Can I Get a Sticker? My Predictions for Interbike 2014
Perhaps a handful of you remember, but I wrote out some Interbike predictions last year that wound up being pretty spot-on. Honestly, though, it’s not terribly difficult to pull off when there’s a conveyor belt of vendors pouring through the Competitive doors everyday. Regardless, you don’t work here, nor are you inclined to attend the show, so I felt it prudent to provide you with a heads-up on what I expect to see from the show this week. In other words, I’ll be telling you about what’ll be worth getting excited about. Let’s see if I can get it right two years in a row.
Last year, I was so adamant on the move towards road hydraulics that I named the article “A Trip to Hydraulic Mountain.” However, the actuality of this incursion was predictably twofold. First, the technology had to be introduced. Second, which will be the case this year, the bike manufacturers have to follow suit with their designs. Now, I should note that cyclocross is exempt here, given that 2014 saw hydro discs from just about every mover and shaker. And as you know, the UCI even gave discs the green light for UCI-sanctioned ‘cross races. Obviously, this has yet to occur on the road front, but I predict that we’ll be seeing plenty of 135mm-spaced, full-hydraulic road rigs on display for the people who actually pay for bikes — the consumers.
And More Brakes
To feather the brakes, so to speak, on the hydro conversation, I predict that we’ll also see more brands showing direct-mount offerings. Before Shimano’s recent unveiling, most direct-mount offerings were proprietary projects for bike makers. However, with the variety of direct-mount frames out there, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the aftermarket crowd, like TRP and FSA, start to get in on the trend.
If you recall Brendan’s EuroBike Confidential article last year, he highlighted the Giant TCX Advanced, which wowed the show with its 15mm thru-axle. Since then, only Niner has really answered the call for technology that makes sense, but again, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this tech proliferated this week. Now, I wouldn’t expect it from the likes of Ridley, but the possibility of another one of the other Big Four companies is pretty likely.
Outside of this, and granted, a little more mundane of a trend, you can count on seeing more ‘cross bikes going back to 27.2mm seatposts — here’s hoping.
Where we were seeing “aero” as the pitch term for nearly every bike last year, it seems that the manufacturers are realizing that most riders could care less about it. Instead, “lightweight” is becoming the marketing term du jour. Increasingly, consumers want to feel their dollars at work, and there’s simply no better way to do that than frame weight reduction. This especially rings true when you factor in the bleed over of aerodynamics into both apparel and helmets (where drag coefficients are most prevalent), which effectively negates the necessity of an aero frame. Lightweight — that’s the name of the game this year.
Without a doubt, the biggest talking point of the year will be Shimano’s XTR Di2 groupset. A few of us in the office have ridden it, and it’s definitely worth all of the hype. Outside of this, I predict that we’ll witness the last throws of one of mountain biking’s most obnoxious buzzwords — enduro. It seems that, with the proliferation and market acceptance of five-inch fun bikes, marketers are starting to see that real mountain biking doesn’t need a fancy term to sell it. It’s just mountain biking.
And on the subject of “last throws,” it seems like this will be one of the last years that we’ll see new 26-inch product — at least for a while. Professional downhill (the last holdout) is abandoning the wheel size in droves, and frankly, the production of compatible frames is dwindling even faster. I know that this is a contentious issue, and I’m not weighing in on one side or the other. What I am saying, though, is that manufacturers just aren’t bothering with it anymore. Don’t blame me, I’m just calling it like I see it.
Apparel & Helmets
Expect to see more pseudo-skinsuits along the lines of the Castelli Sanremo 3.0 Speedsuit. In fact, it’s my prediction that helmets and apparel will be absorbing the aerodynamic gap left behind by the frames. And if the Giro Synth shows us anything, the future will better blend form and function.
Lastly (and this is already confirming itself as I write this), expect to see more laces on shoes. Mountain, road, commuter, whatever — it’s going to have laces on it, so get used to it.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Camo is dead, and fluoro is soon to follow — really only sad about the latter.
There’s probably far more to write about, but my crystal ball needs to get put in an overnight bag and get to the show already. Anything that you’d like to see get released this week? Let me know in the comments section below.