Eurobike: The trade show that can be seen from the moon

By Heide Sahl , Clou Communication, http://www.clou-communication.com, @clou_h

Photos: @EUROBIKE Friedrichshafen

 

 

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EUROBIKE in numbers

Total no. of visitors (incl. media and
fans)          67,500

Trade fair visitors                                                  42,500

From                                                                      111
countries

Exhibitors                                                               1,280

From                                                                      54
countries

Exhibition halls                                                      14

No. of bikes shown at the fair                              n + 1

Litres of beer given out                                        253,000 l + 17.5 l
non-alcoholic beer

No. of sausages given out                                   253,000 + 17.5 vegan sausages

 

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EUROBIKE – what a great idea. See exciting
new products, amazing bikes, every kind of component or accessories one can
imagine, and above all meet dear friends as it is the biggest bicycle trade
show in the world and the most important meeting point for everybody in this
industry. Since 1991 the show has been at Friedrichshafen on the Northern side
of the lovely Lake Constance in one of the most beautiful regions in Germany.

What started as a mainly mountain bike trade
fair more than 20 years ago with only some 270 exhibitors has now become the
industry’s most important gathering. Back in 1991 the organisers thought the
time was ripe for a bike show, but never have expected it to become so huge.
And it is getting bigger every year.

 At the 23rd edition of the show 1,280
exhibitors from 54 countries presented everything you can and can’t imagine in
14 exhibition halls and during 4 days. Every niche in the bike industry is
represented. 45,200 trade fair visitors from 111 countries plus 20,400 bike
fans on public day, and 1,883 journalists from 45 countries had the opportunity
to see myriads of products and thereof 300 world premieres. More than half of
the visitors came from all around the world.

 

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Besides the regular trade fair EUROBIKE
also includes different side events such as the Demo Day before the official
start of the show, the EUROBIKE Fashion Show, the Travel Talks and “Holiday on
Bike” on public day giving all kind of information around bike holidays. The
EUROBIKE AWARD honour the best and most innovative new products. And at the
open air course visitors can see breathtaking acrobatic BMX and trial bike
highlights while queuing at the various food & drink stands.

So, what would EUROBIKE have for me and you
this year? The answer is: A lot!

Where should I start my little report? In
Hall A1? Or explore and present the offer by country since it is such an
international show? Or better go for the very structured and efficient German
way: products in alphabetical order, starting with A (for axle) and go all the
way down to Z (for zip jersey)? I would probably fall asleep before I even get
to B for bicycle. No, that’s not the appropriate way for C, the Conquista
readers…

Let me re-think my strategy and get back to
the start before I come to my personal highlights of the show. I left home not
only with my bike in the car, but also with a lot of questions in my luggage.
And my goal was to find some answers at least: How could EUROBIKE have become
so big? What are the most important concerns, the key topics on the
international platform? What are the main trends and the most inspiring
innovations? (And where would I get the best sausages?)

The answer can only be found by taking a
closer look at the background of the cycling market.

So I shall start my report here: 

 

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Approx. 20,000,000 bicycles are sold
annually across Europe. Although the number is slightly decreasing, this still
exceeds that of any other means of mobility (cars, motorcycles, etc.). Even
though this is no surprise and I am backing this fact with 4 bikes, 1 car and
no motorbike the number seems still impressive to me. The biggest markets in
Europe are Germany, UK, France, Italy and The Netherlands, – in this order.

So, most people do have a bike and hence
the possibility to use this cheap, flexible, environmentally friendly, healthy,
time saving, energy efficient, lifestyle oriented and fun bringing means of
transport. But do they really use it? We are talking about human beings, right?
As a matter of fact only 7% of Europeans would select cycling as their main
mode of transport. Numbers vary in different countries. The rest of the
population leaps into lycra and onto their bikes for sports, leisure or
holidays.

Italy is a beautiful example for that. Here
the bicycle’s main purpose is sports, followed by leisure, and only the third
place is taken by commuting (urban mobility). Then of course the Italians
mainly go biking during summer time.

On the UK market the mountain bike is still
the most popular kind of bike. And kids’ bikes have taken and still take one
third of all sales. Good to see Britons care for the rookies. And look how
amazingly successful British pro-riders have been in the past years! More than
enough to cause a boom (although we know that sporting success doesn’t
necessarily get the attention it deserves). However, E-bikes have not yet made
an impact on the island, they still seem to be on their way from the continent,
where they are seen as the most dominant trend.

The very relaxed Germans use bikes mostly
during leisure time and on holidays. And being administration lovers they are
discussing how to integrate bikes better into daily life and traffic (e.g. by
tax privileges) instead of going out for a ride. But still cycling has become a
more and more important subject in daily life in Germany. Even the German
chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel came to EUROBIKE for the official opening. I’m
pretty sure her visit had nothing to do with the elections taking place only
one month later.

The French have the Tour de France, nothing
else counts. But the most remarkable numbers are delivered by the Dutch and the
Nordic countries. Bikes are part of everyday mobility, an amazing 43% of the
Dutch are ‘heavy users’ and hence shining examples (remember the EU average was
only 7%). Chapeau!

