After several years of the show being held in Montreal, ExpoCycle returned to Toronto for 2012. ExpoCycle is the national trade show for the cycling industry in Canada and hosts 800 of the top brands in the industry. The Bicycle Trade Association of Canada (BTAC) opted for a new downtown location this year and settled on the Direct Energy Centre. This new downtown location provides a better overall experience for attendees and is a nice compromise between the show’s previous venues in the heart of the city or by the airport. For 2012, ExpoCycle saw a condensed show schedule, opening with a ‘Public Day’ then followed by two ‘Industry Days’. This is the second year for the newly added Public Day and its success may be the key to the show’s future growth.
Despite being the official industry trade show in Canada, ExpoCycle has struggled to consistently draw all of the country’s retailers on a year-to-year basis. B.C. retailers are easily attracted to Interbike in Las Vegas and Ontario and Quebec dealers are constantly lobbying for the show to be held in their respective provinces. The 5-hour drive between Toronto and Montreal also makes it easy for dealers to make an argument to attend Interbike for their industry show needs. Bike shop owners come from cities across the country to attend the show but these are two of the most dense dealer bases in the country and therefore play a pivotal role in the show’s success. While the flight time between the two Canadian hubs is much shorter, the parallel between associated costs to attend then becomes the deciding factor between the Canadian show and its American counterpart. Even though Interbike is a larger show, that offers its guests an exciting venue and some novelty, it is also not necessarily the best choice for many Canadian retailers. The Canadian show offers dealers a more tailored experience for their market and really is a must-attend. Many Canadian shop owners also choose to be present at both. This year the show also had to contend with the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec/Montréal as well as the RBC GranFondo in Whistler which tied up many dealers in those markets. Despite these hurdles, BTAC hosted a terrific show and has become the fastest growing bicycle trade event in North America.
The second year of the Public Day was a success and exhibitors appreciated the added value in being able to directly interact with their consumer base. While most of the 2013 cycling goodies get revealed just prior (at Eurobike) this is the the first opportunity many Canadian consumers had to see these items first hand. While it’s great to see images on the web of these new products, nothing replaces seeing them first hand, maybe even getting to throw a leg over a bike. This newly added Public Day may be the spark that the show needs to lure back some of the large manufacturers such as Specialized, Giant and Trek who have chosen to bring their dealers to Interbike and/or hold private shows across the country. Even Canada’s own Devinci Cycles was not on hand. The show used to have a demo day but it was discontinued several years ago. The 2012 show saw a healthy stream of traffic and the new location along Toronto’s waterfront was welcomed by all in attendance.
Here are a few images from our coverage of ExpoCycle 2012. Click on images to enlarge.
What we took away from ExpoCycle ’12 was that, despite the media constantly speaking disparagingly about the economy, things seem very healthy in the Canadian cycling market. Both manufacturers and independent bicycle dealers (I.B.D.) are reporting stellar years. The above seasonal temperatures and unbelievably dry summer we had in Canada this year has lead to increased bike sales and service revenue. This being an Olympic year was also a contributing factor in the banner season. Ryder Hesjedal winning the Giro d’Italia and figuring prominently in the Tour de France doesn’t hurt either. Go Ryder!
There seems to be a visibly elevated comfort level and overall optimism within the industry as a whole and it’s obvious in the eclectic colour pallets seen in many of the booths. Bright oranges, greens and blues are appearing everywhere from frames to shoes, often combined in one garment. These are colours an IBD would steer clear of in a volatile market. Colours like these, that are super ‘hot’ one season, may be ice cold the next and dealers typically avoid these like the plague if there is any uncertainty. You need not look further than a ski shop in the summer or the Fall Blowout Sale to see how hard it is to move last season’s ‘must have’ colour. The fact that these bold colours are back on the racks for 2013 is a good sign. A good sign for the marketplace anyway, whether chartreuse bikes look good or not is subjective.
650b was the buzz of the show and every major player has a bike in this new wheel size. The Norco Sight Killer B was one of the most impressive bikes we saw in this new class. Even though most manufactures still had 29ers in their lineup, it’s clear that 650b is the new black. Carbon frames are still popping up on the high end bikes in every category. Carbon wheels are also very popular; more than anyone believed they could be given the insane price point these wheels and rims retail for. $3000 wheelsets are not for everyone. The road bike market, which has absolutely blown up over the past few years, seems to be tapering off. The upside of this seems to be that many of the folks reintroduced to cycling by the boom in road bike sales are now taking up mountain biking.
This was a great show with lots to see. Even in our two days of coverage, snapping over 500 photos, we only scratched the surface of what the show had to offer. We were not able to cover as much road as we would have liked. This would have taken us another two days and we simply ran out of time.
We hope you all have a great 2013 season, in the shops and on the trails!