We gaze into the crystal ball to look at the next 12 months in bikes
Although there are some corners of the UCI that might prefer that we were all still riding 5-speed steel bikes, it’s a fact of life that the bike world is constantly moving forward, with new inventions and innovations never too far round the corner.
But what’s in store for 2016. Of coure we’re sure that there will be a few surprises down the road, and in twelve months time we’ll probably look back at this list and wonder how we could miss this thing off, or why we thought that could possibly happen.
So without further ado, here’s what we think is coming along in the not too distand future.
1. More disc brake race bikes
Wait, come back! We know it might seem like we’ve been predicting the rise of disc brakes in these articles since time immemorial, but this is something different. Disc brakes have well and truly arrived on endurance bike, but race bikes are still catching up, and with the UCI widening its disc brake trial in 2016, we’re expecting to see a flurry of disc-equipped race bikes.
Currently the only non-endurance disc bikes out there are the Focus Izalco Max Disc, Specialized S-Works Tarmac Disc, and the Pinarello Dogma F8 Disk, so there are plenty of manufacturers who will surely look to up their disc brake game in 2016.
2. Shimano to go wireless
Since the release of the original Dura-Ace Di2 way back in 2009, Shimano has led the way in the world of the electronic gears. However, that was until SRAM stole the show with its Red eTap wireless groupset, which looks like it could be a real game-changer in the groupset market.
Dura-Ace made the jump up to 11-speed in 2012, and since then Ultegra, 105, and Tiagra have all received an overhaul, so it’s probably about time that the flagship model got a bit of a redesign. And why not make it a wireless version? Shimano would have known that SRAM was working on a wireless groupset from a few years ago, so has had plenty of time to develop its own version.
3. Tubeless tyres will take off
Playing second fiddle to disc brakes in cycling tech trend lists for the last few years, we’re predicting that 2016 will see the road world decide that having to get a bit messy with some sealant is less annoying than spending 20 minutes stood at the side of a road trying to fix a puncture when it’s 3º and chucking it down with rain.
Think about it, what’s not to like. Performance-wise there’s not a huge difference compared to clinchers, and when you do get that once-per-year puncture then you can just put in an inner tube and it will still work just fine.
4. Bikes with built-in power meters
This year saw the release of a whole host of new power meters, such as the Rotor inPower, Verve Infocrank, and the controversial Limits system. However while these systems are all well and good, they still require a significant cost on top of what you’ve already paid for the bike
Instead we reckon that the big bike manufacturers must already be working on production bikes with in-built power meter. Certainly the demand is there, particularly at the higer end of the market, and it would save all the faff of having to set the power meter up correctly, particularly if it has a complicated calibration procedure.
5. Motorised bikes for the masses
If your first reaction to the news that motorised bikes might have been used in the WorldTour was “where can I get one?” then maybe you could play a part in making this prediction come true. And no we’re not talking about ebikes designed for urban riding, but instead proper road bikes that wouldn’t look out of place on the club run.
Think about it, particularly if you’re not quite as sprightly as you used to be, or if you’ve piled on the pounds over the winter, then wouldn’t it be great to have a little help to make sure that you’re dropped by your mates every time the road ramps up. There are a number of systems that allow you to add a motor into your existing road bike which have proved popular on the Continent, we just need them to make the jump across to the UK.
6. Aero bikes will keep getting more integrated
Aero road bikes really turned a corner this year, with the Specialized S-Works Venge VIAS, Trek Madone, and Scott Foil being the first of a new breed of aero road bikes where integration was central to the design.
This is one trend that looks certain to continue in 2016. Surely no one can design a new aero road bike that doesn’t feature integrated brakes and cables and expect to be taken seriously. Personally we’re all for it, but spare a thought for those spare mechanics who have to deal with the super-complicated cable routing.
7. Tyres will keep getting wider…
There’s no question that 25mm tyres are now the norm in road cycling. Wider tyres are generally accepted to offer more grip, better comfort, and lower rolling resistance, and whenever we see a bike equipped with 23mm tyres, they now look pretty odd.
The question is, if 25mm is faster than 23mm, what about 28mm? 30mm? Where do you stop? Pro riders already use 28mm or 30mm tyres for the cobbled Classics, and with disc brakes on their way, more bikes will be able to accommodate really wide tyres.
8. …And rims will follow them
The thing is that you can only get the most out of wider tyres if you have wide rims to go with them, allowing you to increase the volume of air within the tyre, meaning improved grip and comfort.
And then there’s the aerodynamic benefits. Not only does having a wider rim mean smoother airflow at the interface between rim and tyre, but all the big wheel manufacturers are telling us that wide toroidal rim profiles are better in crosswinds too. What’s not to like?