Frostbike 2009

justin tongue out.jpgWhat is Frostbike?  Well, chances are that you won’t read much about it in, and the fixed gear kids have never heard of it either.  Frostbike is essentially an open house held each year by one of the giants of wholesale distribution, Bloomington MN’s Quality Bicycle Products.  Held on a weekend in February, Frostbike is chance for retailers to see exciting and hopefully profitable new products away from the crazed and desperate atmosphere of Interbike, and yet well-timed before spring kicks off the retail season.  QBP also offers bike shop owners seminars covering a broad range of issues including merchandise strategy, human resource management, and technical training.  And Frostbike is a swell event where shop buyers and owners can meet select manufacturers and learn how to present their products.  

It’s no secret in the bike industry that it is difficult to conduct business while actually attending Interbike.  Setting aside the distractions of Las Vegas, Interbike’s usual host city, that show is just so overwhelmingly large that it tends to exhaust attendees and venders alike.  Bike shop owners are pressured into making financial commitments into often complex buying programs, while being jostled by schwag grabbers from all over the world and deafened by buxom booth bunnies with megaphones and blaring rock music.  As much as Interbike is important to the industry as a whole, the quieter and more relaxed Frostbike is considered a welcome contrast, a chance to hold product in hand while venders conversationally explain the philosophy behind pour.jpg


All this goes on inside the warehouses and office spaces of QBP, which are as carefully organized and friendly as their catalogue.  There were six or seven aisles of vender booths set up, just a small fraction of the size of Interbike.  Luckily QBP generously ran the heat, because the outside temperature never reached above the 20s.  Even better, lunch on both days was catered by QBP, and the dinner on Saturday was really good.  From a practical standpoint, QBP is out in an industrial park, so having food available onsite was a necessity, but they did it up well. 

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As fruitful and business-packed as the weekend was, there was plenty of opportunity for story-making craziness.  First, BMC had a ToC-watching party Saturday in the upstairs offices, complete with wine and cheese fondue.  After beer flowed generously in the office’s central common area, and then we left the perfectly warm interior to go watch and/or participate in the Pugsley races.


A Pugsley is a product of QBP’s Surly brand, a bike built around 4” wide tires to roll over soft surfaces like sand and especially snow.  The Minnesota winter had obliged us with a fresh layer of powder.  Much beer was consumed during the frozen rowdiness of the relay races.  No one lost, I’m not sure anyone won either.  I do know that my beer froze solid in my glass during the time I left it embedded in a snow bank so that I could participate. 


I talked to a lot of people, both shop owners and venders, about a myriad of subjects including the economy, industry trends, and of course, quality cycling products.  Keep an eye out for more entries about Frostbike, product impressions, and video interviews.

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