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.
The BIG News
It has been in the works for four months. Countless phone calls, questioning, heckling and hounding. This is the bike industry right?
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!
Be the Change
Since childhood I’ve had a journal in which I would lay out frustrations, draw desires and jot down quotes that inspired or motivated me to be a better person. Since high school I have found my outlet in typing on a keyboard.
In 2009 I moved much of my efforts of typing to the outlet you see here, Bike Shop Girl, in order to “empower women within bicycling”. Three and a half years later I still find the time to push and promote but my message has started to change. With that I need to mirror my efforts and outlet to who I’ve become.
Interbike ’12: Day One Recap
Keep up to date with the Bike Shop Girl coverage of the 2012 Interbike Trade Show with coverage, previews, exclusives and interviews.
Day one of Interbike was many things. Early morning of travel, a couple plane rides, seeing old friends, meeting new, check in, credentials, Treasure Island, dessert dehydration and simply getting my bearings after no sleep. Day two of Outdoor Demo is today, look for a good amount of product and photos being pushed out through the day!
Shops at Palazzo
Interbike Check In
Girl Bike Love Lounge
Limited Edition Crank Brothers
Limited Edition Crank Brothers
How to Dress for a Cold Bike Ride to a Concert
This guest post is by Lindsay Piper of QBP.
Man, my boyfriend is the coolest. Me: doot doot doot, working away. BF: Guess what? I got tickets to Polica tonight. Me: Whaat? OMGAWESOMEYAY
Here’s the thing, this conversation took place in early December in Minneapolis. The concert was to take place at a concert venue called Mill City Nights, which is in downtown Minneapolis. Well on a weekend, parking is a pain, and there’s the whole problem of not wanting to drink & drive, but well YEAH I’m going to have a cider while I watch Polica.
So what’s a gal to do? Ride her dang bike, that’s what a girl’s to do.
That’s a bit easier in summer of course, but that night was expected to be in the range of 20-30 degrees, and the roads & paths were covered with a bit of snow/ice slop. So this brought up the obvious question – what on earth do I wear to stay warm & dry on my bike, but still look concert-worthy? I set to work a-wardrobing.
It is Crucial to Layer
Layer 1 – The concert layer
Key #1: Toasty legs- I accomplished this by layering Patagonia midweight Capeline pants under my Outlier Women’s Daily Riding Pants. The Outlier pants are super stretchy, so it’s easy to add the layer under them without becoming immobile. And they look like jeans, so style.
Key #2: Warm & dry tootsies- Nobody likes cold soggy feet while trying to take in awesome music. To fix myself up here, I layered some DeFeet Wooleator socks (Minneapolis Bike Love Edition) under my Stella McCartney for Adidas high tops. They’re made entirely of shiny synthetic leather and cover my ankles; both factors keep my feet dry & stylish at the same time, in a slightly Marty McFly kind of way. Where’s my hoverboard?!
Key #3: Warm but not sweaty core- I snagged a delightful tee shirt, complete with printed sassy phrase, and layered it under my numero uno, all-time favorite piece – my Surly long sleeve merino jersey. It’s comfortable, keeps me warm & sweat wicked, and looks feminine but not girly. Disclaimer: I manage Surly and a few other brands’ clothing offering- this is one of my babies, so I might be biased, but it really and truly is awesome & indispensable.
Layer 2 – The outer layer (as watched over by my late dog Baxter, who was not thrilled that I was about to leave him home alone)
Key #1: Dry & Windproof torso – My handy OR Mithrill softshell- another indispensable piece, does the job with panache.
Key #2: Warm, safe extremities – On the paws, my 9,000 year old Swix lobster mitts. They’re a little sad looking at this point, but they work. I’ve yet to find a bike-specific pair of gloves that I like as well. My 45NRTH Greazy merino cap. It’s warm, fits nicely under a helmet, and has plenty of ear coverage. Same disclaimer as above, and also in this case the Brand Manager is also the aforementioned boyfriend, so there you go. Anyhoo popped on top of that is my Lazer 02 helmet. The high-vis yellow is nice for night riding, and the one-size-fits-all adjustment means it’s easy to fit it over a hat. The finishing touch is a pair of photosensitive Optic Nerve glasses to keep the crap & wind out of my eyes.
