2018 Cabda Expo Recap

We just wrapped up our 4th consecutive CABDA Expo down in the Chicago area and as always, we wanted to post a quick recap here on our blog. CABDA has become an important event on our calendar and the show is a great way for us to connect with existing Fyxation dealers here in the Midwest, meet with new potential shops and to catch up with friends in the bike industry.  We are already looking forward to next year's show and can't wait to come back for year 5.

Show Recap

There are a lot of interesting things happening in our industry right now and we won't dive into all of them here in this blog. One thing we will comment on though is the state of bike industry dealer shows. Interbike in Las Vegas used to be the grand daddy of them all and everyone in the industry would flock to Las Vegas annually to see the latest from established brands and to see what was on the horizon. Over the years however, larger brands like Trek, Specialized and even large bicycle distributor QBP started to host their own dealer events and decided not to attend or to scale back their presence at Interbike.  Intebike moved to Mandalay Bay and over time, we could see the number of attendees and exhibitors start to shrink. We think there are a number of reasons for the drop in attendance/exhibitors and it's probably better shared over a beer than here on our blog, but 2017 was the first year since we launched Fyxation in 2009 that we didn't exhibit at Interbike.  

CABDA on the other hand has been steadily expanding year after year and has become an important show for us and for other exhibitors we spoke with at the show. It is a small regional show that is intimate, hosted by bicycle dealers and the show caters as much to the attendees as it does the exhibitors. What originally started at a small venue west of Chicago, has become a large bicycle industry trade show that this year had over 200 brands exhibiting and over 2500 attendees pre-registered for the show. This year CABDA was held at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center, which offered more than 100,000 feet of expo space and was a great venue for a bike trade show.

Being an exhibitor at a trade show is a lot of work and you really want to feel like your efforts paid off when it's all said and done. Because there are few really large players in the bike industry, booth set up and tear down is often done by company founders and higher ups and this year's CABDA show was no different. We like building our own booths and while they're a pain to set up, the end result is always great and our two co-founders rocked out the booth in a couple of hours. During setup this year, show director, Jim Kersten, walked around the floor with a megaphone to inform everyone that the outside doors were closing and that there was beer at the back of the hall. We never pass up a free beer so we went to check it out and it turned out that free beer was an understatement. Jim had a full a bar with cocktails, wine and beer and some fancy appetizers that included salmon, steak and some other goodies. This is something we NEVER thought we'd see at a bike show and we were floored by the gesture. It's little things like that and the industry breakfasts that were held each day, that keep us coming back to CABDA year after year.

The show started on Wednesday and we were busy from the moment the door opened until it closed on Thursday. We saw a ton of familiar faces and we met a lot of great new potential dealers and we got to connect with old and new faces from the bike industry. We got to show off some great new gear, introduce people to the great events we host, the Fyxation Open fixed gear street criterium and The Tour de Chequamegon bikepacking trip, and we left the show charged up for the warm days that we know are right around the corner.

We think that CABDA has been such a success for us and has grown so much over the years because it is a small regional show that is easy for dealers to attend and is scheduled at the right time of the year. It's not hard for shop owners and staff to head off to the show during the winter and they all know that warm weather is right around the corner. It is also held in a more intimate setting than a larger venue so you feel like you can really have meaningful conversations with customers and other exhibitors. Bicycle Retailer just posted an article online that CABDA plans to expand the show into other regions of the country and we think it's a great idea. By focusing on making the show great for the dealer and the exhibitor, we think their regional model will work in other regions and we plan to be there when it does.

We're going to wrap up our post here with a link to our photo gallery so you can see some of the cool things we saw at the show. There was very little bike media at CABDA this year due to scheduling conflicts with Frostbike and NAHBS and we figured there wouldn't be a lot of pictures online from the 2018 CABDA Expo so we sent our photographer down to the show to document what we saw. Hope you enjoy!



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