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Awful Bike Expo Council Bluffs Ragbrai XLVII

The bike expo in Council Bluffs on Saturday was absolutely terrible – such a shame given how excellent other aspects of RAGBRAI XLVII were. They had primarily resellers – don’t even recall any manufacturers other than Bianchi. There were not real demos I saw, and the prices were outrageous on food and everything else. It was like a bad flea market with gypsies looking to gouge everyone on items you could buy for half the price on Amazon. This was really bush-league. So it begs the question: why didn’t the actual bike and equipment manufactures come out for this excellent and unique cycling event?

9 Replies

Geoff Butland, August 9, 2019 at 5:27 am

Bosch was there with ebikes, Selle Anatomica, Bianchi. I saw the same resellers as last year, and the prices didn’t seem out of line with local bike shops (read: not cheap). A woodworking show I have attended for years has rapidly declined….same story as you described…the big names are not coming out anymore. You mentioned Amazon….methinks their “race to the bottom” pricing model has trimmed every ounce of fat from manufacturer’s budgets, leaving little extra cash to send a squad to, say, a cycling expo in Iowa in July. So we get the low Amazon prices, but ultimately those prices require cuts elsewhere. IMHO, YMMV.


John Kiehl, August 9, 2019 at 7:14 am

I think access to the expo by bicycle was next to impossible given that the location was next to 2 interstate highways.


klkoopman, August 9, 2019 at 7:18 am

It is curious that the major bicycle manufacturers do not want to showcase their new models to a LOT of enthusiasts all in one place. Entirely agree that the food vendor selection was limitted and overpriced.


andytetmeyer, August 9, 2019 at 2:00 pm

Why didn’t you come and see us? Hed Cycling. We were there, we’re a US manufacturer. We even gave away 2 sets of wheels.


Sandaltan ., August 9, 2019 at 2:25 pm

Who was not there as in years past?



Jboz, August 9, 2019 at 2:45 pm

I didn’t think the Expo was too bad, just kind of hot. That said, there were fewer big manufacturers there, and given the proximity to OMA airport, it seems like it would have been easier for some bigger manufacturers to get there and put on a good show. Many of the bigger manufacturers hire summer college students to rep their products at these types of events rather than sending regular employees…maybe the economy being hot right some manufacturers had had a hard time finding summer help. But overall, the expo didn’t diminish my RAGBRAI experience.


jdeutmeyer, August 19, 2019 at 8:15 pm

I enjoyed your booth and learned some about wheel sets.


KenH, August 20, 2019 at 12:16 pm

I enjoyed the expo. It would be nice if it were a big cycling show but other venues get those and I don’t suppose we are enough to change that. They are geared more towards the reseller’s buyers than towards us anyway. It would be nice if nearby manufacturers would attend at least. HED was there, we had a nice long talk with them at their booth. Was Trek there? If not then a big Trek dealer at least. Co-Motion was there weren’t they? The RAGBRAI outlet tent was there. There were a lot of resellers, sure, but that is not a bad thing. We ate at Carbo Hut. Their prices seemed high but that was the only time I ate at their stand all week so I don’t know if we paid an Expo premium or not. They did have a sign apologizing for the price of their water so maybe they and we did pay “Expo rates” for the food offerings there. There are many fine restaurants in Council Bluffs and the one we ate dinner at, right on the edge of the Expo grounds was serving from their normal menu at their normal prices.

Even though pretty much anything in this life could be improved, I had a good time, I’m glad we were able to get there early enough to take in the Expo. If you have positive suggestions to make about how it could be improved next year there are ears at the Register who will listen and do what they can….


mcpartla, August 21, 2019 at 8:54 am

We enjoyed Council Bluffs the week before RAGBRAI touring the Dodge House, Black Angel, Lincoln site, Lewis & Clark but were disappointed more historical places were not open. I planned to see more when I arrived Saturday but the traffic and congestion made this nearly impossible. Council Bluffs is a great place to visit but not during RAGBRAI. Our camping site with the OOS charter was the worst ever … a rough uneven surface with prickley thorns. Other over nights were all much better.


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