With 532 attendees per day and nearly 40 exhibitors, this year was Outerbike’s biggest spring event yet, said Western Spirit owner Mark Sevenoff. Outerbike is organized by Western Spirit and has four yearly events, two of which are in Moab. At the event, a number of exhibitors bring their most popular bicycle models for mountain biking enthusiasts to try out. The event featured shuttles to popular trailheads, parties for participants and raffles.
“Spring is our smallest event of the four so there are a few less exhibitors and a few less attendees, but it’s a great experience for everyone because the lines are a little shorter,” said Sevenoff.
The event raised $1,000 for local organizations through raffles on Friday and Saturday night. The money will be split between Grand County Trail Mix and the Grand County High School mountain bike team.
Several trends emerged at the event. E-bikes — bicycles with an integrated electric motor — are more popular than ever, according to several retailers.
“E-bikes are becoming more popular this year compared to previous seasons,” said Mike Hall, brand developer for the company Specialized Bicycle Components. “We brought more e-bikes to fit that demand, so we have our new model the Kenevo and the model we’ve had for the last three years, the Levo. They are great trail-oriented bikes that give you good range and overall fun experience.”
Sevenoff said that a debate in the mountain biking community over preferred wheel size also remains alive and well.
“Some people are devoted to 29 [inch wheels] and there’s some people that like the smaller wheel size for greater maneuverability,” Hall said. “A lot of people like [29 inch wheels] for a more stable bike and it goes faster in a straight line, more stable. With the 27.5-inch bike, also known as 650 B, that style bike with a smaller wheel is a little bit more nimble, a little bit more flickable and fun ... some people like that characteristic. I know people that ride both.”
Joe Hendrickson of Yeti Bicycles, a Golden, Colo.,-based company, said that for them a “29-er” known as the SB 5.5 was one of their most popular models at Outerbike this year.
“Right now everything we have is really strong, so we have people asking for everything, but the [SB 5.5] is a long-travel 29-[inch wheel] and that’s the happening thing, especially out here in Moab. It’s been really strong for us,” Hendrickson said.
For Giant Bicycles, a 27.5-inch wheel bicycle known as the Trance Advanced 2 was most popular, according to Nick Fisher, Giant’s account executive for Utah, Idaho and Wyoming.
“Our all-mountain trail bike, the Trance Advanced 2 [with] carbon frame and carbon wheels—that’s been the go-to for everybody because it’s the perfect bike, one bike [that does] everything. It can hold up to all the rocks down here but you can take it up north and still ride all the alpine dirt up in the mountains,” Fisher said.
For Specialized Bicycle Components, their Enduro model bicycle with 29-inch wheels was most popular, Hall said.
“With more companies offering direct to consumer sales these days, Outerbike has gained even more importance for them to show their bikes,” Sevenoff told The Times-Independent in an email. “And for the attendees, it’s one of the few places you can demo a bike from such companies as Canyon, YT, Commencal, Mondraker and even Utah-based Fezzari. While industry dealer shows like Interbike are challenged to remain relevant in these markets, consumer shows like Outerbike continue to gain importance ... While all the new bikes and product are amazing to see my favorite part of Outerbike is meeting the guests that make the trek out here to see our incredible backyard. We’re so fortunate here in Moab to have all these public lands and all these trails that most can only dream about. They’re from all over the states, many Canadians and several even from South America!”
Next for Outerbike: their August event in Crested Butte, Colo. They will return to Moab in October. Outerbike will also host their first event in Bentonville, Ark., at the end of October.
“When we’re back in Moab this October we hope to raise even more money for Trail Mix and the Red Devils in the form of an auction. I had a great conversation with Tyson Swasey from Trail Mix about how we can do it and I’m already looking forward to making it happen,” Sevenoff said.