Sometimes it’s all too easy to snark on our fellow cyclists. You’ve probably seen several variations of the BikeSnob site or this none-too-subtle video or even had a good laugh over bike fashion disasters like these. (Hopefully, you’re not wearing them yourself!)
But in truth, most of the cyclists we ride with are really wonderful people—and in the spirit of showing our appreciation, we’d like to acknowledge a few of our favorite bike personalities here. Recognize yourself or someone you know—or even one of our Bicycle Adventures guides? Let us know in the comments!
This is the guy you never knew you needed—until he shows up, that is. Struggling with a flat? Slipped your chain? He’s right there fixing it up “because I can do it faster and get you back on the road sooner.” If you’ve ever ridden with Mr. Fixer, you know how indispensable he can be.
The Happy Host (or Hostess)
We’ve all ridden with this person before—the one who always has a friendly welcome greeting for everyone in the group. This person just radiates positivity with cheery salutations like “Beautiful day for a ride!” or “Isn’t this the most glorious sunshine you’ve ever seen?” And if your energy is flagging, you really appreciate the encouraging “You’re doing great!” the Happy Host tosses your way.
No one likes to be surprised by a rider approaching from behind. The Non-Sneaker takes care to always alert you he’s there with a few chimes of his bell, a considerate cough, or even a happy “Hey-o! On your left!” After a few rides with a sneaker or two, you’ll appreciate the Non-Sneaker even more.
The Fender Friend
On a wet or rainy day, have you ever ridden with someone who doesn’t have a bike with fenders? Then you know why we appreciate our Fender Friends so much—no one likes to be sprayed with brown street gunk! And bonus points for our Fender Friend: No unsightly brown “racing stripes” up the back of his bike shorts (ick!).
Don’t you hate that awkward moment when you encounter another rider going the opposite direction and it’s like you’re invisible? The Cheery-O always acknowledges you with a friendly wave or a nod in your direction.
Just a little gesture to let you know he appreciates the kinship of the bike. You’ve both made a choice to be outside, facing the elements (not overtaking cyclists like you in a car) and just a quick nod and a smile enhances that feeling of community. It kind of makes your day, doesn’t it?
The Light Show
There’s something reassuring about riding with the Light Show—visibility is always a good thing! Plus, it actually makes everyone more safe. And we salute our riders who use a tail light all the time, even during the day. Kudos to them! We’re all about safety on our rides.
The Snappy Dresser
Everyone likes to ride with the Snappy Dresser. He’s got a great kit and all the best accoutrements—a little bit of eye candy for the ride. Best of all, though, he’s got rock-solid bike shorts (because this is one place we really don’t need great visibility, if you know what we mean).
Even if you’re not on a racing team, you’ll love riding with the Domestique. Struggling a bit? She’ll let you tag onto her back wheel to help you catch your breath. She’ll even share a snack when you need a boost. Every group appreciates the Domestique—she’s got everyone’s best interests at heart.
The Fabulous Foodie
This rider is one of our favorites—because we’re all big fans of great food. The Fabulous Foodie has a knack for knowing where to find the perfect snack, whether it’s a freshly baked oatmeal-chocolate-chip cookie or an ice-cold craft beer from a local brewery. And if you’re going to stop for a meal? You’ll definitely want the Fabulous Foodie’s recommendations for where to find the best burger you’ll ever have. (Trust us, he never disappoints.)
The Regional Expert
This is the rider who knows your route like the back of his or her hand—how to avoid a killer climb and where to find the five-mile add-on loop with a refreshing dip in the lake along the way. Riding to a new favorite destination? Try to include the Regional Expert in your group—you’ll be glad you did.
The Consistent Companion
This rider never lets you down—she’s as reliable as the sunrise. You know she’ll never fail to show up (ready and on time) for your weekly ride, rain or shine. And she’ll ride at your pace with you because that’s what the best cycling companions do. Need a little boost preparing for your bicycle tour? She’ll help you with that, too.
