What does the future look like for cyclists?
Although this is 100% speculative, and based only on personal experience and opinion, I think a fair few of the developments yet to come to cycling can be predicted with reasonable certainty.
Some of them seem pretty obvious, some of them have already come true or are at least at protoype stage, and some of them might never happen.
So without further ado and in no particular order, here are 10 of my own predictions that I think will make it into the world of cycling in the next decade.
1) Integrated power meters and cycle computers on bikes straight out of the box.
This is already beginning to happen. A chunk of Giant’s premium road bikes for 2019 come with power meters. I expect bikes to soon come with nicely integrated computers as standard, similar to that bike that appeared on KickStarter a few years ago (The SpeedX Leopard)
Speaking of computers….
2) Cycle computers will look, feel and function like a smartphone.
Let’s face it, just by downloading strava you can turn your phone into a perfectly acceptable cycle computer. Even the free version goes way beyond what most people really need or use on a regular basis. However, dedicated cycle computers are still a little bit clunky. Basic LCD screens and fidgety little side buttons handle display and menu duties. I fully expect computers to have HD colour touch screens, cameras, heaps of memory and Android or iOS operating systems. The XPlova cycle computer looks to have been the first to wade into this territory, and I expect they’ll have a bunch of competitors very shortly.
3) Tyre pressure will be adjustable “on the fly”
This one is for the mountain bikes, predominantly. I’ve seen smaller engineering outfits prototyping two main ‘air adjust’ methods. The first uses some kind of reciprocating compressor housed in the hub to pump tyres up through one hollow spoke. The second basically houses a giant CO2 canister inside the hub that you can charge pre-ride, and use throughout. For it to be truly useful over a long ride it would have to be at least 3-4 times bigger than a 35g cartridge. I predict that these systems will mature (or be made redundant by better methods) and we will all be able to enjoy the ability to change tyre pressure mid ride. The tubeless crowd will appreciate being to top up their pressure after losing some air while their sealant goes to work.
4) Suspension will be electronically controlled.
Well, not really a prediction because…Fox already did this (though I knew it was bound to happen years ago). It’s called LiveValve, and it is very early on in it’s bicycle OEM part lifecycle. It’s been around on high performance cars and offroad vehicles for years, it makes sense to trickle down to mainstream mountain bikes. No more adjusting dials for those of us who like to fiddle. We will be told to leave our silly human instincts out of the equation, and just let the system do the work. Although it exists, this is a LONG way off trickling down to the sub $5000 bike.
5) Bike-Shop brands will go to direct sales models, or have their own stores (or both)
More shops will close, and the big brands will feel the pinch of having fewer retail outlets to move product, so online ‘click and collect’ purchases will become more common. At the same time, local bike shops could potentially be replaced by single brand ‘Concept Stores’ (it’s already happening to a small extent) This particular event will have an enormous ripple effect on the way people buy and service their bikes….but that’s what point #6 is for 😊
6) The online-only brands will open up shops
Yep. You read that correctly. As the old generation of brick and mortar shops burn out, the online brands will swoop in and open up stores in big cities. Basically a place for people to see, feel and experience the product before sitting down with a coffee from the espresso machine to order up their new rig whilst leafing through colour swatches and picking out their spec. I could write pages and pages about this one topic and why I believe it so firmly, but instead of forcing you to read, let’s just all sit back, relax, and see what unfolds over the next 5-10 years. I reckon I’m right.
7) The rise of the mobile bike mechanic
Ok, ok. If you already know me, then OF COURSE I was going to list this. I believe that the combination of shops closing and people buying direct will create a big vacuum where people feel ill equipped to set their bike up out of the box (no matter how close the factory gets it to “pre-built”, it is still beyond the skills and tools of people who don’t care for such shenanigans) Mobile mechanics will be completely brand agnostic, because I/we/they don’t have bikes to sell. We just want more people, riding more bikes, more of the time.
As people become more familiar with shopping for bikes, parts and services online, the mechanics with the best online presence and local reputation will be there ready to support a new generation of cyclists.
8) Frame skins and protective stickers will come with the bike
Not quite as glamorous as a highly technical HD touch screen on your cycle computer, but I definitely think frame manufacturers will give customers the option to apply protective stickering to their frames. I also think that eventually the sticker kits will be available in different colour and decal schemes so people can give their bike a completely fresh look whenever they feel like it. Frames will fetch higher prices in the second hand market, and the early adopters will have a value proposition that consumers find hard to refuse. If you were looking at two different carbon bikes for $6,999 with almost identical spec but one came with perfectly pre-cut adhesive protection for the frame (and the option to completely change the look of the bike – would that sway your decision? Yep. Me too.
9) Every parameter will become digitally monitored
This probably belongs up with the new-fangled cycle computer points at the start of this, but oh well. Look at the average consumer level car. A $35,000 Hyundai (and all of it’s competitors) comes equipped with a level of digital integration that didn’t exist 10 years ago, and only existed in luxury cars 5 years ago. Drivetrain wear, power outputs, brake surface temperatures, tyre pressures…everything will be monitored and displayed for your cycling enjoyments (if you’re into that stuff….) I also think at this point, again in much the same way as cars, a big chunk of bicycle servicing will be done on a laptop.
10) The Local Bike Shop Will Survive……kind of
Don’t get me wrong – shops are already closing and more will follow, but a certain breed of shop will endure. Those who embrace, learn and become masters of electronics, software, hydraulics and pneumatics (and customer service) will survive. Those who make buying decisions driven by data, not by wholesalers putting products on special, will see the highest turnover at the biggest margins. These shops will be able to provide value to their clients that they simply can’t get anywhere else, online or not.
It’s also important to note that they might not be a bike shop in the traditional sense….could potentially be a mobile bike servicing business that just happens to have a handy drop off point where customers are welcome to visit, check out some sweet bikes and spec up their next build. Who knows what the future holds? 😉
OH……and one more thing…..E-Bikes are definitely here to stay!!!! 😀