Frostbike–A bicycle non-professional at a bicycle industry trade show
A guest post by Laura Colbert of Loose Nuts Cycles in Atlanta, GA
So, I know my byline up there says that I represent Loose Nuts Cycles when I write. The truth is that I am by no means a bicycle industry professional. I ride my bike to work and around town, love a mountain bike ride, help out at the local velodrome and am marrying a bike shop owner, but I have never been paid to ride or work on bikes or to be knowledgeable about bicycle-related things. I am a bicycle non-professional.
This weekend, my partner (owner of Loose Nuts Cycles) and I flew to Minneapolis so that he could attend Frostbike 2013–QBP’s annual conference and trade show. I originally signed up because I have some family in the city and wanted to visit with them, but I was also curious about what went on at bicycle industry gatherings. I’m in public health, so I’m used to peer-reviewed abstracts, break out sessions, suits, and networking events when I go to a conference.
Before we even left Atlanta for the frigid northern lands of Minnesota, I knew I was in for something different than the expert-packed, abstract-ridden, brain-overwhelming days of public health conferences. Chris forwarded an email to me with the subject line “2013 Frostbike Beer Hunt”, which described a scavenger hunt-type activity that you could complete at the vendor expo in order to earn “a 22oz. bottle of limited-edition Frostbike beer that was brewed and bottled by the QBP Vendor Sales Team”. It’s not that we public health folks don’t have fun at our conferences, but we’ve certainly never hosted a Beer Hunt. I could tell that Chris’s “professional” trip was going to be a very different kind of professional than I was used to.
Essentially, our schedule was this:
Friday–arrive in Minneapolis and find hotel. Go to All City Bikes party (via a party bus called the Night Rider) and have beer- and bike-related fun.
Saturday–Go to QBP headquarters. Check out the vendor expo for the morning. Eat delicious lunch provided by Thompson and QBP. Ride Surly fat bikes in the snow. Back to expo. Return to hotel for dinner.
Sunday–More expo. Take tour of QBP headquarters. Eat more delicious lunch. Ride more fat bikes (Salsa this time). Win stuff at a raffle. Back to hotel.
Monday–Sit on butt. Fly back to Atlanta.
After4 bicycle packed days, these are the things that stuck with me:
- Fat tire bikes are awesome, especially when used for their intended purpose–snow.
- QBP likes girls. My name tag said “Dealer” which probably helped, but all of the brands and bike professionals with whom I spoke treated me very equitably, like I knew as much as Chris did. They made sure to look at both of us when talking about products. I liked the feeling of not being talked down to and treated knowledgeably, even if I wasn’t actually knowledgeable. I hope that Frostbike 2014 includes seminars for bike shop owners about how to make women cyclists feel like that in their shops. It seems pretty rare in the bike world.
- The bicycle apparel industry apparently hates women–I’ll rant more about this in a later post, but women’s bicycle clothing continues to be made to look exactly like men’s cycling apparel but with an added flower or ruffle. I saw not one piece of clothing at the entire show that I would be excited about wearing.
- POC Helmets look awesome–awesome enough to reduce how dorky I normally feel when wearing a helmet.
- Brooks still makes beautiful, drool-worthy leather products–I fell in love with this Brooks bag. Oh yeah, and this bag is pretty amazing in the grape color.
- The Surly display. They had obviously put a lot of thought and design into their space, even though it was just temporary. Plus, the new Big Dummy cargo system premiered, which was exciting.
Custom painted Moonlander just outside the Surly display area
New Surly Big Dummy bag and top plate
- There is a common sense of purpose between the Frostbike attendees. Even though people didn’t know each other, they shared a priority and experience that connected them. It sounds like hippy talk, but it made Frostbike feel welcoming and warm. The feeling helped to re-energize a lot of attendees (including myself) about riding, even in the middle of winter.
- Kenda’s new tube vending machine–this is being tested in several pilot areas before it will be available to the mass market. Pretty fun product.
For all those times when you need a tube and your local bike shop isn’t open to help you
I was prepared to come back and report that professional bike trade shows are just an excuse to have a good party and talk about bikes all weekend. While partying and talking about riding bikes and actually riding bikes was essentially all that we did for 3 days, I was surprised at how much actual business got done. Vendors with whom I spoke were really excited and helpful when talking about their new products. Bike shop owners were stoked that these new products met the needs of their customers (with the exception of women’s cycling clothing–ugh! Still unreasonably pissed about this). Everyone wanted to ride bikes and generally the atmosphere at Frostbike fueled that fire. It was fun to come home and be stoked to get on my bike and know that thousands of other people were doing the same thing as they returned home from Frostbike too.
