Eurobike: From a Niche Event To The World’s Bicycle Show

When Eurobike opens its doors for four days from 4 to 7 September 2008, "all eyes will be on Friedrichshafen, " says Harald Troost, the European press relations manager for component manufacturer Shimano. Since its debut 17 years ago, the trade show on Lake Constance has undergone a remarkable evolution: Although it started out as only a niche exhibition for the new MTB scene, today Eurobike is the leading trade show of the international bicycle industry. This business event has an established place on the calendars of most European market players and is the industry event of the year for many manufacturers in Asia and America.

"EUROBIKE is – particularly for American suppliers with international distribution networks – definitely the most important trade show on the calendar. It offers an opportunity to meet the leading retailers from Europe along with an impressive number of distributors and wholesalers from around the world, " says Marc Sani, publisher of the US trade magazine Bicycle Retailer & Industry News. With trade visitors from 75 countries and the proportion of foreign exhibitors at 68 percent, the exhibition on Lake Constance is more than just the world's largest bicycle show - it is also clearly the event with the most international character.

In addition to meeting a large number of retailers and sales partners, exhibitors at EUROBIKE benefit from the industry's biggest press event of the year, attended by over 1, 200 journalists. Harald Troost, who represents the market's leading manufacturer of gear shifting components: "When I present something at EUROBIKE, everyone in the world who has something to do with bicycles finds out about it." Shimano has no doubt that "EUROBIKE is the leading international trade show."

That is a good deal of well-earned praise for a trade show that started with humble beginnings. Back in 1991, there were only 268 exhibitors when the event celebrated its debut. EUROBIKE was a product of that era: The bicycle market was going through a period of dynamic change. Mountain bikes from America were shaking up the fairly conservative structure of the sector and opening up the German market to new influences from abroad and a new generation of market players. But the young and rapidly evolving MTB scene still lacked the right exhibition platform in Germany.

Organizers at Messe Friedrichshafen were very much in tune with the impressive growth that the bicycle industry was experiencing. Between 1988 and 1991, the annual market volume in Germany soared from 3.8 million bicycles to over 6.7 million. Although this boom was triggered by German unification, it was primarily driven by the introduction of mountain bikes to the market.

The trade show grew with the market volume. In 1995 - in other words, four years after its premiere - the number of exhibitors had grown by 60 percent. Only a few years later, the event had 550 exhibitors, causing it to hit the capacity limit of the old exhibition grounds near the center of town in Friedrichshafen. The success of EUROBIKE was one of the main motivations for building new exhibition grounds in the new millennium.

The success of the new exhibition grounds has proven that local politicians and trade show organizers in Friedrichshafen made the right decision: With Fakuma, OutDoor and EUROBIKE, the city on Lake Constance is now home to a number of international exhibitions. The importance of expanding the trade show facilities is also reflected in the figures for the bicycle show: Since moving to the new grounds in 2002, the number of trade visitors from retail and industry has risen from 23,000 to over 34,000, despite mergers and acquisitions in the sector.

Exhibitors see the impressive reach of this industry meeting place as a definite advantage. "Nowhere else in Europe can you meet so many retailers, manufacturers and enthusiastic consumers. This is enormously effective for us as a company because we can connect with a large number of people at once, " says Stan Day, CEO and founder of the component producer Sram, which is a leading supplier of shock absorbing front forks, brakes, gear shifting technology and other components. Day directly attributes much of his company's success to the "growth and support received through the trade show."

Giant, the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world, also views EUROBIKE as the most important event of the year, says company president Tony Lo. According to the Taiwanese businessman, who is known throughout the industry for his visionary management style, EUROBIKE will become even more important in the future: "Given today's rising oil prices, global warming and the increasing number of overweight people in the population, there is a large amount of worldwide interest in bicycles as a mobility and leisure product."

Many foreign trade show visitors also feel that the venue on Lake Constance offers special advantages. Friedrichshafen has beautiful scenery, making the surrounding countryside the perfect place for cycling and nature sports. Since last year, this location advantage has been underscored by the Demo Day, an extra testing and technical trial day for trade visitors and journalists.

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