May 5, 2014–New York, NY –By Jen Benepe
The three-year-old expo that was created to expose riders from the Five Boro Bike Tour to cycling businesses was booming last week.
Businesses came from across the country and Canada to peddle their wares, bike tourism, and establish their brands with approximately 55,000 targeted attendees interested in everything about the bicycle.
Among those participants coming to the Five Boro’s Bike Expo held at the Basketball Pier on the Lower East Side were 32,000 cyclists who would be attending the TD Five Boro Bike Tour on Sunday, May 4, and were required to come pick up their packets before the ride.
By Saturday afternoon, the line to pick up packets snaked outside of the building and down more than 5 blocks from the pier.
The organizers estimated an additional 23,000 people who were not riding in the Five Boro would come to the expo, and overall every state in the U.S. plus 63 foreign countries were represented by participants, according to Ken Podziba, President and CEO of Bike New York, the group that organizes the tour and expo.
The turnout of bike-related companies was a testament to the growing importance of the expo to nationally established brands, many of whom sent representatives from company headquarters in Minnesota, Illinois, Quebec, Canada, and elsewhere–largely because of the strength of the national consumer attendance.
Covering the floor of the Expo took about 4 hours in all, and was well worth it. What we could have done without was the nearly half hour wait for the bike parking which was sponsored by Transportation Alternatives. To avoid the wait, some riders locked their bikes to the fences, only to be threatened (perhaps rightfully so,) with a lock-cutting expo worker (see photo.) At one point a worker said the bikes chained to a city-owned fence across the street would be cut by the city, engendering howling protests from this author: after all it is a BIKE Expo! Next year: more bike parkers please! Partners Jerome Isakov and Colleen O’Leary, two fanatic IronMan competitors based in New York introduced their CORE recovery suits, made of black fabric and after a few hours in the freezer, are used to wear on various parts of your body for muscle recovery.
Isakov and his team went around hugging people with the cold suits eliciting giggles and surprise. But their product is not only useful for recovery after intense exercise, they could also be key to an entire new treatment in the medical industry for crash and accident victims, to reduce swelling.
Isakov knows what that’s like having survived a terrible collision with a motor vehicle while on a training ride for the South Africa bicycle team in 1990. The use of cooling to speed recovery and avoid death was examined in depth in a book by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent for CNN, called “Cheating Death,” particularly for those with head injuries.
Detroit Bikes was one of the exciting new bicycle offerings at the show, demoing a sturdy black matte 3-gear bike for $699, made completely on the west side of Detroit, MI., said Lisa Lillebrand, their marketing guru.
After opening their 50,000 square foot factory in Detroit, the company started selling the bicycles in October 2013.
The only parts that are not American made are the fender, gear hubs and pedals said Lillebrand. Reached by telephone after the event, their 33-year-old founder Zak Pashak said he started the company to encourage cycling. “I wanted to make a nice, simple, affordable, American-made bike that was
fun to ride around the city.”
The target user is the urban commuter he said, and it is the only bike of its type to be made nearly completely in the U.S. of nationally made products.
Also in the bike category was cargo bike maker Yubabased out of Petaluma, CA who were showing their Boda Boda model which allows you to carry things or little people on the back.
The 8-year-old company has two main cargo models starting at $999 both of which can be made with electric assist, where prices can reach $3,200.
The distinction is essential because electric bikes are technically illegal in New York City (and NY State,) but electric assist that require pedaling are not. Both of Yuba’s electric models however can be be overrode with a throttle, making their classification in New York borderline. (We reached out to Mayor DeBlasio’s office for comment but never received a reply.)
“I wanted to find a way to make bicycles more practical and useful so people could use them for everyday transportation,” said founder Benjamin Sarrazin, who is 40 years old and originally from Strasbourg, France.
“I felt that there was no solution that met the need of “vehicle alternative,” he added. Meaning a complete alternative to a car? “Yes,” he said, adding that 80 percent of Yuba users are families.
Yuba cargo bikes are available at Hudson Urban Bikes in Manhattan and Bicycle Root and 1718 Cyclery in Brooklyn.
