Another year, another Eurobike. What’s Eurobike you ask? It’s only the biggest cycle show in the world and takes over the huge exhibition centre in Friedrichshafen, Germany every year, where many of the biggest bicycle brands go to display their latest products.
road.cc has been going there every year since the website launched way back in 2008, reporting on the newest and shiniest road bikes and products that are being launched for the new model year. Because of the huge attendance by the leading brands, it’s a good place to spot emerging trends so before we pack our bags, we’ve put our heads together and come up with our predictions for the trends that we might see at the show.
The arrival of aero disc race bikes?
Disc brakes on road bikes became more than a trend a good few years ago, and now you can’t move for them: they're everywhere. But while disc brakes are hugely popular with non-racing enthusiast cyclists, the big question is when the pros are going to start racing with them. There are a few obstacles in the way and one argument against them that we hear a lot is that they generate a lot of drag. Specialized has with its latest Venge ViAS Disc, produced a bike which according to the US company’s claims has the same drag figure as the rim brake model. Could we see a lot more aero disc bikes being launched with the WorldTour in mind?
Aluminium road bikes
Aluminium is king when it comes to budget road bikes, but there’s been a resurgence of interest in its use for high-end race bikes, especially with some of the advances we’ve seen with the material, such as the SmartWeld technology featured in Specialized’s Allez Sprint. Even though carbon fibre frames have been getting more affordable in recent years, quite a few manufacturers have cottoned onto the selling benefits of combining a premium and lightweight aluminium frame (light enough to rival many carbon frames) with a specification that can't be matched by a similarly priced carbon model.
This has been happening for a few years now, with a general acceptance amongst racing and non-racing cyclists that wider tyres are a good thing. Not just the 25mm that has replaced 23mm tyres in the professional peloton, but 28mm becoming popular on endurance bikes and the growing number of bikes being designed to accept 30-40mm tyres. There’s a limit to how wide a tyre you can fit on a 700c rim before you have to start drastically redesigning the frame, so a few brands have started downsizing the rims to 650b, an old French standard, and upsizing tyres to 40mm or wider. We’ve seen it with the Cannondale Slate but more brands are taking note and designing bikes to be compatible with both wheel sizes, but tyre and wheel choice is still limited. We expect that to change at Eurobike this year.
More aero products
We're a long way from peak aero, and we can expect to see many new aerodynamic products being launched. There'll no doubt be new and updated aero road frames fit for the WorldTour, more aero helmets, clothing, shoes and integrated one-piece handlebars is another category that will likely be well represented with new products.
Gravel and adventure bikes
One of the hottest tickets in the cycle industry right now are fat-tyred, disc-equipped gravel and adventure bikes. Once a strange American oddity born out of an increasingly popular gravel racing scene, we’re now seeing loads of cycle manufacturers jumping aboard the bandwagon; there have been more gravel bikes launched this year than any year before. One thing we could do with more clarity on is the distinction between gravel and adventure bikes. As has been said before in these parts we view them as distinct categories - gravel bikes are for gravel racing, a good example would be the Salsa Warbird (the first? production gravel bike) or the recently reviewed Parlee Chebbaco (pictured) and 3T's Exploro an evolution of the breed. An adventure bike is a more do it all, multi-terrain all rounder like the GT Grade or the Cannondale Slate - not to say they aren't built with speed in mind, but versatility is also well up in the mix. Maybe it's time we split the gravel and adventure bike review section?
Bikepacking bikes and bags
Following in the wake of gravel and adventure bikes is that other hot topic right now, bikepacking. We expect to see a big uplift in the number of brands offering ranges of bikepacking products and there’ll probably be a few bikes designed specifically around accommodating the needs of unsupported adventure racing cyclists.
Campagnolo to launch disc brakes (finally)
Shimano has them. So does SRAM. But Campagnolo as yet hasn’t actually launched a disc brake of any description, and it's getting to the point where anticipation is in danger of turning in to mockery - not in any way an ideal scenario for a company with such a proud heritage. There’s much speculation that the only thing preventing the entire peloton from adopting disc brakes is that the small handful of Campagnolo outfits don’t have a suitable disc brake. We’ve seen what the Italian company is working on, though, it showed us earlier this year, but it really does need to launch something, and we’d be shocked if it didn’t do just that at Eurobike.