The Face Saver
OK, we’re all grateful for the Face Saver in our group. He or she’s the rider who kindly alerts you to the dirt mustache you’re sporting (you know, the one you got riding behind the guy with no fenders!) before you saunter into the brewpub after your ride.
Ready to Go?
Thinking about your next bicycle adventure? I bet you’ll find more than a few of these cycling personalities on your ride. Why not sign up to our email course – How to Plan Your Perfect Bicycle Adventure – it’s a totally free 6-part series that will get you thinking about all aspects of your next vacation.
And if you’re ready to speak to us about your next cycling vacation, get in touch. We’d love to help you find the tour of your dreams.
Sure. We understand that your first question may be, “Why would I go on a hiking tour with a company named Bicycle Adventures?” The answer is simple.
Bicycle Adventures has run dozens of hiking tours in the past and our current series of tours is better than ever. They are hand-picked, planned and led by our staff naturalist and experienced guide, Chad Maurer (24 years at Bicycle Adventures).
Of course, each of our hiking tours offers fantastic scenery, but are you inclined to wonder: How did that mountain get there? What was this place like 25, 100, 1000, 10,000, a million years ago? Who lived here? How did they survive? What tree, plant, bird or animal is that? Why is it here? What is its role? How does it survive? Is it edible, medicinal, useful, poisonous, or dangerous? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then Bicycle Adventures’ Hiking Tours are for you! Explore these fascinating mysteries while admiring the spectacular beauty for which the Pacific Northwest is famous. We guarantee you will come away feeling connected to the area in a way that no mere “walk in the woods” can deliver.
OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK HIKING TOUR
The Olympic Peninsula is the home of the largest of the four North American species of elk, the Roosevelt elk, named after Teddy Roosevelt. So revered were these elk that the park was almost given the name “Elk National Park.” It is also the home of the Blue Glacier, the lowest glacier in the contiguous United States. This tour encompasses the most variety of any of our hiking tours: temperate rainforests – inland and coastal – wild beaches, lowland lakes, alpine lakes and snow-capped mountains. Each of the lodgings has accessible walks and trails nearby, providing opportunities for self-exploration.
Since its establishment in 1938, the Olympic National Park has become the 6th most-visited of our National Parks and continues to attract travelers from all over the world. In 1976 it was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and later a World Heritage Site as well – recognizing that it is older than any nation and thereby in a sense belongs to the entire world. True to that spirit, it remains virtually undeveloped by comparison to our other National Parks and truly wild at its heart. This is evidenced by the fact that to this day not one single road, paved or unpaved, crosses this 1500 square mile wilderness.
Concerned about the weather? It is a rainforest after all. The good news is that, while up to fourteen feet of precipitation falls here every year, the area averages less than four inches per month during the summer. July is a good time to visit, and there’s no better way to do it than staying at two of the National Parks Lodges along the way!
MT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK HIKING TOUR
Mt Rainier was the 5th National Park to be established in the United States. To the Pacific Northwest native tribes, the mountain was Tahoma, “the mountain that was God.” To the current residents of Puget Sound she is reverently acknowledged as simply “The Mountain.”
The August tour is scheduled to be after most of the snowmelt to improve trail accessibility and still catch the tail end of the wildflower season. In September you should enjoy spectacular fall color! We operate this tour during midweek-only to avoid the weekend crowds from the city.
COLUMBIA GORGE HIKING TOURTruly one of the world’s mighty rivers, the Columbia is the largest in western North America. The New York Times describes the Columbia Gorge as being “like Europe, only better.” Hailed as one of Oregon’s Seven Wonders, the region’s fleece-capped mountain peaks, primeval forests, abundant wildflowers and waterfall streaked highlands whisper of the Swiss Alps.
Learn about the rich natural history of the region as we visit each of these diverse environments up close, including a whitewater rafting trip down a spectacular gorge. From Multnomah Falls to Hood River to Mount Hood, easy to reach trails abound, making this the ideal location for a hiking tour!
