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What Went Wrong with Interbike? Death to a Dinosaur?

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9/27/2016 12:33 AM


When Vital MTB user bikeboardorblade commented on our WTF gallery (which is bursting at the seams, by the way), it made me think about how I've seen the Interbike tradeshow change over the years.


And he's right to an extent. Over the past several years I've seen it morph from busy halls filled with innovation and eager dealers to half-empty corridors and what feel like snake oil salesmen.

Pickle juice, anyone?



Virtual reality meets porn meets Z-Jays. Oh dear.



Another industry friend posted something to his Facebook feed along the lines of: "A dinosaur waiting for its comet" with a Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas location tag. Yikes.

And so I'd like to ask our readers, what went wrong with Interbike? What does that say of our industry?

It used to be that all the WTFs were found in the back isles. Now they're front and center, and there's something oddly un-easing about that.

Are we simply beyond the tradeshow model? Can you, the brands and shops that attended, more effectively fill the various needs the show once fulfilled?

It used to be that when a shop rep went to the show, they came back with what seemed like tall tales of the next great products and knew exactly what to stock. Times have changed though. Can you, the public (and even shops?), find sufficient knowledge of products in coverage online?

What will save the dino?

God help us all.

(And don't you dare go arguing with me about pickle juice. I've tried all the so-called remedies.)

9/27/2016 5:30 AM

If the Dino wants to moto-it-up then the industry needs to adhere to that template.

500.00 dropper seatposts, 3000.00 wheelsets, Standards being held in the same regard as Regulations, fickle base-model identity (wheels and tires).


Not that Dinosaur cannot evolve. There is too much warm fuzzy-blanket going on w/ MTB than there needs to be however and, it is ruining the sport.

Ruining it.


Shoes for Industry

9/27/2016 5:44 AM

The companies that were there 10 years ago putting out top notch product are still killing it, there just seems to be a whole lot more rubbish around the sides, kick stater, easy access to Asian manufacturing, everyone-an-entrepreneur, lower barriers to break even, some of all of those?

There is all sorts of distractions, but Spec, Trek, GT, Giant, Cannondale, Kona at big volumes, Santa Cruz, Ibis, Intense, Yeti, Banshee, Rocky at mid volumes; a renaissance of hand built custom bikes, and the rise of direct sales with YT and Canyon, there is plenty of great stuff out there, crying about BB and axle standards, and wheel and tire dimensions aside. It is not all weird and wacky.

Same amount of signal, but a whole lot more noise


9/27/2016 5:52 AM

I would be curious what percentage of retailers attend the show with the intent to bring aboard new brands and make business deals. The major companies that most retailers use to get small parts, smaller brands, as well as bikes aren't there and haven't been for some time and it is finally having major effects.

It isn't that the industry is in trouble, it is just that the format of this show is in jeopardy. IF the whole industry was facing the same issues, we would have already had this conversation weeks ago during Eurobike.


9/27/2016 6:59 AM

Well a good place to start, it's in Vegas....remember how SIA went to Denver.
One of the most talked about topics in the halls this year, was how interbike in general is almost irrelevant now. We've seen almost everything new to come out via Internet. Big brands that weren't there are doing more personal, hands on programs with their dealers. Lots of companies had their preorders due over a month ago, so they were in Vegas this year because they always went in the past.
Walking down the backside of interbike this year (Asia/ebike world) I flipped my name badge multiple times to keep people from using it as a way to try and start sales for 60lb e-scooters. It was more akin to walking down the strip at 1am and having people try and hustle you to a strip club.
F*** it, let the asteroid kill it. Maybe we can weed out some of the bullshit from the industry by not giving them a place to go. More than half the convention space was filled with cheap crap that I can confidently say any one of the users on this forum would be absolutely embarrassed/ashamed to see in their local shop.
**sorry for sounding short or bitter, trying to recover from this nasty head cold that I got there. (Not everything stays in Vegas)


9/27/2016 7:36 AM

Thanks for the shout out! While I've never been to Interbike, trade shows like SEMA have also gone downhill. I think part of it is due to manufacturers not having to wait for conventions to announce the latest and greatest.

Also, there's a lot of talk of how "young" the MTB industry is. I don't think I have enough history to agree or disagree, but I'm hoping that we're reaching the crest of this incremental improvement wave we're riding.

