Bike Industry Feels the Rush at TDU

The Tour Down Under is heading for its 25th anniversary with some renewed momentum after a successful event this January.

This article will barely mention the race itself – leaving that for consumer media, but instead will focus upon trade events and related activities that surround the race.

From an industry perspective, the Tour Expo at the TDU headquarters in Victoria Square was well attended, with virtually every exhibitor I spoke with saying that the attendance was up compared to last year, when the event was just getting back on its feet after two severely covid disrupted years in 2021 and 2022.

This year’s TDU enjoyed mild weather, with only a couple of hot days.

The TDU is always a lottery when it comes to the weather. January in Adelaide can be brutally hot. Exhibiting outdoors for 10 days straight when the temperature has exceeded 40 degrees during some years tests the stamina of the most dedicated exhibitors.

That’s why several years ago the organisers started offering exhibitors the option of booths within a huge, airconditioned marquee – at a much higher price of course. Exhibitors opting for air conditioned comfort this year included FE Sports, MCH Imports, Cassons, Sheppard Cycles, Kask, Shimano, Oakley, Bikesportz, Canyon, Factor, Bike Box, Groupe Sportif, Garmin and Zwift.

Meanwhile outdoor exhibitors included Pon.Bike, DeGrandi, Quadlock, Big Ring, Bikey Wipes, Ciovita, Yamaha, Chapter2, GPI Apollo, Recycle Bike Sales, Plasmade and Prepd.

The outdoor expo runs from 11am to 7pm each day with the indoor running from 2pm to 7pm.

Another group of companies opt not to exhibit in Victoria Square at all, but to have ‘pop up’ exhibits and activations in bike shops or other commercial premises nearby. This year these included Trek, Specialized, Rapha, Attaquer, Maap, Echelon Sports, Brompton, Curve and Pedla.

Many of the bike companies offer test ride fleets, that visitors can take out for a full day ride, free of charge. Some also run daily supported group rides.

Then there’s a host of events beyond the main Men’s and Women’s Tour Down Under stage races themselves. This year these included a round of the Para Cycling Road World Cup, a car park race open to all commers, three different street parties, sustainability expo, a family ride, gravel rides and races, local racing including criteriums, track and MTB racing, meet the pro teams signing events and a Wines of the Tour degustation dinner. The one notable exception to this very long list was a mass participation ride that traditionally uses the route of a TDU stage and starts several hours before the race itself. For whatever reason, after more than 20 years, this event was not held this year.

Meanwhile on the industry side, as we’ve reported in three separate articles, the TDU hosted a battery forum, sustainability form and the BIA annual general meeting, plus the best attended industry event by far – a free industry drinks night!

One of the most popular attractions of all is the Team Zone, another huge air conditioned marque in which every team has a pit area and all members of the public and enter in the afternoon after each stage to watch the team mechanics working on their bikes and even chat to the mechanics about all things bike tech.

Below are some scenes from some of these activities:

