2007 Cross Crusade Prom.
This guest article was written by Joel Grover. Joel is a 20-year bike industry veteran and the head buyer for Bike Gallery, a locally owned shop with six locations in and around Portland. He recently attended Interbike, a large bicycle industry trade show held each year in Las Vegas. In the article below, he shares a few thoughts on industry trends and bikes that caught his eye.
Interbike 2008 will go down as one of the more exciting shows in recent history for me.
“…many of our industry suppliers still seem infatuated with $3,000 full suspension mountain bikes or $5,000 carbon road bikes.”
The Lance Armstrong-era shows were exciting with all the new road bikes, carbon fiber widgets and technology advancements; but this yearís show was different. Many of the conversations — both at the Outdoor Demo and on the show floor — involved the growing trends of bicycle transportation, utility bikes, value priced bikes, and electric bikes. Portland and a few other cities used to be the only ones talking about this, but now, the rest of the country is getting on board.
One dealer (and good friend) I talked to from Asheville, North Carolina told me about a recent gas shortage in their hometown where buying gasoline was impossible or involved waiting in long lines.
However, despite the obvious writing on the wall and geo-socio-political trends, many of our industry suppliers still seem infatuated with $3,000 full suspension mountain bikes or $5,000 carbon road bikes. Not that there is anything wrong with either of these two categories of bikes, but I canít help but wonder if the bicycle industry is significantly over capacity in these two areas while neglecting the obvious opportunities in the areas of bicycle transportation, utility bikes, value priced bikes, and electric bikes.
After being in Vegas for a few days, I am more proud than ever of our community and how we are leading the way in the bike transportation sector. Everyone I talk to knew about what is going on in Portland and recognized that many of the trends that start here may spread to the rest of the country.
One trend I must acknowledge is the adoption of utility bikes and long-bikes here in Portland. Most of this can be attributed to the folks over at Clever Cycles for importing and embracing new products in this niche. As this niche grows, I expect to see new entrepreneurs and old industry mainstays like the big bike brands become inspired to develop even more options (like the Madsen Cycles utility bike covered here a few weeks ago and the 2009 Kona Ute).
(Photo: Joel Grover)
Another bike that I was excited about comes out of Seattle with the Torker brand. They were showing a very value-priced ($350) singlespeed/fixed-gear bike called the University District. With its stealthy, matte-black finish, fender-able brake calipers and rugged cro-moly steel frame, it seems like a very Portland styled bike for the budget conscious.
Another trend that bodes well for Portland is disc brakes on urban and hybrid bikes. When having conversations with product mangers from various suppliers and comparing notes of hot trends I am surprised that our neighbors in wet climates to the north and south do not share the same bike commuting solutions.
Compared with industry averages, Portlanders buy a much higher percentage of disc-brake equipped urban bikes than the norm. I think many Portlanders like the added benefit of the superior braking performance in wet weather and the greater brake pad and rim durability that disc brakes provide over rim brakes. Kona, our somewhat local brand (based in Bellingham, Washington), has embraced disc brakes on urban bikes. Their Dew Plus hybrid ($550) and Dew Drop road bike ($800) are a screaming value for those looking for all-weather performance while commuting in our wetter months.
(Give credit to Eric Tonkin at Sellwood Cycle Repair for Konaís addition of the Dew Drop model into the 2009 line up.)
(Photo: Raleigh Bikes)
A fabulously fun bike I saw at the Raleigh booth was a singlespeed cyclocross bike with graphics in the scripted font and same color as the Rainier Beer brand — a popular brew distributed here in the Northwest.
The word on this Rainier-Raleigh ($750 for frameset) is that one of the marketing guys at Raleigh was inspired to create it after attending last Novembersí inaugural Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships held at Estacada Timber Park just outside of Portland.
Looking to next year’s Interbike show, I expect to see even more products that cater to the transportation demographic and less attention to the high-zoot carbon road bikes and full suspension mountain bikes that have dominated the market for so long.
I say itís about time and, better late than never.