According to tech cycling mag, The Cyclist, here is a shortened version of their top tech cycling trends for 2019:
Lightweight bikes return to the fore (with improved aerodynamics)
Bike designers work years in advance – by the time one machine is launched, they are well underway with the next project. It’s a cyclical business, too, and in 2019 we can expect to see a host of lightweight launches.
‘2017 was the year of the endurance road bike, gravel really started to become big in 2018 and for 2019 there were lot of new aero bikes with disc brakes,’ says Sebastian Jadczak, Canyon’s director of road development.
We’re talking model years here, so this summer’s launches will be considered 2020 bikes. For model year 2020 we can expect to see a lot of lightweight road bikes, with much more of a focus on aerodynamics,’ says Jadczak, who (naturally) believes the Canyon Ultimate CF SLX, with its aero-inspired tube profiles and cockpit, set an early standard.
The Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL6 and the new Focus Izalco Max, launched in November 2018, also provide a flavour of what’s to come this year.
He also predicts most new climbing bikes to feature rim brakes (or, unlike many new aero bikes, for there at least to be the option). ‘It’s the only category where it still makes sense to have a rim brake bike,’ he says.
Wearable technology has filtered into cycling over the past couple of years, led by companies like Métier and POC, with the aim of increasing a rider’s visibility on the road. The technology is evolving quickly, according to POC’s Damian Phillips, and is here to stay.
Key to the future success of wearable technology in cycling is the integration of safety-enhancing features without sacrificing performance or style, Phillips says.
POC’s current commuter range includes a jacket and gilet with a reversible, reflective pocket that can be turned into a rear light using the company’s See Me app.
Magnetic lights can also be placed elsewhere on the garments. Métier, on the other hand, has recently expanded its range of performance-minded clothing to include a rain jacket and lightweight gilet with integrated LEDs.
Wearable technology for cyclists is smarter than ever before. Expect to see more in 2019.
Gravel bikes need gravel wheels
2018 saw gravel bike launches across the board, from some of cycling’s biggest players (like the Giant Anyroad) through to niche builders testing the boundaries of design (Lauf True Grit Race Edition), via established mountain bike manufacturers dipping into the drop-bar world (take a look at the Ghost Road Rage 4.8).
‘When you look at the new bikes that came out last year and what’s in the pipeline for 2019-20, gravel is the biggest development in the market,’ says Alex Schmitt of DT Swiss.
Gravel bike launches are unlikely to slow any time soon, but Schmitt also expects the choice of gravel-specific wheels to grow almost just as quickly.
What makes a gravel wheelset? Durability and comfort are key, Schmitt says, with particular focus on rim width and the interface with the tyre. ‘That’s super-important. Designing a wheel that offers a perfect fit for super-wide gravel tyres,’ he adds.
Performance shouldn’t be overlooked either. ‘Gravel riding’ encompasses everything from road riders wanting a bike or tyre capable of taking a bridleway detour, through to long-distance races like Dirty Kanza. Expect gravel wheels to cover the full spectrum, including a growing range of hoops for riding fast on the rough stuff.
‘When we’re talking about performance for off-road riding, we can also consider aerodynamics and rolling resistance – two factors that are currently underestimated in gravel,’ says Schmitt.
Road tubeless gets a long-awaited industry standard
Tubeless and gravel should go hand-in-hand, in the same way tubeless was quickly adopted by mountain bikers. Schmitt is unequivocal on the subject: ‘Tubeless is especially important for gravel. There’s huge potential.’
Road tubeless has been a slow burn, however. Some road riders may be traditionalists but the relatively cautious uptake has also been driven by the perceived difficulty of setup, itself the result of no industry standard for a tubeless rim and road tyre.
‘There are a lot of things going on behind-the-scenes, with wheel and tyre manufacturers working closer together to find the perfect solution for road tubeless,’ says Schmitt.
Could 2019 be the year we see a genuine industry-wide standard adopted for road tubeless?
Virtual racing takes off
Since launching in October 2015, Zwift has established itself as the indoor training platform of choice for sportive riders and professional cyclists alike.
While competition has existed within Zwift’s online worlds since day one, with mass start events categorised by fitness levels, 2019 will see rapid expansion into virtual racing, with officially-sanctioned events featuring professional teams.
‘When we started, racing wasn’t a priority,’ says Charlie Issendorf, director of events at Zwift. ‘At the time, we wanted to build a platform for all cyclists, not necessarily targeting racers. We feel like we’ve accomplished that over the past couple of years. This will help us take Zwift to the next level.’
Zwift’s first dedicated eSports competition, the KISS Super League, will launch on 23rd January, with four UCI Continental teams already signed up, while a British Cycling eRacing Championships is expected to take place in February or March.
2019 could be the year virtual racing vies for your attention alongside pro racing’s traditional calendar.
‘Our hope for 2019 is to prove that Zwift is a legitimate platform for racing,’ adds Issendorf, who says a range of new features will be introduced to support virtual racing.
‘The goal is to show that e-racing is not going anywhere and also that the pros are going to embrace it.’