Fisher Outdoor Leisure’s Expo headed back to Sopwell House this year, at what Fisher’s sales and brand management director Mike Cook tells BikeBiz is “Expo’s best venue yet”.
This time round the show took more space than in its Sopwell House debut in 2010, and show attendance has ballooned, bolstering that perception that cycling is beating the crunch and VAT rise. No doubt also buoyed by its clever timing timing in the same week as Madison’s iceBike* – giving dealers two strong reasons to come to the home counties in late Feb – the show had plenty to attract dealers, not least the arrival of Zipp, bringing all of SRAM’s brands under the one room of the St Albans-set distributor.
The attendance of SRAM’s own founder and president Stan Day was a highlight of the show. While BikeBiz missed out on meeting the company founder, retailers reportedly lapped up the chance to hear the man speak, with Pennine Cycles’ Paul and Sandra Corcoran telling BikeBiz it was a great opportunity to meet one of the key players behind the brand.
ZIPP and SRAM
Zipp’s arrival was undoubtedly one of the Expo headlines, with Fisher offering the full range including the Firecrest 404 and 808, both of which are easy to handle and, naturally, fast, with Firecrest rims offering stable and predictable handing in real world conditions.
Other SRAM-based highlights include the new 2011 Avid Code and X0 brakes. The Code R is tougher and offers more power without cutting control. Rockshox’s Sektor range also drew the crowds, featuring external rebound adjustment and sporting 32mm upper tubes, the Sektor is designed to provide maximum responsiveness and control. SRAM’s 2×10 groupset remains a key product while the Reverb seatpost also attracted much attention. Offering 125mm of height adjustment the Reverb has a weather-protecting custom sealing system.
CST brought a wealth of product to its inaugural Expo, including the Firenze all-rounder tyres. Developed for the European market they feature a grooved-slick tread design and a reflective sidewall for improved visibility in the dark. CST also offers the Sumo and Speed, the latter a lightweight fast rolling urban tyre. CST also produces the Czar tyre, available in a multitude of colours.
This year the prestigious Santini has incorporated a range suitable for wear on and off the bike – the Downtown range, including the Paris double layer stretch jacket. Paris features an internal elasticated windbreaker zip, two zipped front pockets and one rear zip pocket. Aside from Downtown, the Smart bib shorts feature the innovative NAT chamois pad. Designed around the anatomy of the rider the NAT thoughtfully offers high levels of shock absorption and heat resistance with no stitching coming into contact with the skin, affording maximum comfort to the rider.
Santini is now also offering a new custom/team clothing facility in the UK, for the first time ever.
Appealing beyond the traditional cycle market, Basil’s bike baskets and bags have been updated with new styles. The three-range Baboushka doll print bags look the business for fashion fans while also offering water repellent material with double reflection strips. The Basil Select range is a three-bag line-up pitched at commuters or tourers looking for a spot of added style. Boasting a plethora of storage pockets, Select bags start at £29.99 and rise up to £39.99 RRP.
Launched last year, the well received Airace has seven new products, including the Speed F2 – a floor and hand pump, with integrated flex hose. Available in chrome and white, Speed F2 retails at £32.99. The Dual Jet is a hand tyre pump – ideal for those trail emergencies, retailing at £27.99. Other highlights include the new Infinity P, with a plastic sleeve and window showcasing the aluminium barrel, providing 80 psi at £49.99. Airrace’s attention-grabbing Fit Tele comes in Road (100 psi) and MTB (80 psi) versions, in red, blue, yellow and the ubiquitous black. The telescopic pumps truly are pocket-sized and retail at £21.99.
MET’s brand new Bluegrass brand aims to provide premium protection at lower prices, providing an entry into the protection market. The stand caused a stiar at the show, with a range destined to appeal to the fashion-conscious market. Fisher has high hopes for the Bluegrass brand and expects more competitive cyclists to pick up the brand as the year progresses. As detailed on BikeBiz.com, the range includes full face and BMX style helmets as well as elbow and knee pads.
Eyewear brand Bloc’s Shadow is an enhanced version of the Leopard. Bloc now sponsors triathletes who had an input in the design of the specs, including the length of the arms.
It was found that the Leopard’s long arms poked into the helmet, so the Shadow sports shorter, more rounded arms. It also includes deeper lenses to provide better eye cover and comes in white. The Stealth is now available in white too.
Masterlock has spent decades in the lock business but last year was a biggy for the firm, seeing sales double in 2010, the firm tells BikeBiz. More specifically for cycling, the firm’s Sold Secure D-Lock has been a key and Fisher asked for a smaller version, which has duly been created with the prototype available at Expo. Developing last year’s more colourful approach to the market, Masterlock has a wealth of new hues on a wider range of its products, including the quirky cufflock.
Packaging is set to change over the coming year, with ‘less is more versions letting customers get their hands on the product. The change will also reflect the logo’s change to yellow from orange. Masterlock also has a clever portable safe in the works that locks to the bike (or rider) while keeping phones, wallets and the like safe on rides.
Right from the off, Kansi has focused on individualism, offering customers stickers with which they can emblazon their rides as they choose – pink and green being particular favourites, Fisher revealed to BikeBiz. Now one year on from launch, the brand is continuing in that vein by offering accessories to further indvidualise those bikes. Those accessories include a Kansi carry bag, coloured pedals, folding pedals, mudguards and more.
The phenomenally light Look 695, first revealed last year, attracted admiring glances at Expo, but newer offerings from the brand include the Keo Blades Titanium and Keo Blade Aero. Used by the yellow and green jerseys at the 2010 Tour, the Titanium is priced at £274.99 and features an INOX steel plate contact area that is 31 per cent lager and 17 per cent wider than the Keo Carbon pedal. It weighs a mere 95g per pedal, while the Aero was created to reduce drag and improve airflow while pedalling.
The evergreen Steve McQueen was present at Expo through a range of licenced apparel from Troy Lee, a brand celebrating its thirtieth birthday in 2011. Aside from the cooler king, Troy Lee’s new range includes redesigned GP and GP Air ranges and the new D3 Composite, launched at £399.99 RRP, follows in the footsteps of the popular D3 Carbon.
Other highlights include the new Range 2 from Norco – a MTB incorporating Advanced Ride Technology suspension, the latest step in the four-bar FSR suspension platform delivering 160mm of suspension travel at the rear wheel.
Expo also saw Fisher release the ‘Fisher Essentials’ catalogue, containing P&A everyday, well, essentials, for bike shops. To see what else you missed at Expo 2011, head over to www.fisheroutdoor.co.uk.