Starting last night through Sunday I am at a tradeshow called Frostbike. Much of my content and typery for the next few days will be wrapped around thoughts, concepts, product and conversations that come out of this tradeshow. Because of this I would like to quickly explain what it is and why it matters to me – which means also why you should continue reading. This is my version of what Frostbike is, I am biased as I am paid by the company that puts the event on, so that is my FTC warning. Also, all thoughts are my own and not of Frostbike or Quality Bicycle Products. (BLAH)
What is Frostbike?
Frostbike I believe started as an open house for distributor Quality Bicycle Products. To show off their main products and to give bicycle dealers (bike shops) the chance to come see and touch stuff that you only would normally see at Interbike. It has grown from an open house to really a mini Interbike that sells out rather quickly. You must be a Quality Bicycle Product dealer with an active account, and bla bla bla but the benefits of a smaller and more intiment settings with really the QUALITY bicycle products in the industry is very unique.
Why is Frostbike Different?
One thing that Frostbike is also is a bicycle dealer education show. There are seminars running the whole time from running your business, to marketing, to financial planning, to hiring, to merchandising, to brand education, to category education and so on. What is so unique about this is that for a good amount of it, it isn’t about product we (QBP) sells, it is about making the bicycle dealer more successful and profitable.
Finally it is also often used as a stepping stones for brands that QBP solely distributes or owns to launch at. The much anticipated 2013 Ridley Cyclocross will be shown off later this weekend, the official US launch of Campy’s EPS groups and several other things coming down the pipe that I would be in deep crap if I mentioned.
There you go, in a nutshell as best as I could without asking the lawyers or marketing geniuses!
Problem Solver Tech Tuesday: Tools of #Frostbike
Over the past weekend at Frostbike in Minneapolis I spied some very useful tools for shops and mechanics world wide should know of.
Dual presta & shrader valve inflator that connects to your shop compressor.
Do you travel with your tools? Do you want a reason to buy more tools. Here it is. It won’t be cheap, but hell it is big, blue and holds tools.
If you work with deep section wheels you’ll understand this. No more screwing up your valve extenders and it also does valve cores. Every tubular gluing, deep dish riding, mechanic should have this.
Thanks Problem Solvers for sponsoring this and for being awesome at Frostbike.
The First 48 Hours of Frostbike Recap
Recapping the first 48 hours of Frostbike thus far for myself in some photos…
First stop: All you can eat bacon.
Thursday (all day long) the brands of QBP walked us through changes, updates, awesomeness that made me very excited. For example the new Macho Man from All City! Apparently we stunk as even the Surly Cycles guys were done with us.
Friday I commuted. The VIP dealers had arrived and it’s time for seminars, some meetings with dealers and getting warm and fuzzies about how awesome my job really is.
Then there was the Michelin Tires Casino night (with Michelin bucks.)
Then it was my job to get as many dealers as legally possible into a large green/neon school bus to take them to the All City Macho Madness party. I think the total in the bus was over 65 or so…
After little sleep over a few nights it was bright and early for expo to open. Here are some of my favorite thing with limited amount of time on the floor today!
Now I’m going to bed to do it all over again tomorrow!
Preview: Po Campo Roscoe Cross Body Bag
Ever since Po Campo sent out an email a couple weeks back about the new colors in the Roscoe Crossbody bag I’ve been waiting patiently for Quality Bicycle Products to get them instock. I had hoped they would get them in before Frostbike (industry trade show this week) but unfortunately they did not. Maria from Po Campo braved the snow and traveled to Minneapolis this weekend for Frostbike. She was nice enough to bring along a bag for me to buy!I was able to use the Roscoe over the past couple days to carry around my iPad mini, iPhone and other key items (ID badge, charger, business cards, etc.)
Maria saved the day, so thank you!
Roscoe Crossbody Bag
I wouldn’t say this is a cycling specific bag at all, but more of a great looking bag with touches for those that use it on the bike. The color and function are what completely caught my attention and what I’ll be basing an upcoming review on!
Hopefully over the next week I’ll be able to ride with the bag and can give a pretty straight forward review with more photos of the interior pockets.
Disclaimer: I purchased this bag, super stoked on it and reviews (as always) will be based on using/abusing the product to give you the best feedback possible.
Reveal the Path in Charlotte
Pretty bummed that I won’t be able to make this as I’ll be off in the sunshine and warmth of Minneapolis, Minnesota for Frostbike.
