The 2015 Philly Bike Expo was marvelous!
Occupying the better part of a huge hall in the Philadelphia Convention Center, the rows of booths contained a plethora of bicycle product, information, and bike-related paraphernalia. This “festival of cycling culture” also featured activities for children, contests, raffles, rides, indoor and outdoor demos, and comprehensive schedule of seminars.
Many industry luminaries including Ben Serotta, Stephen Bilenky, Tom Kellogg, Bill McCready,and Gary Helfrich offered attendees a rare peek into different aspects of the bicycle business – each from his own wide, deep, and unique perspective.
Gary Helfrich is an especially “interesting character” – and, I don’t use the term lightly here. He told stories and answered questions from an audience of attendees and those exhibitors who could get away from their booths in two separate sessions over the weekend as well as a “private” conversation for the exhibitors before the show opened on Sunday. Each session revealed some of his incredibly deep understanding of titanium technology and frame building as well as some pretty crazy stories about being an Aerosmith roadie. I’m sure someone will relate the Russian Sub story somewhere too! (See what I mean?) He’s brilliant, articulate, and incredibly funny.
Craig Calfee presented a two-part demonstration of his new bamboo frame building kit, which will be available to anyone who wants a bicycle DIY project. His interest is in offering a high quality all-in-one-box build-it-yourself bamboo frame for around $500. He prepped the bike on day one; assembled it on day two.
Other seminars included everything from family biking, BikeShare, and a discussion about the Underground Railroad to a seminar about frame materials, and a panel on women’s apparel.
Products included builder’s jigs and other supplies, bicycles and all sorts of bicycle related parts and accessories, some pretty snazzy apparel, and a particularly enchanting booth with colorful art.
I’m a collector of bike art, and found that justeleanor.com had some of the cleanest and most clever bicycle graphic designs I’ve seen in a LONG time. She also does a lot of animal art so she endeared herself to me on two fronts!
You could find apparel from vendors such as Aerotech Designs and Primal Wear and get information on bicycle tours such as the Santana Cruise and Wilderness Voyageurs. You could even learn about renewable energy and getting yourself “off the grip” with Green Mountain Energy or you could try a Vitamix smoothie.
From a vendor’s point-of-view I have to say that the folks who attended the Expo were some of the friendliest and most enthusiastic cycling advocates I’d met in a long time. Many rode to the expo where they were treated to free indoor bike parking and, of those who drove, many were from neighboring states up and down the east coast. Some folks even bought a plane ticket and flew in for the weekend.
As the show continues to expand and grow, I believe it will be a force to be reckoned with in our industry. It is lighting the way to a new kind of bicycle business that includes absolutely everyone and everything. I do not believe any group or any part of the bicycle culture felt the least bit offended or disenfranchised this past weekend; but, in fact felt welcomed and happy to be among others who just love to be on two wheels.
If you want to immerse yourself in cycling in the City of Brotherly Love for a weekend, I might suggest marking your calendars for November 2015.
Special thanks to Scott Kingsley of Scott Kingsley Photography for the images.