Eurobike 2013 preview: Predictions and trends
Our Eurobike preview: what we think we'll see, and what we hope we'll see
Do you like sausage? Do you REALLY like sausage? If not, you'd better like cheese. But enough about the diet. Let's think about the bikes. If you're coming to the world's biggest bike show it probably helps if you like your bicycles too.
Disc brakes on road bikes
This year’s Eurobike simply has to be the one where disc-brake road bikes make a big impact. No, really this time! If it seems like we’ve been predicting this for years, that’s because we have been predicting it for years, but what’s different this time around is that two of the bike industry’s biggest component brands have new products out there.
SRAM have launched both hydraulic rim and disc brakes for road bikes and Shimano have new hydraulic discs for their Di2 system. All of these are race-orientated products.
On top of that, TRP launched their Hy/Rd mechanical interface hydraulic disc brakes a few months ago along with their Spyre mechanical option and there are plenty of existing designs already out there. In fact, given how good the Spyres are combined with their ligher weight, lower cost and all-round compatibility if we were making bikes we'd seriously consider fitting them instead of hydraulics.
This time last year all the talk was surrounding Colnago's C59 Disc, which utilised Formula's first stab at integrating a hydraulic reservoir into the brake lever hood. Now though many of the other big manufacturers are following their lead: Specalized have revamped their Roubaix with discs, Pinarello have the Dogma Disc and Cannondale have released the Synapse Disc, an aluminium version of the carbon endurance bike we saw recently.
It’s an interesting one. Large sections of the bike industry certainly want to get you using disc brakes on your road bike (if you don’t already) – of course they do – but it’s ultimately the consumer who decides.
Expected new product releases
A great deal of the manufacturers have already released news about their new 2014 bikes, but that said there will still be a few surprises at the show. We do know, for example, that Cervelo have an updated version of their R5, which takes design inspiration from the $10,000 RCA released earlier this year. There's less of the fancy carbon of the RCA but the new Squoval 3 tube profiles are claimed to make it their most aero R-series road bike yet.
We know that Cube will be showing new models at Eurobike because they’ve sent us a couple of teaser pictures. One of these is an updated Litening road bike but the photo is so deliberately indistinct that you can tell virtually nothing from it.
The other picture (top) shows a bike from Cube’s new Zero line. It looks like a time trial bike with aero-profile tubes, a curved/cutaway seat tube and a huge bottom bracket area. The chainstays kink upwards at the last minute, similar to those you’ll find on the existing Cube Aerium Super HPC frame and the Scott Plasma. We’ll hunt down the new Cubes at the show.
Speaking of teasers, we know that Felt are launching a new aero road bike at Eurobike because they released a picture earlier in the week. Again, they’re being very coy about details but it looks like they’ve reworked most of the frame tubes, hidden the rear brake behind the bottom bracket, and developed a new integrated seat clamp. We’ll find out the story behind it at Eurobike.
Felt are releasing a new triathlon-specific bike too: the IA. It’s a crazy looking machine with a super-deep section tubes used for the front triangle, seat post and fork legs – they’re clearly not going to pass the UCI’s equipment rules, hence the triathlon-specific tag.
The front brake is shrouded behind a fairing that extends from the fork legs right up to the stem, and the rear brake is presumably hidden behind the bottom bracket. That rear triangle is tiny, the short seatstays reducing the bike’s frontal area and their shallow angle effectively increasing the width: depth ratio of the chord presented to a headwind.
Where will aerodynamics go next? There’s barely a bike part that hasn’t received the aero treatment in some way or another over the past few years – right down to mechs and pedals. We’ll keep our eyes peeled at Eurobike for innovation in this area. Bet we can find some aerodynamically optimised energy gels or something if we look hard enough.
Tune, that company well known for seriously light hubs (and also used by Bradley Wiggins and co., but you're not supposed to know that), will launch their first carbon crankset at the show. We only know a handful of details... and that's about it.
Fizik will launch the new Tritone saddle, their first nose-less saddle that they reckon increases hip rotation and aerodynamic performance. We'll find out exactly what that means when we head to the Fizik stand at the show.
Endurance road bikes
The 'endurance' road bike sector has been gaining rapid momentum in recent years, with bikes like the Bianchi Infinito CV and Cannondale Synapse employing interesting carbon fibre layups and in the pursuit of comfort. The latest development of carbon fibre is reaching the stage where designers are able to really fine tune how much comfort a bike offers, for the rider who values all-day ride comfort. It will be interesting to see how many more manufacturers offer such bikes in 2014.
We saw the return of Scott's Addict, dropped from their range several years ago when the Foil stepped up as their main high performance road offering, at Paris-Roubaix earlier this year underneath the legs of the IAM and Greenedge riders. They're claiming a frame and fork weight of 1kg, making it among the lightest carbon frame packages currently available. There's influence from the Foil in the shaping of the tubes, but the skinny 27.2mm seat post points to a frame that has been designed with comfort in mind.
Tyres get wider and tubeless
When we checked out the team bikes in Corsica ahead of this year’s Tour de France we saw that maybe 60-70% of the pros were using 25mm tyres on their road bikes. That’s a rough estimate, but 25s were in the majority by quite a long way, with the most of the rest 23s, and barely anything smaller than that anywhere to be seen.
Why? That extra width means the contact patch (between the tyre and the road) is a little bigger, the larger air chamber provides more comfort, and there’s very little difference in rolling resistance.
