It's the future. We've tasted it.
The year we called 2017 has finished and it’s now time to sift through all the tech trends and come up with a list of what we think will happen in 2018.
1. 2.6in and WT tyres
In a move that reminds us of the mass move to 27.5in wheels (rather than folk jumping all the way to 29in) the new wave of not-Plus tyres are finally available and being accepted as the great things they are. If you’re not rocking 2.4-2.6in tyres on your bike by the end of 2018 then it’ll probably only be because you can’t fit them in your bike.
2. Non-lethal XC bikes
Although they ride fast, XC racers are pretty much the slowest riders out there when it comes to change and technological progress. Slowly but surely though we’re seeing head angle slacken, stem lengths shorten, suspension travel increasing and dropper posts appearing. About time too. Fast and light bikes that mere mortals can ride without crashing.
3. Aluminium rims
You can blame/credit pro-level enduro racing for this. Seems that EWS racers would rather ride-out-and-repair a stage with a bent alloy rim than gamble with an event-ending failure of a carbon wheel (no matter how incredibly rare such things are these days). Still, if it means we start to get better alloy rimmed wheels then that’s great.
4. Non-aluminium bikes
With the money we’re saving on stopping our lust for megabucks carbon wheels we’re probably going to see our attentions turn to our frame materials. Carbon will always be lustworthy and now we have the return of sinuous steel tubing to mountain bikes, full sus ones that is.
5. Puncture prevention strips
Think of this one as being like how the bike industry suddenly realised that tubeless inflation systems (like the pioneering Airshot) were actually a brilliant and much-needed product. The industry has seen the likes of Huck Norris and the before-its-time Schwalbe Procore and we’ll be surprised if there aren’t loads more rim inserts released in 2018.
6. Aftermarket (modular?) wide-range cassettes
Once you go big at the back you never go back. Everyone is rocking at least a 42T sprocket at the back now. But not everyone is willing to make the move to 12-speed. We reckon there’ll be some more 11 speed 50T cassettes coming out this year. Hopefully they’ll follow the concept of Hope’s modular cassette and there’ll be the option to just buy the sections of cassette that have actually worn out.
7. Air shocks
A bit controversial this one maybe but we’re not sure that the hype around coil shocks is going to take everyone with it. The reality of switching to coil can often result in a less poppy and playful bike. And that’s before getting into the complex issues of preload and negative spring balancing. There’s not a whole lot wrong with air really.
8. More brands going direct sales
The recent move by Intense Cycles to move to direct-to-consumer sales model may prove to be a major turning point in the bike industry. When a brand with as much heritage and prestige as Intense moves away from bike shops you can be sure that others will follow. The industry is going to be keeping a close eye on Intense to see whether their bold move is kill or cure.
9. YouTube is all
Every racer and brand in the bike industry is going to need a YouTube channel. It’s on your computer, it’s on your phone and – crucially – it’s built into your telly now.
Once seen as a ‘band aid’ for fundamentally flawed suspension designs, the appearance of an idler on a bike is now seen as a badge of progressive acceptance of how suspension work with/against your drivetrain.
11. More man-in-shed bikes
On a related note to the idlers above, we fully expect there to be more weird and wonderful full suspension mountain bikes coming out from one-man-band operations. We’ve had the Deviate Guide, we’ve seen the Resistance Insolent and now we want to see more mad machines.
12. Going green
Last year both Pole and Sick! Bikes coming out with statements that they’re moving away from carbon fibre and citing ecological reasons behind their decision. Whilst such green moves are welcome in this day and age, a key thing with being able to come out with such eco statements is that it is also canny marketing. Going green can be another reason why you like a brand over another.
13. Gearbox acceptance
Whilst we’d like to predict that we’ll see some more and more-refined gearboxes coming out in 2018, it’s not very likely. But we do expect that the quirks of gearboxes – like not being able to shift whilst pedalling – will finally be just accepted, and a focus on the undoubted good aspects of gearboxes – suspension performance – can come to the fore.
14. Shimano doing… something
Imagine you’re in charge of speccing off-the-peg complete bikes. You’re not likely to choose Shimano over SRAM at the moment are you? For the past few years it seems that the best Shimano can do is catch up with (not overtake) SRAM when it comes to drivetrain progress. But how on earth can Shimano compete with SRAM GX Eagle?
15. Lighter e-bikes
Whether you love them, hate them or aren’t really fussed, e-bikes are the part of the bike industry is growing and evolving more than any other. Now that we’ve had a good couple of seasons of e-bikes seeing widespread use, and riders are buying their second and third e-bikes, we’re going to see more and more leaps forward and solutions to the real-world practical and bike-handling issues that e-bikes have posed.
16. Fork offset options
Now that the move to longer and longer reach top tubes is a fact of life, there are more folk glancing at fork offset theory and stroking their chins. We wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see multiple offset options being clearly listed in the fork spec sheets from now on. Maybe we’ll even start to see the aftermarket availability of crown-and-uppers with different offsets so we can experiment without having to splash out on a whole new fork.
Have we missed any?
What do you think will happen in 2018? Leave a comment below or on our social media channels.