Pull out the Magic 8 Ball, cause we’re about to predict the future of 2024 in the bike industry. Will “signs point to yes” for our cycling tech prognostications… or maybe more towards “don’t count on it”? Really, only time will tell, for sure. But we keep our collective fingers on the pulse of all things bike. So, let’s dive into what we think will be coming down the road and trails in 2024…
Bikerumor predicts the direction of Bike Development in 2024
We spent the last couple weeks of 2023 cleaning house after a busy year – and compiling our favorites into a series of greatest hits Editor’s Choice stories. Then, we even took a look back at the 23 most popular stories of ’23. But as much as the end of a year is a good time to look back, the New Year’s start is a great time to look forward.
Ron asked A.I. what it thought was coming and the infinitely wise voice inside the machine suggested the Emperor’s New Protective Clothes. We’re not quite so sure, though.
But back in the realm of real people in the real world, we have a much better idea of what to expect…
Resurgence of Trail mountain bikes
After a few years where new mountain bikes all were calling themselves ‘enduro’, we expect to see a rebirth of the Trail bike. The past couple years have already shown us more mountain bikes filling that space between XC & enduro – like the latest Jeffsy or even Spectral 125. Slack geometries like on enduro bikes but lighter and much shorter travel. Not all of us can afford to keep a fleet of multiple mountain bikes from XC hardtails to mega DH sleds. Especially, when many of our purse strings have tightened in the past year.
A mid-travel modern Trail bike could just be the perfect bike for the kind of riding most mountain bikers actually ride. And we think the bike makers have been paying attention to our real needs.
Gravel Race Bikes give rise to MTB-inspired Gravel Bikes
2024 is going to see more and more gravel bikes with full-on mountain biking capabilities. This won’t be a huge surprise to our readers who’ve been seeing short-travel gravel suspension forks & even full-suspension gravel bikes on our site for literal years. But as gravel racing develops its professional side, adventure gravel bikes are becoming seriously differentiated from race-focused gravel bikes. And the same modern MTB geometry that started in enduro before trickling down to XC… it’s coming to gravel too.
I mean, even last year’s Gravel Worlds was won on a long-wheelbase gravel bike with a headtube maybe 3° slacker than some of the competition. You don’t need to build a retro-modern MTB gravel bike to know that modern gravel rides are more capable than early mountain bikes.
Even Road Racing Bikes are now All-Road Bikes
Road bikes that you can only ride on smooth asphalt are passé. Unless you are racing the Tour de France, who needs a skinny tire road bike anyway? And all the real-world testing data supports the rolling resistance science that wider, larger volume tires are faster anyway. Come on, even le Tour will take on a gravel stage (#9in Troyes) in 2024.
You can’t tell me that a road bike with 32mm tire clearance is not an all-road bike. 1 more millimeter, and it would be a cyclocross bike!
Aero Integrated Everything
If you’re shopping for a new bike, especially on the dropbar side of life, you’re already hip to this. Nearly all bikes are getting the one-piece cockpit and internal cable routing makeover. Many bikes (even like the cyclocross Canyon Inflite) are exactly the same as the previous version but with fully internal cable routing and fewer outside holes in the frame.
This “aero everything” isn’t (hopefully) just a cash grab for bike manufacturers but a way to improve the bikes’ looks and add some aero benefits. When you eliminate cables from the front of a bike and integrate the cockpit, the aerodynamic benefits are undeniable. That said, the technology and aero-advantage come at a real serviceability cost to the user.
Now — I am a fan of a clean-looking setup, but if I’m servicing a headset or changing the brake hose… I’m going to drop a few swears. So, let’s hope that this wave of clean internal routing comes with a resurgence in some more user-friendly designs. One that will let the home mechanic be free to make changes without bleeding a brake to change a headset bearing or take out a stack spacer.
While we are on the topic of aero cockpits, dramatically narrower road handlebars are seriously coming too. And road race bars with gravel-like flare and creative bends – all in a bid to get more aero.
The UCI first outlawed puppy paws, and then those ugly turned-in levers, which were confirmed to be sketchy, too. Unsurprisingly, installing a metal clamp on a thin carbon tube at a dramatic angle far away from what was designed… did in fact, create some nasty stress risers and result in broken handlebars.
