One of the striking things about iceBike*, as is the case every year, is that the vibe always feels productive. It’s all too easy to get bogged down at trade shows with the negatives of the business climate at present – supermarket competition, online discounting, customers misbehaving – but not here.
Utilising an enormous double- decker tent, the show presented enormous volumes of product to be taken in. With Red Bull on board, alongside Monster Energy, there was an energetic vibe to say the least, and with Gore, DT Swiss and Nitro Circus newly on board, customers were not short of product to ogle.
Those new brand additions are just the tip of the iceberg, though. As is the case with the UK’s wholesalers, many are beginning to focus on own-branded product and Madison is no exception. Although not new per se, Madison has placed greater emphasis on its revamped saddle, pannier rack, glasses and clothing catalogue.
With up to a five-year warranty, the top carrier racks can take up to 30kg in weight, making them ideal for touring.
Madison’s saddle range has become quite extensive too. All the products carry the logo and the saddles are available for a variety of purposes and budgets, from comfort saddles for women, to top-end sports saddles for anyone.
If your store is seeking a cycle-specific eyewear solution, you won’t go wrong with stocking Madison’s simple range, which comes both CE and EU approved and includes a carry pouch and cord.
Next door to the Madison-branded goods at the show was urban commuter favourite Respro, which had also brought along some funky new gear. Respro’s main business revolves around pollution masks, including some tailored for cycle sport and commuting. If your store is in a built-up area where breathing in is to take a breath of exhaust fumes, then Respro is worth a stock investment. An item often overlooked is the brand’s reflective £12.99 sticker pack, which enables customers to tailor their clothing with 40 wash-resistant, reflective tabs in a variety of styled cut out shapes. With these, a pair of gloves or standard shirt can be completely transformed into a commuter friendly item.
Director Harry Cole tells BikeBiz: “At present, the Hump bag cover is our biggest seller. At £25, it can turn any bag into a high visibility item. We’ve sold 8,000 in the UK to date and expect sales to carry on at a strong rate. We’ve also introduced styled Humps now, such as our lit-up Chevron covers, which are available in a popular camo print design for £49.99.”
Blackburn put on an impressive display of multicoloured Flea lights, which has fast become its flagship product. Now available, to complement the product, is a solar panel recharge kit, which works the same as a normal charger, via the USB plug-in. A little known fact about the Flea is that the lens is shrouded, making it ideal for those who wear glasses and may get ‘feedback’ from normal lights.
Increasingly becoming a significant part of Blackburn’s business, the Turbo Trainer product is said to be selling out on arrival. Feature wise, Blackburn has thoroughly thought through the design of each model, allowing each trainer to be adjusted to uneven surfaces, such as some patio decking, all via a few minor adjustments to the base. As trainers go they are incredibly wide and stable. Varying wheel sizes can be accommodated, meaning owners can move from bike to bike.
The mainstay of the business does still revolve around the pump range, with the Airstick SL emphasised to BikeBiz as being the major breakthrough. Weighing just 60 grams for the standard and 51 grams for the carbon version, the SL can each very high PSI pressures with little effort, which given its tiny size is quite incredible. Retail price is £19.99.
In terms of soft goods, there can now be no other source with as much of a comprehensive offering of cycle clothing than Madison’s. Nitro Circus was the only fresh addition, though this brand sits between the motorcycle and cycle business and covers only casual wear.
Of the more technical garments within the double decker tent, Shimano, Pearl Izumi and Madison’s own line all had additions. The latter has introduced baselayers, which appeared to be of particular interest to the many dealers who had asked the distributor to broaden its horizons on the stock introduced at last year’s show. These undergarments are for both men and women and sizes range from small up to XL. A special Meryl fabric is utilised in the baselayers, providing consistent thermal control, high wicking and anti-bacterial properties. As Madison’s own line, the price is favourable too, with the short sleeve coming in at £17.99, while the long is just £20.
Pearl Izumi’s catalogue was added to Madison’s range last year, along with a dedicated team to manage the brand. Pearl Izumi’s overshoe attracted a lot of attention. With a built-in light-up logo, the overshoe complements the extensive range of shoes that the brand offers. Baselayers were also present in the Pearl Izumi range.
Shimano is not shy of a bit of clothing either. In fact, iceBike* displayed perhaps the largest viewing of the technical garments to date. A prime example of what Shimano can do with soft goods came in the form of the Windflex Gold jacket, which is made up of 52 per cent Windflex Gold polyamide, with the remainder polyester and other materials.
The double-layered fabric sandwiches air, while the outer repels moisture. This results in a real performance jacket that keeps the rider’s temperature consistent and protects them from the elements. Sizes small to triple XL are covered.
Many dealers were pleased to see Gore Ride On cables now sat within the Madison portfolio. For those that think a ‘cable is just a cable’, Gore’s Ride On cables have shaved 15 to 20 grams from some of its race offerings, which is a hell of a lot from something so simple. These shavings have not come from the cable itself though; they remain super tough. Expect to see shades of blue and red joining Madison’s B2B site in April. These sit on top of the black and white standard cables.
On the ground floor, DT Swiss’s debut at Milton Keynes was causing quite a stir, mostly due to the brand’s suspension product. Starting at a competitive £650, the brand was keen to demonstrate how rigid it has managed to make its fork bodies, all the while pointing out that the internals are some of the most intelligent on the market at present. All forks with super-light magnesium lowers now come with a ‘Torsion Box’ bridge, which has made a significant difference in how rigid the ride feels up front. At £800, the brand’s pro-level cross country fork is currently the lightest on the market at just 1,250-grams. Full stock of DT Swiss products are expected in May, though the majority is in stock now.
While on the subject of rigid front ends, Shimano’s off-shoot Pro business had Mark Cavendish’s own bar stem combination on display, as used to success in last year’s Tour de France.
Pro marketing officer Aloys Hanekamp says: Cavendish is very particular about how he wants the front of the bike to ride, and the bar and stem are a major focus in this. The bar will be of a reinforced alloy, with internally splined construction, as opposed to carbon, which if involved in a crash, can be unpredictable afterwards.”
Expect to see the Cavendish series appearing in stock at Madison in about three weeks time.
CUT ABOVE THE REST
Wheels Manufacturing stopped many dealers in their tracks with two products in particular. The first is a bottom bracket touted as an alternative to, for example, a Hope BB. Available with either a ceramic or stainless steel bearing and in five colours, the BBs cost £99.99 and £54.99, respectively.
The second stand-out product was a tidy bearing press kit available to the trade for £149 and made from high-grade steel. Should customers want the same product, it also retails for £300.
Of the bike brands under the Madison umbrella, Saracen proved to be the main draw, with two urban models taking pride of place, while the Ariel and Myst were also being drooled over.
Retailers in built-up areas can take stock of the £449 Rush and £799 Fallout now, with the main differences between the two coming in the form of a hydraulic disc upgrade and Shimano Alfine specification on the latter build.
Marketing manager and iceBike* organiser Will Fripp, tells BikeBiz that over 70 per cent of Madison’s customers were in attendance over the show’s duration, all of which will have been captured on the timelapse camera on the upper deck.