Spectators watching bicycle race on large screen under pavilion
Spectators who are not travelling out to the race on any particular day can watch the stage live on the big screen while enjoying food and drink – and shade!
Bicycle test ride stall
Quite a few bike companies offer free all day test rides. For an online only brand such as Canyon, this is a rare chance for potential customers to see and try bikes and meet the Canyon staff.
Bicycle parking sign
There’s plenty of free on-site bike parking at the TDU Village…
Bikes parked in bay
…and it’s in strong demand every day as many of the visitors from interstate bring their bikes for a big week of riding.
Airport bicycle signage
In fact, so many visitors bring bikes that the airport sets up directional signage to a large, dedicated area, just to handle them all.
Bike mechanic working on race bike
The Team Zone is very popular with visitors, where they can watch team mechanics servicing the bikes after each stage. This relatively new Belgian brand is, I think, the only brand of all the World Tour team bikes that does not have an Australian distributor.
Pop up bike shop
Several brands including Attaquer and Echelon Sports shared this pop up at the Contour Cycle Works store on Hutt Street.
Two men in bike store
Jason Pye from Trek and Bicycle Express manager Ben Kelly share a laugh at the Trek activation within the main Bicycle Express store on Halifax Street.
Two men in bicycle pop up shop
Elliot Andal and Martin Tse from AYB Trading went for a 1970’s punk theme to promote Brompton, which is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary. They shared a pop up with Pedla on Hindmarsh Square, with a coffee shop one side, a wine bar the other and a landscaped outdoor seating area making for a perfect hospitality location.
Electric support vehicle for group bicycle rides
Specialized returned to their popup on Frome Street which they once again shared with Maap. According to Specialized’s Marketing Manager Tim Webster, their daily group rides were selling out, even with 200 places available. This is one of a fleet of three electric support vehicles for the rides, sponsored by Tesla. Skratch Lab was supplying product for feed stations along the way. The daily rides ranged from 43 km to 123 km per day, depending on the viewing destination for each day’s stage.
Person speaking with microphone
FE Sports’ Darren Harper addressing invited guests at their official launch as the new Australian distributor of Campagnolo. All guests to the evening function received a boxed pair of Italian-made porcelain Campagnolo Espresso cups and saucers as a parting gift – in piccolo size of course… very Italian.
Bicycle exhibit
Yamaha are continuing to sell their e-mountain bikes exclusively through their motorcycle dealerships. Yamaha has been offering 1% finance on bike purchases to help boost sales.
Bicycle expo display is Bikesportz’ direct to consumer sales channel. Operations Manager John North, pictured here, explained that Bikesportz’ dealers are paid a percentage of the sales, either based upon postcode/closest store or if the customer specifically nominates their store, even though the goods are shipped direct to the consumer and not ‘click and collect’ via the store.
Recovery zone of bicycle road race
Everything from massages to ‘Normated Recovery Boots’ is available for anyone after a hard day’s ride at the Recovery Zone, just next to the expo.
Bicycle expo interior
This is a scene taken during a busier time of day, around 5pm, within the air conditioned marquee section of the Expo.
Industry networking event
The Industry Networking night had a friendly atmosphere… Photo Credit: BIA
Industry networking event
… plenty of free beer, wine and pizza helped! Photo Credit: BIA
Person with microphone addressing crowd
Industry members were very quiet and attentive listening to Dan Gallagher, General Manager, Commercial for Events South Australia. This is the SA government agency that not only owns and runs the Tour Down Under, but also supplied all of the free drinks and pizza, which may have explained their good behaviour, hoping for a repeat next year. Photo Credit: BIA

Ever Been to a Car Park Race?

One of the official Tour Down Under events was certainly a race with a difference.

Riders started in a city centre laneway before taking a sharp left and heading into a large six level car-park – that had been closed to customers and emptied of cars.

With each level having two sections that meant 12 U-turns and ramps to negotiate, which the top riders were doing in little over a minute.

The format was sudden death, initially with three riders per race and only the winner advancing to the next round, then two riders per race for all subsequent rounds.

Car park bicycle race start line
Co-organiser Nathan Lorkin from Corporate Cycling counts down the next three competitors during the first round.
Person Djing in a booth
This guy was a very happy DJ. There were speakers on every level and with bare concrete surfaces everywhere, let’s say it sounded like a very loud echo chamber inside – in fact I could hear the event from four blocks away when I was arriving.
Car park bicycle race
Into the lion’s den before winding all the way to the top level.
Car park bicycle race bird's eye view
Here’s a view of the same section from the finish level at the top. Not quite Hors Categorie, but on a very hot evening, riders were sweating profusely when they caught the elevator back down again for their next ride.
Car park bicycle race
Between the music and a total crowd of around 1,000, there was a great atmosphere – certainly more fun than trying to find a park on a regular day in the same venue.

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