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Southeast Bike Expo lets customers test the rides

A customer checks out a ride at the 2012 Southeast Bike Expo.

A customer checks out a ride at the 2012 Southeast Bike Expo.

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An employee with Suspension Experts Inc. discusses the product with customers at the 2012 Southeast Bike Expo.

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A participant in the 2012 Southeast Bike Expo demonstrates the performance of bike made by Niner.

Looking to invest in a bike but you just don't know which is the right one for you? Then check out the Southeast Bike Expo at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers.

Set for Feb. 23 and 24, the Bike Expo features over 20 bike manufacturers and 60 additional companies that sell bike-related accessories. Test rides are encouraged, as are questions about the brands.

The Southeast Bike Expo is open to the general public, not just those who own bike shops, said Brian Molloy, Bike Expo organizer and owner of The Hub bike shop in Athens, Ga.

"It's different from most other bike expos because it's consumer driven instead of dealer driven. The consumers can talk to the manufacturers and test ride the bikes," said Molloy.

Molloy said the advantage to the Bike Expo versus shopping for a bike in a local bike store is that customers get to peruse a wide variety of bikes, not just a few brands carried by a shop.

Those who attend the Bike Expo won't be able to purchase the bikes they see; it's more an opportunity for a customer to do research before he spends hundreds, if not thousands, on a bike.

Molloy said he wants people to be able to see and feel the bikes they might be interested in purchasing, versus ordering them off the Internet.

"I want to get the consumers excited about the products and go to their local bike shop and spend the money there instead of online," he said.

He's also not shy about his own agenda.

"I'm always looking for ways to drive more customers into my store," said Molloy.

In addition to bike brands that will be represented, such as Trek, Niner, Specialized, Shimano and SRAM, a variety of other products will also be available for revue such as bike helmets, clothing, sunglasses, suspensions and night lights.

Companies from across the U.S. and Canada will participate in the Southeast Bike Expo, the only one of the its kind serving the region, said Molloy.

"They're pretty much from every segment of the bike community," he said.

This is the second annual Southeast Bike Expo, and last year's event, also held at the Georgia International Horse Park, drew about 1,000 people over a two-day period.

Molloy said the Horse Park, site of the 1996 Olympic Mountain Bike Course and a popular biking spot, is the perfect location for the Expo, with its trails, onsite parking and hotel, and plenty of parking.

The cost for the Bike Expo is $10 a day, and bike shop owners can attend a special Friday session for free. Adults and children are welcome.

"It's a fun family atmosphere," said Molloy.

To learn more, visit www.sebikex.com or call Brian Molloy at 706-224-7318.If you go

What: Southeast Bike Expo

When: Feb. 23, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a night light demo from 6 to 9 p.m.; and Feb. 24, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Georgia International Horse Park's Grand Prix Expo area

Cost: $10 per day

Info: Visit www.sebikex.com or call Brian Molloy at 706-224-7318.