Hopefully we'll soon see true standards. If it means resigning ourselves to Boost, then so be it as long as manufactures play nicely and not shove Boost 2.0+ or whatever on us (one example).


9/27/2016 7:40 AM

From the perspective of a shop employee, going to Interbike used to mean getting to see and try all of the newly developed product coming out. Over the last ten years, most of the big players have realized that the patrons of the big show have been slowly steering toward events like Outerbike, where they can grab a bike, and get on a chairlift or otherwise access a real testing ground for the product. To compound this, manufacturers are getting better about bringing demo fleets to each market for people to see and touch. In addition, most fighting cats get let out of their bags at the Taipei or E-uro-bike shows, where there is great media coverage. So long interbike, I will always regret not going to any of the NWD release parties (Sad face).

Vegas is for strippers and parties. Not bikes.


9/27/2016 8:08 AM

Internet killed the Radio Star

Seriously though, they cannot maintain relevancy in an internet driven world. As consumers we can get all of the information directly from the manufacturers rather than playing a game of telephone with shop employees. Shop guys and girls need to experience the products to form opinions and add value to our sales experience. Consumers are not willing to wait 6 months between product announcement and product release. All of these things add up to trade shows not having much of a place in the world any longer.

Plus Vegas sucks as a location.


9/27/2016 8:15 AM
Edited Date/Time: 9/27/2016 8:16 AM

With "trade show booth" websites (MTB "news", releases, regurgitated press releases) like this one, and others, getting engagement that measures in the thousands to tens of thousands - and the ability to communicate at a time of less competition (rest of the calendar vs. 4 days in September everyone releases a new product) the tradeshow is now a side-show. Dinosaur is a good analogy as the trade show is a pre-digital construction, that without evolution, will be out maneuvered by new user-centric media channels.


9/27/2016 8:30 AM

Eurobike has become the main-stage for the global cycling community. That means a global audience, so why waste the time and money to get to Vegas? Las Vegas is a fvcking sad sight, mountain bikers are stoked on life generally, so why the fvck do we need to pretend to drown our sorrows in midget strippers, *FREE drinks, and slots? Let's go ride and give each other high fives, we don't need a tradeshow as an excuse to hang out.

Interbike is a business. They are trying to make money, just like race promoters are trying to make money, just like all these start ups and big brands want to make money. It's time to adapt or die, tradeshows are a leftover product of old business methods. The brands that once showed at these tradeshows have figured out how to adapt, by not wasting their money on Interbike.

Going to a tradeshow does not mean that you are going to sell your grand idea. Your idea was shitty when your kickstarter failed, tech editors didn't reply to your emails, and your instagram page is followed by only your friends and family (but if only you could break the bubble it'd blow up, right?)... you don't need a tradeshow to prove it to you.

Many brands (Large and Small) have figured out a way to connect with their dealers by hosting their own events in rad locations like Park City and Copper Mountain, where guess what? There is actually descent riding. They can spend less money and have one on one conversations about their brand, better control the message giving them a chance to lube up their massive overhead before they ram it up the rear ends of their poor dealers who won't receive those bikes until next year's are already released. But that's another conversation, for another time. "How the Bike Industry Killed the Bike Industry," by your favorite big bands. Coming to a dealer near you... JK we put them all out of business by holding our brand over their head while we jammed inventory featuring the latest 'mind blowing technology advancements' down their throats year after year after year.

I for one, can't wait to see what happens next... I also wouldn't mind having a chance to test a product for an entire year or three without being bombarded by negligible technology advancements. Wouldn't it be nice if we pumped the brakes and focused on having products that last (with routine maintenance) and really truly advance the sport instead of forcing it on the unassuming beginner-mediate consumer (who doesn't know what the fvck you're talking about anyway.)


9/27/2016 8:54 AM

Interbike has simply priced itself out of the game... The big guys are doing their own intros for their dealers for less money and with less distractions.

Interbike would be better off being a consumer based show. Let the consumers see the new bikes and stuff... Most dealers have already seen it. I think several small shows would be better than one big one..


9/27/2016 10:10 AM

Vital. Vital killed interbike. I kid, but only sort of.

Seriously, what is the difference (for most) when comparing high quality product features on Vital (or the competition) and a trade show? You don't get to ride most of what you see at Interbike, and most nerds know what was being launched before they showed up.

