FRANKFURT, Germany (BRAIN)—If Trek was looking for more space to showcase its 2013 products to European retailers when it opted out of Eurobike this year, it certainly found what it was looking for.
Trek World 2013 took over two sprawling floors at the Frankfurt Messe this week and multiple ballrooms at the Marriott across the street to host 1,500 retailers from all over mainland Europe and the U.K. in the brand’s first attempt to duplicate the size of its TrekWorld North America show across the pond.
The entrance of the main floor is adorned with Fabian Cancellara’s Tour de France stage winning yellow Domane surrounded by glass display cases holding shoes, helmets, saddles and wheels raced by other Trek sponsored athletes. Each category of bikes was set up in a space larger than the average exhibitor might have at Interbike, and Trek-owned brands Villiger, Diamant and Bontrager also had ample room.
The program also includes classroom product presentations, a keynote speech from Trek president John Burke, catered meals, an outdoor e-bike test track, a demo stocked with 400 test bikes (staged an hour bus ride away) and a nearly guaranteed chance to mingle with mountain bike luminary Gary Fisher.
Simply put, “it’s full on” said Rob Wilkinson, a sales manager visiting from Stif Cycles in Yorkshire, England.
For Trek, the event offers a golden opportunity to capture retailers’ attention and open to buy before Eurobike and the competition there from other suppliers.
“It’s a win-win,” said Chris Garrison, who handles marketing for Trek’s U.K. subsidiary. “We get time with the dealers without them having to rush off to another meeting. It’s essentially one brand. Eurobike has more than 1,000 brands. You can’t spend more than 45 minutes with each customer.”
Trek flew in two groups of retailers, each of which was on-site for two-and-a-half days with plenty of time to peruse and test product.
Amanda Schulze, product manager for Bontrager, appreciated the plus-sized venue, which allowed Trek’s accessories arm to show its full line of saddles, grips, wheels, bars, bags, shoes, clothing and helmets, a luxury it never had with the constraints at traditional tradeshows. That’s important as Trek looks to grow Bontrager’s market share in Europe, where it’s always been present but not necessarily a high priority. With dealers’ loyalty aligned with European brands like Mavic, Schwalbe and Sidi, Bontrager has work to do but “dealers are opening up to it,” Schulze said. She was showing Bontrager’s new Hilo RXL speed dial saddle, a concept designed for triathletes and time trialists that allows riders to adjust the space between two sides of a split nosed saddle with the twist of a 5 Allen wrench.
Other products of note include the new road tubeless ready Bontrager wheels, the Domane Series of carbon fiber road bikes, which launched at the high end back in March and has already grown into a full line, starting with an entry-level aluminum frame model. E-bikes were a big focal point on the main floor and Trek’s new partnership with Bosch was apparent through several Trek, Diamant and Villiger electric bikes outfitted with the system. Trek previously used BionX, and has kept some of those models in its line. A Madone 7.9 was on display with a prototype of the new Dura Ace Di2.
Overall the show—which ends Saturday with a consumer day—has been successful, Garrison said. Whether or not TrekWorld will remain in Frankfurt next year or move to another location—perhaps one with a closer trails for demo—remains to be seen, but Trek is fully committed to running its own show in Europe in the future.
“It’s a big investment for us to do it, but it’s well worth it,” Garrison said. “We just cannot replicate the face time we have with our retailers here at Eurobike or Interbike.”
Photo: The main floor from above