Can one of the fair-weather cyclists out
there explain to me what people actually mean when they are talking about
‘weather issues’ hindering them from taking their bikes? Is it because of the
good or the bad weather actually? Since the Dutch and Danish are the number one
bike users in Europe I assume it must be the good weather that makes cyclists
lives so hard… But maybe I’m simply interpreting statistics too much?

Let’s leave them for now to finally focus
the essentials of EUROBIKE and take a look at my personal highlights of the
show. Some of them would definitely deserve a Conquista Award:

The show’s superlatives:

Most
important trend

E-bikes… nothing I’m very interested in I
have to admit. But the end justifies the means. If E-bikes enable people to be
more active, go out for a ride on a Sunday afternoon instead of watching TV,
that’s perfect. And if they help people to cycle to work everyday, even better.

…and cargo bikes

Bike trailers and cargo bikes… I was
impressed by the different models and we have seen. Yes, they do make sense.
And yes, some of them look very cool even.

Best
Thing we have never seen before

The ass-saver. It is what it sounds like.
And pretty useful. Google it.

Best
surprise of the show

De Marchi cycling outfits – simply
beautiful! I knew them of course, but wasn’t aware I wanted them THAT much.

The
‘scratch your head’ award

Don’t dare to mention…

Worst
marketing approach

“Oh, you just looked more than 5 seconds at
our booth, you seem to be very interested!” – Err… no, not at all actually. I
have to admit that I was so thrown off by the guy’s strategy that I wasn’t able
to save myself for at least 3 minutes. Shame on me.

Worst
marketing approach for a smart product

First contactless dynamo-powered bike light
system with no additional components in the wheels. Energy is simply drawn from
the rotating bicycle wheels without any physical contacts, electricity is
generated in the lights by making use of eddy currents created by strong
magnets.

Sounds good so far, but the first thing you
see is a roll-up showing a mushroom cloud with the slogan “Sometimes inventions
have the power to change the world…”

A smart product deserves a smart ad… please
change it quickly!

Staff
with the fanciest hairdos

Cinelli. Exclamation mark.

Most
useful new product

It’s not totally new, but has been
improved: the carbon belt drive. Very good for city or commuter bikes and
perfect choice for lazy cyclists since the belts are indestructable, requires
no maintenance at all and no grease will ever soil your clothing again.

Most
useless invention of the fair

Hundreds of great LED bike lights from
different brands that work so well, but are not allowed in most countries.
Germany is probably the only country though where you are told off by the
police and receive a ticket as a special gift.

Most
heart-melting performance

Gilles Berthoud – Lack of passion for his
job? Not this guy! Since 1977 he’s manufacturing bikes, saddles and all kind of
bike bags. It’s a family run business and they make everything from bags to
brochures themselves. So, if you need high quality old school bike bags or help
with a job depression, go and visit the absolutely lovely Berthoud family, they
will help you for sure! (gillesberthoud.fr).

Most
discreet sales guy

At the Pashley stand: “You are enjoying
yourselves?” … yes, whatever…

The
smartest innovation

I was actually surprised by a stylish
looking chainless E-folding bike that had won the IF and red dot product design
award (Mando Footloose).

The
best bicycle charity

World Bicycle Relief was created in 2005 by
SRAM co-founder and Executive Vice President F.K. Day following the December
2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Another way to demonstrate the power of
bikes!

Check it out:
http://www.worldbicyclerelief.org

The
best bike paint job

Cinelli. Exclamation mark.

The
craziest product presentation

20 m2 stand with lots of shelves presenting
only 1 product. To be clear: not 1 product in different colours and sizes, I’m
talking about 1 item. The stand vis-à-vis on the other hand looked like a
little shop on an Asian market. Millions of bike bells, lights and screws on
only 5 m2.

The
best ‘after show’ party

Thank you Continental, you have been a
great host again…. please order some more food also for next year.

The
best non-Italian brand impersonating an Italian brand

Conquista

The
best giveaways

Difficult to say, I should have asked the
visitors with the big rucksacks… I haven’t got any good giveaways… dear
exhibitors, think about this please, we will be back in 2014!

The
best coffee

The Vaude stand. It was as organic and fair
as their products and their business philosophy.

The
best sausages

I very much prefer Kässpätzle and
Maultaschen… if you have no idea what this is, you should definitely come to
EUROBIKE next year, it’s a speciality from the region.

The
best snacks

Haribos… of course. I preferred to bring
them myself just in case.

The
best company at EUROBIKE:

Benjamin… – thank you, it has been a great
pleasure! Conquista Award for you.

Some people use a bike because it’s cool
and part of their lifestyle. For some people cycling is sport. It’s all about
speed, skills, distance, fitness, and performance. Many people don’t even think
about why they use a bike, it’s simply a habit and the easiest way to move.
Some people take the bike because it’s good for their health and part of their
social lives. Others prefer the bike because it’s cheaper than a car. And city
bikers are happy to avoid traffic jams and annoying detours. For me personally
cycling is bliss, it always encourages me in the right way, it helps me to
relax on the one hand and it pushes and motivates me on the other.

No matter why YOU use your bike, just think
of Angela Merkel’s statement at the 2013 EUROBIKE opening: “Biking gets
everyone in a good mood and simply has a future.”

Well, no idea who told her, but it’s true
and it is that simple.

Hope to see you at EUROBIKE 2014! 



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