Now into its third year, the European iteration of the Sea Otter formula is very much standing out as its own unique event; and one that’s drawing a crowd. CI.N speaks to the organisers about what to expect from May’s Girona-based event…
Up until recently had you mentioned the Sea Otter in cycling circles and you may well have received stories from over the North Atlantic, but that may now be changing, at least for those in Europe. The new kid on the block, Sea Otter Europe, is now four years old and it’s a big four year old as far as events in the cycling industry go.
“We expect 65,000 visitors, a large proportion of whom are end-users interested in the product and the events, or are participants in the sportive. All of them are seeking a real bike show weekend,” says Joan Miro, Sea Otter Europe’s Communication Director.
Tapping in to a bike industry thirst for events that are demo led, the exported and adapted Sea Otter formula is thriving in Spain. This year there will be more demo bike tracks for gravel, road and urban bikes, as well as greater opportunity to thoroughly test various electric bikes.
“We are still committed to the bicycle test ride service, as it’s a format that works,” says Miro, who adds that in 2019 there were over 500 demo bikes on the various circuits. For bicycle industry brands that had noted last year’s rather full event, this year the organisers have squeezed out an extra 12% more from its Expo Zone, a commercial area that encourages product testing along alongside sales registrations.
Given the pre-Summer dates and the bike industry’s tendency to sneak out prototypes and even full launches earlier with each passing year, Sea Otter Europe has found itself in a favourable position. Miro says: “It’s the perfect time to launch and it’s part of an international festival. Shimano last year gave the world premiere of the XTR set and two years ago Cannondale launched the Lefty at the Sea Otter Europe. We know some brands are planning to present new products in sea Otter this year too, but obviously we cannot talk about them at this moment!”
As far as household names go there are some notable labels committed and numerous that have pulled their traditional trade show presence elsewhere in recent years. Cube, with whom we carry an interview later in this issue, stress that from its perspective ability to test ride is key; and they’re in the mix for May.
Likewise the organisers have booked in the kind of big name draws that ultimately benefit everyone on the floor- plan. Focus, Trek, Merida, Moustache, Specialized, Orbea, Ghost, Bergamont, BH Bikes, Haibike, Lapierre, Canyon and Bulls are among those confirmed many months in advance. Expanding open the notion that brands increasingly want a more tangible result from their exhibition commitment, Sea Otter Europe is encouraging brands to put on their own sub events to sit within the structure.
“At the moment, it seems we are a must-attend in the calendars of many brands, There is a high confirmation concerning repeat attendance for brands attending, and there’s a lot of demand for spaces,” says Miro, who adds that the collaborative effort is crucial to the success. “It is just as important that brands also use their convening power to communicate their participation in the festival and make their presence as successful as possible.”
Miro suggests led e-Bike rides across the Costa Brava, gravel rides out in the surrounding forest tracks and mountain bike rides on local trails; all of which the team can assist brands with creating for their prospective customers.
As far as the more sporty element of the event goes, the plethora of events is as good as any on the calendar for a single location. In the mix you have the Ciclobrava – a road tour that is now renowned for attracting both numbers and names in the sport. For the off-road crowd the Copa Catalana Internacional MTB (UCI C1 category) and the Marathon Cup are on offer, the latter of which is open for added participation.
In terms of gravel, the event hosts the Girona Gravel Ride, with the addition of the Pirinexus Challenge – a 200km adventure on gravel bikes in which participants leave and arrive before the sun sets. There’s plenty more too, including the XC Eliminator, the Shortrack, and the MTB classic.
If prior years have been anything to go by, visitors are likely to come in from all over Europe, with Spanish, Italian, French and German consumers particularly engaged. There is scope, says the organisers, for a UK business to find plenty of new customers, both trade and consumer, among those walking the showground.
Sea Otter Europe will take place from 29 – 31 May. Brands wishing to get involved can contact the organisers on (+34) 93 808 80 91. Accommodation can be organised via Sport No Limit Travel, or via any of the large hotels in the area.