Yesterday, a colder, rainy October day, we had a brief window of time (several hours) in the shop in which no customers materialized. As will happen in such circumstances, several of us started talking about bikes and products and whatnot, and ultimately starting naming the trends that we see — not just what’s hot right now, but what appears to have momentum in our bicycling world. These are the things we’ve noticed at Pedal.
- E-bikes. No doubt about it, these things are coming on, and there are good reasons for it. The technology has definitely centralized around mid-drive systems. Our suppliers have better figured out what e-bike customers actually want. We are more confident about e-bikes and do a better job of stocking them. The prices came down a bit (but this tariff thing has the cycling world in a bit of a tizzy as I write this).
- Gravel. As we go down the list of trends, many of them coalesce at “gravel.” We can get into long conversations about what constitutes a gravel bike, but I think the number one descriptor is a bike on which you don’t have to turn around. Dirt road? No problem. Kal-Haven? No problem. Lap around Custer? Can be done. Aluminum. Steel. Carbon. Ti. All materials are available for these exceedingly versatile and fun bikes.
- Fatter tires/lower pressure. This is a huge trend across all cycling disciplines — road, mountain, even triathlon. A few years ago we started having many conversations about the advantages of bigger tires: lower pressure, more traction, more confidence, easier on your body, less rolling resistance (really). Lately the tables have turned and our discussion is often with a customer who wants to know how big a tire can be squeezed in their frame.
- Disc road is a more nascent trend, but I think it is the way forward. Why disc? More power, less effort, more tire clearance. I’ve had a hydraulic disc brake gravel bike for a little over a year and just built a hydraulic disc road bike. It’s good stuff. There are downsides. Disc brakes components are heavier than their rim brake counterparts. Hydraulic brakes inject a new system into the mix and do require regular maintenance. Disc can be more expensive, particularly hydraulic disc. Still, it’s great, and it’s available on lots of bikes at many price points.
- More travel on mountain bikes. Cross country bikes have up to 120mm forks. Trail bikes start at 130mm these days and go up to 150mm. Many factors contribute to this trend: lighter frames, lighter wheels, better suspension, better bicycle geometry, a (good, in my opinion) focus on fun instead of outright speed.
A quick word about the image associated with this post. Three of the trends we notice are wrapped up in that Open Upper. It’s a gravel bike with fat tires and hydraulic disc brakes. Folks come into the shop and say, “What the heck is that?” I kinda think that’s the future, or at least one version of the future.