Which are the most stand out bike products of 2023? What are the most important trends in the bike industry for the coming year? After thousands of test kilometres and heated discussions, the results are in for the Oscars of the bike and outdoor industries. Curtains up for the Design & Innovation Award 2023!

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Startups, established brands and international big players all vie for the favour of customers with new products, purported innovations, big promises and catchy slogans. But what’s hype and which claims hold water? What are the most promising developments actually capable of?

The Design & Innovation Award 2023

A decade full of innovations, exciting bikes, innovative mobility concepts and the occasional fails. The Design & Innovation Award (DI.A) has been putting the most promising new products through the wringer in real world conditions since 2013, our experienced test crew quickly identifying the most outstanding products and the most important trends of the new season.

What are the most important bike and outdoor trends of 2023?

It’s not unusual for social trends to be reflected in industry trends. This makes it all the more gratifying that the industry is picking up on a trend that we can all get behind, because the 2023 trends of the bike and outdoor industry are all about community, openness and inclusion. Instead of only serving a highly professionalised and performance-oriented niche, the industry is increasingly focusing on new target groups. It is rethinking products from scratch and thereby reducing the barriers to entry into cycling and the most beautiful outdoor activities, enabling the most diverse crowd possible. We take a closer look at this in the trend article “What’s your problem? The future of mountain bikes”.

Who are the award winners of 2023?

Bike parks, mountain passes and city traffic instead of a sterile meeting room: before a product can be awarded the Design & Innovation Award, it must withstand a series of rigorous tests, conducted by an experienced award test crew in real world conditions while meeting numerous requirements. Pioneering technologies, outstanding product performance, new solutions with a big impact or new approaches that offer a real benefit for users are just a few things that make a product worthy of an award. This year, the award team tested and analysed the most relevant products of the new season on the multifaceted trails, paths and mountain roads around the village of San Vigilio in the Dolomites. We present to you the most outstanding products, delivering a convincing performance in our practical test along with a compelling concept, and thereby securing the coveted Design & Innovation Award.

About the Design & Innovation Award

The mission of the Design & Innovation Award

The Design & Innovation Award (DI.A) is more than a decoration. It’s the only award with real product tests, in-depth reviews and critically founded verdicts. DI.A provides guidance in an ever more differentiated market, flooded with new products and would-be trends, giving its seal of approval and setting a benchmark for the most exceptional products in the outdoor, bike and fitness sectors, as well as serving as a catalyst for future innovations.

There’s no perfect product for everyone, but everyone can find their perfect product!

The Design & Innovation Award is the only award which tests products in the real-world, evaluates them in full and reaches verdicts that are founded in critical and in-depth analysis. Over two weeks, the independent award team consisting of international journalists, professional test riders and industry experts analyse the products and put them through their paces. The goals:

  • DI.A offers orientation in a diverse market with its trusted seal of approval. If you see an award logo on a product, you can rest assured you’re making the right purchase.
  • By separating real trends from hot air, DI.A picks out innovations that point the way forwards, giving them a platform and improving their potential for development.

The aspirations of the Design & Innovation Award reach far beyond just being an authentic seal of approval and serving as a benchmark of the best bike and outdoor products. The DI.A serves as a stage for powerful ideas and innovations and, above all, for small companies – because the small inventors and visionaries are amongst the biggest drivers of innovation in the bike world! Together with the Cycling Innovation Accelerator (C.I.A.), the Design & Innovation Award can offer the most promising candidates the support they need to take development to the next level.

Launched in 2022, the Cycling Innovation Accelerator (C.I.A.) is the first global incubator of start-ups, brilliant ideas and innovations, promoting them with a unique combination of angel investors, networks, media reach, expertise and know-how. The barriers to entering the market are becoming bigger and bigger, especially for small companies, because the production, scaling, investment and marketing resources available to large companies and corporations are of an entirely different magnitude. Moreover, the bike world is currently experiencing a huge shortage of the know-how, expertise, networks and, above all, capital needed for change and growth.

Who’s behind the award?

Our 30-strong and thoroughly experienced test team is united by a shared passion: a deep-seated love for cycling, the outdoors and mobility in all its facets. This passion is the foundation of the award, characterised by a longing to track down the best products that will offer you the best experiences and the greatest added value.

The award team is chosen to be diverse and interdisciplinary, to break free from conventional thinking patterns and to analyse products from different perspectives and backgrounds. The test crew of the Design & Innovation Award isn’t dazzled by big brands and extensive marketing campaigns, meaning that supposed underdogs also get the chance to impress with their products. On the other hand, it often happens that apparent innovations from established players don’t live up to the hype, despite their big name.

The 30-strong, international award team consists of journalists, test riders and engineers who are amongst the most renowned experts in their respective fields.

Every year, the team invests countless hours in the process of the Design & Innovation Award. In the process, every product is extensively and intensively tested and discussed. Behind every award, there are countless hours of sweat, work, riding, pain and occasionally intense debates, alongside extensive testing and real-world use of the products. The Design & Innovation Award isn’t just the leading award in the industry, it’s also the most authentic one.

Where do the products get tested?

It’s impossible to discuss the value or potential of a product in a conference room or measure it in a laboratory. A good product is often more than the sum of its parts and to truly understand it, it must be mercilessly tested in the real-world. From the cobbled streets of the bustling mountain village of San Vigilio, to the brutal rock gardens of the Herrensteig trail at Kronplatz, all the way to the rugged Fanes-Sennes-Prags Nature Park UNESCO Heritage Site, there’s no better or more impressive backdrop against which to test the most exciting products of the next season.

The Design & Innovation Award is the seal of approval for the best products. Welcome to the Oscars of the bike industry!

Registering for Design & Innovation Award 2024

Do you have an amazing product that will revolutionise the outdoor, bike or fitness industries? Great! Use this link (available from June 2023) to enter your product into the Design & Innovation Award 2024.

Who are the partners of DI.A?

For many years now, the DI.A has taken place in San Vigilio/Kronplatz. This long-standing partnership is a result of the optimal infrastructure, first-class roads and trails for testing, and the breathtaking landscape of the Fanes-Sennes-Prags Nature Park.

Who are the media partners of DI.A?

The Design & Innovation Award can rely on the best and most influential magazines in the cycling sector. As international trendsetters and opinion leaders in their respective segments, the award can count on the market reach of E-MOUNTAINBIKE, ENDURO, GRAN FONDO and DOWNTOWN.

There are many people out there with great ideas, enthusiastic start-ups that are at a crucial make-it-or-break-it stage, or small companies that have a great product but don’t know where to go from there. Those who lack the necessary capital, network, sales structure, PR, branding know-how, or market visibility. And those who simply do not know the unique rules and peculiarities which apply to the bike world. Many aspiring entrepreneurs also fail because they have no experience in building a business from scratch and leading it to success – from finding the right personnel, to the organisational structure and tools, to processes and leadership. This also applies to some winners of the Design & Innovation Award. The Design & Innovation Award can boost a company’s awareness, credibility and sales, but sustainable business success often needs more than that. This is where the Cycling Innovation Accelerator (C.I.A.) can help.

Click here for the DI.A website.

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Words: Rudolf Fischer, Benjamin Topf Photos: Benjamin Topf, Peter Walker, Valentin Rühl