After three years! Returning to the 2019 Philippine Bike Demo Day

Since attending the 2016 Philippine Bike Demo Day, I had every intention of going back to this unique event. Unfortunately, life and commitments got in the way, and I was not able to attend the 2017 and 2018 editions. Things finally lined up favorably and I was able to return for the 2019 edition, which sees it having become arguably the premier Philippine bike industry event of the year.

Arcovia City’s Arco de Emperador is a scaled-down homage to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany.

One reason I was not able to join previous editions was its move in 2018 from Filinvest City in Alabang to Arcovia City in Pasig, accessed along the northbound stretch of Circumferential Road 5 (C-5). While not favorable to me in terms of travel, I do have to admit its present location elevated the event’s profile.

The exhibitors are a veritable who’s who of the local bike industry, spanning the budget gamut from affordable to affluent. I visited with my wife and roamed the grounds for about three hours. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to take my helmet, so I didn’t get to demo any bikes. Here’s what we saw.

Pat Miranda, Pam Angeles, and yours truly.

Pat Miranda and Pam Angeles of Bikeary Bicycle Lifestyle flew the flag for the bikepacking crowd, offering offbeat “cycling contraband” such as reflective safety pizzas, full-length fenders, dynamo front hubs, and extra-large bottle cages. Ever the laid-back fellows, they even had beer on offer at the grounds.

What I found truly interesting were the two separated booths that made up the Shimano exhibitors’ presence. Notably, both booths had a noticeable presence from Lazer Sport, the Belgian helmet company. This reflects Shimano’s completed purchase of Lazer in 2016, to supplement their other corporate entities Pearl Izumi (clothing) and PRO (accessories).

Lazer Bullet 2.0; vents closed.

Two helmets stood out on the display. First was Lazer’s premium helmet, the reworked Bullet 2.0. The original model had the headline sliding vents feature which allowed for ventilation or aerodynamics by sliding the top cover open or closed, respectively, but wasn’t universally loved. Lazer stuck with the concept but refined it into this 2.0 iteration.

Lazer Bullet 2.0; vents open and visor deployed.

Aside from generally improving the helmet’s ventilation and slimming down its profile, Lazer gave the Bullet 2.0 a removable visor that secures to the helmet with magnets. Neat.

When not in use, the visor can be stowed on the back of the helmet, where a third magnet point keeps it on. This is similar to how many road cyclists poke the arms of their sunglasses into their helmet vents backwards.

The Bullet 2.0 is said to retail for about PhP8,500. That’s not bad for a helmet with aero leanings.

Lazer Century; Twistcap in maximum aero mode.

The second helmet I took interest in is their Century model. It uses the same concept as the Bullet 2.0 but vastly simplifies the execution. Instead of a sliding mechanism to open and close the vents, Lazer uses a central “Twistcap” piece that attaches to the middle of the helmet with magnets. Depending on how you attach it, you can go for maximum aerodynamics, some ventilation, or maximum ventilation – the latter of which involves taking the Twistcap completely off.

Lazer Century: Twistcap in ventilation mode.

The Century is friendlier to your wallet too, set to go for about PhP5,300 if memory serves. My one disappointment here is neither the Century nor the Bullet 2.0 demo helmets had the MIPS rotational injury system installed; MIPS versions of both do exist.

Since we’re talking about the Shimano booth, we might as well look at their footwear.

The first thing I noticed was they had the new XC5 (a.k.a. SH-XC501) on display. Unlike the outgoing model (a.k.a. SH-XC500), this uses a single BOA dial and gets rid of the laces, and also looks quite a bit better ventilated.

It retains the old carbon-reinforced sole with Michelin rubber lugs, though.

If the XC5 is gravel shoe lite, then Shimano’s all-new RX8 is the full-fat counterpart. Outwardly, it is very similar to the XC5 in the upper, down to the single BOA dial, Velcro toe box strap, and larger perforations.

The main difference is in the sole. The RX8’s sole looks a lot less like the XC5’s, and more like a much burlier version of the RT4 and RT5 – even dropping the sticky Michelin rubber and ability to mount toe spikes. In return, the sole has more (visible) carbon fiber in it and boasts a higher stiffness rating.

When I asked for samples to try, curious about how these new kicks fit versus my current XC5s, the Shimano representatives told me that they were essentially just demo units and meant as teasers for the show. Both the new XC5 and RX8 are supposed to go on sale in February 2020, they said.

These balance bikes looked pretty nice. Start ’em young!

Junni Industries, the erstwhile distributor of Dahon and now exclusively handling Tern folding bikes, was in attendance as well. I gravitated toward their Tern BYB folding bike, which is a significant evolution of the long-running Dahon/Tern KA-series folding bike frame. The BYB’s party trick is that it folds into a much more compact form factor than pretty much any folding bike based around 20″/406 mm wheels has any right to, because it introduces a second frame hinge just behind the head tube, and it folds up vertically. Its rear rack also has an integrated pair of roller wheels for easy movement in folded form.

I pored over the BYB P8 on display, equipped with a Shimano Acera 1×8 drivetrain. Ever the mechanical geek, I reckon it may be possible to give this bike a double chainring drivetrain with the removal of the stock chain guard, as the seat tube appears very similar to the 34.9 mm size used in many Dahon and Tern bikes, and should fit a LitePro-style front derailleur adapter.

Quite a few friends from the Manila Coffee Cycling Club had a presence at the show. Leroy of The Brick Multisport was there, with a smattering of Pearl Izumi goodies on discount.

Maximus Athlete’s Shop Cafe had its array of Chapter2 road bikes on Tacx Neo smart trainers – a state-of-the-art three-rider Zwift setup.

On the other side was RYAO cycling kit and the Alpha6 Saber triathlon bike on display.

I dropped by Dave Bikes‘ booth, too, and asked about their handlebars. They had stuff on display from Planet X and On One.

Last but certainly not least, JP Carino of Gruppo Veloce Sportivo and La Course Velo was there too.

Days before the expo, he announced a tie-up with Serk Cycling, accepting reservations for a Kyrgyzstan bikepacking expedition in 2020. What better way to do so than with an Allied Alfa Allroad gravel bike festooned with Apidura bikepacking bags?

Closer to home, La Course Velo also had this Brompton on display. At first, it doesn’t look like anything special, but look closer and you’ll see it has a full pedal-assist electric drive system tucked into the tiny triangle within the frame. Apparently, the electrics drive a little roller that turns the rear wheel via contact with the tire tread. The compactness of the setup is amazing.

The LifeCycle/Giant booth was pretty busy the whole time.
Indonesian bike manufacturer Polygon had an extensive mountain bike lineup on display. The brand is famous for well-kitted-out bikes at affordable price points.

That sums up my time at the 2019 Philippine Bike Demo Day. Traffic congestion aside, I had quite a bit of fun. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take me another three years to drop by again!

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