We recently published an article about e-bikes vs road and mountain bikes, and it caused quite a stir amongst some of you. So, as owner and president of Bicycle Adventures, I thought I’d throw my 2 cents into the debate…
First of all, an e-bike is not a motorcycle disguised as a bike. It does not have an engine to start – or a throttle – and you do still have to actually pedal it. Or at least you do if it’s a good one.
Here is why an e-bike is so great…
I have been around bikes most of my life – for recreation, fitness, travel, commuting, athletics and as a profession – first as a bike racing coach, then owning a bicycle touring company. And in many ways I would consider myself a purist when it comes to bicycling.
To me, ‘purist’ means someone who loves to ride their bike for the sake of riding a bike. You won’t find me worrying about the latest technology or debating the merits of road biking vs. mountain biking. Just give me a bike to ride. That is the bottom line: be it fast or slow, short or long, riding a bike is just…fun.
But why is it fun?
Most people would say, “Because I know HOW to ride a bike.” Just about everyone knows how to ride a bike.
So let’s think about that a bit. When I was coaching bike racing back in the 80s and 90s, people would say, “You coach bicycling? What does that even mean? Doesn’t everyone know how to ride a bike?”
So what does it mean to know how to ride a bike?
The truth is, there’s a lot to know in order to really enjoy riding a bike – and to me, enjoying riding a bike is to not have to think about it.
I have mastered the skill. I have gone through the 4 stages of mastery.
I often use the analogy of a hockey player: hockey players are not thinking about skating; they are thinking about the game. They just happen to be skating.
Developing skill starts with not knowing what to do, or what’s to come. We’re unconsciously incompetent, ignorant of what lies ahead. Moving from stage one into stage two only requires that we read a book on the subject or talk to someone with experience. In the case of learning to ride a bike it’s incredibly simple: moving into stage two usually involves someone showing and telling us what we need to do.
I probably don’t need to say that riding a bike is all about balance. To ride a bike you need to be going fast enough, keep the wheel straight and distribute weight evenly.
But most of you are beyond this stage.
By gathering information and watching others ride a bike you now know what you don’t know – you have been enlightened by the opportunity to ride a bike. This might not seem like much but it is progress.
Getting to stage three is where the real work begins. This is the one thing that is required to be successful in any endeavor, whether it is riding a bike or managing your career. You must take action and you must practice. A lot. I’ve tried to get better at cycling by just watching the Tour de France but it doesn’t work.
Being consciously competent at something means you’re able to perform the act, but you still need to think about what you’re doing. This is where things become more interesting. You’re now able to ride a bike.
This can be incredibly satisfying, and this is where many – if not most – people stop.
When I was learning, I remember when I was finally able to ride a bike for a few minutes without stopping. I had to concentrate extremely hard. I would think about keeping the wheel straight, not leaning too much to one side and making sure that I didn’t go too slowly – all at the same time. I could ride the bike, but I was far from an expert.
From competency to mastering the skill.
So how do we get from consciously competent cyclist to the next stage? That’s easy. Repetition, repetition, repetition.
Not everyone wants to be an expert, and that is OK. Most of us have ridden bikes enough that we have reached that magical point where keeping the bike upright, balanced and moving does not require a lot of concentration as long as we are on a safe flat bike path. However, as our environment changes (steep hills, other riders, traffic, stop signs, shifting) we no longer feel quite so competent.
This is the point where an e-bike comes in.
An e-bike levels the playing field and allows you to leap ahead in your competence because it takes away the need to worry about several things -like your pedal cadence, which gear you’re in, and how to pedal up or down that hill.
Let’s face it. Maybe you’re a runner or tennis player who is coming to cycling later in life. You may not have the time or desire to become an expert, but that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice the joy of riding a bike that you loved when you first learned how. Or that you should have to forego a cycling vacation with the wind in your hair, the fresh air, exercise and the perspective you gain from the seat of a bike – the perspective that you can’t ever get from sitting in a car or bus.
