China’s biggest bike show used to cater to foreign buyers. Now, it’s more for the domestic market. As China’s middle class swells, more and more people can afford pricey equipment from Colnago, Campagnolo, Ridley, Cervelo and the other big brands (see this). They were all there when the three-day show kicked off Tuesday. I didn’t see many other foreigners while I roamed around on the first day.
I spend a fair amount of time at trade shows, and I’ve developed a few opinions about what works for exhibitors. Here are a few observations and awards from Waffles & Steel:
Most Depressing Booth: SRAM. This is surprising because the American company has been doing some exciting things and has been wildly successful breaking into the roadie market. The top three riders at last year’s Tour de France were all riding bikes with SRAM components. So what was the deal in Shanghai? The booth was modern and generally well done. But the guys working there were real zeros. I was really interested in SRAM’s new Apex gruppo and was hoping to get some information about it. The booth’s front counter had a messy pile of brochures, and as I began sifting through it, the guy sitting there didn’t even lift his head or acknowledge me in any other way. Aside from the zoned-out staffers, the booth was depressing because it had a big fish aquarium that was only one-quarter full of water. The bottom of the tank was full of blinky lights, and the few fish in the tank looked like they were blinded by the flashing lights and getting ready to die. It seemed cruel.
Coolest Steel Frame: Colnago. I don’t know why I find the orange and blue color combination so irresistible. The lugs on this rig are gorgeous.
Best Effort: Bianchi. Ahhh, leave it to the Italians to use models at their booth. Few others did. Wait a minute, doesn’t a Swedish conglomerate own Bianchi now? And are these ladies professional models? I had my doubts. I strongly suspect they were girls from the front office who were “asked” to pose with the bikes. They didn’t seem to understand how to work the cameras. They also didn’t seem comfortable in a bike kit. I don’t think the concept of “fitness modeling” is popular in China yet.
Best small booth: Cervelo. The company’s space was just a third of the size of Bianchi’s but it was well used. No models, though. Canadians…
Best schwag: Carnac. They were giving out free posters to people who asked. Sylvain Chavanel is one of my favorites because he rides so aggressively and animates almost every race. Cycle Sport magazine summed him up best in its 2010 season preview issue: “Sylvain Chavanel suffers from some kind of cycling hyperactivity, which causes him to attack all the time.” I also think this poster is hilarious. Oh yeah, “Sylvain Chavanel chooses Carnac” … because you’re paying him a bunch of money! I also like how they thought it was necessary to circle his shoes, just so you wouldn’t miss the fact that he’s really wearing Carnac. I used to wear Carnacs when they had simple, classic designs, like the Legend Ligne Pro. Every year, I look at the Carnac collection and hope they’ve gone back to their former style, but I keep getting disappointed.
Most Questionable Brand Name: SARS. This is a Taiwanese company that makes seats, frames and other parts. I saw their sign over their booth with the scary skull figure and said to myself, “No, it couldn’t be.” I asked the gal in the booth if the brand was named after the mysterious illness that killed more than 700 people worldwide, sickened thousands of others and caused global panic and severe economic damage in 2003. She said with a smile, “That’s right! We thought SARS would be a brand name that would be easy to remember!” It certainly caught my attention, but don’t you want to do more with a brand name? Don’t you also want to create a positive feeling? I’m not a branding expert so I’m just asking here. Wouldn’t a brand called “Leukemia” or “AIDS” also be easy to remember? I said to another visitor in the booth, “You gotta be careful when using this brand. You can get sick.” One of the SARS employees overheard me and quickly said, “No, no, no…that’s not true!”
The Most Improbable Backdrop: BMC. Shouldn’t there be an image of Big George behind this rig? Oh, all these white guys look the same anyway.
Best Model Name: Erotic. I guess it is made of rubber.
Coolest People: Shanghai Senior Citizens Bike Club. These guys – all in matching red warm-up suits – rode to the expo in a long convoy of bikes. One guy was on a mountain bike with clip-on aero bars. I like how they kept their helmets on as they roamed around the massive expo center. They spent a lot of time at one booth that had an elaborate bike computer system with several readouts. It looked like a control panel on a Cessna plane. It really captivated them.wafflesandsteel | Filed under: cycling in China, Shanghai Bike Show | 5 Comments »