Interbike Observations 2013
Written by: Greg Kopecky
Added: Thu Sep 26 2013
What I like to do is leave aside enough time during the actual show to browse around and get a general lay of the land. I want to meet new people, talk to old friends, and generally absorb as much as possible – and what better time and place to do it? This article is a summary of my main observations of Interbike 2013 as it relates to triathlon and the industry in general. We’ll attempt to cover what has changed, what has stayed the same, and what the new trends are in our funny little sport.
What Stayed the Same
The best part of the show that hasn’t changed, in my opinion, is the fact that there are so many different cycling niches represented. Call it a niche-of-a-niche sport. You get the road cyclists, the triathletes, and the mountain bikers. Then there are the hipsters, the trackies, the 24-hour endurance crowd, and even the low-end ‘fitness’-oriented booths. There are nutrition products, tires, brake pads, clothing, car racks, power meters, and hey – why not a dog-walking leash that attaches to your bike?
The other big piece of Interbike that hasn’t changed is the large number of Asian factory and private-label vendors. They generally occupy a few rows towards one side of the show, and display some products that many Slowtwitch forum readers would have a field day with.
Want to make your own brand of wheel, frame, or just about anything else? These folks will take your order right at the show…
If you’re in to accessories, these vendors have you covered. I always find about a dozen display cases filled with unmarked goodies. Sometimes I wonder if it’s the same stuff showing up year after year. Who would know the difference?
The biggest change I’ve noticed over the past few years is that Interbike is becoming less of a place to debut product, and more of a place to meet. Manufacturers don’t want their message to get lost in a sea of new product introductions during the same week, so they now debut their goods whenever they please. For triathlon, I really didn’t see a single company or category that jumped out at me as having a lot of new stuff that I hadn’t heard of yet.
What you see in the place of product introductions are brand hype sessions. Want free beer served by hired female models? Come to any number of booths at 5:00 p.m. and drink up. The show is an important meeting time, but it’s more about the relationships and planning for next year than the products themselves.
Want to know the most popular thing at Interbike this year? Two words: Fat. Bikes.
I saw steel fat bikes, carbon fat bikes, and super-fatty fat bikes with the new 190mm hub standard (seen in the photo above). That’s right – a 190mm rear hub. They’re huge, obnoxious, and awesome.
The other big trend that continues to explode is the carbon clincher category:
If you’ve ever worked in a retail bike shop, you know the type of abuse that some customers dish out to their machines. Riding with completely worn brake pads? Check. Riding with the wrong pad compound? Check. Riding with misadjusted pads that aren’t even in the braking area of the rim? Check. With alloy rims, you can get away with this sort of thing with a reasonable measure of safety. With carbon, the risks go up considerably. As prices drop and the used market gets flooded with this product, I have a feeling that there will be some less-than-favorable outcomes.
Overall, I’m glad to see Interbike continue to thrive. It just wouldn’t be September without a trip to the Strip. As consumers, is there anything that you want to see more of from Interbike coverage? Do you look forward to the ‘show season’? Perhaps most importantly – is it something that you understand and expect, or does the annual coverage come up as a mini surprise every year? Could we (both Slowtwitch and the general industry) do anything better to add value to you when it comes to Interbike? We would love to hear your comments.
All images © Greg Kopecky / slowtwitch.com
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