I remember frothing with excitement about an outdoors coffee festival in Sydney’s old-town centre ‘The Rocks’ a few years back. On arrival, visions of quaffing endless $1 double ristrettos, extracted from polished Italian-made groupheads, were quickly vanquished by impenetrable crowds. Nothing to do but join the queue then…
Cycle Mode, Japan’s premier bicycle expo, follows the same basic concept. Rent out a huge space (Makuhari Messe) in an easily accessible location (train station within minutes walking distance), set up an indoor test track, invite bicycle brands to exhibit and have product demo’s. Then charge members of the public a small fee (equivalent to AUD10-12) and let them ride the crap out of as many bikes as the substantial crowds will allow.
Of all the world’s major bicycle exhibitions, Cycle Mode is one of a few that offers test rides to consumers, or “end users” in industry-speak. By comparison, the much larger Eurobike (September in Friedrichshafen, Germany) and Interbike (September in Las Vegas, USA) events are “trade shows” – where consumer engagement with product is mostly limited to photos, or the occasional rogue sneaking a small component into their pocket when booth staff are distracted.
Sure, all the test riding at Cycle Mode is conducted (in a most organized Japanese sense) indoors, and the “mountain bike track” is currently limited to a line of undulating pallets – an outdoor event is planned – but if riding around a big concrete circuit in what is essentially a gigantic warehouse doesn’t sound like fun, you’re obviously not used to living in a 30m2 apartment in Tokyo.
It seems others are taking note of Cycle Mode’s customer-focused formula. Last year, the inaugural ‘Outerbike’ – a consumer-focused answer to Interbike – was held in Moab, Utah. Held over three days, Outerbike gives non-industry enthusiasts the opportunity to try new (read: next model year) bikes on “world-class roads and trails”. For USD150, anyone can properly thrash, ahem ride, as many bikes as they can handle, with lunch, bike transportation, movies and evening parties all included.
Cycle Mode is held annually, in two key locations: Tokyo and Osaka. For 2011 entrance to the Tokyo event is free for students (of high school age and younger) and for the ladies (Friday 4th only). Bravo!
Cycle Mode website
Tokyo: 4-6 December 2011 (late night Friday until 21:00)
Osaka: 12-13 December 2011