But roadies will still want to get into that narrow aero tuck. So, we think the cockpit sponsors are working overtime to redesign some narrow but flared drop bars that will give pro riders that same narrow, aero position on the bike. The UCI did say they would allow turned in levers if the manufacturers showed that the bars were designed to handle it.
Shimano XTR Di2
We’re big fans of the current XTR 9100 groupset; it’s reliable, shifts supremely well, is lightweight, and never runs out of batteries. But it’s 5 1/2 years old now. And… there’s this little voice inside our head that’s like, “A new XTR Di2 would be awesome.” Considering what’s happening with the XT Di2 exclusively for e-bikes, I feel something could be in the works.
What would it look like? I’m guessing that Shimano would bring the same tech from the new Di2 road line with zero wires on the front end. Now that integrated bars/stems are a thing even on mountain bikes (see above), I wouldn’t be surprised if the new lever points slightly inward to accommodate.
Would it stay at 12 speed or go to 13? I think 12-speed is the max until we go all-in for Super Boost rear as the standard. The XT Di2 is 12-speed (or curiously 11sp to get AutoShift), and I can’t see Shimano going to 13-speed with just a single groupset. But it is an Olympic year…
That said, I’d be game for a 13-speed mountain bike drive train that shifts, as well as Dura-Ace Di2!
Btw, please give it a neatly integrated power meter, too.
GRX Di2 has to be getting 12-speed as well, right?
Let’s dive into some groupset-specific predictions, too. Remember, gravel is the new road. (Even if old roads, were actually gravel!)
Look, Shimano debuted new 12-speed 1x and 2x mechanical GRX groupsets for gravel riders this past fall, but not GRX Di2?! That surely wasn’t an oversight. Even if it is more expensive, contemporary cyclists love electronic shifting. Dura-Ace has it. Ultegra has it. Hell, 105 has it. Shimano has to be giving GRX Di2 a bigger 12-speed overhaul.
I suppose it will be of course be wireless. But with no real need for a front derailleur in the group now that GRX 12 covers 10-51T cassette range… I would bet that the next GRX Di2 ditches all the wires and internal batteries. Finally, a Shimano rear derailleur that you just bolt onto the hanger and ride away!
New SRAM Red, too, because it’s just time for a refresh
It’ll certainly be wireless, and I’m sure still be backwards AXS compatible. Thank you SRAM, for that.
It’ll probably still be 12-speed right? Although, why not ‘make the leap’ to 13? No one has done that on the road yet. What I really hope to see is a return to superlight weights. Red mechanical was the lightest groupset out there, and then came hydraulic disc brakes and we all kind of accepted that top groupsets would weight more. And that the weight differences between SRAM, Shimano & Campagnolo kinda disappeared. Both Shimano & Campy re-upped their top groups in recent years, without shedding weight. Now it the time for SRAM to stamp their foot down and to make weight weenies rejoice again!
Plus, a new Red most likely will usher in a new era of computer integration thanks to SRAM’s buyout of Hammerhead back in 2022. That almost certainly suggests a new computer will launch at the same time as SRAM’s top-tier road bike groupset. What will new Red x Hammerhead integration give us? Gearing & battery indicators? Live power visualization? Low tire pressure warnings?
Tell us what you want an integrated computer to tell you, down in the comments.
More lightweight eBike motors
There has to be a new lightweight Shimano ebike powertrain system in the works. It’s been quite a while since EP8 had more than simple internal updates. And now that Bosch has dominated eEnduro racing with Race-mode, while TQ is crushing it in the lightweight side of ebiking. Shimano has to do something to regain that ebike spark – whether it goes max power or ultralight is anyone’s guess.
My money is on lightweight. Max power ebikes have pretty much hit a wall of legal limitation before they become e-motorcycles, so the big moves have just been in increasing battery capacity. But TQ has proven that if you can make a light, compact & smooth ebike motor, everyone from roadies to XC racers will flock to it if it is unobtrusive.
3D-printing will surpass CNC-machining
Now we see plastic, rubber, carbon, titanium, stainless steel, and aluminum alloys all being 3D-printed, why do we even need CNC-machining anymore? We know that’s a little rhetorical.
Sure 3D-printing has limitations, but it is still such a young technology. The optimized hollow construction possibilities are nearly limitless. And the power of artificial intelligence can actually be put to good use here in optimizing where the material is placed for strength & efficiency. Plus, you only pay for the material you use, so there’s a lot less waste material that needs to be scrapped or recycled like in machining.
