Not only does the current shortage of bikes make it hard to buy a bike – it’s also making it harder to try one out.
Outerbike, a major bike expo event in the USA, has had to cancel the first four scheduled events for the year, leaving it with only two dates remaining: way out there in October. Events planned for Killington, Vermont (July), Crested Butte, Colorado (August), Duluth, Minnesota (August), and South Lake Tahoe, California (September) have all had to be cancelled due to a lack of demo bikes.
Usually, visitors to Outerbike can expect to demo a whole array of off-road bikes from different manufacturers, as well as perusing racks of clothing, components and accessories. Visitors rush through the gates at opening time to grab the demo of their choice, and mechanics are kept busy checking over bikes between riders and getting the next eager tester out onto the trail as quickly as possible. The usual format is a busy three day festival of try-before-you-buy, with enough options to choose from that whether you’re there to pick out your next purchase, or just curious to ride the latest tech, you can be sure to end the day tired and dusty.
There’ll be none of that this year however – at least, not until October anyway, when it’s hoped there will be enough supply for bikes for events in Moab and Bentonville to be able to go ahead.
Unlike events like Tweedlove or Sea Otter, Outerbike’s model is expo only – there are no racing or exhibition events – so with no bikes to test there’s no event. However, it will be interesting to see whether other events with a more mixed line up are still able to break even if bike shortages continue. Sea Otter is scheduled for early October, while Tweedlove is mid September.
Neil Dalgliesh from Tweedlove is optimistic that they’ll have bikes for people to try out over the demo weekend, although he says some companies won’t have bikes in the numbers that might usually be seen. However, with Bosch on board as a major sponsor this year, Neil is expecting the event to have plenty of e-bikes and it’s thought it’ll be the biggest ebike demo the UK has yet seen – they’re hopeful they may even get some utility or cargo options to try out. As soon as bike numbers are confirmed there’ll be test bikes available to book online, so be sure to be quick off the mark if you’re wanting a test ride or two. If you miss out on a test slot, don’t worry – Neil realises that with more limited test opportunities, the other festival attractions will be more important than ever, so there’ll be plenty to keep everyone entertained.
Last year was hard for events companies because events were banned, this year is hard because even if gatherings are allowed there might not be bikes to demo! You’ve got to feel for the organisers. Maybe it’s a good time to show some optimism for the future and book an event or guided tour to help support them?