Predictions for 2014

The biggest prediction for 2014, and this won’t be a surprise to most readers, is the official death of 26ers. The 2 largest bicycle manufacturers have decided to replace their 26er line-up. Along with their current very successful 29er range of bicycles, Giant and Merida have decided to hang their hats on the new’ish 650B standard. Some brands such as KHS and Rocky Mountain have already taken the 650B world by storm, while Scott, Trek and Momsen will also unleash a few new 650B’s this coming year. Some brands, such as Specialized, haven’t jumped on the in-betweener wheel size band wagon but are further reducing their 26er offerings in favour of more 29ers. So the moral of the story is if you have 26er, sell it sooner, rather than later 😉

Following on from the bold introductory prediction, the general replacement of 26er with 650B mountain bikes will lead to consumer “frustration” in 2014. 26er owners will have lower resale values, fewer tyre choices and lower tube/tyre availability, while 650B buyers will initially have limited tyre options, and pricier bicycles and 650B specific parts & accessories.

Another massive trend for 2014, is the unavoidable price increase! This will be across parts, accessories and bicycles. With a 25% increase in the dollar exchange rate from R8 to R10 year on year, you can expect a similar increase in new 2014 bike prices. Be careful of models which have the same name as previous years but lower specifications, in order to keep pricing similar to 2013 prices. So those of you currently in the market for a new bicycle, try find a 2013 model while stocks last. In light of the coming price increase, it is sure to offer great value.

2012 was the year the Single Speed mountain bike arrived and 2013 saw SRAM introduce the very successful XX1 1×11 groupset. But single speeds are too limiting and XX1 (and even the new X01) are pretty damn expensive to buy and to maintain. So what’s the solution? With the invention of clutch dérailleurs, lighter chain devices and thick-thin tooth chainrings, you can expect 2014 to be the year where more people to convert their 2×10 setups to 1×10… especially your fitter friends.

Maybe you haven’t heard, but there is a new kind of racing, and it is awesome. It is called enduro and even though the Americans and Europeans have already tainted it*, the type of enduro racing we are doing here in SA will blow you away. 2013 was the genres breakthrough year, so expect the number of races and competitors to swell in 2014. And although 1×11 and 1×10 setups will be favourable for racing, the accessories of choice to convert any full suspension mountain bike into an enduro machine will be wider (2.3) tubeless tyres and a dropper seat post. And it is the latter that we predict will be the 2014 upgrade of choice for XC, marathon, trail and enduro riders alike. *I say that the European’s and American’s have tainted the growing genre because they are turning it into another form of DH racing (they use full face helmets ffs), instead of the purer South African form where enduro is simply a technical trail ride with the added exhilarating timing and racing elements.

A lot of what we have already alluded to, is as a result of the continued move by riders to trail style riding. More and more XC riders are moving away from their teeth rattling hardtails and short travel marathon bikes to versatile 110mm to 130mm 29er setups, and even the hardcore downhillers are ditching their heavy and clunky gravity machines for any one of a growing number of available and awesome do-it-all trail rigs. For 2014, you’ll even notice more mid-level hardtails with longer travel front forks (110mm or 120mm) for the enthusiastic rider who wants to do weekend races and trail rides alike, but with less impact on the wallet (both price and maintenance) than a full sus.

Road cyclists, don’t despair, it is not only the mountain bikers who get to have all the fun in 2014. Get ready for 11 speed road bikes to be within reach. Campagnola, SRAM and Shimano have offered 22 gears on their range topping Groupsets for 2013, but now for 2014 Shimano will offer 11 speed at the more realistic Ultegra level and SRAM is too offering it at the Force level. So expect to see 22 gears on lots of awesome reasonably priced bikes such as the carbon 2014 Specialized Tarmac SL4 Comp with 11 speed Ultegra for only R32999.

Even more awesome than a couple of extra gears, is hydraulic stopping power! First off are the hydraulic calliper brakes which mean they’ll fit to any existing road bike and work with all road wheels. And then, even though disc brakes on road bikes are not new, they have always been mechanical (actuated with cables), performing no better than normal brakes. Now you can get hydraulic disc brakes for your road bike that doesn’t only look awesome, they’ll stop better in all conditions too.

And finally for 2014, after a few years of fighting against the BB30/PF30 standard, Campag have caved and joined SRAM and FSA in providing us with larger, stiffer, lighter BB’s and cranksets to fit most modern carbon road frames. Maybe finally Shimano will now be brave enough to follow suit… but don’t hold your breath.

Here are a few other little things to look out for are custom colour Trek bicycles, more affordable carbon wheels (MTB & Road), tool integration systems on bicycles, more flip chips for MTB geometry & suspension tuning, slacker 29er head-angles all round, lots more longer travel 29ers, space for 2 bottles in the front triangle of the new Specialized Epic full suspension, the comeback of MTB mud guards (though much lighter nowadays), longer top-tubes & shorter stems, and last-but-not-least the arrival of X-Fusion as a real player to the MTB front suspension fork market.