SRAM eTap to be popular on 2017 model bikes
SRAM has recovered from its hydraulic disc brake recall a few years ago with the excellent eTap wireless electronic groupset, and now it looks like it can’t keep up with the demand from the many bike brands that want to spec it on their bikes. We expect to see lots of bikes coming out next year with the wireless groupset, and we’ll be paying careful attention to just how many brands will be offering it next year. It’ll also be interesting to see if the hydraulic disc version of eTap is gaining similar uptake levels as well.
FSA will launch its electronic groupset
This is definitely happening according to rumours, FSA will finally launch into the groupset wars with its own complete electronic groupset. Only a few details have emerged so far, it’ll be interesting to see how the finished product looks, and whether any bike brands will be speccing it on 2017 bikes. The Italian company has a lot of muscle in the OEM market with cranks and finishing kit, but will any bike brands be bold enough to take a punt on a brand new groupset?
An e-Bike future?
Already huge on the continent, there’s a general feeling in the industry that the time is right for e-bikes. Cycling as transport is high on the agenda and e-bikes open up cycling to a lot more people that might have been put off by the fitness barrier, so there’s going to be a lot of electric bikes on display.
The Eurobike organisers tell us a record half a million e-bikes were sold in Germany alone last year. “Since the e-bike trend took off in Germany eight or nine years ago, the market for bikes with electric pedal assist has only moved in one direction: up. A new record was reached in 2015 when 535,000 e-bikes were sold in Germany,” it says.
You’ll be able to get all the latest e-bike news from Eurobike over at our new sister site eBikeTips.
Okay those are the predictions from the collective road.cc hive mind, now it's time to give the tech team their chance to tell us what they hope, want or indeed don't want to see at this year's Eurobike. Take it away fellas…
"I think what’s going to excite me most is looking at the Venn Diagram that covers the gravel bikes, adventure bikes, fast long-distance bikes and 700c/650b wheeled whatevers, just don’t call them touring bikes, that’s uncool. Although a well executed one of those is always a pleasure. Now that adventure-biking/bike-packing has gone from a niche thing that a few cross-continent idiots do to an easily-accessible way of having a little weekend adventure for more time-crunched less distance obsessed normal people the market is wide open for this sort of swift but comfortable machine and all the rugged accessories needed, obviously. They’re also great for people who like to mix up their general riding between road and gentle off-road, or just have to contend with shitty potholed roads a lot of the time, where a road bike feels a little fragile and a cyclo-cross bike is a bit too much, or the sort of vehicle for those that like to venture onto the path less traveled but a ‘cross bike isn’t quite enough but a mountainbike is too much and like to pedal along the fuzzy line between the two. So all of that and the associated trinkets and bike-packing luggage and gravel riding shoes, shorts and tyres and travel coffee-making devices. Probably.
I don’t need to see any more high-end shoes with laces in. Non loosening and easy-to-undo-when-they’re-wet straps-and-ratchets please."
Vecchiojo, road.cc director of spontaneity (yes, it really does say that on his business card)
"Eurobike promises to be a lot different this year. With the absence of some of the biggest bike brands things can go one of two ways: either like some big trees falling in the rainforest allowing a bunch of cycling saplings to reach for the sun and quickly fill the gaps; or the gaps are too big and deforestation and disaster follows and we’re all doomed! (Well, Eurobike is).
"I’ll go with the first scenario. Glass half full me.
"That being the case I expect to see a lot more innovative and quirky stuff, particularly on the component side of things - the Germans in particular have form when it comes to this sort of thing - internal gearboxes, stuff so light it needs to be tethered to the ground etc and this is their home show. In particular I’m expecting/hoping to see some evolution of some of the newer component technologies that have come to road bikes in particular disc brakes - in fact literally as I write this an email lands from Magura talking about ABS disc brakes so we’ll defo be popping along to see those. But I’m also hoping to see more tubeless wheels, rim sizes and widths, and looking at the growth of adventure and gravel bikes maybe someone brining out something like an adventure/gravel bike specific dropper post. If I’m honest I’m more interested in the adventure bikes because I reckon they are the sorts of machine that will do a job for a lot of cyclists on-road and in those places where it’s still possible to discern the difference off-road too.
Also I’d like to see a bike made out of some sort of vegetable matter (not counting bamboo) - bring back the good old days of bikes with a smidgeon (or more) of flax or carrot fibre in ‘em!"
Tony Farrelly, editor
Stay tuned to road.cc for all the latest from Eurobike 2017 this week.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.