There are few industries in our technology driven world as dynamic and full of innovation as the bike industry. Admittedly, marketing and brand building have increased during the last couple of years, but then so have the performance and efficiency of products available in the current market. Especially compared to motorized sports, cycling is all about your own muscle strength, so qualities such as efficiency, weight, and sustainability become all important! Things are changing too, evolution and revolution are inevitable in this industry – and we are seeing many new advances such as electronic parts on our bikes.
This evolution is driven by talented people with vision and ideas to shape the future of mountain biking! Amongst those visionaries are both quirky nerds in small shops, and big players developing new products with support from big R&D teams, stepping into undiscovered territory, and trying to find new unique selling propositions. We want to give these developments a voice, draw attention to them, and on that note, support the visionaries, without whom we would not be where we are today – and maybe even challenge them to keep on tinkering! All for the world of bikes!
APRIL 2013 – MONTSERRAT, SPAIN. VENUE FOR THE FIRST DESIGN & INNOVATION AWARD, POWERED BY ENDURO MOUNTAINBIKE MAGAZINE. SECLUDED FROM THE REST OF THE WORLD, OUR JURY AND STAFF MET UP TO TEST THE CHOSEN PRODUCTS ON THE TEST TRACKS.
What can we expect from the Design & Innovation Award? A lot of insights into the industry and into future developments, beyond the status quo!
Competence The new Enduro World Series winner Fabien Barel (FRA), engineer and ex-world-cup racer Cesar Rojo (ESP), Superenduro promoter and enduro pioneer Enrico Guala (ITA), as well as photographer and designer Daniel Geiger (GER) are part of the DIA jury. In combination with our versatile editorial staff, we have the ability to judge products from various angles, being able to give the industry and end-consumers statements that are relevant! A fundamental ability, since not every product is made for the same exact area of use, type of rider, or conditions. Out of that particular reason it is important to not look at the product in a single-minded manner, but rather rate it in its intended context.
Trends & future In the upcoming years, the biggest evolution of bikes is about to take place in the area of geometry. Wheel diameter has been shown to play a big part in this development and now frame size and the rider position on bikes are about to go through the exact same major changes. Due to that fact, the chassis is influenced as well. Rear suspension and suspension systems have developed rapidly during the last couple of years. In-line with these changes, the current trend is gearing towards less but more efficiently used rear travel.
Bigger wheels have demonstrated an enormous evolution in the mountain bike segment. With an increasing diameter, the bike will gain more tranquility and rolling performance, however, in some situations maneuverability, braking power, as well as grip decrease. An advantage of bigger wheels is that you need less rear travel, relatively speaking. The fact that bigger wheels roll over hurdles outstandingly is only one side of the coin. What happens, when you want to brake and the big wheel simply glides over the bumps instead of gripping into them? 26” wheels are able to dive deeper into these depressions, leading to more efficient braking than you would be able to achieve with 29”. We must also factor the challenges of stiffness.
Smart simplicity – a current major trend is to design things to be more simple. The SRAM XX1 transmission is a big step towards that and does not only ensure easier shifting, but also less weight, and a cleaner cockpit. On a secondary level this 1×11 setup offers a major advantage in constructing a bike or, more specifically, the rear travel, since you no longer need to accommodate a front derailleur. Nevertheless, this may only be a transition to integrated derailleur systems in the long run.
The rear derailleur concept originated in the sport of road cycling, where there is no rocks to contend with. However, in mountain bike design, there is no rational reason for a fragile, exposed mechanical component to be so close to the rear axle, exposed to every blow and obstacle the trail can throw at it. For now, a trend towards integrated transmission shifting systems is emerging, which demonstrates clear advantages: increased chassis clearance, lower sensitivity to outside influences, and broader rear hubs with more spokes, providing more stability, especially for wheels with a bigger diameter.
Electronics are reality and also the future in most areas of life. The average day can’t be imagined without it anymore! In the automotive industry, it took a while for electronics to be accepted, people were afraid of change. It is also something that not many people can control or repair in case of a defect. Electronics on mountain bikes are definitely going to be the future, but the question is: is the market ready for it yet? The fact is that it is already here and it works, bikes like the Lapierre’s Spicy with Rock Shox E.I Shock offers obvious performance advantages!
When it comes to e-bikes, the market is way ahead. However, most of the target customers are not involved in the traditional high-performance sports segment. Here, fun and relaxation are the main focus – although you can still get quite a workout, even with the electronic support, when working the bike right! 2014 is going to bring major changes and improvements in this area.
In the clothing section weight, breathability, and comfort are crucial. Enduro riders are exposed to high stress (technical as well as physical) and almost need the protection of a downhiller but the flexibility and comfort of a long-distance rider.
With the abundance of innovations, it is important not to lose sight of the critical factor: the stability of purchasing power! Until recently it has not a big topic with the manufacturers, but more so for customers and retailers. New products, designs, and mid-season models are being released to the market in faster periodic cycles. In this game of endlessly trumping each other, there are still some that refuse to play and keep a certain consistency in their pallet of products, allowing their customers a long-term investment with their product. If we examine the automotive industry, far more manufacturers are cooperating with each other, prefering tender love and care for their models instead of hectic puffery. This is affecting the recovery of developing costs positively!
A peek into the future: the focus of enduro bikes is to find the perfect balance between uphill and downhill performance. If you take a look at a modern enduro bike, it’s obvious that they are at least every bit as good at riding uphill as the best cross country bikes from ten years ago, and just as good at downhill as downhill bikes were ten years ago. What do the next ten years have in store for us? We will see!
VideoThe winner of the Design & Innovation Award 2013 can be found here!
Photos Daniel Geiger Location www.wearefow.com