The Interbike convention has moved its operations to Reno Nevada, and I was able to go this year and gather some pics and info.
The outdoor demo here at Lake Tahoe was better than at Las Vegas’s Bootleg Canyon, but it was smaller because there were fewer vendors. I suspect that next year the outdoor demo will be fairly full, now that everyone can see how it will go…
Reno itself is much dryer than the lush green countryside just an hour up the mountain at Lake Tahoe. Also, compared to previous Interbikes, Las Vegas is “on fire” 24 hours a day, while Reno gently goes to sleep at night. The airport and streets in Reno are not as crowded, or as bustling as Vegas during business hours. I saw electric cars and free EV-charging stations around town, and also citizens riding bicycles that had nothing to do with Interbike (so, Reno is already bicycle and ebike-friendly). Of course they still have casinos that you can gamble in, if you are interested in that.
I can’t mention Reno without also pointing out that the national automobile museum is there, and if you love antique and vintage cars, it is truly wonderful (plus there a very nice Mexican restaurant across the street from it, Bertha Miranda’s, 336 Mill St).
The indoor convention was about the same size as recent Interbikes in Las Vegas, but…the electric section was bigger, while the pedal-only section was smaller. Electric bikes consumed at least half the floor-space of the convention hall. Electricbike sales are rising, while the bicycle industry as a whole is tapering off, so…bike shop owners are now starting to see that they can make some profit off of ebikes and their accessories. In some cases, adding ebikes may even mean the difference in survival for a brick-and-mortar bike shop.
My ONE complaint about the Interbike meet in Reno? The wifi speed sucked…hard. Ask anyone, don’t take my word for it. Reno, you have 11 months to fix this.
Fat tires and cargobikes are not a fad, they are here to stay. The electric war is over, and bicycle companies have accepted that they will all need to have an electric version in their catalogs.
As much as Amazon, Ebay, Walmart, and direct-sell websites have eaten into the pedal-bicycle market-share…ebikes are an area where many of the customers are still willing to pay a little extra so they can have hands-on customer service for technical issues. Not to mention test-rides before a purchase to ensure you get the proper size frame for your body. You can’t get that from bikesdirect.com…
Pedego and Prodeco Tech did not have a booth this year. With all the talk of tariffs on Chinese bicycles (a nation-specific added-tax for importation), there was a lot of buzz with bikes and bike parts from Taiwan and Vietnam.
The electric bike numbers for 2018 are showing that Luna Cycle, Rad Power, Juiced Riders are doing well.
Interbike is not a place where customers go to buy a part for their bike. Its where bike shop owners go to speak face-to-face with manufacturers so they can decide what bikes and parts to carry. It’s business-to-business. You can often find new products that are not on the shelves yet, or even available for purchase.
There is a schedule posted of special speakers from the bicycle industry and also from the ebike world. They provided the latest up-to-date information on running an ebike business, and also afforded the audience the opportunity to ask direct questions.
Ike Fazzio is from Fly Rides in San Diego, David Rasmussen is from eSpokes Electric Bikes in Utah, Michael Reuter is from American Cycle and Fitness in Michigan, and Chris Nolte is from Propel Electric Bikes in Brooklyn (soon to have a shop in Southern California). You can’t see from this angle, but the seats were packed to hear this talk given by four successful ebike shop owners who were invited to speak based on their growth.
Youtube celebrity Court Rye (from EBR / Electric Bike Review) spoke for an hour on trends in the industry over the past year. Hey Court, I was the guy who asked about any new developments for anti-theft and GPS. The bike shop owners in the audience were VERY interested in everything Court and the other four speakers had to say.
You can have a look at EcoBike Adventures in central California here.
What about the bikes?
Some hardcore bicycle companies who had been reluctant to add an electric model to their catalogs have caved-in over the last two years, in spite of protests from some of their customers (ebikes are cheating!).
The push-back from the mountain bike community over electric motors has softened to a low grumble. That being said, the big names in mountain bikes are still trying as hard as possible to make an ebike that almost doesn’t look like it has a motor or battery. I have to trust that their recently-polled customers prefer a stealthy look over a longer-range and heavier battery pack.
Just about everyone was emphasizing that their small and light batteries were very easy to hot-swap in the middle of a ride, to extend the range. This also goes for the ultra-light road bikes with their skinny tires.
Speaking of skinny tires, they can skid easily if you lock them up in slippery road conditions, and I saw several road bikes with small (meaning “light”) disc brakes that had ABS (an Anti-lock Braking System). This may have been around for a while, but it was new to me, and it’s a great option that I hope will soon be provided in many more models.
The Outdoor Track
It is a vital element to be able to test-ride ebikes at Interbike, and they had an outdoor track wrapped-around the outer edge of a large number of tents for the various manufacturers. There were quite a few “lunch trucks” available in order to provide any style of munchies you might like, along with cold beer.
If you don’t want to have to ride a free bus from the major hotels to get to the convention center, the “Atlantis” was right next door, and the Peppermill is only a few blocks away.
The pic above is only about 1/4th of the floor-space used for the Interbike booths, and I estimate that about 1/2 of the entire floor-space was taken up by ebike-related businesses, and they have grown each year. Low fuel prices over the last two years have been a factor in the low interest with bicycles and ebikes, but every time fuel prices temporarily spike up, bikes and ebikes have a huge sales spurt.
I got an ebike even before there were any fuel price shenanigans. I like how it provides me with a backup to get to work (I live 12 miles from my job), and I frequently give my grandkids rides on my ebike. Pedal-only bikes will always be around, in the same way that horses and vintage cars still have enthusiasts who form clubs and stay active. The practical nature of bicycles and electric bikes is something that is an unstoppable force…and I am happy that I am able to be a part of reporting on it.
Written by Ron/spinningmagnets, October 2018