Walking around the show, it’s easy to spot obvious trends. But we talked to product managers, brand ambassadors, and the marketing folks at hundreds of companies over the four days of Eurobike to get the real scoop on what’s coming for mountain bikes in 2018 and even 2019…

BIKES CONTINUE TO GET LONG, LOW & SLACK

The Transition Sentinel is just one of many bikes that continue to push things out further. The benefit? Trail capable bikes that climb better with weight more over the front wheel thanks in part to steeper seat tubes that allow riders to reach across those longer top tubes for better pedaling, but get out of the way on the downhills thanks to the ubiquity of dropper posts. Paired with short stems and wide handlebars, that better weighted front wheel actually makes the bike easier to control through technical sections as well. And the lower bottom bracket and slack headtube means the bikes are more stable at speed and when attacking the steepest descents.

The flip side is that total wheelbase has to be kept in check, so some manufacturers are trying even harder to trim chainstay length, just embracing the added length, or turning to shorter offset forks.

Long, low & slack isn’t reserved just for Enduro bikes either. Mid travel trail bikes have been getting in on the move too. We even see more lightweight cross-country hardtails that are using more modern trail bike geometry to lend more stability & predictability to handle the trend of more technical XC race courses.

SHORTER OFFSET FORKS

With the move to longer top tubes and slacker head angles, forks have had to adapt to keep the wheelbase at a reasonable length and keep fork trail in check. This is usually accomplished at the crown, simply by reducing the distance that the stanchions sit out in front of the steerer tube. Doing this increases the fork’s trail, though, which has mixed results depending on your speed. We’ll dive deeper on this in our Suspension Trends article later in the week.

LONG TRAVEL ONE-BIKE QUIVERS

A couple of brand managers for bike and suspension companies noted that more people seem to be opting for a longer travel bike and just using it everywhere. With bikes becoming more capable and suspension kinematics more dialed than ever (like on the new Polygon and Marin bikes with NAIL’D rear ends that actually pedal well uphill), there’s less reason to have a trail bike, enduro bike, and a park bike. But, at the extremes, they’re also seeing that some folks are going really long on their “big” bike and getting a 29er full suspension XC bike for racing and fast trail days.

LONGER TRAVEL 29ERS

For a while we’ve been seeing new long travel 29ers from Trek, Evil, Yeti, Intense, and Transition (among others) launch, and there’s definitely more to come. The interest is certainly high, too – both from potential buyers and our colleagues in the press.

Fox’s European marketing manager says last year they sent out mostly 27.5″ 170mm 36 forks for media review samples. This year, that’s almost completely flipped, with 8 of 10 long travel 36 forks requested being 29ers.

It’s not only full on Enduro 29ers, but longer travel do-it-all trail bikes as well. The land of 27.5″ trail bikes is getting encroached on by big wheeled 29ers as the heavy-duty tire availability continues to grow – a good bit of credit going to 29ers popping up on the World Cup downhill race circuit.

INTEGRATED STORAGE

Sahmurai SWORD tire plug flat repair system for tubeless tires

Specialized has been doing it for a while, and we just saw the South African made Sahmurai S.W.O.R.D. tire plug system that mounts inside your bar ends. Add to that a Fork Cork fork lower steerer plug to carry spares, a One-Up multi-tool in the top of the steerer, or a CleverStandard chain tool replacing bar end plugs. There are still plenty of hollow tubes in a bike, and surely someone out there is trying to stuff gear out of your pockets and onto the bike.

NEW BAR & STEM OPTIONS

We’ve been seeing more and more 35mm handlebars and stems bringing added stiffness to aggressive trail & enduro bikes sporting 800mm and wider bars. Some companies are going even farther to get added stiffness and control without the added weight penalty. A Scott Genius we saw went down the path of an integrated bar/stem, with full carbon construction Syncros in a tiny 35mm stem length that essentially strapped a steerer clamp on a wide carbon riser bar.

E-MOUNTAIN BIKES

E-mountain bikes are surely another huge trend that can’t be ignored. In Europe, they’re basically saving the cycling industry, bringing in new sales at higher average unit costs. Word from many brands is that sales of traditional mountain bikes are way down, but sales of much more expensive motor-assist bikes keep going up. And people are going into shops to buy them rather than ordering online, which helps every end of the industry.

Specialized Turbo Levo 6fattie moab ut photos c bikerumor (28)

In the U.S., we’re still warming up to the concept, and trail access is a hot button issue (although we are being quickly reminded that many of our iconic riding locales are already rideable on proper motorbikes.) What we’ve seen time and again is that anyone that’s actually ridden one gets it, and those who haven’t still don’t buy into the concept. But with major global-but-US-based brands like Specialized, Trek, and Cannondale now offering them, we expect e-bikes to start making inroads everywhere over the next couple of years.

Keep an eye on Bikerumor over the weeks to come as we delve deep into new & forthcoming mountain bikes, and even more so into the suspension trends that will be driving them…

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31 COMMENTS

        • If you ride park and XC, a longer travel slack bike is a must. Hell, if you ride burly trails in places like Colorado, Wyoming, Utah or British Columbia, “normal” xc rides can involve some big-line descending as well-at least if you’re good enough to ride “advanced” trails and take alt. lines with 6-10 foot (or more) drops.