In cycling, reaching this stage means you can ride a bike without having to think about stopping, starting, shifting, standing, sitting, signaling in traffic, looking over your shoulder, listening for cars, riding next to another rider, or questions like, ‘Am I pacing myself? Do I have the fitness to get up this hill?’
Mastery on a bike is not just the skill of riding a bike but knowing how to ride in traffic, how to ride with other riders, how to ride up a hill, down a hill, descend, ride in various sorts of terrain, how to ride at various speeds, how to pace yourself, when to shift and when not to (without thinking, “Should I shift now?”). Shifting has become as automatic as it is in your automatic car.
An e-bike will make up for a lot of things when it comes to mastering riding a bike, but more importantly it will help you master a bike tour – because you’re doing those things on multiple days.
Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it!
I had someone show up to a scheduled bike ride the other day who was a very fit individual. He was excited about the tour; he wanted to get some exercise, and he was too proud of his fitness to need an e-bike. I know this gentleman fairly well. I said, “Don, you are very fit and strong, especially for your age, but you don’t know how to ride a bike.”
He said, “What do you mean I don’t know how to ride a bike?”
“Well, you don’t understand how to pace yourself on a hill, or pedal in the right gear, or how to start and stop safely. Or how to anticipate unconsciously what to do next. You are having to think about all these things instead of simply enjoying the ride. So I recommend using an e-bike. Although it doesn’t get you past all the skill training, it gets you past most of the things that prevent people from enjoying a bike ride the way I do. Just give it a try.”
He agreed to give it a shot, just for the day. I spent a few moments showing him how to use the e-bike. Then off we went with about a dozen other riders.
Being as fit as he is, Don wasn’t about to give up on a workout. So he spent the first couple of miles experimenting with the amount of electric-assist. None. A little. A lot. Full power. Back to none. “Wow!” he exclaimed. “You can actually get a great workout on this!”
He spent the second third of the ride sneaking up behind his cycling buddies in the group, then upping the e-assist to full power and blasting past them, gleefully announcing, “On your left!”
By the last third of the ride, he was cruising joyfully ahead of everyone as he led the charge to the finish line. And by the time we caught up with him in the parking lot, he was already working on where to purchase a couple.
And that’s what I mean by being a purist, by the hockey player not thinking about skating. Don had gotten back to the fun. The point where riding a bike had nothing to do with traffic, or hills, or shifting. It was just plain…fun.
What’s not to love?
Still on the fence?
Here are the four things an e-bike will do for you to speed up or eliminate the learning curve – which, coincidentally, are the four “fears” we hear the most about riding a bike.
- Hills. Do I stand up? Can I stand up? What gear should I be in? Can I pedal slowly without tipping over? The biggest challenge with hills is not having the technique – it’s not always comfortable standing up, or maybe you haven’t quite got the fitness. An e-bike picks up where you left off.
- Shifting. Unlike your car, bikes aren’t automatic. They don’t know when to go to a harder gear with fewer RPMs, or an easier gear with more RPMs. Those are challenging decisions for someone who may not be comfortable spinning with a high cadence or powering through with a low cadence. An e-bike makes those decisions for you – the motor kicks in when you get into a situation where you need a bit of an assist.
- Keeping up. A lot of people’s biggest fear about going on a bike tour is of not being able to keep up, of holding others back, of getting stuck riding alone and being the last person to arrive. An e-bike fixes all of those fears. It gives you the flexibility to decide how hard you’d like to work without missing out on the fun.
- Safety. With an e-bike, a longer ride will be more stable because your legs won’t get to the point of fatigue. You can self-regulate, manage your fitness so you’re not in over your head. This allows you to continue on and ride more miles – farther than you might usually – without the worry of over-exerting.
So why not give it a shot…
So, as you can see e-bikes and purists can get along just fine. The 3 things to remember are that riding a bike is great for the environment, great for your health and overall it’s just a better way to see the world.
But what it boils down to in the end is that it should be fun.
We have plenty of tours where an e-bike is an option. So whether you’ve been turning your nose up at e-bikes because you see yourself as an expert, or you aren’t confident in your cycling abilities but were afraid to put your trust in the equipment, get in touch today and hopefully you’ll be e-riding off into the sunset very soon.
