End of July 2009 the Bike Expo opened its doors for the first time ever. Since then the media coverage revolves around the different perspectives the industry and traders take on “just another” fair for bicycles in Germany. ExtraEnergy organized the supporting program for pedelecs and e-bikes and comes to a positive conclusion about the fair in Munich.
On the two days open to the public more than 3.400 test-riders tried numerous pedelecs and e-bikes on the ExtraEnergy test track which came with an extra wide scope. Although the days for trade visitors only were not as busy as the lively public days, the ExtraEnergy stage with its presentations of certain LEV topics was extremely well-attended throughout the fair.
Hannes Neupert, President of ExtraEnergy, regards the fair a success: „The fair lived up to our expectations. The feedback of the well-informed audience was very positive. All visitors were very interested and attended our lectures purposely.”
Fair´s focus on Electro
Pedelecs and e-bikes are the new trend in the bike industry. Coherently, the Bike Expo took the lead and put „Cycling Trends for City and Nature“ as one of their themes. By doing so, the fair followed an urging topic: due to growing traffic chaos and environmental issues in cities, European capitals try to strengthen alternative devices of transport. Paris, Munich or Barcelona are among the precursors of an ecologically and bike-friendly urban management.
Bicycles and pedelces have become increasingly important as the urban vehicle of the 21st century, because they are not only fast, eco friendly and fuel-saving, but include a healthy and sporty element. Especially in tourism pedelecs prove to be a convenient and fun alternative for longer distance and up-hill rides.
Following the fair´s motto „Urban Mobility“, the 2. ispo forum of innovation dealt with mobility in dense urban areas. International representatives of the industry, several states, associations and science developed product and system innovations aiming to boost bike mobility. As a result, electric bikes and urban mobility was identified and fixed as one driver of innovation which has not yet reached its full potential. The combined force of the ecological and healthy advantage of cycling must be emphasised further. From a technical perspective, the electronic support of cycling opens up new markets for regular city traffic as well as for the professional commuters traffic. Next to electric bikes and other bicycles designed for urban areas, Bike Expo held more in store.
Take for example the Scott Junior Trophy powered by Milka, the Big in Bavaria Dirtjump contest or the race Velonale (for non-professionals) as well as technical courses and presentations.
A total of 211 exhibitors from 25 countries promoted their products. In the pedelec and e-bike sector one could spot a few novelties scheduled for 2010. Take KTM for example: The Austrian producer of bicycles and motorbikes is launching a comeback in pedelecs. KTM features three different types: one bike driven by a Panasonic motor, a trekking- and a mountainbike using the BionX system. The mountainbike in particular was an eye catcher due to the nice integration of the battery by using the same colour as in the overall design.
Not as aggressively promoted, but an actual innovation was presented by the German company Daum Electronic GmbH. They have invented a propulsion system for pedelecs, that combines all elements of a conventional cyclometer, pulse monitor, GPS and GSM. Additionally, a SD-/ SDHC chip-card reader enables the cyclist to update the software and store his personal ride- and track data. Once back home, one inserts the SD card into the computer to analyze and feed to the ergometer. This new device opens up a playground for owners of electronic bicycles as never seen before. The premium version will be introduced to the market in September 2009 and comes with GPS and GSM.
The Eagle pedelec of TranzX was introduced to the European market at Bike Expo. The parent company JD Components engaged Pro7 TV presenter Annemarie Warnkross who presented the tangy vehicle in two colours.
Sachs from Nuremberg showed a new e-scooter that very much reminded of the Passol from Yamaha. Unfortunately, the latter was never available throughout Europe – maybe the Sachs model will be. On the fair, it served as a test to see how consumers react to its handy driveability.
More about Yamaha Passol
More and more companies launch pedelecs which exceed the speed limit of 25km/h, i.e. Gepida and Victoria. Rolektro resists this urge for higher speed with their electric scooter that's designed like a classic 50 cc scooter but rids only 20km/h. Target groups are all those who hate wearing a helmet or prefer to go easy.
