Posted by Editoress on 09/18/10
On the same day that the GP Cycliste de Montreal ProTour race was taking place, the Canadian trade show for the bike industry - ExpoCycle - was opening for specialty bicycle retailers across the country.
BTAC President Jean Cloutier, CCA President John Tolkamp, UCI President Pat McQuaid and BTAC Executive Director Janet O'Connell at the opening of the 2010 Expocycle Trade Show
While most new products are released on a continuous cycle through the year these days (unlike as little as ten years ago, when most new stuff was launched at the trade shows), the trade shows still provide an opportunity to see some new items, see everything in one place and catch up on industry gossip and goings-on (this last might be the most important...).
The Canadian show had significant growth from last year, with most participants reporting increased optimism for both the current and coming seasons.
Here are some of the things that caught our eye:
New Bike Brands for Canada
While almost any brand of bike on the market is available somewhere in Canada (because an individual dealer imports it themselves), Canada has not seen availability of some major European brands in the past, and that is changing.
BMC is coming to Canada via Outdoor Gear Canada (OGC), who had George Hincapie in their booth the day after the Montreal race. Ridley, the Belgian brand known mainly for cyclo-cross (but offering a lot more), is now distributed by Norco, and Stevens, a German brand that is also thought of over here as a 'Cross brand, will be increasing their presence through distributor PMI. One other brand that, while currently available, should see increased presence is Cannondale. While owned by the Canadian-based conglomerate Dorel, until now most distribution has been via the U.S. Now, Cannondale has a Canadian-based sales force. Cannondale also had the biggest lineup of the Show, when Giro winner Ivan Basso spent an hour in the booth signing autographs.
Juteau-Cantin Bike Sizing System
There are a lot of bike sizing systems on the market, and many of them are very good. However, this Canadian one by Gilles Cantin is certainly one of the most comprehensive we have seen. In addition to a stand that allows you to measure saddle height and stem length, there are bike stands for both a complete fit on your current bike, or to determine the best geometry for a new (or custom-built) bike. The latter (called the Tool 4) is extremely impressive, allowing for changes to every aspect of the bike, while pedalling. Frame angles, height, stem length; they can all be varied. This is not a cheap setup ($3000 for the unit, or $5000 for the full system), but for any pro shop it would certainly be a boon. www.bikefittools.com
The urban bike sector continues to grow. While practical and stylish commuting bikes have been available in Europe for decades, they have only started to appear in North America over the past few years. Opus has expanded their range, Raleigh has introduced models that harken back to their roots, Canada's Brodie bikes, Stevens, Norco ... the list goes on and on.
But it doesn't stop there - more and more companies are beginning to introduce accessories for commuting. Canadian bag maker Arkel has always been in the forefront of design, and their latest offerings continue this trend, with a unique backpack holder for behind the saddle, their improved Randonneur rack and numerous multi-function bags. Brooks, that most traditional of British saddle and bag makers, is re-introducing many older style models with updated materials and manufacturing techniques (through Highway 2), detours was showing fashionable bags made from recycled materials, and Canadian trailer manufacturer Chariot Carriers had child trailers that also doubled as strollers.
A separate sub-category that is just beginning to hit Canada is the small push bikes with 10" or 12" wheels for kids. They are a great idea, and you see a lot of them in Europe. The idea is that a kid can get used to balancing on two wheels before they graduate to pedals. A new Canadian brand is Striders ( www.stridersports.ca ).
One thing you will see a lot of in 2011 is similar colour schemes for bikes. Based around a primary solid (red or blue in particular), frame tubes are accented with sections of black and white. Not much in the way of fades or metallic paint. A carry over from current paint schemes is the continued use of glossy, nail polish-like finishes. One company that stood out for particularly striking bikes was Marin, but they are not alone.
One last note: BTAC (Bicycle Trade Association of Canada), the show organizers, had IMBA Canada build an indoor test track; one of the better ones we have seen. BTAC intends to make it available for other events and show organizers to use.
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