Todd Starnes, Owner & President, Bicycle Adventures
In a recent blog post, we talked about the hottest bike trends for 2017—and touched briefly on the phenomenal growth in e-bike popularity. I think we underestimated their appeal.
A new report by Navigant Research suggests that e-bike sales will jump from $15.7 billion in 2016 to nearly $24 billion by 2025, more than doubling the number of units sold from 3.3 million to 6.8 million worldwide. That’s a lot of people riding e-bikes.
It’s no surprise, then, that the “stigma” associated with electric-assist bikes in the past has pretty much disappeared. E-bikes are everywhere, from delivery bikes to e-mountain bikes and even commuter bikes. A lot of bike commuters are embracing e-bikes as a way to maintain a greener lifestyle—while still arriving for work not totally exhausted, sweaty, and in a state of disarray.
When it comes to a bicycle tour vacation, however, people tend to hesitate a bit more—and that’s a shame. Because e-bikes make a great deal of sense for a lot of riders, new and experienced alike.
Ever wonder if an e-bike is a good choice for you? See if you recognize yourself in any of these riders—if you do, you might be a great candidate for an e-bike on your next bicycle tour.
Eager Eva — age 51
Eva isn’t an experienced cyclist; in fact, it’s been awhile since she actually climbed on a bike. She doesn’t even work out regularly, other than daily walks with her dog.
But she’s an adventurous sort and she loves new experiences. Her best friend Ginny, an avid cyclist, took a bicycle tour last summer and absolutely loved it. She’s planning a six-day tour of the San Juan Islands this fall—and invited Eva to join her.
This type of adventure is right up Eva’s alley and she’s extremely motivated to take her up on the offer, but she’s worried she won’t be able to complete the 25 to 35 mile a day rides. She knows Ginny will feel obligated to hang back with her and Eva’s afraid it will ruin her friend’s vacation. But she’s always wanted to see the area and the idea of a bike tour kindles her sense of adventure.
Why an e-bike works: An e-bike lets you go further and faster than you could manage on your own efforts, so Eva will be able to keep up with Ginny and handle her daily mileage, even if she doesn’t have the time or interest to do fitness training before their vacation.
Dislocated Dan — age 46
Dan has been a passionate cyclist for years and he spends several hours a week on his bike. He’s in great physical shape—except that four weeks ago, he strained the lateral meniscus in his left knee and has been in physical therapy for rehab ever since.
Dan’s booked for the eight-day Crater Lake bike tour that’s set to depart next week and he’s a bit worried that his knee won’t be up to strength for the tougher climbs and 60-mile-a-day rides. But he doesn’t want to miss the vacation he’s been planning for almost a year.
Why an e-bike works: Although the level rides and slight inclines won’t put much stress on his less-than-healthy knee, the steep hills are a different story, where riding hard can aggravate a strained meniscus. Dan can use electric assist to give him a boost of power that takes the stress off his damaged knee so he can complete his tour without pain or fear of relapse or additional injury.
Challenge Me Charles — age 55
Charles switched from running to biking about six months ago and recently joined a mountain biking club—he loves the challenge and exhilaration of off-road riding. Never one to turn away from a test of his will and endurance, he and a friend booked the 15-day Camino de Santiago bike tour of northern Spain’s Basque country.
Charles is expecting to push himself to the limits of his endurance—and he’s actually pretty excited to see how his skills stack up against his more experienced friend. But there’s a tiny, nagging fear that he may not be able to handle the brisk climb to the Cruz de Ferro or some of the more challenging terrain and he’s starting to second-guess his decision to go.
Why an e-bike works: When you ride an e-bike, you’re in complete control over when you need a boost—and the amount of boost you need. And sometimes, that’s all a rider needs to give him the confidence to tackle a new challenge. Charles may not even use the electric assist, but he knows it’s there in case he wants it. No more worries!
