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Why an Africa Cycle Fair?

Firstly I am passionate about cycling, both as a sport and as a lifestyle choice. When I travel to any city in Europe or the US I usually travel with one of the 8 bikes I have collected over the years and use it as my major means of transport. I believe that many South Africans feel the same way. If we look at the speed in which cycling keeps growing in this country, it’s clear that we are ready for a dedicated cycle fair. This event will speak to the existing cycling enthusiast, but more importantly, to a new audience too.

What do you mean by a new audience?

I took part in the first Joburg Critical Mass, three years ago. There were just six of us riding through Hillbrow in the middle of winter and people thought we would never reach "critical mass". Just two years later we started getting crowds upwards of 2000 people of all shapes and sizes – the vast majority of whom were new to cycling. I believe this is proof that a Cycle Fair that shows cycling as a way of life in addition to a sport will garner a valuable audience that is keen to make informed purchasing decisions, which the Fair will be able to assist them with.

How is this different from the expos we currently have in South Africa?

There are two big expos in the country, both of which are linked to major road races: the 94,7 and the Cape Argus. The expos are part of the number pickup and they are a great place to stock up on kit and energy bars for the race the next day. However, in a convention centre with no natural light, bad food and no place to test-ride a bike I am not sure they are able to convince a new audience on the joys of cycling. Finally, these race-orientated expos don't speak to the thousands of weekend riders who I see every weekend on the Braamfontein Spruit hurtling up and down in full battle kit, often with dogs, partners and kids in tow.

The Africa Cycle Fair will take place on 250 hectares at the yet-to-be-developed Blue Hills Equestrian Estate in Kyalami. The venue has great infrastructure, like roads and tracks for test riding. In addition to this, we’ll erect a 3 000m2 temporary structure with floors, walls and lights for the expo. We will also build a mountain bike test track, a road bike test loop, a cyclocross course and a dedicated kids cycle park so that parents can bring their kids with bikes to ride safely while they enjoy the Fair. Something we have learnt at Artlogic having been in the business of doing events in Joburg over the last 10 years is that you have to provide quality food and alcohol at Fairs if you want people to hang around. We have decided to go with craft beer, gourmet burgers and a host of other food providers for the Africa Cycle Fair. The Sanlam Investments FoodWineDesign Fair is one of our primary events, and as such we have access to some of the best food and drink in the country.

When will it take place and why?

We have chosen the weekend of 25-27 October, as it is the perfect time for distributors and producers to launch 2014 stock. It’s also a time when many Gauteng cyclists and families start making purchasing decisions for the Christmas holidays.

Will stock be for sale at the Africa Cycle Fair?

Yes it will. We have learnt at our Fairs that our audience attend our fairs for three reasons; to be informed, to be entertained and finally to shop. If you look at the FNB Joburg Art Fair, an audience of 10 000 people purchase close to R20 million worth of art over the weekend. At the Sanlam Investments FoodWineDesign Fair all our exhibitors make a profit on their costs. For this reason we must be the only Fair in the country that turns wine and food producers away. As importers and distributors do not sell, we have invited bike shops to participate in the Africa Cycle Fair so that consumers can make purchases at the event.

How much will it cost to exhibit there?

We have an early bird special of R750/m2, which we’ll be running until Monday 12 August. After that it goes to R1000/m2. This includes the floor, lighting and walls of the booth.

How will the Africa Cycle Fair benefit the industry?

Like the FNB Joburg Art Fair, which is now in its sixth year, the trick in my opinion is twofold. On one level, the Fair is a great opportunity to get people to experience your product and get them cycling. Before the start of the art fair, there were very few art buyers in the country. Thanks to the fair, that has changed. This is because a well-curated fair creates an exciting environment to experience what is on offer. The other important opportunity is on an industry level. A decent fair has to provide great coffee and comfortable spaces so that the industry can sit, talk and do deals. Why drive around the country speaking to bike shops if you can take them for a coffee once a year at the Africa Cycle Fair?

What are the challenges with creating a first fair?

The challenge with any fair is the first year. You can have a great idea, be in the right industry but you have to get the exhibitors to commit, as they are effectively providing the content for the show. So on a one level they are your clients, but on another they are your partners, as they too have to take a bit of a risk to make it a reality. To decrease the risk we have heavily discounted the rentals and have a focused marketing budget for the event of close to half a million Rand, which will guarantee us a quality audience.

What are the opportunities for the South African Cycling Industry?

The local cycling industry has to sell cycling as a way of life and not just road or mountain. If the industry can introduce a new genre of cycling – sales follow. Why is there no Cyclocross in South Africa? If we can grow interest in this sport it translates to new cycle sales to an existing audience who want to try something new. For this reason we will be hosting the first “unofficial” SA CX race with Hunter cycling.

The obvious and biggest growth would come from commuter cycling if the industry were able to convince government to put in dedicated cycle lanes. If we look at the industry in Europe, sport cycling has been decreased but commuter bikes have increased and now electric bikes have the highest increase in sales. Once people see cycling as a way of life, the reasons for buying more bikes never ends…

The Africa Cycle Fair will take place on 25-27 October at the Blue Hills Equestrian Estate, 5km north of Kyalami. To exhibit, visit www.artlogic.co.za or for more info on the event, visit www.africacyclefair.com.