Well, it’s official—Interbike is leaving Las Vegas for good. After much speculation (Will the show move to Denver in 2018? Portland?
) it comes down to this: Reno, Nevada will be the new home of Interbike beginning in 2018.
Interbike officials made the announcement a couple minutes ago via a conference call to a collection of bike industry nerds.
The tradeshow organizers polled the industry last year after a particularly saggy edition
of the show that had many longtime attendees poking Interbike's corpse with a stick and shooing away flies. Locations that were floated about included Denver, Salt Lake City and picturesque Anaheim by the sea. Interbike's organizers were looking for a new location that possessed the appropriate blend of geography, cultural relevancy, accommodations, date availability, costs, marketability...you get the idea.
While many attendees have been calling for a Salt Lake-ified Interbike, that city was pulled from the roster after a public lands debate erupted in Utah last fall. Interbike’s sister show, Outdoor Retailer (OR), has long held their gig at Salt Lake and while the beer is weak, the sushi is surprisingly good and the riding in nearby Park City is great. Alas, OR pulled out of Utah and since Interbike is owned by the same company, it was good bye, Salt Lake, we never knew you for all us folks with the funny black socks and the weird tan lines.
Interbike and OR bundled themselves together and sent out a request for proposals that went out to 15 cities. Eventually, five cities were considered worthy. Those five cities included, well, we know Denver was in the hunt, but since the process was confidential, we are in the dark on who else was proposing a match with Interbike. We imagine the official process probably resembled the inevitable hot tub scene in any episode of The Bachelorette. It's as good a guess as any.
And the winner is?
Cue the drum roll!
Oh, yeah, sorry… we already announced that in the headline and lead. Yeah, it’s totally Reno. They've got a five-year lock on Interbike--through 2022. So much for the climax. Anyway…
“I know there's been a lot of conjecture out there as to where everyone thought we might end up," said Interbike vice president, Pat Hus, "but in the end the Reno/Tahoe connection became a very clear cut winner."
Interbike's vice president went on to note that Reno possessed the most appealing mix of weather, lodging and terrain. There's undeniably good riding in Tahoe and the demo-portion of the event will be held at North Star's bike park. Chairlift and gondy passes will be provided. The Reno Sparks convention center was also said to be swank and utterly state of the art. Bonus points: it's a non-union building so no teamsters will threaten to break your leg if you attempt to set up your own tradeshow booth or bring in a potted plant to dress up the joint.WILL THIS “SAVE” INTERBIKE?
What prompted the change in venue?
Clearly, there have been plenty of people who have pointed out over the years that Las Vegas was a sort of…interesting…location for a tradeshow dedicated to promoting the benefits of cycling—a sport that’s all about health and clean living and the like. "Why are we having a tradeshow on the strip?" they'd ask. "A place that’s famous for second-hand smoke, venereal diseases and crappy all-you-can-eat buffets?”
Just as many people, perhaps even more, always shook their heads and countered, “Are you crazy? Vegas has cheap flights, a ton of hotels, decent riding out at Boulder City, great meals if you bother to look for them….just suck it up for a couple days, man…it’s a damn tradeshow not a weekend at the spa!”
In other words people were split on the merits of Vegas. What role did that play in this decision to move? Or was the move more about jump-starting a tradeshow that steadily lost key attendees and the vitality it once possessed.
Was there some intent on bringing back the excitement that used to surround Interbike? In a word, yes.
“Just moving the show to the new city wasn’t going to be enough," said Hus. "This is really us hitting the reset button. Brands want to connect direct with consumers."
Part of hitting that re-set button, apparently, includes staging a consumer bike festival at Northstar (California's largest bike park) that will open Saturday, Sept. 15 and will run till 2 o'clock on Sunday. The party will include racing, concerts, a kids rodeo, access to the chairlifts, beer and the like. Interbike is billing it as the largest bicycle demo event in the world. After 2 p.m. on Sunday, the event transition into a trade-only demo event.
Monday will be a long day of demo rides for members of the bike industry. Tuesday September 18 through Thursday September 20th will amount to the usual assembly of hung- over bike nerds shaking hands and exaggerating about the "crazy shit" they did the night before, while also exchanging business cards and staring at spoke nipples.
There was a time when Interbike was the
place where companies rolled out their top-secret, latest and greatest bikes and products. The show where deals were struck, bike shops made their next-year orders. If you were serious about being in the bike business, Interbike was the one show you couldn’t afford to miss.
Those days are long gone. Major bike brands such as Trek, Specialized and Giant have abandoned the tradeshow—first deciding to present their wares to shop rats and the general public at Outdoor Demo and now not even showing up for that pre-tradeshow waltz. By the time Interbike rolls around the major brands have already flown out their top bike shop partners to some exotic locale, shown them the goods, got them a bit drunk at their catered buffet and already inked pre-season orders. Hell they’ve done that before Eurobike even hitches up its lederhosen.
And if we’re talking about new product? Well, you probably already saw most of the new 2018 stuff in April of 2017 when we dumped several gigabytes worth of new products into your lap during our Sea Otter coverage. What doesn’t get leaked at Sea Otter these days gets shown off several times over on every website—like this one—by the end of each July.
So, in the face of these larger global trends—trends, to be entirely fair, that Interbike has no control over—does moving the trade show’s date and location solve the larger problems that hound it?
“We are trying to reinvigorate the show," said Hus when I posed that question to him. "We're having meaningful dialogue with key brands about reinventing the event and our hope is to bring that package together. We wanted to revitalize the show by adding new features and bringing new ideas to the event."
Will Interbike succeed in shaking things up and regaining its former glory? Only time will tell.
Good bye, Vegas. Hello, Reno.