Adrenaline Abbie — age 41
We all know someone like Abbie—that person who is always after the next big adrenaline-fueled thrill. For some, it’s skydiving, for others it’s windsurfing, but for Abbie, it’s the straight-out excitement of pushing herself to the limit in pursuit of the most amazing scenery in the world.
Abbie’s a hard-core athlete who does triathlons; when it comes to riding her bike, the more extreme the challenge, the better. In fact, she’d ride her bike up the Alps if she could, but of course, that’s not humanly possible with a traditional bicycle.
Why an e-bike works: E-bikes open up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to extreme challenge, like our e-mountain bike tour through the Julian Alps in Slovenia. Thanks to e-assist technology, Adrenaline Abbie can go to previously unreachable places where not even cars can travel. For the adrenaline junkie, e-mountain bikes offer a bold new frontier of unexplored terrain.
Cardiac Ken — age 57
Ken had a heart attack a year ago and underwent some major cardiac procedures to treat his diseased vessels. As part of his cardiac recovery program over the past year, Ken’s been riding a stationary bike three times a week—but now he wants to try the real thing with a Joshua Tree bike tour.
Even though the tour is customizable for longer or shorter routes and appropriate for even beginners on a bike, Ken still has some reservations that he might get tired or push himself too hard and be unable to finish the tour. He’s in a bit of a quandary about whether he’s really up to the trip.
Why an e-bike works: Ken can monitor his heart rate and physical condition with a wearable device like a Fitbit—and if he’s exerting himself beyond his comfort zone, he can use electric assist to reduce his workload. E-bikes give you more control over the amount of effort you need to exert to do the tour, letting you keep your heart rate at a comfortable level while you ride.
Mike and Molly Mismatch — late 40s
Mike and Molly are a very physically fit married couple—both enjoy active vacations and spend a lot of time working out. Molly loves to ride her bike; she does some road bike racing and logs hundreds of miles a month. Her dream adventure is the Empire Builder Epic bike tour through the Rockies, the Cascades, and Glacier National Park with daily rides of 100 miles or more.
Mike is no slouch, but his jam is running—he’s been running marathons since his 20s—and he’s not sure how that translates to long days on a bike. And if it doesn’t, wouldn’t that kind of ruin the vacation? After all, the whole point of adventure vacations together is experiencing the views together, the oooh and aaaah moments together—captured with an occasional selfie with a stunning mountain background, of course. If he’s lagging behind Molly, those magic moments won’t happen.
Why an e-bike works: Mike’s in great shape, but there’s no denying that distance running and distance biking are two completely different things—and he’s right to be concerned he won’t be able to ride alongside his more experienced wife.
An e-bike gives Mike the option of a little extra boost so he can keep pace with Molly and know that they’ll be able to enjoy those special moments together—and she won’t have to hold herself back, either.
Joy-riding Jonah — age 39
Jonah is a fun-loving single whose favorite adventures are road trips of all kinds. He’s done all the iconic highways—Route 66, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Pacific Coast Highway. He’s even done the Alaska Highway from Dawson’s Creek to Fairbanks.
But he’s beginning to feel as if he’s missing something seeing everything from behind the wheel of a car at 65+ mph. The scenery is just a blur and the solitude is getting a little old. He’s ready for something entirely new…a fresh perspective…an opportunity to go places he’d never go in his car—and a chance to meet some new friends along the way. So he booked a mountain bike tour through the Leavenworth area in Washington.
Why an e-bike works: Jonah just wants to have fun—and what could be more stress-free and enjoyable than cruising through Devil’s Gulch on an e-mountain bike? It looks like a blast (and guess what? It is!) Who says you need a health or fitness reason to cruise around on an e-bike? Just do it because it’s fun.
A Word from Miracle Matt…
Our own Director of Operations here at Bicycle Adventures loves e-bikes and here’s why:
“I like to ride e-bikes because sometimes I don’t want to work hard. It’s fun to sit back and relax and it makes conversations on the bike easier when you aren’t breathing hard. Imagine if you could ride the KATY trail across Missouri with your best friends on ebikes. Or McKenzie Pass in Oregon before the cars are allowed on the highway. You could ride 2 or 3 abreast and really engage with your travel companions.”
