Posted by Editoress on 09/12/12
ExpoCycle, the annual show for bike dealers where the distributors present the next year’s bicycle products, returned to Toronto for the first time in many years last weekend (September 8-10). The venue was the Direct Energy Centre at the Toronto Exhibition Grounds on the Toronto waterfront.
One of the large halls was filled from wall to wall with bright and shiny bike stuff. In the past, this was sort of the inner sanctum for the real bike people who worked in shops. Last year’s ExpoCycle in Montreal was the first time that one day was devoted to the public. That program continued this year too, with Saturday open to the public, and Sunday and Monday reserved for the dealers. The hall was well organized and bright, full but not jammed.
It is always hard to know where to start in a show of this size. I have been going to these shows off and on for 30 years and I still get that feeling of a kid in a candy store. There is always an embarrassment of riches at these shows that are run by BTAC (Bicycle Trade Association of Canada).
Here are a few highlights from my visit to ExpoCycle 2012: Photo gallery
ACS Distributing had a very large booth featuring KHS bikes and a new bike line to Canada called Apollo. If you have been following trends in mountain bikes you have likely heard that KHS is at the forefront of a third mountain bike wheel size of 27.5” (aka 650B), in between 26” and 29”. Many people feel that this may be the ideal wheel size, as it will accelerate better than a 29er and roll over rough terrain better than a 26er. The debate will likely continue for some period, but the end result is a very nice XC race bike called the SixFifty Team. For a suggested retail of $3999 you get a carbon frame, SRAM X-9 components and a weight of 20.5 pounds. It’s a very pretty bike.
SRAM 1x11 drivetrain
The Apollo line is very extensive with mountain, road, city and kids bikes on display. The highlight though was the mountain XC race bike called the Arctec 9 equipped with, as far as I know, the only SRAM 1x11 drivetrain on display in the whole show. It is pretty radical stuff, with a 42 tooth large rear cog. It does produce a very clean cockpit, with no left shifter and a right clamp that integrates the brake and the shock lockout, along with an 11-speed twist grip. Taken as a whole this bike is a full out race machine that you could have for $7999.
One of the biggest changes I noticed was with Raleigh Canada. Raleigh had faded somewhat as a major brand over recent years. They were really known through mostly the so-called mom and pop type bike stores. This year was a really rejuvenated Raleigh, with a booth filled with bikes. The difference was that they have now largely merged with Raleigh USA and thus benefit from their American counterparts much more extensive product line. There are lots of mountain bikes, a great assortment of road bikes and some really nice city bikes. One of the city bikes really stood out for me. This is the Tripper. A cromoly frame, a 3 speed internal hub and disc brakes are featured. The design is smart and it would make an excellent commuter bike. Even better is a suggested retail price of between $750 and $800. I think some of the dealers are going to have to re-evaluate their opinion of Raleigh Canada after what I saw.
I was surprised to see a mountain bike acquaintance of mine from many years ago manning a booth with a great looking repair stand. Orrin Bowser is a metal fabricator who owns Champ Tools in Barrie, Ontario. Orrin has been dissatisfied with shop work stands, and decided to come up with his own. His beautiful and efficient double stand has just about everything a mechanic would need, including a very innovative cable casing dispenser on the top of the rack. This one sells for $1350. A single stand is less than $1000 and there are even more affordable options. Even better, it is Canadian made, including the precision clamp. It is very well made. For more info visit www.champtools.ca.
Scott had some fun with Canadian mountain biking legend and Scott team rider Geoff Kabush. Geoff certainly rides one gorgeous machine.
Road bikes continue to be extremely popular with every company having a bevy on display. Carbon fibre rules for frame material. The price keeps coming down for what would have been an extremely high-end bike ten years ago. There was a lot of variation on the same theme and, to be honest, I didn’t see a really stand out road bike. On the other hand, just about every company has a few really gorgeous road bikes.
I was trying to remember when I had last been at the ExpoCycle but it has undoubtedly been a few years. Something that wouldn’t have been there in the past was an electric bike. There were a number of companies at ExpoCycle 2012 with E-bikes. Some maintain the design of a scooter or Vespa, but there are also models that look like a regular bicycle with the electronic components added to them. Think derailleurs, hydraulic disc brakes and suspension forks. I think in the years to come more and more bicycle dealers will need to add E-bikes to their showroom. Based on what I saw, customers will be bringing these bikes in to their local bike shop for repairs.
Geoff Kabush rides Scott
The show looked good and I enjoyed what I saw. Of course, the question remains: will what was on display translate into sales? The bikes look great overall and if anyone really pines for the old days, then they are out of touch with the bike world. The technology is pretty amazing to the point where it is difficult to find a really bad bike. The consumer/bicyclist is the winner.
I wasn’t in attendance on Saturday for the Consumer Day, but I spoke to a fair number of distributors about the day open to the public. They felt that the numbers were better than they had been in Montreal, but still not high enough to be really worthwhile for them. More than one mentioned to me that they thought the advertising for the public day was somewhat lacking.
The other observation from the distributors was one of mild frustration with the bike dealers at the show. Toronto/Ontario dealers will show up to a show in Montreal, but Montreal/Quebec dealers won’t come to Toronto. I also had one distributor mention that West Coast dealers will come to Montreal but they won’t come to Toronto. There seems to be a strange dynamic at work here.
The other aspect worth mentioning is the absence of the big companies. Missing were Trek, Specialized and Giant. These industry leaders had been showing their 2013 bikes to the dealers since June, thus rendering ExpoCycle somewhat redundant for them. I’m sure that the public would have liked to have seen these three here in Toronto, even if the dealers are already familiar with the new bikes.
Report and photos by Mike Badyk
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