By Robin Allen
The inaugural Southeast Bike Expo, brainchild of The Hub Bikes owner Brian Molloy and Niner Bikes rep Mike Stanley, drew an enthusiastic crowd of 800 mountain bikers to see products and demo bikes from the 75 vendors who participated in the event at the Georgia International Horsepark on February 25th and 26th. IMBA-SORBA participated in the event as advocacy partner, volunteer coordinator, and exhibitor, earning almost $3500 in proceeds from registration and raffles, and signing up 16 new members. Our volunteers registered guests, manned the tent, and patrolled the demo trail route.
The idea for the Expo was hatched while Brian Molloy, Mike Stanley, and Trek rep Shawn Stokleyshared beers and bemoaned the opportunities for riders in the Southeast to test ride bicycles and talk to manufacturers about their products. Most manufacturers can easily reach West Coast audiences, and the Northeasterners have benefitted from Outerbike, Interbike’s NE Dirt Demo, but we Southerners could only wait and hope for large companies, such as Trek or Specialized, to come to town (or a town nearby) with one of their fleets. If you missed the visit, you had to wait a year or more for another opportunity. It made test riding, a necessity when shopping for your next ride, almost impossible.
Seeing that the Mother of Invention was at play here, Brian and Mike decided to launch the Expo. Five months later, the gates opened on a clear windy Saturday, and it was ON! Over the next two days over 800 visitors would wander through the exhibit area and ride over 500 bikes on the trails at the Horse Park.
Here are just a few comments from participants gathered over the course of the Expo:
“A great Expo with great bikes”.
“I’m bringing my wife next year!”
“I’ve never seen so many cool bikes in one place before”.
“I rode a Lynskey, a Niner, a Jamis, and a Yeti in one day. Time to have the new bike conversation with my husband.”
“Thank you, Brian, for making this a reality.”
According to Molloy, the vendors were just as pleased to see the riders. “The show went well for all involved. The bike crews were always busy, and very few bikes remained in the stalls. I spoke with all the vendors, and they talked about what they are going to do for next year. I’m ecstatic over the way things have gone, especially with the visitor turnout,” proclaimed Brian.
Vendors, advocates, and participants all loved the show, and can’t wait for next year to bring it back, even better. If you have comments, questions, or you’d like to participate in next year’s show, email the organizers firstname.lastname@example.org.