Also attending and worth mentioning was the Queens-based bicycle manufacturer Worksman Cycles who were showing a $559 expo specially-priced bicycle. The company also makes such city-useful bikes as the Low Gravity model, LGP-S, specially designed as a pizza delivery truck bike, with a “steer-thru” system, a fixed to frame, side-opening steel cabinet, a built in parking stand, and two variable sized wheels (larger in back,) starting at $649.
We had a chance to catch up with two of the helmet companies that came, Lazer and Nutcase.
Mike Pederson and his team traveled all the way from Minnesota to show their helmets to the crowds.
Models ranged from $40 to $240, but only the $40 model was for sale at the Expo. One rider badly wanted the best model ($240) in a hot orange color, which was truly gorgeous.
All of the helmets now feature a new slider tightening system that is very efficient.
Featuring BMX and street-style helmets featuring bright colors and designs, from stripes to polka dots, sharks, stripes and stars, watermelon skin, leopard and many others, Nutcase has been coming to the Expo since the event’s inception three years ago.
Bern helmets was also there, but with colors in slightly more sedate, one color models. Some notable new rides were also present.
Five Borough Bicycle Club’s Beth Katz had a booth representing her new event, the Harlem Valley Rail Rideto be held July 27, this year.
To be held in Millerton, NY, cyclists will be able to choose from 25 to 100 mile routes, much of which will run along the Harlem Valley Rail Ride.
The first 200 people to sign up will have the option of having their bikes transported to the location by truck (for an extra $55) while they ride up in luxury buses. One of the rest stops along the ride will feature a stop at the Coon Brothers’ dairy farm.
Then cyclists will be able to feast on local sweet corn and other goodies, or cool off in the pool at the Eddie Collins Memorial Field pool.
Riders will also be offered *free* camping space in case they do not want to stay in a local B&B.
The Quebec tourism department was also at the Expo, with two charming representatives who explained to me in French-accented English the beauty of the lake region, Saguenay to Lac Saint Jean, for cycling, as well as several other localities nearby where cycling is easy and even safe for families with small children.
You can ride around the lake with your entire family for 231 KM (about 100 mile) along a bike route called the Veloroute des Bleuets, named for the blue flowers that bloom in the spring.
Or you can ride in and around the area, using camping areas or B&B’s for your stay along the Routes Vertes (green roads) that were names the world’s best cycling routes by Journeys of a Lifetime in 2008. Mountain biking and downhill are also in great supply.
From June 21 to the 23 there is a 3-day Randonnee, a 267 KM trip around the area put on by Liberteavelo.ca which costs about 275 Canadian dollars. For those who love to ride but have families that need to be entertained, the area offers many other events during the summer months including a kite-flying festival, a wine festival, a beer festival, a sea rowing and kayaking event, an air show, a freestyle swimming competition across the lake, a Wild-West rodeo, a painter’s convergence, and an international music festival–just to name a few.
We also picked up cards from some of the numerous outfits, including the Cycle Adirondacks ride organized by the Wildlife Conservation Society , which takes place over a week in 2015 with 50 to 60 miles of riding a day; the Bridges for Autism Ride that will take cyclists across 25 miles and four New York City’s bridges on July 13 and raises money for Autism; and one of (another) Gran Fondo series, this one called Gran Fondo National Championship Series with an event held June 8 in Newfoundland, NJ.
Among the apparel companies attending were Shower’s Pass from Portland, OR who said that they had sold some of their waterproof jackets which have an average retail price of about $200. The company was
offering 20 percent discounts at the show, but it wasn’t enough to convince many of those cyclists who were combing the racks at a nearby booth for cut-rate bargains on jerseys, shorts and accessories.
The company was also showing their new waterproof socks, and a waterproof cover for the iPhone 5, no doubt of increasing importance with climate change and increasingly heavy rain showers.
Primal based out of Denver, CO., had been selected as the jersey supplier for the event, and was selling jerseys with the name of the TD Five Boro Tour for $85, with jackets at $80 and singlets for $65. John Knubson,
who was in charge of the operation, said sales were in the “hundreds” of items.
Also attending in the jersey category was relative newcomer Danny Shane who produces mostly men’s jerseys in sober plaid prints, which are made out of bamboo. Logan Shane, Danny Shane’s well built son who served as a perfect model for the clothing said that they were offering a discount on the items from $140 retail to $80.
Oh and least we forget, that irrepressible Beth Renaud was caught peddling Chamois Butt’r right next to the registration pick up line!