Interbike Bicycle Show Opens Doors to Consumers for First Time

September 23, 2013

It’s not all about tight Lycra shorts at Interbike, the largest cycling trade show and outdoor demo event in North America that took place Sept. 18-20 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.

After a record warm spring in 2012 and consequent high sales, the numbers have been flat for many cycling retailers during the past several months. But a few obstacles on the course didn’t scare this hardy crowd, and the 2013 show, owned by Emerald Expositions, was on par with last year, with about 850 exhibitors, 25,000 attendees and 320,000 square feet of space.

A move to the new location from the Sands Expo Center created new opportunities for revving up the experience, such as Interbike by Invitation that brought consumers to the floor on the last day.

“The dealers and exhibitors have been getting the consumers in the halls for years,” said Pat Hus, Interbike managing director. “With the move to Mandalay Bay, we felt like it was the right timing, but we didn’t want to do it without involving our primary attendee – the retailer. So we asked them to invite their best customers.”

The idea is that cycling enthusiasts (who pay a $50 fee) would see the newest gear and order it through their retailers. No sales transactions are allowed on the showfloor, and the show beefed up security to keep people walking out with product.

“Our intent is to create consumer demand for new products and generate retail activity in stores after the event,” Hus said. “In this scenario, everybody wins.”

The floor plan was reorganized into “neighborhoods,” such as the Urban Yard, The Lab, the BMX Zone and the Triathlon Pavilion. One of the most vibrant zones this year was Mountain Biking, thanks to the new developments in tire technology. 

The show also saw a good response to the new outdoor area – The Paddock - that took over the parking lot at Mandalay Bay. Exhibitors offered extended test rides during show hours, and on Thursday evening, it was turned into the venue for a full half-mile criterium course to host The USA CRITS Finals, which was expected to attract around 8,000 spectators.

For exhibitor Margaret Edel with Colorado-based Velo Bling Designs, Interbike is a perfect place to show off the jewelry and other objects, from bottle openers to clocks, made from recycled bike parts. “It all started when my husband made a bracelet out of his chain and the guys he rides with asked him to make some for them,” she said.

A former crime scene investigator, her husband now works full time for the company, and she still works as a firefighter several times a month. After their success at last Interbike, they doubled the size of their stand this year and brought more staff. She said, “It’s a great show for us. There’s a high demand for our product because people relate to it.”

Retailer David Meyer with Colorado-based Rock N Roll Sports was scouting out new bikes and gear for spring.

Sales have been slow for the past several months and after 21 years in business, Meyer is concerned about the impact of the Internet on independent stores.

His response is to keep the finger on the pulse of what’s hot. “They have new superlight helmets that look like Easter eggs to me but a lot of people like them,” Meyer said. “It used to be about racing, but now it’s more about the lifestyle. Tight Lycra is out, and people want to wear casual clothing and enjoy the ride.”

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