Tuesday, September 14, 2010

they're hosed

The North American bike industry trade show known as Interbike has announced that in 2011, it will move from Las Vegas (that wasteland of utter absurdity) to Anaheim, CA (that wasteland of utter absurdity).

Perhaps even more significantly than the change in location is the new date: Instead of holding the show in late September, when most dealers are beginning to wind down their season and can actually get away to attend a trade show, Interbike 2011 will take place the first week of August, meaning that almost no one outside of southern California will be able to attend.

Early August is high season for bike retailers and I know that we -- and most mid-level, smaller shops -- would be hard-pressed to spare anyone at that time. Plus, unless the entire bike industry has decided to change their manufacturing and pre-season forecasting schedules, Interbike threatens to become even more irrelevant than it already is, since few items unveiled at the show would be available in quantity before early 2012 anyway. Or, conversely, smaller retailers could, over time, become more irrelevant to Interbike and the largest bike manufacturers, which is certainly another possibility. However, That possibility will take longer to come to fruition; and lots of small hole-in-the-wall shops are still hanging on and doing relatively well, even in the midst of the biggest recession to bite us on the fanny since nineteen-thirty-something.

In the words of one of my visiting reps, who shall remain anonymous, "They're hosed."

I agree. With major manufacturers already pulling out of this year's show (Bell/Blackburn, et al will not have a booth at the show, though I understand they will have some kind of presence at the Outdoor Demo a couple of days beforehand), Interbike, Inc. is going to take a bath if it goes through with this change.

Fascinating. Especially as I begin to finalize my dance card for this year's outing.


Richard said...

Interbike is fast going the way of USA-Cycling, the UCI, and dinosaurs. I suspect the major manufacturers like Trek and Specialized are more than happy to hold their own shows when they roll out product so they can garner more individual attention. I have a friend who owns a new bike company (Mercury Bikes) and he will be attending this year hoping to expand his market and grad some vendors. I just don't know what these changes will do to small and mid-size companies.

bikelovejones said...
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bikelovejones said...

@ Richard -- don't be too quick to dismiss USA Cycling or the UCI. With the growth of professional bike racing in the US, the UCI needs USA Cycling, because there's simply no other organization large enough to manage the sport at a national level.

And as for the UCI itself -- even if ASO DOES own the Grand Tours and a bunch of the spring Classics now, "owning" the rights to stage a race does not give you the right to make the rules, or the authority to enforce them. (As to whether or not the UCI is actually enforcing the rules is another discussion for another time.)

Interbike would not exist unless the industry continued to feel that it served a particular need. The changes in venue and date have as much to do with the co-dependent (some might say incestuous) relationship between Interbike, Bicycle Retailer News and its attendant groupies, and cycling's Big Three as it does with the cry and hue that was raised over the prospect of another multi-year agreement with the Sands.

Small independent bike shops are the backbone of the industry, and unless the Powers That Be gradually morph the industry's business model into a mega-industry with few real choices and top-down management, will continue to be. I am hopeful that bike manufacturers won't lose sight of that fact, and that is part of why we're going to the show again this year. Whether we will go to the show after it moves to Anaheim remains to be seen.

Richard said...

If you’ve never read “The Hour” by Michael Hutchinson, I highly recommend it. It’s an excellent book and quite funny at times. It also details the absolute stupidity of the UCI in how it interrupts rules, stifles innovation, and literally sweeps cycling records aside for the sake of nostalgia.

Here are 3 good articles that I think further illustrate the incompetence of the UCI.




I agree with you that small bike shops are the backbone of the industry. I live in a small town with 2 small shops. There's no way I would have gotten into cycling without these small shops.

Richard said...

Uh... that should have said interprets the rules. It's been a long day.