Shaping the Future

What – and exactly how – will we be riding in the future? Are e-mountain bikes going to take over and reign supreme? Who comes up with the trends? Who‘s going to push the development of our sport? And will there ever be an end to this wheel size madness?

Of course no one can predict the future, but recognizing potential and steering trends along the right path are within the realm of human capability. So that’s exactly what the Design & Innovation Award sets out to do. For 14 days the 40-strong Award Team didn’t just analyse and scrutinize the industry’s current best products, it also staged pivotal expert discussions and looked towards the future. Many questions were asked along the way; such as how much innovation is truly necessary? Are products solving problems that don’t even exist, and why are some products taking an innovative approach but still floundering in their infancy?


The crux of the issue: Can we commend emerging products for their (attempt at) innovation? After all, the Design & Innovation Award has been put together to applaud the world’s best and most innovative products, and the Award Logo will be lauded in shops and by manufacturers – places where we’re not able to explain the minutiae and criteria that led to their victory. The fact is that potential plays a huge role in the Design & Innovation Award.


Recognising potential requires impartiality, unflinching curiosity, an open mind and the ability to distance ourselves from personal experience and what we’ve been brought up to deem the norm. It therefore holds that only those who properly give something a fair try can be qualified to form an opinion.

And this is where we return to the initial statement: the future is in our hands. With groundbreaking technology, more options and confounding bike catego-ries, it’s the responsibility of us all to communicate better, form standards and offer direction through the dense jungle of marketing hype spawned by the bike industry. Given the presence of more than 100 bike manufacturing companies and a seemingly infinite number of part manufacturers and suppliers, the concept of unified communication that does not confuse consumers is never going to be easy, particularly in such a crowded industry. However, this isn’t to say that it’s impossible! In fact, this is what we’re dedicating this year to: in cooperation with international bike developers and industry experts we’re setting up the world’s first independent Bike University. Intended to publicise non-brandbiased expertise and knowledge from across the whole spectrum, it aims to grow into the Wikipedia of the cycling world. So while we’re on the subject of potential… Recognizing new developments, discussing and actively influencing; rather than avoiding and closing our eyes to potential – this is the way to a better future.


The Mission

The Design & Innovation Award’s mission is to positively impact on the world of cycling. It serves as a forum for groundbreaking ideas and innovation while also recognising and celebrating the industry’s best products.


The Experts

More than 40 experts from 10 different nations headed to Kronplatz/San Vigilio, the Dolomites, in October 2015 to spend two weeks testing, analyzing and judging the most innovative and exciting bikes and products for the 2016 season. The jury included international journalists, designers, engineers, World Cup riders, biomechanics and marketing experts, who partook in crucial roundtable discussions on divisive topics – by doing so, actively shaping the future of the sport.


The Location

Kronplatz/San Vigilio in the Dolomites was the venue for the Design & Innovation Award 2016. With the unique UNESCO heritage-crowned landscape of the Fanes-Senes-Braies Nature Park and its diverse trails and roads as well as the imposing Zaha Hadid-designed Messner Mountain Museum Corones; it supplied the perfect framework with which to stage extensive tests and host expert discussions.


The Categories

The Design & Innovation Award honors the best road bikes, mountain bikes and e-mountainbikes of 2016, alongside components and accessories for the season. The Award goes to the best products as well as rewarding innovation that shows massive potential for the future. The exclusive Gold Award is awarded to perfect, flawless or pioneering products.

The Criteria

Unlike regular group tests, the expert consortium at the Design & Innovation Award take significantly more factors into consideration when judging and awarding. Here’s an overview:


The Expert Discussions

What are the most important topics within the bike industry? Click here to check out all the expert discussions – many more are still to come, watch this space!


The Industry-Award

There are brands, personalities, and event promoters that have achieved exceptional accomplishments in 2015 by questioning and challenging the status quo. Here we are talking about forward-thinking concepts for the sport, product design, or marketing that were surprising and inspiring with the potential to revolutionize specific segments of the industry.

You might ask, why set up these Accomplishments of the Year Awards? Well, we want to honor the accomplishments of teams and persons who are ready to revolutionize the known by creating new formats and concepts. These accomplishments simply don’t fit any category. The Award-winners were chosen by the expertise of the participating international journalists and the expert jury.

For more information about the Design & Innovation Award 2016, head over to

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About the author

Robin Schmitt

Robin is one of the two founders of 41 Publishing, a visionary and go-getter. While he now enjoys every second on the bike – whenever his busy schedule allows – he used to race against the clock at enduro events and a few Downhill World Cups. Besides that, Robin practises kung fu and Zen meditation, plays the cello or with his dog (which actually belongs to his girlfriend), travels abroad and still reviews numerous bikes himself. Progressive ideas, new projects and major challenges – Robin loves exploring undiscovered potential and getting to the bottom of new trends.