Top 12 Cycling Trends for 2017
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.