We made a few educated guesses and informed projections about what's going be hot in road cycling for the coming year.
Bikes Get More ExpensiveThere's no guesswork here: As new road bikes, components and accessories are designed to be lighter and stiffer, the engineering, materials and time required to create them will lead to an increased cost.
Photo courtesy of Cannondale
Aero Road is the New StandardMajor bike brands, such as Specialized, Trek, Giant, Cannondale, BMC, Merida, Pinarello Ridley to name a few, offer an aero road bike option that's not only wind-cheating but lightweight too.
Photo courtesy of BMC
New road bikes are designed as entire systems, integrating aerodynamic cockpits with internally routed brake and shifting cables, hidden brakes calipers, storage compartments and even bottle cages and mounts that have been engineered to decrease wind resistance yet are modular enough to be easily swapped or removed when not in use.
Disc Brakes Mature
Consumers have been able to get top-tier race bikes equipped with disc brakes for several years, and the UCI "experiment" with disc brakes has finally ended—the men's and women's pelotons embraced this technology for all but the lightest of climbing bikes.
Photo courtesy of Mavic
Road Tubeless More Commonplace
Road tubeless tires—a similar technology to how car tires are mounted—and tubeless-ready wheels are now commonplace. Tubeless tires provide for a lower rolling resistance, can be run with lower tire pressures and offer better flat protection compared to traditional tubed tires.
Wheels and Tires Get Wider
While disc brakes allow for wider wheels and tires—which is more comfortable, aerodynamic and decreases rolling resistance—traditional rim brake wheels and framesets are being designed to accommodate wider hoops and rubber, too.
Photo courtesy of Specialized
Power Meters Standard Spec on New BikesBig brands like Trek and Cannondale are now including power meters as standard component specs. Specialized now includes a branded, crank-based power meter on some of their S-Works class bikes.
Photo courtesy of Campagnolo
12 Speed is the New 11 SpeedCampagnolo—and unofficially SRAM—have introduced 12-speed drivetrains, and we don't expect Shimano to be too far behind this year.
Photo courtesy of Prologo
Saddles Continue to Get Shorter
No longer just for time trialists, short-nose bike saddles have been adopted by the men's and women's pro peloton for their comfort and versatility over a wide variety of riding conditions and surfaces.
Skin is Out
Do you want to go faster? Cover up! Bare skin is not as fast as aerodynamic textiles. The UCI has even indicated it intends to crack down on pro riders' socks that violate the maximum height rule, as well as setting guidelines for cycling kit fabric thickness and textures—but this won't limit you from wearing wind-cheating apparel.
Virtual Cycling/eSportsZwift—a virtual reality cycling experience—has exploded in popularity. The KISS Superleague has been backed by British Cycling and Australian Cycling and has signed UCI continental level pro teams Hagens Berman Axeon, Team Wiggins, Team Dimension Data (U23) and Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes. The UCI World Tour women's team Canyon SRAM has identified up-and-coming athletes and added them to their roster—all through virtual cycling events.
Photo courtesy of 8bar MITTE
Bikepacking Is the New TouringCombining traditional road touring, cross-country and camping, bikepacking is a self-supported, two-wheeled, do-it-all experience. Gear packs are strapped to your bike frame and behind the saddle—usually a gravel bike—instead of being loaded into panniers mounted to frame eyelets. Days can be long and measured but can also provide an amazing outdoor experience.
Photo courtesy of Baker County Tourism
Gravel Gets Bigger"Gravel grinders" have popped up around the country as mixed-terrain cycling disciplines continues to grow at all levels. Ted King, who used to race for Cannondale Pro Cycling before he retired from the pro peloton, won the 2018 edition of the Dirty Kanza 200. In 2019, UCI World Tour team EF Education First athletes will pressure King at this new American spring classic.
Photo courtesy of Trek
eBikes on the Rise
No longer just for mountain bikers or commuters looking for a boost, ebikes are now being produced alongside standard road bikes. Trek, Giant, Pinarello all have ebikes in their new road bike lineups.