A bluffers guide to one of the cycle industry's key dates
Eurobike is now just four and a half weeks away. The event has long since come of age – this year is its 21st – and it can reasonably lay claim for the title of most important cycle trade show in the world (though there are other contenders who would argue the point).
From beginnings as a Southern German trade show with a MTB bias virtually every bike genre is served by the event, including the mighty (on the continent at least) electric bicycle market, but more of that later.
This year the show runs from Wednesday August 29th to Saturday September 1st, with the Demo Day taking place on the Tuesday before the show opens.
Just when you thought the show could scarcely become any bigger, this year the show is expected to see 1,200 exhibitors (100 more than 2011) from 45 countries. Industry visitor numbers are expected to exceed 40,000, while over 1,800 journalists from 36 countries will be struggling to make sure they don’t miss the biggest news from those 1,200 exhibitors.
Recent developments like the Demo Day have gone from strength-to-strength – this year with some companies ‘exhibiting’ at the Demo Day instead of the show proper. Last year Demo Day predictably broke its own records helped by the good weather (compared with 2010’s flooded exhibition grounds). 1,840 visitors attended the Demo Day (up from 1,460), with 608 media representatives (577 in 2010) from 34 countries.Article continues below
Location has helped the Demo Day grow – test riders will now be able to roll through the foothills of the Alps in the Allgau region, while there will also be a large test area in Ratzenried. It’s all about a 35-minute drive from the exhibition grounds and attendees will be able to test out MTBs, road bikes, e-bikes, apparel, accessories, parts and just about anything else they can lay their hands on.
E-bikes, customisation and wheel sizes
Despite the naysayers, e-bikes have proved to be steady sellers in some European territories, so they’ll be back at Eurobike and claiming a significant presence once again. Germany is set to sell 400,000 e-bikes this year, according to the ZEV (the German bicycle association), having grown eight-fold over five years. More electric newcomers to the market are expected at Eurobike, with the likes of Yamaha offering e-bike parts alongside the likes of other heavy hitters like Bosch and Panasonic. Yamaha is supplying Giant, according to Eurobike’s organisers.
Other tips from the people behind the Friedrichshafen-set show include the continued shift towards bicycles as a style statement, from fixies to folding bikes. Will Eurobike see the world of mountain bikes continue to tussle over the best wheel sizes? It seems so, with 29ers and 650b vying for industry domination.
While stalking the halls of Eurobike we’ll also see more electronic gear shifting systems – for 2013 Shimano has announced electronic gear hubs for sporty leisure bikes. Sticking with electrics (notice the pattern here?) Fox Racing will show its new generation of suspension forks and rear wheel shock absorbers, which will communicate with each other electronically. Time to take a course in electrics, maybe?
Trends will also be covered in show stalwarts like the Fashion Show, regularly help in the East Foyer (three times a day) and also in the Eurobike Awards, hosted for the eighth time with the internationally recognised iF Design Forum. While only ten entries will win one of the coveted Gold Awards, a good few will pick up prizes (59 last year) out of the hundreds of entries (430 in 2011, from 27 countries). Winners get their hands on the prizes at the Awards Ceremony, held in the East Foyer on the opening day of the show – Wednesday August 29th.
If you’re tired of being dry you could always get involved with the Lake Jump (Thursday, 6pm) or in need of more bike thrills participate in the ‘King of Dirt Jump’ contest for mountain bikes and BMX. There’s a party too if you're in need of a shindig. That takes place on Friday August 31st from 6.30pm (or whenever you can grab a beverage) in the West Open Air Grounds.
If you haven’t booked a hotel yet then prepare your tent as rooms are usually very thin on the ground even months before the show takes place. Getting to Friedrichshafen can be an ordeal too, with no direct flights from the UK. Did we ever tell you about the time the BikeBiz team missed a connecting flight in Franfurt and ended up on a seven hour-plus train journey through Germany? Once you’re there, however, getting around shouldn’t be too hard. There’s a shuttle bus making runs at the start and end of each day, while the catamaran and ferry take visitors across Lake Constance. There’s more on travel around Eurobike at the official site www.eurobike-show.de. Missed flight connections nonewithstanding, we’ll be at Eurobike, so see you there.