A few things to keep in mind…
E-bikes are heavier than other bikes and with cycling, every ounce can make a difference when it comes to performance. That also makes them more difficult to carry and load up on your car if you’re planning a DIY bike trip.
They also cost a bit more than traditional bikes, but the good news is that you can upgrade to an e-bike on a Bicycle Adventures tour and give it a try before you decide to invest in one for yourself at home.
And there’s also the issue of range. Depending on the model and how much you use the electric assist, you may run out of juice during your ride.
All that said, however, e-bikes are a great equalizer and a fun and stress-free way to get out and experience the world from the saddle of a bike, even if you’re not a regular rider.
E-Bikes are for everyone!
With e-bikes, there’s nothing holding you back from your dream cycling holiday. If you want to sit back and relax whilst catching up with friends, you can do this while sitting on an e-bike, gazing across amazing scenery. So why not start planning your bicycle adventure today – just get in touch and we’ll get the ball rolling.
Whether you’re a committed cyclist logging thousands of miles a year on your bike or just a little bike curious (maybe considering your first bicycle tour), it’s always fun to spend some time trend spotting.
And for bicycle enthusiasts, 2017 is going to be a particularly exciting year with changes in every aspect of the industry—from how bikes are engineered, assembled, and even sold.
Take a peek at what we see as some of the biggest emerging cycling trends in 2017.
1. Hydraulic brakes will become de rigeur, both for specialty and even mainstream bikes.
It’s indisputable that hydraulic disc brakes offer superior braking, but their hefty price tag meant that they were only available on high-end road bikes.
This year, however, you can expect to see them on everything from endurance bikes to gravel bikes and even aero racing bikes.
Bike makers are keen to keep up with their competitors, and as more manufacturers add hydraulic brakes as standard features, they’ll become commonplace across the spectrum.
2. Wider tires are popping up everywhere, even on road bikes.
Wide tires give a smoother ride and boost suspension capabilities, as well as allowing you to ride off-road on uneven terrain, so perhaps it’s not surprising to see them gain popularity with road bikes.
In fact, you’ll see widths of up to 47 mm (1.85 inches), christened the new “road plus” size, a dimension previously only seen on cross-country bikes. Some manufacturers are even changing their frames to accommodate the wide-tire trend.
Don’t be surprised to see tires pushing the envelope with 3 and 3-½-inch widths, just shy of the fat tire range.
3. The “gravel grinder” is no longer a niche bike but an increasingly popular mainstream choice.
All-road, open road, x-road bikes—whatever you choose to call them, today’s gravel grinders are the fastest growing category of bike sales, a trend not likely to slow down anytime soon.
Gravel grinders got their start in the Pacific Northwest and have made their way to biking enthusiasts across the country. Characterized by wide tires and disc brakes, gravel grinders are a road and mountain bike hybrid that can be ridden just about anywhere.
4. Carbon frames are for everyone except the most budget-conscious rider—because weight really does matter.
With bike manufacturers, shaving even a gram from the bike’s overall weight is cause for celebration. Designers and engineers spend countless hours trying to whittle the number down—which is one reason carbon frames are becoming standard with all but the most inexpensive mass-market bikes.
But there are advantages beyond the weight savings. As Matt Paul, our director of operations says, “A well designed carbon fiber bike rides better than other bikes. There is a compliant quality that I have best seen described as ‘magic.’ Stiff when it needs to be stiff, forgiving when it needs to be forgiving.”
He goes on, “For example, when you turn the cranks on a carbon bike, the power is transferred to the back wheel because it’s stiff. But when you are riding over jarring surfaces, the handlebars, seat posts, and suspension portions of the frame will eat up the high frequency vibration—better traction and better ride comfort.”
The engineers at Orbea took the lightweight mandate to heart, as well, carving 100 grams off the 2017 Orca and 200 grams off the 2017 Avant, a significant achievement, using high-tech carbon frames and other design enhancements. You’ll notice the difference.
