We’re forever trying to pinpoint what the next big trend is going to be in the cycle trade and at Eurobike BikeBiz spent some time discussing the topic with the journalists, cycle brands, distributors and retailers we came across.
After much musing, we started to question the value of trends noticed at the show. While Eurobike is an obviously international exhibition, the bicycles on display are often a localised bunch. One bike brand with a sizeable presence in the UK (and worldwide) had a huge huge stand at the show, but some of the bikes on display are not going to appear in the UK market. So do trends seen at the global show have any meaning in our own local market?
Similarly, at least one bike brand told BikeBiz it deliberately didn’t spend any time looking at competitor stands to see where they were heading with their own trends. With models designed, signed and sealed so far in advance of them arriving at market, trend spotting is almost too late to have any influence.
On the other hand, there have been discernible trends from shows like Eurobike in the past. We’ve seen clear growth in the market for 29ers, for instance, something that was once on the fringes of Eurobike and is now a virtual must have for every brand offering a MTB.
More manufacturers, perhaps from their experience with the 29er phenomenon, have not been slow to notice the expected rise of 650b wheel sizes and getting on board that particular boat/trend early.
And then there’s a size issue. Because of Eurobike’s unwieldy hugeness, pinpointing a trend becomes a herculean task. If you were there, did you manage to see every stand or speak to every brand on show? There were more road bikes with disc brakes as expected plus some fuss around electronic suspensions systems, plus a rise in the brands looking more closely at the UK market.
A less techie trend seemed to be a move towards more ecologically sound practice. Sure, it’s not that exciting, but it might be an attractive selling point to a certain kind of customer. Packaging had been pared down for a number of companies, while Dahon has offered up a €30,000 prize for a green initiative and more brands, that I spoke to at least, talked of more ecological and ethically sound ways of working and producing bicycle product.
Other trends? Well we certainly spotted more dogs being led around the Friedrichshafen halls this year, but that isn’t likely to have much impact on the UK bike market. There were also plenty of scooters being used to get around the halls, which was an interesting statement coming from a crowd of bicycle enthusiasts.
But if all of this reads like a long-winded excuse for the lack of insight into the trends of Eurobike 2012, then guilty as charged.
Read the rest of our Eurobike coverage here and in the forthcoming October issue of BikeBiz.