          Where I live and ride, an XC rig like a Scalpel has a really narrow bandwidth. Want to drive to Junction and ride Ribbons-need a bigger bike. Want to go to Moab and ride Whole Enchilada-big bike needed. Want to get in the high alpine country of the Medicine Bow or Never Summer mountains-you might get away with a steep angled nervous bike, but you’ll be terrified and on the binders…..and you’re likely to grenade an xc casing tire or wheel (or frame).

          I get that for most people in most places, bikes with 5-6 inches of travel and slacked out front ends are waaaay overkill. For those of us who choose to live in places where the riding is really challenging, these bikes have been a revelation.

          A final thought on the matter. Look at where the brands that are pushing bigger bikes are based. Guerrilla Gravity and Yeti are on the Front Range. Evil and Transition are in the PNW. Pivot is in Arizona. These companies build bikes for the trails near their HQ and for the way their employees ride them.

          So if you’re happy with your shorter, steeper bike-good on you. I’m sure that it’s more than up to handling where and how you ride. As for me, I’m already on a 140mm bike and planning on bumping up to 160. And I’ve run out the travel on every 160mm bike I’ve tried (yes, yes, with correct shock setup).

    • You are spot on !!! I for one DO NOT like long low and slack. In AZ that just means big time pedal strikes on big rocks ! Also, sluggish steering through technical sections.

    • There is a lot of truth in what you wrote. In my opinion this all comes down to marketing and sales. They need to present something new to sell. I HOPE that there will be still shorter options for people who prefer it like that ;).

    • Sounds like someone likes to ride undersized bikes, that makes them look like a bear on a tricycle. Long, low, slack bikes, pedal and manuver great. They are what mountain bikes should be, instead of still clinging to road bike specs.

    • I would say you are somewhat right. Too slack and too low is bad. But when exactly is that comes down to personal preferences. For me at 182cm the new Firebird size L was too long both when seated and when standing. Size M was perfect. The suggested size for me is L. Who knows what I would say if instead of 800mm bar and 50mm stem they would throw there 780mm bar and 30mm stem. But for sure going longer than this 46,5cm reach would be a big no no.

      I think that having options is the most important thing and not exaggerating too much with the reach and angles is also equally important. Bikes like Geometron should be there but only as an option for those who want this kind of strange. I met some people riding those bikes in the Alps and my anecdotal experience is that they are not very skillful riders but rather 30+ that started the MTB rather late.

      The problem is that industry pushes those changes because they need to have sales. That’s it. And what happened is that all the bikes got low not only enduro (which is good) but also trail bikes (which is bad). They introduced similar changes to almost all MTB groups and the biggest mistake is that that did it with trail bikes which should be most versatile. Making low BB on a trail bike is in my opinion big mistake. Making them slack and longer is not such a bad thing. Hopefully this will stabilize itself someday but I highly doubt it because industry has to make money and they understood that changing geo all the time is one of those things that sells.

  1. What do I think? I think we could extend the time between recharges if we just built our “pedal assist” bikes with plutonium batteries supplemented by a small solar array which would also act as an SPF umbrella for those long sunny days in the saddle. If somehow you were to begin to perspire, simply reprogram the aft thruster fans to “cross ventilate” mode.

  2. “many of our iconic riding locales are already rideable on proper motorbikes”

    What a vague and misleading statement, almost like it was designed to confuse the issue.

    Have e-bike pushers given up on the “geriatrics and cripples need them” excuses so soon?

  3. Maybe I haven’t noticed before and it was always like this, but the writing here reminds me a lot of what I despise about media, stating their interpretation of the facts without ensuring that it’s accurate.

    Prime example here is the statement that shorter offset fork to adapt to longer wheelbase. Based on facts I know, out of dozens of new longer bikes, I can only name 2-3 that have gone this route: Whyte S-150, Transition Sentinel, and maybe the Mojo/Nicolai Geometron (not sure about this one).

    • In Europe (Germany), I can see why someone would say e-bikes are saving the industry… but it’s not in the way you think. There are a whole lot of mid to upper-mid range MTB’s that are used as nothing more than commuter bikes here (think full suspension carbon with a big honkin’ 5kg kickstand bolted onto it). Those are more and more becoming e-MTB’s. I also see casual riders on e-MTB’s on the trails, but they are not exactly shredding, they are just merrily riding along & covering more ground than they could without the e-assist.

      I still haven’t decided what to think of this trend. I’m hopeful that it will work out the same as SUV’s “saving” the car industry. Think Porsche making an SUV to save the 911. I have my doubts as to it working out that way though.

  4. “What we’ve seen time and again is that anyone that’s actually ridden one gets it, and those who haven’t still don’t buy into the concept”

    Well, I’ve tried it and I’m still won’t buy it.

    • Yeah that really got me too. After a tip of the hat to our trivial concerns about trail use, the e-bike expert here gets right to the REAL point which is, “if you don’t ride it you don’t get it bro”.

