‘Tis the season for new bikes

Cam Whiting

Oceania Editor

As cycling consumers around the globe begin to see new season bicycles arriving in stores, bike brands are already beginning to order parts for the bikes those same consumers might want to buy next year. Welcome to the strange world of the bicycle industry product cycle. Every year, several major industry events are held where suppliers, brands, distributors, retailers and consumers are able to meet – rarely all at the same time – to discuss new model-year (MY) product.


Taichung Bike Week, held in late October this year, is the first industry event positioned around the ‘calendar year plus two’ principle. This means product managers (the people responsible for bicycle specification) begin ordering parts for MY2018 bicycles at the end of 2016 calendar year. Huh? 2018 in 2016? Who’s running this baffling product cycle? As Chris Carlson, senior industrial designer for Trek, stated in a company presentation several years ago it’s those pesky salespeople:


Foyer Ost: Fashion Show
Foyer Ost: Fashion Show


However, a brand could release a $1,000 MY2018 road bicycle (that may just be a ‘graphically refreshed’ MY2017 version) in April 2017 with MY2017 parts and enjoy terrific sales as a result of perceived ‘newness’ and higher in-store margin.


Steve Fenton and Katerina Rejchrtova, the duo behind Taichung Bike Week, previously explained that product cycle progression impacts everyone – even Bike Week itself has moved forward by several weeks in recent years:


“The product cycle is slightly different in Europe than in the USA, but it is driven by the bicycle producers, not the components producers; they just follow the timeline given by the bike producers.”


So when do we get to see next year’s (MY2018) creations? Well, depends on who you are and, for consumers, where you live:



When: October 2016

Participants: Bicycle brands, component suppliers, media (access limited)

Target group: Product managers



When: March 2017

Participants: Bicycle brands, component suppliers, media, distributors, retailers

Target group: Wholesale and retail buyers



When: March-September 2017 (depending on brand’s product cycle)

Participants: Media (access may be limited), distributors, retailers, sometimes even consumers

Target group: Wholesale and retail buyers



When: September 2017

Participants: Bicycle brands, media, distributors, retailers, consumers

Target group: Retailers, consumers


November is an especially confusing time to be a consumer. Take this year as an example: do you buy a discounted MY2016 bike, the new MY2017 version, or wait 7-8 months for MY2018? Additionally, if an importer (distributor) over-ordered MY2016 bikes, they may be clearing MY2016 bikes whilst selling new MY2017 bikes and placing orders for MY2018.


Ultimately, whilst it all seems irrational, it’s good news for consumers: early adopters have their cravings sated while buyers not concerned with model years can find bargains. I believe that’s what you call a ‘win-win’.

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