I have a feeling this article is going to be a lot more interesting (or perhaps comical) when you read it five years from now. When I sat down to make a list of mountain bike trends from the past year none of it seemed revolutionary: carbon frames & components, endurance racing, 29ers, wide bars, and purpose-built trails are all pretty mainstream at this point. But if you had asked someone about any of these topics just 5 years ago you might have gotten a blank stare. Only time will tell if you’ll get the same reaction 5 years from now…
Mountain bike frames made from carbon fiber were unthinkable several years ago and even now some riders scoff at the notion but the fact is carbon fiber is a material that’s here to stay. These days carbon is also showing up in mountain bike components like handlebars, crank arms, seatposts, and even water bottle cages. Thanks to advances in manufacturing and design, carbon mountain bikes are not only getting lighter, they’re also getting stronger and more affordable.
Ultra endurance mountain bike races like the Leadville 100 have gained national attention in recent years while older endurance racing formats like the 24-hour race are starting to fade. Stage races and multi-day epics like the Arizona Trail 300/750 and Trans North Georgia will only get bigger as individuals seek new ways to challenge themselves and their gear.
To say 2010 is the year of the 29er isn’t really fair but big-wheel bikes have never been more popular. We predict the platform will only grow in popularity over the next 2-3 years and over the long term 29er bikes should definitely stick around.
This one sorta took us by surprise and as a trend it seems a little faddish (though we could be wrong). This year virtually everyone – from pro-riders to schmo-riders – was gushing about how great wide bars are for mountain biking. Yes, you can get more leverage and control out of wider bars but if you ride narrow, tree-lined singletrack there will be a trade-off. It does seem a little odd that no one thought of riding wider bars before…
Purpose-Built Mountain Bike Trails
In the early days of mountain biking, riders only had access to trails that were built for hiking. Today, groups like IMBA have established best practices for trailbuilding which results in more sustainable trails but also trails that are even more fun to ride. The private sector is also stepping up its game with new sculpted summer DH runs opening at most major ski-resorts and indoor ramps designed for MTB. In some ways mountain bike technology is adding to the push for more progressive trail features and today’s trailbuilders are happy to oblige.
We’re stoked to see how these trends play out in 2011 and to see what new mountain bike trends pop up in the coming year!