Design & Innovation Award 2014

Gold Award Winner

The exclusive Gold category honors a few select and very special products that lift performance to another level. This special category of the Design & Innovation Award recognizes highly innovative and clever features, as well as products that influence future technological developments through new intellectual approaches. The goal: simplify handling, increase efficiency and maximize safety as well as fun.


Trail bikes are the most popular and important sector in the bike industry –available in a bewildering range of price and travel options. As bikes evolve and progress marches on, new developments and concepts start to stand out. With bikes becoming more adaptable than ever before, we are starting to see the traditional lines separating weight and rear travel begin to blur: boundaries are being pushed and times are changing!

The Versatility of the Chassis

Trail biking is a constant compromise. The chassis needs to be as fast and efficient as possible on even ground and climb effectively, but still be active enough to absorb the big hits on rough downhill trails. Different wheel size options have put the rear travel into perspective. We now have improved kinematics and suspension units offering performance that impresses both uphill and down.

The modern bike chassis is certainly more advanced and capable than ever! However, a remote shock with bar mounted adjustment still offers significant advantages for racers and trail bikers! Providing more control, efficiency, and fewer compromise! Imagine racing downhill with a 170mm big hitter, then at the flick of a switch pedal back uphill as efficiently as a XC whippet, you have the advantage! This control is now possible without taking your hand off the handlebar: cheers, Scott Genius LT!

The Secret of the Ideal Geometry

The motto “Cruise up, hammer down!” applies to many enduro riders – where comfortable uphill rides often finish in fully committed downhill racing. There will always be a compromise between up- and downhill performance on extreme terrain, but most enduro riders spend most of their time on more moderate home trails. Every race has its own unique features and special trail characteristics; to gain an advantage, bike adjustability and adaptation are vital.

Some bikes, like the Orbea Rallon, have been designed with adjustable geometry, where simple adjustments change the focus of the bike from general trail riding to a full-on downhill beast. Many downhill-oriented bikes are now supplied with longer top tubes and shorter stems – like the Rose Soul Fire – improving the descending characteristics immensely. Making technology as adaptable as possible is the latest trend, and as the current crop of pioneering trail bikes evolve, the future will bring many more exciting developments!

Women-specific Products

New “niches” are appearing on the horizon. The number of female bikers is growing rapidly, as well as the market for products customized to the needs and requirements of females. Should we have the same conditions for everyone? Products specifically designed for women are a delicate topic. There are products that are specific to size as well as anatomy. An absolute highlight: the Specialized Rumor, with its specifically developed frame, simple setup help, and tweaked components. It is certain that small and lightweight people (men as well as women) need specific solutions regarding components and chassis! Ideally, the product development should be specifically tailored to a woman’s specific needs.

Parts & Equipment

Protection can be annoying – but products such as the perfectly fitting Evoc protector jacket, the O’Neal AMX knee pads (easily removable via zipper), the Smith Forefront helmet and the light Bliss ARG Minimalist pads all make it easier to overcome inhibitions about wearing protective clothing, bringing our safety on the trail to a whole new level. While we are talking about levels, every year innovation leaps forward and certain products outdo their competitors by far.

As, for example, the current benchmark in the trail fork segment – the RockShox Pike.

In the clothing sector, functionality is essential, but looks are also an important factor both on and off the bike. Enduro riders are no longer aliens wearing tight spandex or loose pajamas – coolness and subtle color schemes with clever features are the trend. The Giro Chamber MID and the Platzangst Trailtech Evo jacket are leading the way.