most ridiculous) stuff can be seen. Each year will see a few of these newcomers return, plus a host of 'fresh meat' for the industry.
Overall, the mood is very buoyant. The industry has been on a roll for the past 3-4 years, fuelled by the 'Lance effect'. However, this is the first post-Lance year, and the negative publicity that the sport has received about Floyd Landis hasn't helped. Statistics presented by the NBDA (National Bicycle Dealers Association) suggest that the bubble has burst on explosive growth provided by the road bike sector, with inventories up. This potentially means lots of deals for consumers as bike shops try to unload inventory. In the U.S. there is also a steady decline in the number of shops (over the past 3 years), which isn't all bad, since the remaining shops tend to be the better and more efficient dealers.
While the majors continue to dominate the industry, there is certainly a dramatic upswing in the number of specialty suppliers, offering both hard goods (cranks, wheels, frames, etc.) and accessories (everything from bags to locks and lights). This proliferation of suppliers is probably the best sign of a vibrant industry, since it is these small suppliers who will bring in new products and continue to push the pace of innovation at all levels.
The next report will focus on more specific products, but here are a few items we have already noticed (see the Photo Gallery):
- The latest wrist band is a semi-transparent one that says "I support drug free sport".
- Lots and lots (and lots) of celebs signing autographs. One of the must have items is the new "Golden Age of Cycling" book based on the cycling memorabilia collection of Brett Horton of San Francisco. The first 200 copies were being sold in the Velonews booth and autographed by Eddy Merckx. The line literally swallowed its own tail as it circled the booth, and the available books were sold out in less than 20 minutes. This will be a Christmas wishlist item for lots of people.
- Colours are vibrant and well-thought out (thank goodness, not the neon of the past...). Striking use of white with primary colours of red, blue, etc. on lots of bikes. 2007 will certainly be a good looking crop of bikes.
- Canadian bag manufacturer Arkel - the most durable bags in the business, in our opinion - is showing a patent-pending cam lock quickrelease design mounting system for their bags.
- Sweetskinz has incredible coloured tires in the style of version snake skins. If you can coordinate this with your bike frame then you are probably an aspiring interior designer...
- Lots of non-bike brands starting to infilterate the bike market. As well as Cadillac, Ducati and Lamborghini were on display. Porsche is another one already out there.
- Twenty-niners (29" wheel mtbs) are gathering strength as a niche, but there are still lots of arguements as to whether it should be both wheels or front only.
- Insoles (or foot alignment systems) are a huge growth area. Specialized has Body Geometry, and now Veltec has Aline. We were fitted for both, and will be reporting back on each system, and how well they work. But there are at least 8-10 other gel sole and alignment systems out there.