CYCLE MODE International 2012 Report

Byron Kidd

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.

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  1. My first, and last, time to visit. I was not impressed at all. If I did not work in Makuhari I would have been pretty annoyed to have made the trip out there and back.

    I saw some cool bikes, but not one unexpected 'must have'. Much of that is due to the Internet: I have found bikes I know I already want. I wonder if that is not true for many patrons. If you are into bikes enough to go to the show, you've also done research already.

    I did not long consider lining up to ride a bike, even though it was not crowded when I got there Friday night. Besides no explanations in English (Japan, get over it - English is not optional), and not much in Japanese (which I read like an elementary 5 student), I can't imagine how flat concrete surfaces with no opportunity to gain speed or bank would tell me thing-one about a bike.

    I found nearly all bikes I would buy (All-City, Soma, Surly) carried by one distributor, and I already knew this: However, sigh... 700c wheels on Japanese-sized bikes look ridiculous, especially on the Surly Krampus.

    Why do Japanese ride bikes too small for their height, which should average just one size down from the N.American average? It's like clothing and bicycle manufacturers still size for Showa-era customers because the oyaji who head companies can't accept they are midgets to their grandchildren.

  2. I took some photos too -

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