At this time of year, you can’t miss talk of Eurobike. Bike news websites are full of pre-Eurobike stories and promises of great coverage from Eurobike once it officially starts on Wednesday August 30th (this year at least…)
But what is Eurobike? And why is it so important?
Eurobike is 25 years old this year. I’ve been going to Eurobike since some time in the mid-1990s. I’m not sure exactly, but it was probably 1995 and it was already one of the bicycle trade shows to go to. There were others, even in Europe, but not with the kind of reach (and range of mountain bike brands) of Eurobike. The big show was still Interbike, which took place in Anaheim, near Los Angeles in the USA. That was where EVERYTHING got launched and where the deals were done, but Eurobike allowed those smaller European companies to show their wares.
Early Eurobike shows took place in a few awkwardly placed downtown exhibition halls in the small town of Friedrichshafen – notable mostly for being the home of Zeppelin airships in WWII. Friedrichshafen isn’t that big – around the size of Salisbury and early shows were reasonably small and intimate. Within a decade, though, it had outgrown the small jumble of downtown halls and, with the draw of other exhibitions coming to the area, a new show hall complex was opened in 2002.
This new hall complex boasts a dozen big show halls (and even a Zeppelin hanger, if they kick the Zeppelin out…) and it can hold a lot of exhibitors. Over 1300 last year… And there is still a waiting list to get in to exhibit. Unfortunately the small town still features the amount of accommodation that small towns have, so many exhibitors and visitors stay up to two hours’ drive away and make the crawl in every day in an ironic show of car commuting. Others come from another country (Switzerland) on the ferry across Lake Constance.
Importantly, though, they do come. Eurobike is the big gathering of the bike industry, the media, the dealers and the manufacturers at the right time. It works on many levels and over many stages of bikes’ and components’ lifecycles. We will be reporting on 2018 bikes and bits there, though for most of the bigger brands, the bikes they show are already in production and they know what they’re doing for 2019. There might even be private meetings from the likes of Shimano and SRAM about plans for the 2020 model year.
In addition to 42,000 visitors from 106 countries, there are also 1700 members of the press (waves!) and it’s our job, in the three days of the trade show, to get round to see everybody, see what’s new, catch up with colleagues from down the road who we only see in foreign shows, and to try to report it all before the lure of a late afternoon beer makes it all go a bit wonky.
Such is the media frenzy around the show, that many companies have started launching products before the show so that their news isn’t lost in the spike of stories that comes out of the three main days.
Much of the ‘real’ business of the show is already done before August though – the dealers will have already previewed next year’s products and placed orders. Bikes will already have been made and are probably in containers from the Far East as we speak, but it still provides a hugely important event for dealers, bike companies, sponsor-chasing pro riders, journalists, machining companies, shipping companies, crazy inventors, industry personalities, PR people to all get together to meet in person and perhaps make a few more important contacts before the industry recedes back to its corners around the world and plans for next year.
Other shows, like those in Taiwan in the late autumn are important for business meetings and secret product viewing but none have the mix of public and private display and sheer showmanship that Eurobike has. The products are ready, the colours are chosen, the components are fitted. It’s time to shine!
So, tune in for the next couple of weeks and check back often to follow our Eurobike coverage. We’ll be posting every day with stories and videos…
You can follow all of our Eurobike coverage, past and present, by clicking on this link!