AS more and more of us get hooked on pedal power, we examine some new cycle trends heading our way next year
Whether it’s a cheaper - and more active - means of getting to work, an exciting way to keep fit, a chance to get outdoors and into the countryside at the weekend, or merely a fun way to plod around the park with the kids, the appeal of cycling really is endless.
In recent years, more and more of us have been getting on our bikes. There are a number of theories why: is it down to the London 2012 Olympic legacy, heroes like Bradley Wiggins and Laura Trott peddling up enthusiasm, or exercise that doubles up as a cheaper - and greener - mode of transport? Most likely, it’s a combination of all of these things, plus much more, but one thing’s for sure - our love of all things bike related looks like it’s here to stay, and it’s an exciting time for cycling.
This weekend (September 25-27), thousands of long-time enthusiasts and new hobbyists are set to flock to The Cycle Show at Birmingham’s NEC (www.cycleshow.co.uk), where some of the ‘biggest and best brands and manufacturers’ will showcase their latest offerings and innovations, as well as the new trends to look out for.
Here, show organisers reveal seven cycle highlights for the year ahead.
Road disc brakes
As much as riding a bike is about getting out in the fresh air and seeing the world, let’s be honest, we all love to build up a bit of speed while riding. The problem with speed is that at some point it means stopping. The technology behind braking on bikes has evolved over the years, but has always used the same basic principals. Recently however, designers have started to introduce disc brakes, which work in a similar way to the brakes on a car. They have revolutionised the stopping power of mountain and cyclocross bikes in recent years, and are currently being tested by professional road race teams, which is seeing brands like Trek and Canyon invest a lot of time in their development.
Cyclocross - technically-demanding, multi-terrain races that often see riders take on short climbs, steps and even fences and other obstacles, which they have to carry their bikes over - has seen a resurgence in recent years, with more and more cyclists taking to the field at weekends. The beauty of Cyclocross is that it can take place pretty much anywhere, with The Cycle Show hosting one of the first races of the season, where riders will tackle a course around the grounds of Birmingham’s NEC.
The rise in the popularity of cycling goes far beyond the elite end of the sport; there’s been considerable research and debate into how cycling can be made more accessible too. The very first electric bikes were looked down upon by purists for being bulky, heavy and unnecessary. In recent years, however, the development of lighter batteries and smaller and lighter motors has seen their popularity rise. The likes of electric bike-makers EMU are even partnering with mainstream electronics firms like Samsung, to push their development even further.
Part of the appeal of cycling is the chance to get out and about, and for an increasing number of us, that means packing our bags and taking our bikes on holiday (or hiring a bike when you get there). More and more resorts and destinations are catering for cyclists, with dedicated packages. The French region of Normandy, which is hosting the Grand Depart of the Tour De France in 2016, has recently announced a partnership with Brittany Ferries to offer a complete cycling holiday package (keep an eye out for details). The race will start at the iconic Mont Saint-Michel Island, which can now be accessed on bike via the recently completed elevated bridge.
Cycling is not only on the rise as a sport or recreational activity, but is also now a regular mode of transport for many. This has brought about a whole new industry of cycle commuting clothing and accessories, that aim to make our ride to work more comfortable in all weathers and, most importantly, safer. The latest trend is for 100% reflective clothing, such as the REFLECT360 jacket from Proviz (from £74.99, www.provizsports.com). The super-reflective fabric means that from whatever angle light is shone on it (like from a car, for instance), it lights up a brilliant white, catching the attention of other road users.
We have our American cousins to thank for Gravel bikes, a new trend that recently made its way across the Atlantic. Over in the US, long stretches of unused gravel tracks are the norm, to allow fire trucks to reach remote areas. While we don’t have identical paths here in the UK, we do have plenty of farm access paths and similar terrain - too technical for a road bike, but too fast for a cyclocross bike. With manufactures like GT launching the spectacular Grade Ultegra adventure road - or gravel - bike, Sportive organisers have now started to put on events that purposefully cover sections of suitable roads and tracks.
Everybody likes to treat themselves to something big and shiny every now and then, and cyclists are no exception. For 2016, De Rosa have launched the SK, which has been labelled by some in the cycling world as ‘the most beautiful bike we will see this year’. The Italian bike manufacturer teamed up with the legendary car designer Pininfarina, who has in the past worked with McLaren and Ferrari, to produce this beauty.