INTERBIKE SPECIAL ‘‘Bicle goes Interbike’’ day 1
Bicle Goes Interbike 2018!
It's September, which means that Interbike is taking place. Of course, Bicle is there to talk with the industry, and report about it. This year we wanted to test two hypotheses: (1) we want to find out what the biggest differences are between the US and the European market, and (2) we feel that e-bikes and LEVs are not as developed in the US as they are in Europe. So, we headed out the talk with exhibitors and to find answers to our questions.
The first day we went down to the convention center we immediately saw some things that stood out: lots and lots of sports bikes. The American market seems to be full with MTB and road bikes. In other words, we mainly saw recreational and sportive bikes.
E-bikes are one of the hottest topics right now
In the middle of the fairgrounds stood the small booth of ACT LAB, a testing lab that tests bikes (mainly), parts, helmets and all kinds of outdoor products, both for compliance as well as for R&D purposes. Their USP is to really take the customer by the hand throughout the whole testing process. According to Michael Bakes, Global Sales and Marketing, ACT LAB ''tries to work with the customer along the way and be more than just a service provider.''
Besides that, Baker told us that they do not only serve the US market, but also the Chinese and European, which makes ACT LAB an interesting party to talk to. And although they do not have an actual testing lab in Europe, they do have European customers. When we asked Baker about innovation and the products that are hot right now, Baker stated that ''most of our business comes from clients that make new products, e-bikes are part of that. Then it comes to the conversation of where you're making it and what you are making it for. E-bikes are one of the hottest topics right now.''
Europe versus the US
Already on the first day we could sense a difference between the two markets. Not only Baker confirmed that, At Batch bikes, a brand new brand that sells beautiful, yet affordable bikes, they sense the same. Bikes in the US are used more for recreational purposes, whilst in Europe people use it more are means of transportation. The car is still dominant in the US. It seems that when an American city tries to adapts their infrastructure more towards bicycles, the automotive seems to block that.
However, Batch Bike is really trying to change the bike culture by, among other bikes, bringing a commuter bike on the market. With this product they try to bring a new awareness to the American people. Their philosophy it to get as many people on bikes as possible. That becomes possible when bikes are affordable, which is why Batch Bikes have a relatively low price point. By doing that Batch hopes to help the whole American market to grow, and bring about a cultural shift when it comes to bicycling.
Another thing that both ACT LAB and Batch Bikes told us was that the e-bike itself is underdeveloped in the US. Because the sport segment is so strongly represented, some would say that an e-bike is similar to cheating. However, that is not to say that e-bikes don't exist in the US. Elderly are seeing the benefits of it, not only for recreational, but also as a means of transportation.
A little off topic, but absolutely interesting was Red Shark, a Spanish brand, founded by Josep Rubau, CEO. He wanted to create a riding experience without having the risks of the road. After having a serious injury himself, he decided to move the bike from the road to water. A heck of a job, you would say, but Rubau seems to succeed. With his high-end frames, that come both in plastic as well as carbon. The water bikes are developed in such a way that is almost feels like driving on the road. How? By making a bottom that is both stable and shock absorbing. It has three pillars that optimize a stable and smooth ride. Of course the water resistance plays a big role, but the feeling should become close to a real bike.
In short: a very interesting and cool new product has been brought by Red Shark. Tomorrow we will go on finding answers to our to hypothesis. And if we spot another cool innovation, we will definitely let you know!