5. E-bikes are taking off across the board, especially in the mountain bike niche.
Although the 2016 sales figures aren’t complete yet, most analysts point to a whopping 50% increase in the United States and perhaps even more in Europe. In fact, there’s going to be a huge push for e-bikes at Interbike in September, the largest bike industry trade show in North America.
E-mountain bikes open up a whole new world for novice cyclists—and have the potential to completely change the mountain-biking demographic. Imagine being able to discover new destinations and adventures previously unthinkable for all but the most elite riders—like Triglav in the Julian Alps in Slovenia—using an e-bike.
6. Expect to see suspension on road bikes for improved riding.
Various forms of road bike suspension have come and gone over the years, but expect 2017 to be the year when manufacturers embrace new technology (coil suspension on the steering column, elastomer rear suspension) for softer-riding road bikes.
7. There’s a gear shifting revolution afoot with 12x systems.
Sram introduced a 1×12 gear system in 2016, but it looks to take off this year due to the increased gear range and almost instinctual response. Right now, only Sram offers this option—and it carries a hefty price tag—but as it catches on, expect to see other players like Shimano get into the game.
8. Smart bikes and bike integration is the next big thing.
Whether it’s Shimano’s Dura-Ace groupset with integrated power meter, sensors to help you find the best aerodynamic position, or the high-tech Super Bike kitted up with fingerprint sensors, GPS system, and media center, integration is going to be a big deal in 2017 and beyond. If you want to get a jump on the integration trend, check out the Trek Madone 9.9.
9. Direct-to-consumer bike sales (and mobile mechanic delivery) will change the way people buy and assemble their bikes.
Eddy Merckx, BH, Ellsworth, and Elby have already joined forces with Velofix in British Columbia to offer bicycle assembly, delivery, and fitting, and German manufacturer Canyon is opening up direct-to-consumer sales in the US this spring.
This will lower consumer prices, especially for high-end models, as manufacturers decrease brick-and-mortar locations in favor of the more efficient and economical direct-to-consumer model. Savvy manufacturers are following the Velofix model, offering assembly and delivery as part of the deal
Of course, that won’t mean the end of the local bike shops, where everyone goes for right-now expertise. The local shops that remain in this ultra-competitive environment will be the best of the best—a win/win situation for cyclists.
10. Wireless electronic shifting is winning over fans in a big way.
Sram’s eTap wireless electronic shifting system, new in 2016, got rave reviews when they were introduced. They eliminate all the cable routing, giving the bike a cleaner look. Battery sizes should get smaller as more companies get in the game—expect to see Campagnolo and Shimano to introduce their own electronic systems this year.
11. Sock doping is really a thing, even for men.
If you think you’re seeing a lot more hot pink, turquoise blue, and neon green socks in your cycling club, you’re not imagining things.
Loud colors and funky prints are definitely on the menu in 2017—and don’t be surprised if you even see mismatched pairs and crazy color combinations on the most serious cyclists.
Just remember: If you’re going to sock dope, stay away from short socks. What’s the point of embracing your wild side if no one can see it?
12. You’ll see more manufacturers offering custom options to create a bike that’s uniquely “you.”
Orbea, our partner, is at the forefront of this trend with its My-O project.
When you order a bike from Orbea (and several other manufacturers, too), you’ll be able to customize colors and components for a one-of-a-kind bike that stands out from the crowd.
Always fancied a lime green road bike with hot pink accents? It’s now possible—and we expect to see a lot more custom colors on the road in 2017.
Ready to Get on Your Bike?
If all this talk about bike trends is making you hungry to try out new gear, why not fill in a few questions and start planning the ultimate bicycle tour today? You can ride one of our top of the line Orbea bikes and get a taste of the latest technology—while discovering a destination you’ve always wanted to see.
And if you’ve noticed a trend we missed, share it in the comments below. We’d love to know what you’re seeing in the cycling world this year.