SHOW REPORT: IceBike* Winter

IceBike* on fire: Totally un-phased by the fact a fire engine had pulled up and alarm bells were ringing, Madison’s sales reps were having no trouble selling their hot-off-the-production-line 2011 product at the first instalment of IceBike* Winter. Mark Sutton reports on the event…
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False alarm or not, Madison’s brand managers and sales reps were all largely insistent that a fire engine had been called in to put out the fire “started by all the hot product” on show at the first Winter IceBike* – something which now looks set to be an annual calendar fixture given the volumes of dealers who made the journey to the Milton Keynes HQ.

Held over five days in mid-July, the show has been brought in to consolidate all of the many summer launches Madison sends out invites for during early summer. For dealers the show is designed to provide a refresher of what the distributor can offer, give a preview for the 2011 line- up and create a rare opportunity to pin down the minds behind the product in order to give feedback and further gain insight into the processes behind the design work.

Indeed spending time with those who live, eat and breathe the design of cycle product can present both opportunities and highlight overlooked detail. For example, a few lucky dealers will have been fortune enough to have been presented the chance to view up close Giro’s footwear line, due later this year and modelled by Levi Leipheimer in the Tour. Press were banned from photographing these, though were told that the Easton Bell Sports Group link up has produced the lightest production cycling shoe in existence.

Another benefit of getting up close and personal with the brand managers is the education it provides. Easily overlooked details, such as the guttering molded within the visor of Bell’s latest commuter helmet, is easily missed though for a dealer’s sales pitch is an essential detail. The guttering carried on the new models has a two-fold purpose, firstly to carry rain away from the rider’s brow during poor weather and secondly, as a fixture for a tidy little add-on accessory and one the market’s being crying out for – a small fold down mirror enabling the rider to see what’s going on behind on the roads.

Blackburn’s popular Flea light is also easily fitted to these models via a handy built-in clip.

Madison had further developments among its helmet line too with the mark five version of Giro’s Rock Lock system being shown for the first time. Featured on most models from £75 upwards, the new fit-adjust system shaves 11 grams over the previous system, despite the tiny dial using 15 minute internal parts. Utilising such detailed construction has allowed the brand to offer similarly tiny increments of adjustment, meaning a rider can more-or-less tailor-fit their helmet.

SOCK IT TO ‘EM
Giro has once again used IceBike* as a platform to launch yet another diversification of its product too. Previously and perhaps more related to its key helmet business, the brand launched eyewear. This time around and totally unrelated, Giro has gone into cyclists socks, both with the increasingly popular Merino wool material and also utilising its highly breathable CoolMax material.

The Italian-made Merino socks use Australian lambs wool and are set to retail for around the £20 mark, while the Coolmax socks are set to come in at £13.99 a pair.
Prior to the show BikeBiz revealed that the Saracen brand was also set to diversify beyond its traditional territory and into a few BMX models. These did however only arrive for the last three days of the show, thus will have been missed by weekend attendees.

Joining the Amplitude jump range, the three 20-inch models to feature in the 2011 line will be available slightly later than most other models, arriving in stock in November.

Catering largely for the beginner end of the market the line offers three price points all between £200 and £300 and all specced with Kenda tyres and coming with four stunt pegs as standard. There are some very unique touches to the line that many would not expect within this price point too. First off, brand manager Simon Wild has noted the trend for wider bars and as such has insisted on separate tooling for the handlebars. Another key detail and one on which many dedicated manufacturers have failed to pick up on is the angled dropout, designed to prevent wheel slip due to heavy stunt peg use. Key to Madison’s revamp of the brand, the entire line remains exclusive to independent stores.
For those specialising in the on-road or track markets, Elite had a few treats for dealers to feast their eyes on, including a limited edition Team Sky trainer box set, which will come packed with a branded bottle cage and bottle.

This package is exclusive to the UK market and will land with Madison toward the end of September.
Boasting the largest range available through any brand, Elite manufactures four roller models ranging between an affordable £150, all the way up to a professional, feature-packed £750 model. 13 Pro Tour teams are partnered with the brand as their supplier of choice for training equipment.

Dom’s final thought
To conclude on what seemed to be a busy and productive few days of show, Madison MD Dominic Langan told BikeBiz: “We’ve had really strong forward orders on many of the bike ranges presented at IceBike Winter and are noting that the enthusiast end of the market is still powering on, despite the recession, which appears to have not particularly impacted business. Each year we take on bullish levels of stock, yet often sell through ahead of predictions, which is very encouraging.
“The Saracen brand is performing well ahead of the long-term plan we had for its redevelopment and demand has been immense. All-in-all, both the road and off-road markets appear rock solid in terms of consistent turnover.

“What’s more, we’ve now switched Cycraguard’s manufacturing to the UK and added the Electron light brand to sit between Blackburn and Light and Motion. Though not likely to feature in a catalogue for a few years, we’ve also toyed with a few electric bikes now and are keeping an eye on where this market is heading.”

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