InterBike is the largest bicycle convention in the world. Each year, manufacturers, dealers, racing teams, executives, engineers, wholesalers, trainers, hobbyists, and journalists from all over the world descend upon Las Vegas for a week-long smorgasbord of new product releases, training workshops, seminars and symposiums.
My business partners Jamie Gilson, Mark Baraniak and I arrived mid-week to get an early start on dealership activities. Our goal was to connect with our main suppliers as well as scope out new products for 2018. This is the fun part of this industry - getting to marvel at the immensity of the cycling industry and how much of it permeates our lives from early childhood through our final decade circumnavigating our senior living neighborhood.
In years past, the electric bike market was represented by a small but devoted group of manufacturers at the furthest end of the convention hall. Typically, these areas are populated by fringe vendors, and last-minute entrants.
This year, the electric bike industry was anything but fringe. Once we registered and walked into the convention center, it was clear that E-Bikes had finally made it to the main stage - and wasn't just appearing on the main stage - it was headlining the show!
As one of the few all-electric dealers from the East coast, we felt like an ice-cream trolley driving by a crowded public swimming pool on a hot summer afternoon. Any hopes of operating incognito were completely dashed because our badges needed to be displayed at all times. Since we are one of the few exclusive retail channels for e-bikes on the east coast, most every brand had contacted us weeks before the conference hoping to schedule face-to-face time during the week. If only we had more time... and more space.
The indoor demo track featured no less than 30 tents - each representing one of the major E-Bike brands. Inside the test-track tents were the brand's prototypes and current models for dealer testing on the the track. Dealers, suppliers, technicians, designer, and industry execs, took advantage of this rare opportunity to ride some of the finest machines in the world - some with price tags to match.
The test track was one of the hottest networking sites of the entire conference. Of course, we had our hand full testing the 2018 prototypes by BH Easy Motion, BULLS E-Bikes Magnum, Vintage Electric, and Stromer. But that was work. Playtime involved testing everything else in the tents around us including the Copenhagen Wheel and the Trivel Aztec crank forward e-powered trikes. We felt like kids in a candy shop.
For those of you who have worried about how far you can ride on a battery charge and whether or not you'll get stuck having to walk your bike home when the battery runs out, I have great new for you! Most all of next year's mid-drive models feature operating ranges of between 60 and 120 miles to a single charge. If you are worried about running out of juice on your ride, then the first question to ask is how often do you expect to be riding 100+ miles in a single afternoon? Hopefully, not every day. But if you do, most of the bikes we tested have ranges well above 100 miles provided you are operating only in "Eco" mode.
There will be detailed videos of much of what we tested from our good friend Cort Rye at Electric Bike Review. Don’t miss out on this terrific resource. EBR is the go to website for almost every electric bicycle in production today. Cort was at the convention interviewing people, and drawing an adoring crowd of fans and YouTube followers. All of us owe Cort a debt of gratitude for the immense contribution he has given the industry by relentlessly testing and reviewing every e-bike model on the planet. Please support his work by visiting the site, donating, or else introducing your friends to e bikes through his videos.
Next year, the entire convention will be held in Reno and Lake Tahoe. The reason they are moving the convention is to offer more off-road trail rides for dealer groups. Personally, I think that InterBike 2018 will be the breakout year for e-bikes as more tour operators, resort owners, and adventurist begin to see what off-road e-mountain bikes can really do. We need to be outside – in the mountains enjoying panoramic views and the occasional breath-taking wildlife. It will be fun to watch how many more brands will be launching their products into this emerging market. For sure, we’ll be there.
Things we loved!
- Vintage Electric CAFÉ – come test ride one in our store in Denville opening November 24th, 2017.
- SuperPedestrian - an amazing technology which is free of any 3rd party controllers, cables, batteries, or special carrying racks. Surprisingly stealth and simple. Available by October 15th at The Voltaire Cycles
- Elby Electric Bikes – this bike features a BionX power-drive system and quite honestly, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed riding this bike. We are looking at bringing these on board in 2018.
- Trivel Azteca – New design for electric adult trikes – incredibly stable and super comfortable to pedal. We are considering bringing both the street and fat-tire version onto our shop floor in Verona.
- BH Easy Motion – Yamaha Rebel Series – fasten your seat belts. Power, speed, and super smooth performance. It felt like I was riding a column of air. We will have all of the Yamaha Rebel line available as of February 2018.