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2021 Philly Bike Expo Exceeds Expectations

Philadelphia, PA Nov. 8th, 2021: After 24 months of darkness, the light returned to the Pennsylvania Convention Center for the 2021 Philly Bike Expo. The expo was a welcome return to in-person meetings after so much alienation behind the screens of computers. For the organizers, exhibitors, media and consumers, the show exceeded expectations and reasserted its ascension to becoming one of the top bicycle industry trade shows in North America.

Over 3100 people attended the show on Nov. 6 and 7, not quite a record, but a healthy turnout given the uncertainties provided by the COVID-19 pandemic. " 2021 was a very uncertain year, and I wasn't sure I'd be able to hold the show.," said Bina Bilenky, the show director. "Supply chain issues really added to the COVID-19 challenges," she said.

Despite the challenges, all attendees appreciated the opportunity to renew old friendships and forge new ones in the manner that only an in-person trade show can provide. "The feedback from exhibitors and attendees was overwhelmingly positive," said Bilenky.

As it does each year, the Philly Bike Expo both reflected and helped define bicycle industry trends, and a few key ones emerged from the weekend:

Bicycling is becoming a more diverse and inclusive activity

Philadelphia is a very ethnically and gender diverse city, and the crowds inside the Convention Center closely resembled those on the streets outside. The Philly Bike Expo, along with industry partners like SRAM, does its part to engender and build greater diversity and inclusiveness in the bicycling community. To this end, there were seminars such as “Women of the Bicycle Industry” and “Diversity and Equity in the Sport of Triathlon”. SRAM once again sponsored a scholarship for minority and women framebuilders. One of the recipients was Beth Morford of Frontier Cycles in Kansas, who explained the significance of the scholarship for her: "The scholarship is an opportunity to enter into a community that hasn't been diverse in the past."

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All photos: Mark Yanagasawa

Products made in the USA or Europe are getting to dealers and into the hands of consumers

COVID-19, with its shutdowns and social distancing mandates, caused a nearly unprecedented surge in demand for bicycles and accessories that a disrupted Asian supply chain could not feed. Those companies and small builders who produce stateside or in Europe were able to satisfy demand like many of the big brands with Asian production could not and still in many cases cannot. Mark Burgener of SKS USA reported that production of fenders by SKS in Germany was scaled up to 70,000 per week to meet soaring demand worldwide.

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All Road and Gravel Bikes remain popular

Once upon a time the bicycle industry promoted different horses for different courses and a personal fleet of bicycles, but consumers value the simplicity and freedom that all road bikes enable. From big established brands to smaller boutique builders, all road bikes were omnipresent at this year's PBE.

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As daylight dimmed one hour earlier than usual on Sunday afternoon and the 2021 Philly Bike Expo concluded, one other trend was in the air: there is a sense of optimism for the future of the bike industry, no matter the current challenges. The necessity of live, in-person trade shows and the bonds and partnerships they enable has become ever more apparent to serve an increasingly diverse and growing community of cyclists.


Bina Bilenky

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