By Tara McKee
In October, Moab was the location for Outerbike, now in its second year. Outerbike is a whole new model for a biking event. Whereas Interbike, the North American bicycle industry retail show is aimed at the insiders of the cycling world. Outerbike provides a chance for the average cyclists to not only preview the line of newest bicycles and components, but to ride them in a beautiful outdoor setting. For serious cyclists, this is a great opportunity to “try before you buy” and demo a large range of the upcoming season’s bikes on 130 miles of Moab’s great trails. It’s a super-sized “consumer demo event,” and the proceeds go to support IMBA and the Moab Trails Alliance.
Ashley Korenblat, the director of Outerbike and also of Western Spirit Cycling Adventures said that was the very reason for this event: “When you’re spending $2000-10,000 on a bike, it’s quite a serious commitment and this is an opportunity to really try out those bikes and make sure you are getting the bike you want. There seems to be a need for customers to demo all the bikes they are thinking about. It helps you to see all the latest innovations from the various bike companies and it is a chance for the bike companies to show those innovations off directly to customers, instead of just to the media or dealers. The customers get to try the bikes before buying and the companies get direct feedback from the customers. It’s a win-win!”
Outerbike was located just north of Moab at the Bar M Trailhead which led to nearly a dozen mountain biking loops. It has been primarily a mountain-biking event these past two years, with a few road bikes to demo as well on the paved trail not far from the Outerbike Site. The plans for 2012 will include an expansion of the road bikes for demoing and improving of the road surface for the 400-yard dirt road between the site and the paved bike trail.
I have attended Outerbike both this year and 2010 and have found it has been organized with just the right level of professional support. Attendees come equipped with their own helmet, shoes and pedals. The concept is simple: walk around the expo area and enter the booth of any of the bike frame manufacturers and they’ll custom fit you on the bike of your choice for a demo ride. It’s your chance to test out the brand-new bikes and have first-hand experience with the latest innovations. After you return the bike, try another one to compare or contrast. It’s an opportunity to become educated, so feel free to ask questions of the people who know the bikes and components the best. You can ride the nearby trails or take shuttles to some of Moab’s classic trails.
In addition to the demos, Outerbike offered a sweet swag bag with an Outerbike T-shirt, free Clif bar products for the trail, offerings of fresh fruit and cookies during the day, coolers of water or Acli-Mate (a new sports drink made especially for activities at altitude), a catered lunch, and as the afternoon wound down, riders relaxed at the expo site’s Beer Garden. The fun continued each night back in Moab with mountain biking movies and a party on Saturday night. The 2011 crowd of 800 attendees was more than double the first year’s numbers. They came from not just the Rocky Mountain region, but from Canada and 48 states, including Hawaii. It was a perfect place to meet like-minded friends from across North America!
If you wanted to demo bikes in your hometown, you could wait for the bike brand of your choice to come to your town for one day each year or you could pay money down to demo a bike at your local bike shop. One man I overheard said that his local bike shop charged $150 a day for him to demo a bike. For that same amount of money, at Outerbike he could demo as many bikes as he had the energy to ride over the three days. Outer bike has a lot of brands to choose from. This year, the bike companies included Specialized, Trek, Giant, Orbea, BH, GT, Kona, Rocky Mountain, Pivot, Santa Cruz, Yeti, Ibis and more. Plus there were gear companies such as Deuter and Osprey also offering demos of their products.
New for 2011 was the addition of two extra days of full-day guided rides and mountain biking clinics which split riders up according to ability. These clinics, put on by Western Spirit Cycling, were an opportunity to learn or improve on technical skills while riding amazing trails. Over 200 people took part in the pre-Outerbike clinics this year and next year, Ashley sees the clinics popularity growing as well.
Ashley is already on the phone with bike companies planning for next year’s Outerbike. She says it was a new concept for the bike companies, but “they totally get it now.” Next October, you can expect it will be even bigger and better with more companies and more bikes. The word is surely getting out about Outerbike with some advertising and the old-fashioned, but effective, word of mouth. I tried to pin down Ashley about how many attendees she expects to see next year and she was confident, “Oh easily, a couple thousand.” With that in mind, she has some great advice for Outerbike which will be held October 3-7, 2012,” “Make your motel reservations early! Moab can fill up fast!”
See outerbike.com for more information.