Shanghai Surprise

It’s 1986 and Glendon Wasey is a sleazy, down-on-his-luck con man struggling to sell glow-in-the-dark neckties in Shanghai. When he encounters the lovely Gloria Tatlock, a nurse who wants to obtain a supply of opium to ease the suffering of her patients, he decides to help her get hold of a stolen supply of the valuable drug. The only problem is that a lot of other people want to secure the stolen opium as well, gangsters, smugglers, thugs, and a host of dangerous lowlifes. That was Shanghai Surprise in 1986, directed by Jim Goddard.

It’s 2024 and the Shanghai International Bicycle Fair is being held from 5 to 8 May 2024 at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre. It is the 2nd year back from the pandemic for SIBF after being suspended from 2020 to 2022 for Covid lockdowns. The 2024 SIBF will cover an area of 135 000 square meters at the SNIEC, there will be in the region of 1 200 exhibitors, and it is estimated to be attended by 170 000 visitors with buyers from 132 countries. In 2024, the SIBF is being held under the theme: New Track, New Power, New Journey.

I recently wrote that at the 2024 Taipei Cycle Show it seemed me that the Show was not nearly as well attended as prior years with many familiar faces and industry friends not walking the aisles. Perhaps the 2024 Taipei Cycle Show reflected the many challenges currently afflicting the global bicycle industry.

So, will there be a Surprise at the 2024 Shanghai International Bicycle Fair?

SIBF caters for domestic Chinese demand as well as for export markets while Taipei Cycle Show caters for mainly export markets. There is a big difference between these 2 important Asian Cycle Shows. In recent visits in 2023, to Chinese assemblers and supply chain vendors, it has been very clear to me that the Chinese have switched production to be focused on domestic Chinese demand and away from export markets. This switch has been forced by the downturn in export demand as supply of cycling product outstrips demand in Western and developed markets. The Chinese domestic demand has been resilient.

The Surprise will likely be a proliferation of Chinese domestic brands and a dearth of International brands who are now struggling with the Law of Supply and Demand in their home markets. Like Glendon Wasey, the International brands want to sell their glow in the Chinese market, the only problem being the local Chinese assemblers with distribution channels across the Mainland. It’s likely 1986 all over again.

I look forward to meeting my many Chinese industry friends and suppliers at the 2024 Shanghai International Bicycle Fair as well as the usual dinner at M on the Bund!


Brandon Els Shanghai Surprise Blog Post Cover Image showing Shanghai skyline
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