Mountain biking and mountain bike technology has progressed so far since the first fat tyres were introduced - in fact, mountain bike/cycling technology is progressing faster than Formula 1! Back in the day when RoxShox introduced the first mountain bike suspension fork, the whole cycling world thought it was some kind of gimmick that wouldn't last - these days most people are afraid to even think of a world without their suspension. Anyone can agree that the margin between mountain bike technology from the 80's to 2009 is almost incomparable, but even bikes built a few years ago are starting to look a bit retro these days. With the relentless growth of this wonderful pastime and it's multiplying disciplines, mountain bike technology is going to keep progressing whether you like it or not. Here are a few of my predictions for the future of mountain bike technology:
No Derailleurs: gearboxes and single speeding are the next big things. I have noticed an increasing interest in single speeding of late, especially in Australia. The appeal comes from not only low maintenance and simplicity, but has sparked the interest of riders looking for a new challenge where a different kind of fitness and riding style is required. The current economic climate will also see people looking to the single speed side of riding due to its cheapness of purchase (comlete build), conversion kits and maintenance.
I sense that the mountain bike gearbox is about explode onto the mountain biking market. Since the introduction of the GT DHI a few years ago, we now have a number of readily available gearbox options including the Shimano Alfine, Rohloff Hub and Truvativ Hammerschmidt. The benefits I see from these gearbox systems are less risk of snagging your derailleur, quiet operation and instantaneous shifting. Gearbox technology will only improve - soon enough they will be lighter, smoother and cheaper, replacing the seemingly old-school derailleur.
Big Wheels: At the moment wheels bigger than standard 26" seem like a bit of a cult movement but at the rate the technology is progressing and the more commonly available these wheels/bikes are, they are sure to one day replace the 26" standard. I think once the perfect wheel size (29er, 69er, 96er, 650b etc.) and geometry is recognised, I'm sure they will become seen much more regularly on the trails.
Well that's all I've got for now - if I conjure up any more theories based on the future of mountain biking I will keep you posted. until then, YOU HEARD IT HEAR FIRST!