      Needless to say, how cool and fun the electric mopeds are is really beside the point. Just stop pretending they’re bikes. Bro.

      • Yup, agreeed. I felt the author’s comment was unnecessarily condescending. Not a smart way to win over people on the other side.

        My only gripe with e-mountain bikes is people who try to pretend they are just the same as “regular” mountain bikes. They just aren’t. I understand this precisely because I have ridden an ebike. How can you ride one and think it’s the same?

    • Ever been to Moab? Many of the trail complexes there have only one access road that allows motorcycles- the rest are clearly marked “NO E-BIKES”. Has the author never stopped to wonder, “hm, why would that be?”

      • Yep….and the shot on Gold Bar with a couple of motos is one of the rare spots where the motorized and non-motorized users share part of the trail system there. Sure, Hymasa was originally all motorized access, but the trails there are now largely separated. Keep your crap mopeds (calling them ebikes is a matter of semantics-an attempt to change the framework of an argument based on a name, not a definition) off trails that aren’t built for motorized users!! A 50-60 pound bike that gives its rider a 200+ watt boost on demand has no place on a trail marked “non-motorized users only”. On the same token, ride jeep trails all day on your sweet moped.

    • I tried ebikes a couple of times and don’t dig them – at all. Sorry to skew BR’s generalized view of the situation.

      I ride MTBs and motos. Two different activities – and the way it should remain.

      Cool that they’re saving the industry in Europe. Just because it’s cool in Europe doesn’t mean it’s going to work here. I guess Europe’s saving the front derailleur for Shimano at the same time…

      I will give credit where credit is due and suggest that Pivot’s best looking bike to date is the ebike they just released. But it doesn’t make me want a Pivot or ride their ebike…

      It’s clear what direction BR is headed with near sighted comments like the one quoted above and increased coverage of ebikes.

  5. When are we going to get Inerters on bikes? Am I the only one who knows about this technology?

    Hello! My name is Simon ‘Eddie’ Manso. I am a Mechanical Engineer from a small city in Oregon called Eugene. I attended Oregon State University and with my senior design project I was on the 2010 OSU/Global Formula Racing Suspension Design team. We designed the suspension for the 2010 OSU/GFR Formula car and competed in various national and international competitions. Our team won national and international titles in 2010 with further success in subsequent years.

    2010 OSU/GFR Maiden victory!
    2011 OSU/GFR Team Wins Again!
    2012 Three times a charm for OSU!

    As part of my avid interest and experience in motorsport and automotive engineering I have been exposed to various new technologies. During the course of my study at OSU, I was able to discover a new application for a new type of suspension technology. I am a bicycling enthusiast and I have created a new type of suspension design aimed primarily at improving the rideability and comfort of moutain bicycles (off-road bicycles). This technology I commonly refer to as a ‘Inertia Amplification System’ and we will use the acronym IAS to refer to this system hereafter.

    The IAS system is completely mechanical and based on well undestood phsyical principles. There is extensive background research and information available on the system for anybody who wishes to learn more. I have designed a CAD model in Solidworks and I have built a nice MS Powerpoint presentation with more information on the IAS system and its benefits.

    I have contacted various manufacturers about building a prototype bicycle with this suspension system, but they have universally responded by requesting Intellectual Property rights before investigating further. As far as I know, this design is not patented in the United States, but may be patented in the United Kingdom and/or the European Union.

    The purpose of this GoFundMe campaign is to raise money to retain a patent attorney and obtain IP rights in order to further develop the IAS design with a well-established bicycle manufacturer. I have been told that $3000 is necessary for a retainer by a patent attorney in Portland, OR. Of course, if a significantly large contribution is made, I would feel it necessary to include that contributor in on any potential profits earned by obtaining IP rights to the IAS design.

    I developed this system in early 2010 and it has since sat undeveloped due to my financial constraints. I only want to develop this system to create a real-world product and intend to use all funds to obtain intellectual property rights to do so.

    I personally feel like the IAS design has a lifetime of development opportunity, and can/will eventually revolutionize the world of bicycling and create an entirely new product for the market. I sincerely believe that this product is revolutionary and will be well received by the market.

    As an engineer, it is rare to create something that could revolutionize an industry. I truly feel that this design is part of my life’s work and I sincerely hope to help humanity with this technology. Of course, I will be eternally thankful for any advice, help, or any other contributions anyone can make to help this idea become a reality.

    Please note, this is not a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. This is a real product meant to help real people get out and into the world in a more comfortable and meaningful way. Mountain biking has transformed my life infinitely for the better, and with this product I hope to make mountain bicycling easier and more accessible for all of humanity.

    Thank you for your consideration and contribution.

    Best regards, Simon Manso

    • I understand your position, i have designed too, completely new frames for HT and FS mtb but this patent price stop my dreams. Good luck! And be sure this patent to be worldwide.

  6. Not sure what to think…

    The process of skidding and turn down a dirt path is now so more “technical” than half the trails I’ve seen in the last 3 yrs…

    Show of hands if you have fun riding your bike.

What do you think?