It’s never been a more exciting time to get into cycling than right now. With so much choice and ever-expanding variations and niches, there’s something for everyone.
So, what can we expect to see more of going through into 2019 and beyond? We’ve been polishing the crystal ball to identify the hottest trends and what we expect to see more of throughout the year.
e-MTBs that ride as well as pedal-powered MTBs
Let’s get one thing straight – electric bikes aren’t going to disappear any time soon. Once seen as the reserve of the recreational and occasional cyclist, many of us are now realising the benefits of that power assistance for extending rides and maximising fun. The good news is bike brands are cottoning on that e-MTBs ride best when they utilise ‘proper’ MTB geometry, to create machines with the trail performance to match any pedal-powered bike. Take a look at Cube’s Stereo 160 Hybrid or Specialized’s bonkers 180mm travel Kenevo for examples of e-MTBs that can take on any descent and get you back up the other side.
Electric road bikes are better than ever
There’s a new generation of electric road bikes rearing their heads for 2019. A bit like their off-road brethren, squint a little and it’s almost impossible to tell them apart from a non-electric, aero framed road bike. The latest motor and battery technology such as Bosch’s Generation 3 Active Line Plus drive units, found on Cannondale’s Sleek Synapse Neo, provide drag free pedalling beyond the cut-off point of the motor. With added resistance on the drivetrain being one of the biggest issues of many road-going electric bikes, could this new tech open up the possibilities for more e-bikes on the Sunday club run?
Gravel and adventure riding is getting bigger
Once, gravel riding was thought of as the grubby-faced young upstart of cycling. But if there’s one thing 2018 taught us, it’s that venturing off-road on drop-bars is the quickest, most sure-fire way of injecting some fun and adventure into your riding. For 2019, not only are we seeing more and more brands developing gravel, all-road and adventure bikes but component manufacturers, clothing companies and shoemakers are getting in on the game. We’re now seeing ‘gravel’ specific wheelsets with wider rims intended for running large volume tyres while still retaining road wheel weights like Mavic’s new all-road options. As bikepacking continues to rise in popularity, clothing brands are designing kit made from natural fibres such as merino wool. Merino, like other natural fibres, is ideal for warding off stinky odours even when worn for multiple days. Look at Kalf’s latest Club long sleeve jersey as a perfect example.
Discs are here to stay
Mountain bikers have known it for decades; disc brakes rule, plain and simple. The road world has, for some reason, been begrudging in its take up of this most obvious of advances in both safety and reliability. The tide is turning though. For the past year sales of disc braked bikes have outstripped that of rim-braked counterparts. Alongside which, the UCI’s relaxed stance on the use of disc brakes in the pro peloton has meant we are seeing more teams move over to discs. Dimension Data has recently announced that it will be running all disc braked BMC bikes in 2019 including the superlative Teammachine. The even better news is disc brakes are now trickling down to even lower price points and not just on gravel or adventure machines. Cube’s more racy Attain has two versions in the sub-£1,000 category specced with discs.
Is the front derailleur dead for off-road riding?
The introduction of the 1x drivetrain has been one of the major defining moments of modern mountain biking. Getting rid of the front derailleur simplifies the whole bike, ideal for new riders and experienced racers alike. Riders worried about losing out on gear range needn’t fret either; 1x cassettes feature a much wider spread of gears than that found on bikes with front derailleurs. Shimano still offers front derailleur options for almost all of its off-road drivetrains but the other groupset heavyweight SRAM has dropped the derailleur for almost all its drivetrains. Just like with discs on road bikes, mountain and gravel bikes are benefitting from the trickle-down of 1x drivetrains into the realms of the entry level. Trek is now speccing almost every bike from the £675 Roscoe 6 upwards with a single chainring drivetrain.
It’s been no surprise that tyre width has been a hot topic in the mountain bike world. One thing we have seen is a steady ballooning in girth of the tyres many manufacturers are fitting to bikes. Whereas once it was common for a trail bike to have nothing wider than maybe a 2.3in tyre, now 2.3in almost seems narrow as wider 2.4in, 2.5in or 2.6in tyres are becoming commonplace.
For almost every aspect of riding, this increase in width has been a good thing. Wider tyres (along with wider rims) create better tyre profiles, allowing the tyre to function as it’s supposed to, so grip and rider confidence are increased. The larger volume also allows you to run lower pressures, again improving tyre performance and also boosting ride quality and comfort levels. If you haven’t tried a wider tyre, why haven’t you?! Do it now and feel the benefits.