Key #3: ID & money required- The tiniest of Timbuk2 messenger bags, the Catapult, is so handy. Plenty of room to stuff my gloves & hat once I arrive at the venue, without excess bulk. And it rides high & tight to the body, which is really nice for riding.
Striking a pose in my concert getup at home
About to roll out. Note the front & rear lights. Safety, people! I’m riding my All-City Macho Man with 45 NRTH Xerxes studded tires to cut through slop & ice. You can tell this is still early winter, because my neighbors & I had still been taking snow removal much more seriously & thoroughly. We’ve since given up on the prospect of seeing actual pavement.
Success! Opening act Marijuana Death Squads, and headliner Polica. Love her pants!
Full Review: 2012 Salsa Cycles Casseroll
For the past couple months I have been riding the 2011 Salsa Casseroll on the road, on side streets, commuting, off the beaten path and really it has been the bike strapped to the roof of my car while traveling all over NC, SC and TN. I will be sad when I have to send this bike back as it truly is the Cadillac of road bikes (minus the drivetrain.) You can read the preview over yonder before you dive into my full review.
Recently Spotted: Fox Racing Women’s Reflex Gel Gloves
There are a couple very important parts of your bike that you shouldn’t skimp on, these are your “touch points”. Saddle, shoes/pedals, and grips/handlebars/gloves.
Recently Quality Bike started stocking some women’s Fox Racing gloves with gel that I am looking to pick up. What’s unique is there is a short finger mountain bike version.
Fox Racing Women’s Reflex Gel Full Finger Glove $32.99
Fox Racing Women’s Reflex Gel Short Finger Glove $29.99
Almost every bike shop in America will be able to get this through my employer, QBP.
Oh yes, I wasn’t paid or bribed, and I may make money off of these if you buy them through your bike shop who buys them through my employer, and that shop is in the southeast. That’s my disclaimers. Thank you for listening.
Review: Abus Bordo Lite
As a rep with QBP we are sometimes sent fun samples to try out, if we like them we can show them to shops and increase sales a bit in that category. Earlier this year I was sent some Abus lock samples, the coolest of course was this folding, cuff like, Bordo Lite.
- 5 mm steel bars, with plastic coating to prevent damage to the bicycle’s paintwork
- Silicone cover for the lock body with “soft touch” properties
- Link construction allows compact folding
- The bars and the lock body are made of particularly light materials and ferrous alloy
- Bars are linked with special rivets
- Premium cylinder for high protection against manipulations, e.g. picking
Colors: Black (reviewed), red, white
As a bike commuter, and someone that likes to empower folks to use their bike everyday this lock excites me. I know, I am a nerd.
The lock is simple once you understand which way to turn the key to lock it back up. It is compact, and yet long enough to lock the front wheel. You can carry it on spare bottle cage mounts like I do, or you can use velcro and attach it to another tube of your bike and it isn’t heavy to put it in your jersey pocket if needed.
$90 is steep for a lock that isn’t a u-lock but the beefier brother to this, the Bordo 6000/90 is supposedly just as strong, especially in cold weather (retail of $129).
I don’t believe you’ll be buying this if your bike cost less than $700 or you are locking it up to run into the coffee shop. If you are design oriented, overly protective of your bike, and don’t want to carry a second lock or cable to lock your front wheel… this lock is for you. I’m completely sold on it and plan to buy one for my other commuter bike, and for both of my girlfriend’s bikes.
Learn more about the Abus Bordo Lite on their website.
Disclaimer: I wasn’t paid or bribed for this review. The product was provided no charge as a work sample.
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!