Product Development still geared to Autumn
According to exhibitors and trade visitors, the whole product cycle is strongly related to the Eurobike in September. Until last year, the IFMA in Cologne took place around the same time. Bike Expo not only replaced the IFMA, but also changed the schedule. Only in January it was made public that the new Bike fair will take place in July. Hence, many new models were not ready to be shown before Eurobike. Furthermore, some producers do not like to reveal their new models this early in the year, fearing to distract their customers´ attention for their actual collection.
Despite the reluctance of some companies to reveal more than tiny appetizers, the Munich Fair managed to fill 22.000 sqm exhibition space and an additional open air exhibition ground even bigger. Among the most active exhibiting nations was Germany with ZEG hosting the biggest stand, Austria, the People´s Republic of China, Taiwan and Italy.
A total of 5.000 trade visitors are said to have been at the premiere of the Bike Expo. On the two public days the number of visitors raised up to 20.000 cycling fans.
The Industry is biased
Obviously, the public responded positively to the concentrated marketing efforts made by the Munich fair to attract the population to the new Bike Fair in the Bavarian capital.
Only the industry appears to be more biased. A number of companies were rather diffident than enthusiastic and came as visitors rather than exhibitors to get an impression of the Bike Expo first.
Some representatives rejected the idea of a second German Bike fair. In their view, it is cost-intensive and not sure if another fair in the south of Germany can attract new customers. The former fair in Cologne used to be an attractive location, especially for retailers from the north of Germany and the Benelux countries who would not necessarily go to Friedrichshafen. The prevalent opinion among the industry tends to the notion that a single fair would be sufficient for Germany.
Nevertheless, there are good reasons for the new fair in Munich as well. The CEO of “Messe München International”, Mr. Wutzlhofer explained in Taipei this February: “There are three new mega-trends in the bike industry that call for a new platform. The Munich Fair aims to supply this forum with the Bike Expo. These trends are: electric bikes, urban mobility and activity holidays.” In addition, the CEO of Bike Expo, Mr. Dittrich, mentioned on the press conference hold the day before the fair: “After the shortfall of the IFMA the opportunity to create a new fair in Munich arose. Bike Expo fits well into the portfolio of the Munich fair which focuses on sports.”
Furthermore, Munich holds an excellent hotel and transport infrastructure to cope with large numbers of fair visitors. The modern fair ground in Riem provides enough space to channel the masses, whereas space in Friedrichshafen has become a problem. In addition, since the shortfall of the IFMA, the schedule for visitors of the Eurobike has tightened significantly, while the BikeExpo offered the opportunity to prepone a few talks. Still, the majority of industry representatives think taht Bike Expo takes place “too early” in the year. Solely the CEO of the clothing brand Maloja, Hans Haas, was pleased with this early date. For his retailers, an early fair means more time to order.
Conclusively, the Bike Expo will not stay a singular event. Bike Europe reported, that ZEG has already announced its yearly trader´s meeting 2010 to be held at Bike Expo.
ExtraEnergy will be there in 2010
ExtraEnergy is going to organize the electric bike supporting program again in 2010. Since 1996 the organization used to be present on both fairs, Eurobike and IFMA, and will continue to do so. Ideally, the future might hold one strong bike fair for Germany, one that could provide enough space for LEV related issues to get the attention they deserve. Presently, Bike Expo in Munich offers the much needed space, while Eurobike scores with internationality. “Now it is on the industry to organize itself, while the fairs need to provide focal points” Mr. Neupert of ExtraEnergy describes the current situation. “The Munich fair proved their instinct for trends by focusing on pedelecs at the first Bike Expo.” Neupert further compares the situation with 1990 when Eurobike identified and pushed the mountainbike as the new trend. Hence, Bike Expo managed to make one´s mark as a public fair at first try and will keep to work with ExtraEnergy in the future.
Bike Expo in pictrues
(by Susanne Brüsch and Uwe Schlemender)
(PDF download, 780 KB, German)
Overview of the Bike Expo grounds
(PDF download 1,6 MB)
By Susanne Brüsch
Translation: Nora Manthey
30 August 2009