In the bike industry the calendar works a little differently than the actual calendar. As we approach the New Year on the calendar, the bike year is already almost half over. Driven by the needs of OEMs Fox, for example, releases their next year’s product in the summer now. Similarly Shimano and SRAM’s new groupos have been known to arrive in the Summer or Fall. This allows bike companies to release new models earlier and earlier. For us the bike New Year occurs around the August long weekend.
The days of manufacturers unveiling their entire line of bikes at the big bike shows like Interbike in the Fall are long gone. The trend now is to release new models throughout the year. This has the advantage for them of always having something new coming out. This gives their marketing departments a constant drip of new and exciting products to talk about. It also spreads engineering and marketing resources out around the calendar which is more efficient. The side effect of this, however, is that the big bike shows are now less relevant and so a lot of bike companies don’t go anymore. Added to that a lot of the big bike companies have their own shows where they can have exclusive access to dealer’s eyeballs and the relevance of Interbike (the show closest to us) means less dealers bother going. The Canadian dealer show having died a few years ago.
For us in Edmonton, on the first day of Spring March 21st is more often than not, full-on winter and Spring really comes in late April or early May. Hence we might get the bug to go buy a new bike on a nice weekend in May. The problem with this car-industry-like product cycle for us northerners is that with the new stuff coming out in the previous summer, when our Spring hits the bike companies are out of a lot of bikes. Heck, for them May means the new stuff is coming out in a couple of months–they don’t want a bunch of “last year’s” bikes in their warehouses. This is more of a issue in the high-end but it effects the whole range.
So if you are considering a new bike, especially something like a higher-end Trek, Yeti, Marin, Ibis or BMC the winter is the time to shop. That way you won’t be disappointed come Spring. Another advantage of off-season bike shopping is that the Shop is way less busy then which makes the shopping experience more laid back. On a nice weekend in May, would you rather be shopping for a bike or out riding one?