Every year we hear promises of fully 3D-printed bikes. But 2024 looks like a year that will see even more adoption of 3D-printing on a huge scale. We’ve not yet reviewed a 3D-printed production bike. But we’re ready to do it this year!
Extremely Cool Olympic Track Bikes
Every Olympic year, it happens, and we love it. Press releases come with $25K track bikes that look like they are rejected concepts from the TRON movie set.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re all in, and the only thing more remarkable than the bikes are the athletes who can pilot them. The 2019/2020 Hope/Lotus superbike took things to a new level, and the 2024 games in Paris will bring out the heavy hitters.
The Olympic rules state, “For track races, any equipment used at the Olympic Games must have been commercially available – in accordance with article 1.3.006.” Expect astronomical pricing, like this $80,000 track bike from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. But we are waiting for more beautiful oddities with bated breath!
Dugast to Gravel
This one is real specific. But ever since Dugast production moved to Thailand in 2023, the once tubular-only Belgian brand has produced clincher tires. These new tubeless (TLR) clinchers are available in cyclocross tread patterns and in Dugast cotton casing. Cotton casing isn’t the best for gravel, but they’d have a winner if it were slightly tweaked to be more puncture-resistant (without sacrificing ride quality). Dugast already has the technology to make more giant tire treads. They currently offer 35 & 38-mm cyclocross tubulars, and made 50mm XC tubulars in the recent past. For 2024, we will likely see some Dugast gravel tires with a dry/sand cyclocross tread and a newly redefined, more resistant cotton casing.
Return to Metal Bikes – whether that is aluminum or steel
Round-tube classic-looking bikes are fantastic no matter how you cut them. Of course, they must be well-designed and offer something the carbon counterpart doesn’t have. Manufacturers like Standert and Blackheart bikes have made sure modern alloy and steel bikes are more present on the race scene.
These frames often (always!) stand out amongst the crowds of carbon and aero offerings. The vibe is more than a race bike; it’s a curated design that the rider built – most often from the frame up.
Even larger companies like Trek and Specialized have great alloy offerings. Our personal favorites are the Specialized Chisel and the Trek Emonda ARL. Both offer killer bikes with race-focused geometry at a palatable price.
Here’s to more affordable and traceable alloy bikes in 2024!
More Cargo Bikes and/or Bikes with Baskets
(Eds.: In case, it’s not obvious… these are Ron’s rants. But we all fully agree!)
We don’t have any concrete proof that ‘Merica will pull their collective heads out of competitive cycling’s arse long enough to pick up on the fact that bikes can save the world. If we let them. Seriously, put a basket on your bike and do your errands using your trusty steed. It’s fun.
Europe gets it (mostly)… some cities have actual automobile bans within the city limits leaving pedestrians and cyclists to rule the roost. That’s hot!
Listen, I’m pretty convinced that we can use our bicycles for just about everything we need if we try hard enough. I’d like to see cargo bikes that are more accessible by being less intimidating, less expensive, and smaller. The Tern Short Haul that I reviewed a while back is a step in the right direction.
Turn one of your old MTBs or other older bicycles into a highly versatile “grocery-getter” or “basket bomber” by adding a $40 basket to it. No one’s going to think less of you.
I’m just sayin’, ride more drive less.
Did you notice that the planet is dying? Snow is getting less reliable in the mountains. Ski resorts are closing. But some are building new mountain bike trails. Whether that means more gravity parks, or more flow trails, or more long easy tracks with limited climbing… the end goal is the same. Reuse existing infrastructure. Get more people on bikes. Spend more time riding.
You don’t have to send big jumps to get big smiles in a bike park. Maybe it just takes away one obstacle to newbies trying mountain biking. Plus, we can create more year-round sustainable recreation in beautiful places to ride.
Embrace the uplift. You are still going to pedal anyway. Probably hone some technical skills along the way, too.
More Smiles Per Hour not Miles Per Hour
I’ve been enjoying watching a resurgence of people riding their bikes like they were kids again. There is a newfound focus on non-competitive cycling, and I couldn’t be happier. Look, the fact of the matter is that most cyclists don’t race their bicycles regularly. So, it’s nice to see parts of the bike industry start to recognize and produce goods that are designed around having fun on a bike, not just being competitive on one.
I am hoping that this trend continues to grow and we see it get to the point where it needs to be. Where we see more and more products, people, bikes, and news focused on the non-competitive side of cycling.