Contrast this to 15 years ago, and sure, you might see something new and you'd likely have to wait until a magazine came out to check out the latest and greatest. How we get information has totally changed...why would the trade show stay the same?

I get that certain "deals" happen at Interbike. But if one was to hone in on those deals and fly those "key" people direct to wherever they need to be for a more intimate riding/testing experience, it'd likely be cheaper, more fun, and have a higher ROI.

So yeah, any smart marketing manager would realize throwing money at Vital/PB etc, taking care of your key customers and avoiding the Interbike shit show might not just kill less brain cells, it'd actually make for better business...

End of the day, trade shows aren't that required to proliferate ideas.

Next up on the chopping block: PR Firms (sorry I had to, but I still don't understand how PR firms are a "thing" anymore...)


9/27/2016 11:28 AM

Danimal5-0 wrote:

From the perspective of a shop employee, going to Interbike used to mean getting to see and try all of the newly developed ...more

Getting straight white girl waisted with CG was great! Messing with all the superstars of my time was the best. That was why I went to Vegas. We haven't went for a few years because most of the time now when a company releases new product they have it in stock and it's at the shop two weeks later. Vegas sucks!


9/27/2016 11:36 AM
Edited Date/Time: 9/27/2016 11:37 AM

so here's a flipside to all the doom and gloom. it couldn't apply to everyone, but it's an interesting way of using interbike to advantage despite modern marketing and online access

i spoke w/ one brand at the show and they actually waited to launch new product at interbike and at interbike only. their outlook was that because there was smaller attendance and less buzz around the show that they'd actually get more traction w/ media coverage and would stand out.

again, this strategy couldn't work if every company tried b/c the "noise" would be too great and it'd be back to the interbike of old, but i think the move by this brand was smart. the media are there (even if we just make fun of it) AND it's the end of the tradeshow/buzz season. it's kind of like racers fishing for deals. it feels like a race win at the beginning of the year is way less important than a race win at the end of the year b/c the beginning of the year has been forgotten. you could say the same thing about interbike. stand out among the weird stuff and stand out last, right before consumer decisions are made.

regardless, i'd love to never see vegas again : )


9/27/2016 3:38 PM

It's not just the bike industry. The outdoor clothing industry is also hurting. The answer is pretty simple. More online sales = less in store retail sales. That means less people to go and see new product, less people who are buying smaller more specific stuff. Ive worked for an outdoor clothing co making cold calls to previous accounts this year, attempting to set up appointments. There has been a huge drop in small retailer attendance.

The industry is changing. Evolve or die. Problem is how brands need to evolve. When that meteor hits you better hope the business you're in can thrive let alone survive.



9/27/2016 8:08 PM

You're about to get your wish @dstucki


Memory Pilot Sox, Mudguards, Custom Mudguards

9/28/2016 9:08 AM

First and foremost, Interbike needs to get the hell outta Vegas for all the above reasons.

Second, I like pickle juice.


MRP - VP of Business Dev.

9/28/2016 12:26 PM

There are so many things wrong with Interbike its hard to narrow it down to a few items. Over the past 10 years, the business landscape has changed & Interbike still functions off the same business model. For starters, the exhibitors like myself no longer see it as a benefit relative to the cost of having a booth in Vegas and being subject to excessively high union fees just to move a box of catalogs is outright extortion. Interbike's business model doesn't focus on the exhibitors, if the exhibitors pull out like many of the big guys have, the house will begin to fall apart, like it has. The landscape has changed, dealers can get their information on line yet there's still no substitute for face-to-face meetings and thats why I feel a trade show is still valid, it just needs to be in a location thats more rider friendly and cost effective for everyone to attend. Interbike has made millions off these shows, its time to give the industry something back or it'll die!


9/28/2016 4:08 PM

Vegas blows for starters, but I think a lot has to do with ordering deadlines. Sure we hear about things on vital and what not, but with retailers having to put in orders for the best pricing before the show what's the point in going? The main reasons buyers went was to see the product and put together assortments in person before ordering.

You can bring up all of these other things but if people are going to the show to buy things first and foremost, there is very little reason to have the show. Waste of marketing dollars for the vendors and a waste of time for retailers...


8/3/2017 10:22 AM

Interbike moves to Reno, Nevada for 2018:,1732

Can't wait to rally some e-bikes down Northstar.