Interbike 2009: A look back

Interbike was just a week ago and I sure do miss it. So how was the show this year? Fun as always, but to me it seemed like there was less foot traffic than previous years. After talking to a few companies, they too had noticed it. In fact some companies only flew in a few core staff members to run their booths. Perhaps this economic stuff is really affecting the budgets of bike shops in more ways than one. One manufacturer told me that more than half of their East Coast customers wouldn’t be able to make it to the show.

For a retailer, Interbike is the best time to go and purchase inventory. Usually manufacturers will offer some incentive or a crazy discount on volume orders. So for a retailer to miss this event, it could mean less profits for them since they will be excluded from the deals.

Let’s talk about what we saw on the floor. TONS of electric bikes. Personally I don’t like them. I also think they are a year late. Gas prices were higher last year…Anyhow, it seemed like there were way more electric bike companies that sprouted this past year than I remember seeing in previous shows. Sanyo (famous electronics company) jumped on the bandwagon and came out with their own electric bike.

You’ve seen most of the pictures already, but classic and mixte frames for the commuter scene made a big impact. I also noticed that there are many companies that are offering single speed commuter bikes with a low start price of $350. Steel made a huge appearance with commuter bikes. In fact a majority of the commuter bikes we have featured so far were made of sweet steel.

Linus Mixte

The material to be used most other than carbon fiber…bamboo! Yup this super renewable source is getting incorporated into the bike scene like crazy. Boo Bicycles was one of the companies that offered an actual bamboo bike, the other brand is Calfee.
Boo Bicycles

Calfee

Bamboo was also appearing in fenders. In fact Planet Bike will be offering an alternative to flat bamboo…curved.
Axiom Bamboo fenders

Electric bike with bamboo

Bamboo Clothing. Zoic has a commuter line that incorporates bamboo fibers.

All in all, great show. A few of the companies we’ve dealt with before weren’t there, some have shut down for good and others just didn’t have it in their budget to exhibit. But for the most part, manufacturers and retailers alike felt confident that 2010 sales will increase. The commuter segment of the bike industry is growing like crazy. Even though gas prices have somewhat stabilized, bike commuting and commuter bikes are becoming a large influence in our culture. What’s great to see are bike companies responding to their customers.

In summary, classy steel commuter bikes with bamboo fenders are awesome.Baskets seem to overshadow panniers. Carbon hasn’t yet made its way to commuter bikes, electric bikes are way over priced and it almost doesn’t make sense. But to each his own. Foot traffic was ok, not as much as years prior. Manufacturers are offering more commuter bikes, especially 700c. Bakfeit, cargo-ish bikes…not that big of a hit this year. You won’t find halogen lights anymore, everything is LED. Commuter clothing rocks. Some of the stuff look like items you’d wear to the office. Finally…get off your computer and start riding your bike!

4 Comments

  1. Ghost Rider October 1, 2009 10:50 am 

    Great wrap-up…so many other sites focus on just the new or amazing expensive stuff that it’s nice to get an overall picture and read about developing trends!

    Sign me up for some of those PB bamboo fenders…although I don’t have a bike worthy of them.

  2. Elizabeth October 1, 2009 11:04 am 

    Bamboo fenders do sound like a nice accessory on a steel bike. :-) I like that PB will offer them curved.
    How durable are the bamboo bikes? One advantage – no rust during the wet/snowy commutes.

    It’s great to hear the companies are responding to the commuter needs.

  3. Graham October 1, 2009 12:08 pm 

    I’m curious about the bamboo bike scene, myself. They look very cool, but I can’t shake the feeling that they would creak and flex like crazy when a clydesdale like myself puts the hammer down… Which would be a bit alarming.

  4. Mike Myers October 1, 2009 4:13 pm 

    The Boo Cycles bike is interesting. It’s good that Calfee has competition. Will they be cheaper? They look cheaper, like the craftsmanship isn’t as high as Calfee. Taiwanese or Chinese, perhaps?

    Bamboo fenders from Planet Bike? Absolutely. I think they would look sweet on my green Gunnar which has natural cork tape.

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