Reveal The Path will premiere in Charlotte, NC, at Theatre Charlotte, 510 Queens Road, on Thursday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $11 in advance at www.imathlete.com/events/revealthepath ($10 base plus a $1 service fee). Tickets the day of the event will be $15 at the door. This event is a benefit for the Charlotte Area Bicycle Alliance (CABA).
Share the event with your friends on Facebook.
Knog Blinder Arrow Light Review
We all know my obsession for lights and bags. I have so many of both as I’m always trying to find the perfect one. Rechargeable lights are something I really love. Especially the latest push for USB rechargeable. You see, before lights and bags I am a tech freak. iPad, iMac, MacBook Air, GoPro’s, Canon cameras, iPhones, you get the idea. I always have a computer with me, so charging a light through USB is really easy for me. Much easier than finding batteries at CVS.
Meet the Knog Blinder Arrow Light $44.99
I received a front light in the mail, and it has been on the front of my bikes since February. I’ve traveled with it to Frostbike, and utilize it anytime I’m on the road. I’ve had to charge it twice, it’s bright and easy to use. The mount works on all types of handlebar styles, widths and bends. The USB is easy to use, but you have to have the right room for it. It doesn’t fit in well right between two other USB’s due to the light size.
In Knog fashion they come in many colors & styles
Long term I plan to order a rear, as making a white front light bright seems to be easier than making a red rear light bright and eye catching.
Visit Knog’s website to view all styles!
This product was provided for free for review. I was not bribed or paid for this review.
Preview: All City Macho Man Cyclocross Bike
One of the most exciting parts (there were many) of Frostbike 2012 is the reveal of the new All City Macho Man Cyclocross bike. This is the geared version of their well known Nature Boy.
I can tell you right now this bike is what I’ll be racing next cross season, and will be ordering the gold frameset option as my pit bike. Yes, I said it.
Some of the below photos are my own from the show, some are Jeff Frane of All City.
All City Macho Man Specifications that Matter
Frameset: 4130 ChroMoly steel, double butted, externally tapered, overlized, awesomeness.
Fork: 4130, lugged crown
Derailleurs: 105 rear & CX70 Front
Okay really. It’s steel. It’s new 105 that feels yummy in your hands. Tiagra hubs, cassette and bla bla. This will be my race bike for 12-13. I plan on using the fully built bike like you see above as my pit bike and building up the GOLD frameset option with nicer spec to save weight.
Fun Day February Friday
As I type this I am sitting on my bed with a limited New Belgium Founder’s Ale in one hand and tissues shoved in the other. Yes, and I am still typing. As I’m battling a nasal drip head cold, the feelings of January leave me here sitting feeling rather happy with how the first month of 2012 ended.
50 Bike Shops in January 2012
Yes, I visited 50+ bike shops in January. That doesn’t include the ones that I simply “stopped by” with out a specific reason or for business reasons, or the ones I have visited multiple times in January. I’m still catching up on all the paper work for these shop visits, including notes and goals for as many as I can handle. It is a lot of ideas, goals and hopes to swallow but it was a great first month on the road. I saw many shops in SC, TN, and NC from Knoxville, TN to Charleston, SC. I’ve met many new people that I can already call friends, and looking forward to watching them grow over 2012. You’ll see many of these shops featured over the next few months here on Bike Shop Girl.
I don’t like to cover much stuff that you get to see at every other cycling site out there. The new SRAM Red is out, it is fantastic looking and hopefully you have a group on order. I spent a good amount of Wednesday and Thursday taking orders from dealers as my mothership QBP will have some of the first groups available. It was exciting, still is, I hope to get to ride a group soon but it leaves me longing for something I can’t even purchase right now. When I do get a ride on it – I will let you all know if it is as amazing as SRAM’s marketing department was able to make it seem.
Big Plans for February
February will start off slowly this week, mostly paperwork and house keeping. Next week the “boss” comes to town and I will show him off in SC and NC. Or is it I show off NC & SC to him? Visiting between 3-5 shops a day Monday – Thursday with the hopes to get in bike rides in there as well. From there I’m in Minneapolis for Quality’s big Frostbike trade show. I hope to cover some of the event, along with featuring some seminars after the show shuts down. From Minneapolis is Georgia. Southern X cyclocross endurance event, Southeast Bike Expo, Foundry Cycles launch parties, trips with my Lazer manager and continuing to learn more shops in the Southeast area.
Things that Matter a Bunch to me and nothing to you
I finally got a hold of a centerlock rear rotor today at First Flight Bikes. I paid retail and I’m okay with it – I wanted to ride my bike today. I also paid retail for these amazing socks. I have a feeling I’m going to wear them out.