In autumn the trends for the coming year will be set in the bike industry. In these days they write their order lists, determine with it already now, what is in their shops from March on, what should inspire us cyclists as especially practical, fun, fast, safe, beautiful and trendy. ISPO.com takes a close look at the bicycle trends of 2020.
The English word "gravel" indicates the orientation, these bikes feel particularly good in light terrain, although they rather remind of purebred racing bikes. With the exception of the common handlebar form, however, they only have related genes. And the concept isn't entirely new either: such hybrids of racing and off-road wheels have existed for decades under the name of cyclocrosser, but their breakthrough came with the introduction of hydraulic disc brakes in this segment.
These Characteristics Distinguish the Gravel Bike:
- More stable but light version of the road bike frame, available in steel, aluminium, carbon and even titanium.
- Frame geometry: You sit more upright and "shorter" than on a road bike, but sportier than on off-road bikes, most people find your posture or bike comfortable, easy to steer and powerful to move.
- The bottom bracket is further away from the ground so that the chainring does not touch obstacles.
- At the crank two or only one chainring are mounted, the ratios are smaller than at the road bike, but do not reach as far down as at mountain bikes.
- The most visible difference is the much more space in the frame and fork for coarser profiled and wider 28-inch tyres with a width of about 42 mm.
- Burled or studded tyres make them a bit slower on asphalt, but compared to trekking or mountain bikes Gravelbikes are still very fast, thanks to their weight and biomechanically good posture.
If you sit quite securely in the saddle, you will be able to handle even medium-difficulty off-road passages, even faster than with a hardtail or fully, despite the lack of suspension. And because many manufacturers give their Gravelbike additional fixed points for mudguards and luggage carriers, they can even be transformed into ingenious, dynamic and even fully suitable for everyday touring bikes.
So you can ride the same bike faster to work, train with a lot of fun, accompany the family on a trip in the park, hang out with the clique on the multi-day tour and also make a good impression in front of the ice cream parlour. If all this doesn't promise any potential to be a bestseller.
The testers of the ISPO community also showed how versatile a Gravelbike can be. Shortly before the presentation they were allowed to ride the BMC-Bike Urs for several weeks and give feedback. Read the story here.
The e-bike in particular is currently undergoing a development known from sports shoes from the 80s! At that time there were three or four models to choose from, which were halfway ok for all applications. Today there are specialists not only for every sport, the shoe is at the same time an expression of lifestyle and character of its wearer.
And also the wheel is not only available for more and more tasks and applications from year to year. The electric motor has only pushed this development extremely again.
In the area of freight transport in particular, there will be more than three or four models to choose from next year, including a number of solutions for families with more than one child or for commercial use. And traffic planners will be delighted: electric drives on compact folding bikes could be the ideal link between public transport and the workplace, which bulky city bikes or pedal scooters have not yet represented.
In addition, the manufacturers see that the arms race is leading in the wrong direction in terms of range. Instead, with the smart use of electric motors, rather inconspicuous support when pedaling and the frame, which completely integrate a compact motor and slim battery, they reach completely different groups of buyers, namely those who previously could not make friends with the "foreign body" electric motor.
As a result, some really well-designed models will emerge for the coming season, some of them driving so naturally and integrating the drive so harmoniously that even the young generation and athletes will dare to tackle the subject!
However, there are not only technical factors that can inspire an industry such as the bicycle industry. With Emanuel Buchmann, a German chased away the field for the first time in decades at the Tour de France this summer. Although it wasn't enough to clinch overall victory in the end, it was precisely because of his smartly restrained but courageous driving style as an underdog and his fourth place that many Germans again followed the round trip in 2019.
Professional cycling had to suffer from the aftermath of the doping scandals, especially in Germany, but the attention was rather low despite many daily successes. With a potential round trip winner Buchmann it is to be expected that in the coming year again clearly more racing bikes will go over the counter, and surely one or the other of them will carry also an electric motor in itself.