The default option for off-the-shelf road bikes has been 23mm for years although there has been a swing towards larger tyres on ‘endurance’ road bikes. There’s only so much of the good old vertical compliance you can add to a frame – speccing wider tyres is an easy (and cheap) win if you want a more forgiving ride.
Anyway, we’ll be interested to see whether any of the big manufacturers take their cues from the pro peloton and switch to 25s for more of their performance-orientated road bike. It’ll also be interesting to see whether brands opt for tyres larger than 25mm on their endurance/comfort road bikes.
Something else we'll be looking out for is the growing support for Road Tubeless technology. Hutchinson first developed the tubeless road standard many years ago, but it's fair to say it has been met with a muted response. The lack of choice, both in tyres and rims, has been key to that. There's signs that is starting to change however, and the latest rumours are that Mavic is finally going to offer a road tubeless compatible wheel set. Mavic have been proponents of tubeless in the mountain bike world, with UST a well established, and mature, technology that is used by a great majority of mountain bikes. It does seem somewhat odd that Mavic haven't jumped into road tubeless sooner, but that could be set to change in 2014. If Mavic do decide to offer a tubeless product, it'll no doubt be a wheel and tyre combination.
Could we see the rise of the gravel racer at Eurobike this year? If you’ve not heard much about them before, gravel racers are a lot like road bikes but with enough clearance for wide tyres – 38mm or similar – often with a long wheelbase and more relaxed head angle for stability, and a slightly taller head tube for a more upright ride position. They’ll often have disc brakes too. Salsa’s Warbird is an existing example.
They’re designed for riding on hard-packed roads that aren’t Tarmaced. There are loads of these in the US, where the gravel racer concept originated, and they exist in certain parts of the UK too: forestry roads, for instance. You might have loads in your area… or none at all.
You might think the description of a gravel racer sounds a lot like a cyclocross bike, and you’d be right. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be a clear distinction between where gravel racers finish and cyclocross bikes start. We’ll still be interested to see whether many manufacturers have jumped on board the gravel racer bandwagon, even if it’s just a case of rebranding existing designs.
Campagnolo updates EPS battery
Campagnolo have developed a new internal battery for their EPS (Electronic Power Shift) system. We know because we saw it featured on Bianchi’s Oltre XR2 a couple of months ago… and also because it’s not really much of a secret any more.
The battery is a long cylindrical design and it seems that it can be secreted in various different parts of the frame. Bianchi are housing it in the seat tube, just above the bottom bracket. We’re not 100% sure that Bianchi will be showing the new battery at Eurobike, but we think it’s very likely because there are rumours flying around that some of the pros will be using it in the Vuelta which starts this weekend.
Shimano, of course, already have an internal battery for their Di2 electronic shift system, and we imagine that it’ll more or less completely take over from the external version at some stage. It’ll be interesting to see at Eurobike whether the major bike manufacturers are making the switch for 2014.
The road.cc predictions
Expect to see: Disc brakes on cyclo-cross bikes, race ones a well as utility ones, this is the year. Lots of black with green highlights. The return of the proper touring bike. More techno race clothing like the Castelli Gabba. More stupid aero piss-pot road helmets. Bluetooth technology appearing on more things.
Want to see: Black with magenta highlights, top end alloy road bikes to rival carbon, expensive shoes, someone giving me some techno clothing.
Expect to see: Black jelly mould bikes, matt black bikes with gloss black decals or neon accents or both, especially neon green. A multitude of clothing in kelly green or cyan. The end of calliper brakes, here come cheap heavy rubbish disc brakes on budget bikes, like what happened to mountain bikes and children's bikes bought from a catalogue. Metallic bike helmets - silver and gold.
Want to see: Full colour carbon bikes, chrome or metallic shiny carbon bikes and parts. Better luggage solutions. Flouro clip less shoes, bright feet. Carbon bikes with rack mounts - the carbon commuter bike.
Expect to see: Lots of performance road bikes with hydraulic disc brakes, development of aero road bikes and products, especially wheels, handlebars and helmets. Clothng is getting more aero, brands like Castelli are doing some really interesting things with fabric and fit
Want to see: Futuristic aero eBikes, steel touring bikes with gravel grinder influences with provision for disc brakes, mudguards and racks. Less matte black carbon bikes and a bit more colour
Expect to see: This has to be the year of the disc brake road bike with hydraulic disc brake systems having been released recently by both SRAM and Shimano. Campagnolo should be joining the party at some stage too.
Want to see: I'd like to see some of the big brands get into the gravel racer thing, purely because there are a lot of gravel roads near me and I want the right tool for the job. Most existing gravel bikes are essentially cyclocross bikes with different paint jobs. It would be cool to see them offer something new.
Expect to see: A wooden bike, treadle bikes, a modern re-imagining of the penny farthing and various reinventions of the wheel. Top end road bikes offered in hydraulic disc and conventional rim brake options, but not all of them because there probably aren't enough hydraulic brakes to go round. More bikes boasting sophisticated carbon lay-ups designed to optimise a particular performance characteristic - usually comfort - without sacrificing other aspects of performance in the manner of the Bianchi Infinito CVT and the latest Cannondale Synapse.
Want to see: A lightweight titanium bike with internal cable routing and hydraulic discs… maybe next year.
As much as we like looking forward, here's looking back at last year's Eurobike 2012 preview and predictions.