Japan's largest consumer bicycle show CYCLE MODE International opened at the Makuhari Messe exhibition centre in Chiba on Friday November 2.
Featuring over 2000 bicycles from 600 exhibitors the event is expected to draw in excess of 50,000 visitors over its 3 days. Bicycle makers including Colnago, Bianchi, Ridley and Pinarello had the largest and most visited booths on Friday but conspicuous by their absence this year were some big players including Giant, Specialised, Cannondale and Mavic. Its was like a motor show where Ferrari and Porsche turn up, but Toyota and GM are absent.
The majority of floor space at the event which spanned two large halls was devoted to expensive high end road and time trial bicycles including a Y1,890,000 bicycle designed by Colnago for Ferrari. Surprisingly fixed gear bicycles, which have been riding an unprecedented boom in Japan for many years were barely represented.
The second biggest group of bicycles on display after road bikes were electric bicycles, Despite being tucked away at the back of the show away from the glamour of the sports bicycles, exhibitors of electric bicycles took up a large percentage of floor space yet drew much smaller crowds than the makers of high end Italian racers.
Independent manufacturers and craftsmen were sadly few and far between.
Perhaps the biggest attraction for visitors was the opportunity to ride one of the over 800 bicycles made available to test ride on the purpose built circuit which snaked its way inside and out of the exhibition hall.
Various stages around the event hosted fashion shows, lectures, courses on bicycle maintenance, and training tips. While a half pipe allowed groups of BMX riders to display their skills.
Be it a sign of hard economic times, the absence of some big players in the bicycle industry or the general scaling down of trade shows, the atmosphere at this years event was very subdued. No loud music, no big budget entertainment extravaganza, no touts enticing visitors into their booths to peruse their wares. The quiet atmosphere, lack of enthusiasm from exhibitors and lack of excitement among patrons took the shine off what should have been a much more enjoyable event.
Japan's premier consumer bicycle show left a lot to be desired.
All photos I took at the event can be found here.
We also recorded Episode 8 of the Pedal Asia Podcast live at CYCLE MODE 2012, give it a listen.