Trendspotting: 4 predictions about the near future of mountain biking technology

Let’s put aside all the talk of parts shortages, sold everything and focus on what’s likely in the pipeline for the near future and not so near. Sure, it may be a little harder to buy the bike of your dreams right now, but that doesn’t mean the companies have halted development – on the contrary, they’re busy trying to figure out exactly how many new widgets order for 2023 and 2024, a particularly difficult task given the current situation.

New standards? More mules? 13 speed transmission? It’s time to take another look at the crystal ball to try to determine which trends will persist and which will disappear.

More mixed-wheel bikes

Mixed wheel bikes have been around since the early days of the sport, but 2019 saw the concept come to life on the World Cup Downhill and Enduro World Series circuits. In some cases, this seemed to act as a way to justify using a 29-inch front wheel without losing any credibility after talking about the larger wheel size (* cough * Burnished * cough *), while in in other cases, it allowed small riders to retain tire-tuchus clearance and still have at least one 29-inch wheel.

Supporters of the concept pushed it as a best-of-two-world type storyline, a magical combination of wheel diameters that made everything else pale in comparison. This is obviously not the case, but it looks like the mixed wheel option will have a longer life than the plus size tires …

Three years after the resuscitation of the mixed wheel, where does it fit in the mix? Well in the world of downhill this has become a pretty common option. The new Trek Session, Commencal Supreme DH, Santa Cruz V10, Specialized Demo, and Canyon Sender all have a mixed wheel option, to name a few.

It’s become a pretty common sight on eMTBs too, largely because a smaller rear wheel makes it a lot easier to keep the chainstays to a manageable length, which can be a challenge when you’re also trying to get hold of the chainstay. room for a motor and a battery.

What about bikes with less trips? Mixed wheel bikes are appearing with increasing regularity, although in many cases this is done to replace a 27.5 “model. YT’s new Capra comes to mind. This way companies can specify the same fork and front wheel on more models, reducing the number of bikes different products they need to order.

My crystal ball says it’s not gonna change too much dramatically in the future either. Yes, there will be plenty of mixed-wheel bikes on the market in the coming months, usually with rear travel of 150mm or more, but it won’t look anything like the year bike makers fought for. switch to each model. 29 “wheels. In fact, there will be fewer 27.5” bikes released, with mixed wheel setups taking their place in corporate rosters.

The high pivot hype continues

If the mixed wheel trend is simmering, the pot of the high pivot hype is boiling. It is almost harder to name a company do not work on a high pivot enduro or downhill bike, if they haven’t gotten off one already. Trek joined the party earlier this year with the new Session, and images have recently surfaced of what looks like a loose pulley on a specialist demo.

Prototypes of Devinci, Norco, GT, and Cannondale have all been spotted over the past few months, so it’s no exaggeration to expect this summer and fall to have a bumper crop of machines equipped with freewheels.

What fuels the high pivot fire? Well, it can be a fear of being left behind – if high pivot bikes get podiums and ‘regular’ bikes don’t, well, you might as well stay on a idle and see what happens. happens. There is obviously more to it, however. High pivot designs create a more rearward axle path, which in turn can make it easier to maintain speed over rough terrain. We’ve seen several different ways to approach this design – some bikes have taller main kingpins than others, some use a single pivot layout, some use a Horst link – but ultimately the goal remains the Same: to create a bike that doesn’t cling to obstacles and has minimal pedal rebound for a smooth, controlled ride.

Similar to the mixed-wheel trend, I would expect high-pivot designs to stay on gravity-focused bikes. This is in part because of the inherent drag associated with adding another pulley to a transmission. That extra friction isn’t that bad if you’re focusing on the best possible ride when gravity takes over, but it’s more of a problem if you’re heading into a multi-hour pedal festival. There’s also the extra weight that comes from the design – those grams are harder to swallow when they’re on a lighter cross or trail bike.

eMTB Evolution – Lighter, Less Powerful vs Bigger, Full Power Options

At this point, almost every big company has at least a few e-bikes in their lineup, which means smaller brands are next. I wouldn’t waste too much time shedding tears over your favorite ‘main’ brand sipping e-Kool Aid either – bike sales may be booming, but there is no has no guarantee that it will last, so it makes sense for businesses. diversify with at least one electric option.

Will non-motorized bikes go the sleep route? Despite claims to the contrary by ardent e-acolytes, the answer is a resounding “no”. Look at it this way – people still readily choose running as their preferred means of outdoor recreation, and just think about how many easier ways to get around. Sure, some riders can switch to e-bikes entirely, but I see it more as a supplement to the sport than something that will take over completely. Mountain biking is already expensive, and when you add a motor and battery it becomes even less accessible, especially for people who aren’t dedicated enthusiasts.

Going back to eMTB trends, I think we’re going to start to see a split, with lighter, less powerful motorcycles emerging on one side, and full-powered, more rugged machines on the other. Personally, I would go for a full-powered, long-stroke machine over a lighter, less powerful machine, but we’ll have to see how Specialized’s Kenevo SL compared to their Levo to really see what the market wants. I think the lighter eMTB concept makes sense for shorter trail bikes, something like the Orbea Rise, where it can provide a much more “ normal ” feel while still allowing riders to go further. , faster.

We’ll have to see where battery technology ends up – there is certainly a lot of research going on in this area by auto and electronics manufacturers. Maybe one day it won’t be necessary to choose between light and not so powerful or heavy and very powerful, but it seems to be the reality in the near future.

Transmissions – More electronics, new models

Now that SRAM and Shimano both offer a full line of 12-speed drivetrains, I don’t think we’re going to see 13-speed drivetrains from either company anytime soon, so these forks can stay in. the hangar at the moment. There also doesn’t seem to be a lot of news coming out of the gearbox world, so I think the idea of ​​a wide range gearbox that uses a trigger shifter and operates under load will remain a. dream in the near future.

What’s much more likely is that Shimano will enter the wireless world, a prediction that is reinforced by the patents granted to them earlier this year. Additionally, their Di2 groupsets are overdue for an update, and it would be odd for the next gen to keep their cables, especially since SRAM has already taken its wireless transmission down to the GX level.

Speaking of SRAM, it looks like they’ve got something up their sleeve as well, possibly related to the introduction of this universal derailleur hanger. Again, this speculation is fueled by patent images, and there is no clear timeline for when we might see something new.

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About Jeffrey Wurtsbach

Jeffrey Wurtsbach

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