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Bicycle Industry

Back From Interbike 2012

Observations and ramblings on the business of bikes

by Scott Chapin

October 4, 2012

Recently I attended and had a booth at Interbike. I didn’t go last year, but was there in 2010. Things were a lot different this time, so I wanted to scribble down a few quick observations.

The vast majority of shop owners who visited me were familiar with our retail bicycle shop insurance program. This was a marked improvement from 2010, when a large percentage of those who came to my booth stopped by primarily because I was between them and some cool new bike product. Many of my visitors also had read my blog posts, and were—fortunately—much more familiar with their business risks often left uncovered by their current insurance program.

I believe that, even just two years ago, a high percentage of shops assumed they had coverage for things like shop-sponsored rides, voluntary property departure and rental exposures, when in fact they did not. (Our program does provide this coverage, by the way, for about the same or less than policies without this protection.) This seems to be changing. I really hope it is, because these things, while they may appear to be incredibly unlikely, do happen. And when they do, the consequences for not having adequate insurance protection can be disastrous for a bicycle business and the owner.

My conversations at the show also confirmed that there are more shops private labeling bike frames and parts or direct importing. Sadly, many of the shop owners I spoke with doing these things weren’t aware that these business activities are not automatically covered by insurance, and separate policies are often needed.

All in all, I had a wonderful time at Interbike—it rocked, actually. I got to see CrossVegas, which is put on by a new client of mine, visited with many other clients who I’ve never met in person and saw some very innovative, new products. Specifically, I liked the improvements in bike light technology, including a 1,200 lumen, liquid cooled light. Additionally, on hand were some awesome new fat bike designs and winter riding gear, including new boots called the Wölvhammer made by 45 North, which look awesome and super warm!

I guess we must be approaching another long, dark winter in the Upper Midwest.