Whilst we’ve seen a lot of technical development in recent years, such as electronic shifting, new materials and component improvements, I firmly believe that we have only just scratched the surface of where road cycling is going to head in the coming years.
As well as the technical aspects, we need to consider changing consumer requirements for road bikes. Technically, I believe that we will see disc brakes becoming far more common. “Shoe gate” at the races earlier this season has brought disc brakes to the forefront of debate. Whilst some of the initial discussion was negative, it provoked deeper understanding of the benefits of disc brakes and why they deserve a place on a top-end road bike. Many people have had their opinions swayed towards disc brakes by a negative comment made by a pro. As the benefits continue to be experienced though, disc brakes will become more and more popular at all price points. I can see disc brakes becoming the norm in the pro peloton within two years. You heard it here first.
On this note, if the UCI were to change the weight limit regulations, bike manufacturers would be able to really push the envelope in terms of bike development. So much is constrained by the UCI rules and the need to stay within the lower weight limit. Aero bikes were once the sole preserve of racers, but recently we have seen more and more aero developments filtering down to sportive bikes. This, and the introduction of integrated cockpits, will, I believe, also become more common.
As well as the technical aspects, we need to consider changing consumer requirements for road bikes.
Integration will not just end with the cockpit either. I believe that we will soon see the full integration of groupset, lights and computers on bikes and, as if that isn’t enough electronic development, I expect we will also see the rise of e-road bikes. Yes, really. E-bikes should be making their way to the road cycling market as the motors and units become ever lighter and offer more range. This will open up the road market to a wider audience and, for retailers, will present the need to embrace the e-bike concept by offering workshop services and much more for the motors and batteries. It’s coming – and fast!
But all this development is only good if the consumer’s basic needs are met – these are evolving. Comfort is still king for the majority of riders and this has to be built into the frame. Bikes will need to be increasingly flexible in their intended use too, as consumers seek that “one bike quiver” to cover road, gravel and touring. Riders now have more variety in riding on offer than ever before and this needs to be reflected in the bikes that are being made available to them.