Thursday, September 23, 2010

What I Learned at Interbike

Disclaimer: This is the first industry wide trade show I have attended since they were regional shows in the early 1980's. I attempted to see the whole thing in one day which means I certainly missed stuff -- but I saw enough!

Apparently, there is a shortage of helmet selection in the industry. I stopped counting at 20 separate brands.

There is a perceived market for:

$400 floor pumps
$200 frame pumps
$700 helmets
$900 bike shoes
$300 jerseys

Custom bike shorts. You go into a room, fondle some fabric swatches and provide numerous measurements. In 2 months, you get new shorts. Price unknown. I thought spandex provided a custom fit already (within reason)

BMX -- is huge, at least everywhere but Minneapolis. Those dorks who got stuffed in lockers when I was in high school? If they can risk life and limb riding a board or bike, they are guaranteed 2 hot chicks hanging on every word. They also speak in tongues -- no idea what they say, but it sounds righteous.

BMX for senior citizens -- there were a number of guys who had to be within a decade of my age still trying to throw a BMX bike around with some success. They should seriously check up on what Medicare covers cause they will be in big trouble in a few years.

Adult beverage ESP -- At exactly three PM, almost every booth produced beer in some shape or form. The biggest had caterers bringing out kegs while the rest had coolers hidden and waiting for the signal. I had beers thrust into my hand more than once. Even the kids in the BMX zone were imbibing but given what they do for fun, a few dead brain cells is the least of their worries.

Bike fitting -- there were numerous bike fit systems represented. I stood and watched a fit
demo by a world famous "fitter" as he attempted to fit a middle aged rider to one of the uber- expensive time trial machines. At the end of the process, we all thought the seat height was wrong. The "fitter" told us, and I quote "a shop's ability to charge $500 for a fitting is the difference between profitability and mediocrity".

Note to Jim: I think we need to modify the "arm pit method". They're going to expect more for their $500. Maybe a beret and clove cigarettes?

Nitrogen -- I also listened to a guy pedaling a nitrogen system for shops. Nitrogen allegedly prevents normal tire deflation and can be a "profit rocket" for shops. Apparently, if you charge customers $5 for a shot, they will be customers for life. I think it would be cheaper to mark a pump "nitrogen" and be done with it.

Special People -- there were several vendors who had enclosed booths and only allowed "VIP's" inside. I always believe in asking forgiveness rather than permission so attempted to enter 3 of said booths. I failed in two attempts, blocked by rather swarthy women. On the third, I followed a group in and hung out for about 2 minutes before exiting. What was the secret? Oversized BMX bikes. At least that's what it looked like.

Seriously, there was lots of interesting stuff as well. But I have completely forgotten what it was. Getting old sucks.