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Road bike trends 2016: Conservatism is a thing of the past

Increased innovation frequency in road bike segment – gravel bikes and disc brakes set new trends

Eurobike, the world’s leading bicycle trade show, starts in Friedrichshafen (August 26 to 29, 2015). Anyone looking at the latest road bike innovations, will quickly see that the words racing bikes and conservatism should no longer be used in the same sentence.

The road bike industry has always been innovative and creative. However, until recently new product developments were primarily concerned with saving weight without compromising on rigidity. The bike road bike industry has now reached a point where it’s hard to see further significant weight gains being made. Road bikes that weigh around, or even under six kilograms without any sacrifices on stiffness or functionality are no longer a rarity. For example, at the Eurobike Taiwanese manufacturer Merida is presenting its latest model, the Scultura 9000 LTD. The bike, which will be available as a series model (and is also the future Lampre-Merida pro team bike) weighs just 4.6 kg. These developments have lead to the absurd situation where professional cyclists have to add additional lead weights to their bikes to meet the UCI, cycling’s governing body, minimum weight regulation for competition road bikes – the 6.8 kg rule.

Hitting the bottom of the weight saving scale now means that there is more room for new and different types of road bike innovations. “2016 is going to be a particularly exciting year for the road bike industry. Innovation frequency has increased significantly in the road bike segment. It started a few years ago with the introduction of electronic gear shifting systems, which made big waves in the road bike scene. This was followed by a large number of innovations. We’re talking major developments here,” commented cycling journalist Jens Klötzer, technology expert at “Tour” road bike magazine.

2016 is going to see more new technological innovations than we have witnessed for many years. The most obvious development is disc brakes, which many market observers feel believe could supersede standard rim brakes in a few years.

One reason for this are the advances in lightweight road bike design. Now that many pro riders, and road cycling enthusiasts in general, are opting for carbon rims, caliper brakes are reaching their limit. Wet conditions in particular cause problems due to the smooth surface of carbon rims – reliable braking performance with rim brakes is virtually impossible. Whereas disc brakes, on the other hand, perform well in the wet. In addition road bikes with disc brakes are no longer much heavier than comparable models with rim brakes. For example, Focus Bikes recently picked up a Eurobike Award for its 2016 “Izalco Max Disc”. The north German bicycle manufacturer’s race bike weighs in at the UCI’s 6.8 kg minimum weight, despite its disc brakes and without over-exaggerated tuning.

Road bikes to get larger volume tyres

28 mm is not going to be the new standard for road bikes – the coming year will continue to see most models with (already slightly wider) 25-mm tyres. However, larger-volume tyres are steadily gaining traction and many future road bike frames and forks will have clearance for 28-mm tyres. Why? Because road cyclists are no longer opposed to comfort. The difference in rolling resistance between skinny and wide road bike tyres is hardly worth mentioning, and yet wider tyres are significantly more comfortable. Especially because the new wider top-of-the range tubeless road tyres allow these benefits to achieve their full potential.

Fans of wider tyres, will also appreciate innovations for 2016 in the new road bike segment known as gravel bikes. The trend arrived from the US, where many cyclists are racing on gravel tracks as a traffic-free alternative to riding on highways. At first sight, these bikes look like standard road bikes. A closer look reveals many details carried over from mountain bikes. “Completely new road bike categories are emerging, which no one had even thought of until recently,” said road bike expert Jens Klötzer.

Anyone wanting to experience all the new international developments in the world of road cycling first hand needs to visit the Eurobike in Friedrichshafen. The first three days (Wednesday, August 26 to Friday, August 28) are devoted exclusively to industry professionals and the press, while Saturday, August 29 is open to all road bike enthusiasts. For further information, please visit: www.eurobike-show.de.

eurobike-show.de | Coboc „Commuter Bike“ E-Bike


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