For visitors, Ausbike 2011 provided many reasons to be excited about the year ahead. The usual big players were in attendance with their latest offerings, while a number of overseas leaders have emerged locally and are looking to establish themselves on our shores.
Those with a taste for the finer things were not disappointed, with boutique offerings from Pinarello, Wilier and Pegoretti attracting big crowds, and no shortage of incredible flagships from more familiar names.
Encouragingly, Ausbike wasn’t all about the eye-wateringly expensive race machines. The growing popularity of commuting was represented by most manufacturers offering a purpose built workhorse, with internal gear hubs and belt drives far better represented than 12 months earlier.
For those with an inclination towards dirt, Ausbike demonstrated that 29ers are here to stay, and most manufacturers exhibited their interpretation of the emerging All Mountain genre. These newer styles of MTB are yet to kill off the 26″ wheel, countless World Cup XC inspired race hardtails stood prominently on almost every stand.
The presence of adventure tour operators is encouraging for those seeking a cycling themed holiday close to home, and demonstrates that Australia is catching up with popular riding destinations in Europe, America and New Zealand. Bike Buller deserves a special mention, with their array of road, XC and downhill rides definitely worthy of a visit this summer.
Of the 154 exhibitors my top five of to watch this year are:
Massive throughout Europe, this German brand is looking to expand into Australia. Already familiar to fans of World XC and the European road scene, Ghost offer a wide range of mountain and road bikes, appealing to everybody from the weight weenie road racer to big-hitting downhiller.
Ghost are recognised for a high tech approach to design, and every model is the massive range reflects the extensive research and development they conduct. Their bikes are hand made in Waldsassen and competitively priced throughout European markets.
The featherweight XC MTBs that made Ghost famous are leading their push into Australia, but their impressive road bikes were also present and sure to find their way here when distribution details are finalised.
The aesthetically striking range drew many Ausbike attendees to the Ghost stand, suggesting that if Australian pricing is comparable to Europe they will soon develop a strong following.
Another established European brand new to Australia, Focus were in attendance at Ausbike with their massive range of road and mountain bikes and after recently announcing an Australian based company (Derby) for the brand, they are solidifying themself here.
Focus require little introduction, already sponsoring Russian Pro Team Katusha and present at all three Grand Tours. The German brand is at the cutting edge of technology, but likes to describe their design process at a more soulful blend of racing experience and engineering expertise.
Their road offerings are comprehensive and sure to have something to appeal to everyone, while the extensive XC and All Mountain MTB range will appeal to racers and weekend warriors alike.
Focus already has an established dealer network across Australia – see focusbikes.com.au for your nearest outlet.
A new player to the world of self-propelled bicycles, KTM presented a massive range of beautifully finished road and MTBs. Mojo bikes have committed to distributing KTM in Australia and are clearly excited by the latest offering from the successful Austrian motorcycle company.
The large KTM Ausbike stand was MTB heavy, but their range includes the full spectrum of road, recreation, triathlon and touring bicycles. The Ausbike crowd was clearly intrigued by the industry newcomer, and surely impressed by KTM’s commitment to their new products and the Australian market.
Having been in the motorbike business for the best part of 80 years, it is clear that KTM can play the game and it looks as though their bicycle division is set for big things. Although pricing could be sharper to compete with established brands in Australia, their enormous and well-finished range is sure to appeal and well worth investigating when their local network is finalised.
4. De Vinci
This Canadian brand has flirted with the Australian scene for a couple of years, but is yet to establish themselves outside of Queensland. Offering everything from basic recreation bicycles to the epic Wilson downhill rig, De Vinci are making noises about expanding into the southern states and demand is growing fast on the back of their formidable reputation.
While De Vinci produce some serious machinery, their Ausbike stand catered more to the recreation end of the spectrum. While these bikes may appeal to many, their working class offerings aren’t revolutionary. The standouts at Ausbike were clearly the heavy-hitting Wilson downhiller and Dixon all-mountain rig, but overseas they offer a diverse range of high-end bicycles to suit every need.
If De Vinci find a way into the local market with their 2012 range, look out for the high-tech and beautifully finished road bikes. Their representatives were not sure of the brand’s future in Australia, but they would be a worthy addition to our cycling landscape.
5. Adventure Brands: Jamis & Rocky Mountain
Arguably the most impressive exhibit at the show. Adventure Brands are an established distributor with a deserved reputation for good post-sale support, and the addition of Canadian Rocky Mountain provides a fantastic opportunity for local riders to access some sensational bikes.
The 2012 Jamis range is huge, with a number of niche road, mountain and urban offerings complimenting the expected standard models. The extensive range of steel road and MTBs sets Jamis apart from its rivals, especially with their competitive pricing when compared to local boutique alternatives.
Adventure Brands have been distributing Rocky Mountain for a couple of years, but have had little impact until now. The massive display of Rocky Mountain MTBs at Ausbike suggests this is about to change, with their epic range including something for everybody who enjoys getting off the beaten track.
It is clear from the crowded Adventure Brands exhibit that local riders are welcoming Rocky Mountain with open arms, and the quality, hand built bicycles are a valuable competitor in local market.
For more information about Jamis, Rocky Mountain or Bauer bikes, contact Adventure Brands.
This year there was a shift with two public days and one trade day (instead of two trade followed by one public day) which may have made it more challenging for bike shops to attend. It would probably be an advantage if Ausbike could move the show back after Eurobike and Interbike so that the local brands have a chance to bring in more of next seasons bikes and in this way encourage more local bike shops to attend and use Ausbike and a ‘get to know the new gear’ event – which goes hand-in-hand with ordering next seasons stock.
As the biggest bike show in Australia, it was refreshing to see brands with little or no current representation in Australia exhibiting and while each year is seeing more and more Aussie distributers exhibiting, a complete representation of all brands in Australia would benefit everyone, from the general public, to retailers and the exhibitors.