Does the industry really need another trade fair? It’s not just our question, but on the lips of many manufacturers right now. Do trade fairs still serve a purpose? Should we really be increasing their frequency? We had an inkling of the answer, and this past weekend in Vienna just confirmed it: yes, another trade fair can’t do any harm but it needs to be special – much like this one!
Fairs and inspiration
The Wiener Fahrradschau comes from the same team as the Berlin Bike Show, led by Fares Gabriel Hadid, who also happens to be responsible for setting up Berlin’s highly successful fashion-focused Bread & Butter fair. There’s an immediate sense of familiarity in the approach when it comes to Vienna, with an all-encompassing edge of fashion and culture that is channeled throughout the fair’s whole design, layout and schedule. Instead of focusing on figures and visitor numbers, the team works towards quality – and this makes Vienna the ultimate extension of the Berlin event: there’s higher spending power amongst the visitors here and they’re mad keen on urban cycling (although arguably Berlin’s bike culture is more entrenched in society as a whole than here). But aren’t trade fairs a way to change this? Exactly.
Both the Berlin Bike Show and the new Viennese incarnation are necessary for the scene: they serve as incubators for the local riding scene, inspiration for the global scene and the ultimate catalyst for the industry to look outside of cycling towards culture and fashion. Hosted in capital cities with pretty generous opening times to account for busy people, there’s ample time for industry insiders, brands and visitors to enter into dialogue. Listen up, and there’s a lot to take home. Even for us as a magazine, these three days were invaluable – and you’ll soon be privy to the fruits of this labour.
The Berlin roots were out in force at the Wiener Fahrradschau, with Berlin-based brands like Standert, 8bar and Gramm all represented. One standout highlight on the groundfloor was an exclusive crosser made in Italy using Columbus Life tubing and limited to a run of just 10 bikes. There were also many Berlin Bike Show regulars like the Rapha Mobile Cycle Club and Sports Nut, the distributor for Ritte, Creme Cycles & Co.
Vienna’s ‘Veletage’ bike shop presented a curated selection of its brands like POC, Katusha and Café du Cycliste.
The Hotel Brillantengrund isn’t just one of Vienna’s hottest hotels right now, it’s also the epicenter of its riding scene and a ‘place-to-be’. BBUC founders, Marvin Mangalino and Christian Wieners, seized the opportunity to launch their collection of casual wear and riding gear at the Wiener Fahrradschau. Standing for Brillibrilliant Unicorn, we were particularly taken with this one-piece (see picture) sported by frame builder Mattia Paganotti (@LegorCicli). Usually found living and working in Barcelona, Italian-born Mattia created this beautiful frame to accompany BBUC’s collaboration with ENVE. Here’s a link to their online shop: bbuc.co
My Esel: custom wooden bikes designed to suit an individual’s exact physique and riding style based on a program from the Orthopedic Hospital in Speising, Vienna. Their calculations determine the measurements of the wooden frame, which is then CNC-milled in Salzburg. A custom Esel (or donkey) starts from € 2,999.
The German brand Urwahn focus on integration, seeing them design this urban bike with a 2-speed SRAM automatic hub at the rear and a Kappstein DOPPIO 2-speed planetary gearbox in the bottom bracket. It has an integrated GPS tracker and integrated LED lights. Integration, indeed.
Alberto – this brand have been at the pinnacle of trousers since 1922, producing the highest quality pants from their Monchengladbach HQ. Down in Vienna we had the opportunity to admire these in reality. Ensuring their designs are functional, the family-run business has a hip urban collection of jeans and trousers. And if you’re wondering how this Italian-sounding brand came to reside in Monchengladbach, think no more: Alberto isn’t Italian but an ancient German name with a twist, taken from the name of the founder Albert Dormanns.
However, the Wiener Fahrradschau is about encounters as much as it is about products. With more than 100 events and activities happening over the course of the weekend, there was the Vienna Rad Cross by the Rad Race Crew – a cyclocross paired relay on a = 800m manmade, urban circuit, as well as the Austrian round of qualifying races for the Brompton folding bike World Champs to be held in London.
Lycra meets fur: Sunday’s Tweed Ride with the well-known fashion designer Lena Hoschek serendipitously ended at the Marx Halle venue at exactly the moment that the Lycra-clad fraction of the Rapha Ride returned. If this isn’t the very essence of #cyclingunites then we don’t know what else to suggest. A glass of bubbly, anyone?
The Food Market welcomed dialogue and delicacies.
With generous opening hours, the show also created time (miraculous, we know) for guests to ride out with friends. We grabbed some spare minutes to roll out and check out Vienna, heading along the Danube and through the forest with Kurt from Veletage and our new friends from Soigneur. Here’s the route.
Back at the venue, the evening continued with forays to the Bulleit Whiskey stand, beard trims and haircuts at Barbeir, or even one last lung-busting effort at the Schindelhauer stand.
What’s the purpose of trade fairs today?
Any guests at Eurobike would agree that there’s little time or space to glean inspiration there. Amongst the fast-paced trade fair, business is the order of the day – and that’s a good thing! But by exclusively checking out the competition, brands and products are unlikely to develop.
The same applies when you’re short of time and sacrifice the discussions – think about what do we actually need rather than just furiously muttering the same rhetorical questions: ‘Oh shit, they’ve created a new ‘standard’, do we need that too?’ Sometimes it might be better to do nothing, than react out of a misguided commitment to ‘innovate’.
So what do they need?
Fairs where you can while away hours, chat idly and chat deeply, seek out new horizons, glean inspiration. Not just a Sea Otter on this side of the Atlantic, nor a Berlin Bike Show imitation in Dusseldorf or a fifth incarnation of Crankworx. Originals are good, because they’re original. Monterey, Whistler and Friedrichshafen have their niche – the rest are just fighting it out for market space and power. Plus, isn’t it worth considering how brands, magazines and potential event participants are flooded with invites already; there’s only limited space in the industry and it needs us to concentrate on its strengths. The more events and obligations there are, the more brands are going to struggle to meet the demands.
Eurobike is needed in its role as ‘the World Trade Fair’, an event for serious f***ing business. But celebrating cycling and uniting the scene needs a different approach – and this is where this Berlin-born concept of fashion, culture and open-mindedness are bang on.
So on the topic of inspiration, you can tell your schoolteachers that Vienna has a lot more to offer than just Mozart and museums. It’s a cultural city that thrives on saying yes to new things, a city that disproves any theory of money being related to brilliance. Very soon we’ll publish an article that questions certain commonplace values in our society and serves up some serious Viennese inspiration.
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Words & Photos: Robin Schmitt