The advantages and disadvantages of different mountain biking trends for 2017 are analyzed by Tom Oehler, mountain biking pro and world record holder on the trial bike, and René Filippek, the Allgemeinen Deutschen Fahrrad-Club’s (ADFC) technical editor.
For those who want a quality gear shifting system, there are only two options: Shimano and Sram, the two biggest brands, are the big players, used in nearly all bikes. Sram is bringing a revolution to the market: The 12x system has just one chain ring at the front, with twelve at the back.
In the past you would boast about how many gears you had, but not any more,” says Filippek. Sram brought the 1x12-gear system to market in 2016, but it’s set to really take off in 2017.
Those who have been using a 1x11-gear system will be able to notice the increased gear range. The gear system only has difficulties on especially steep slopes. “It will be easier despite this because you will only need one gear level for the rear. This is revolutionary,” says Filippek.
The big advantage: You don’t have to think a lot about what you need to shift, you can react instinctively. The big disadvantage: “You have to pay about €1000 for it,” says Oehler. His tip: “I find that the Shimano gear systems are more comfortable - they shift better. Those who want 12 chainrings have to go to Sram.
The hottest trend is a new tire size. As the 26-inch tire is rarely used any more, a new standard size is being introduced. 27.5-inch tires are the hottest trend right now, alongside the classic 29 inches.
“All the big names are using them at the moment,” says Filippek. “The 29-inch tires are used for cross-country, 27.5 for other disciplines.”
The smallest size, 26 inches, will totally disappear in the future, they are only still used on women’s bikes. The new measurement allows more maneuverability and flexibility for the rider. For less ambitious cyclists, Fillipek recommends: “Use 29-inch tires with a rigid rear-end.”
The standard model is still the best choice for amateur cyclists. Oehler agrees: “For more active cyclists, I would tend to recommend the 650B.”
So you are not confused: 650B is the same size as a 27.5-inch tire, but using the French systems of measurement instead of inches. The new standard is set to definitively replace the 26-inch tire.
Manufacturers have deviated for a long time from the standard mountain bike. Despite this, the all-rounder bike is currently coming out on top against more specialized bikes. “The Enduro bike is at the moment the most popular:
a 160 millimeter spring deflection at the front and the rear. The bikes weigh 13 or 14 kilos each. That’s the most universal bike you can buy,” says Oehler.
Filippek has a similar opinion: “The full-suspension all-mountain bike is coming out on top.” The difference between it and the Enduro: all-mountains usually have a spring deflection of 130-140mm.
Those who want quality should not settle for the cheapest product: “The best bikes cost from €1000, under this price the suspension elements are not so good and can only rarely be adjusted to the rider,” says Filippek.
But the prices go even higher than this. “If money is no object, you can get the best quality with the new 1x12 gear system,” says Oehler.
Everyday smartphone usage will be carried over to the bicycle, connectivity is coming. All manufacturers will soon have to offer integrated systems, thinks Filippek. Up to now there have been many individual devices, these will be combined into one.
“The systems will tell you where you can fill up your water bottle. But also other things like service intervals: riders will be told when they need to take their bike for maintenance. And sensors in the bike, which tell you when the seat or the frame are carrying too much weight.
Tom Oehler is a mountain biking pro and a world record holder: The 33-year-old Austrian vaulted a three-meter-high wall with his bike to enter the Guiness Book of World Records. He also beat Félix Sánchez, who won the 400-meter hurdles at the 2012 Olympics, on his trial bike. Oehler clocked in with a time of just 44.62 seconds on his bike. Tom Oehler is on Facebook, on Twitter and on Instagram. The Linz-native’s homepage is www.smooth.at
René Filippek is technical editor for the Allgemeinen Deutschen Fahrrad-Club (ADFC). He stays up to date with all the latest trends in the cycling world and explains them in the ADFC magazine. Click here for the website for the ADFC.