New trends blow through the world of cycling like whirlwinds. It’s an innovative place. It’s also impossible to predict if the latest thing will stick or flop. But nobody can deny that the cycling world loves new stuff. And that goes both for new technical developments and clothing, to the ways in which we watch the sport as spectators. We’re making a gamble by compiling this list of the latest trends. But we think we’ll all see more of these in 2019.

‘1×12’ gearing

We reckon it’s still a bit early for this set-up to become common on road bikes but we’re seeing it more and more in the gravel and mountain bike scene. 1×12 is a gearing with one chainring on the front and twelve cogs on the rear cassette. While only one chainring on the front means fewer gear combinations than with the current standard for road bikes (the compact), this new set-up does have certain advantages. Firstly, gear shifting. There’s only one derailleur, which makes life a lot simpler. Less weight is also an advantage. The 1×12 set-up does away with not only the front shifter, but the cabling which goes with it. These missing bits also make cleaning your bike less fiddly. The disadvantage of this set-up is that you will run more km on fewer cogs. In other words, your chainrings and cassette are likely to wear faster than they would using a compact.

cycling trends

The 3T bikes ridden by the Aqua Blue team had already been equipped with a 1×12 gearing set-up in 2018. Photo: Cor Vos

Gravel rides

You may have noticed there was a lot of talk about gravel rides last year. Even Laurens ten Dam, the World Tour professional who rode for Team Sunweb in 2018, suddenly had his own gravel ride, staged in the German Eifel region in September. And he’s going to do it again. Laurens ten Dam has a reputation for being an early adaptor. He was one of the first ever professional cyclists on Strava, for example. We think this means there’s more gravel coming. Time for an adventure!

Gravel bikes

These machine are less about racing aero and more about riding all day, wherever. The possibilities are endless. In fact, if you’re smart, you can use this machine for everything. With just one bike (with three different sets of wheels) you can ride at just about every event. A gravel bike offers more riding comfort than a normal road racer, and that’s perfect for those with a real spirit for adventure. And with three different wheel sets, no surface is too challenging. Set one can be for fast roadwork (think carbon, think skinny tyres). The second set can be your standard gravel bike tyres: usually wider, thicker, heavier and more ‘grippy’ than your average race tyre. The third set depends on your riding habits. Should you be planning a load of off-road work, then you might consider some bombproof wheels more suited to mountain biking. Do you live near the coast? Then it’s a set of beach racing wheels for you!

cycling trends

Jack of all trades: the gravel bike

Ultra Distance Cycling

‘Ultra Distance Cycling’ was a phenomenon which we read a whole lot more about in 2018 than in previous years. Not everyone feels the calling to take part in a UDC event. But they do invoke awe in many of us. And you don’t have to travel halfway around the world to take part in one. The idea of Ultra Distance Cycling is relatively simple. You get x number of days to ride (either alone or in pairs) an (often) insane distance (with ditto meters climbing). Real die-hards can opt for the ‘unsupported’ variant: a challenge during which you may not receive any outside support. Are you ready for a next level-challenge? Keep an eye on all the ultra-distance events in 2019.

Aero-helmets

Make no mistake, the helmet is a crucial part of cycling equipment. This is also a product category which is getting more and more attention. This is not entirely surprising, considering that helmet sponsors are increasingly working alongside professional teams in the peloton. And they’re continually seeking marginal gains. These partnerships appear to be bearing fruit in the form of more and more aerodynamic helmets. The advantage of these technical developments is that they usually hit the consumer market quite quickly. This means us riders can take advantage of them right away. So, will you be totally up-to-date at the start of the 2019 season?

cycling trends

Smile, it’s aero!