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Changes in the Bicycle Industry: Part 2

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Continued From PART 1:

Confused about all the changes happening in the bicycle industry? You’re not alone.

We’re here to help you get a better picture of some of the recent changes in the bicycle industry and why it’s totally changing the way we ride. In Part 1, we discussed changes in wheelsize, rims, and axles and now we’re ready to jump into changes in some other crucial components. 

Front Suspension

When bigger wheelsizes came into the picture, front suspension on bikes had to get shorter for a while. Larger wheels raised the front end of the bike and threw off geometry with longer travel bikes. But as bike geometries caught up to speed–altering frame geometry such as the head tube angle to adjust to various wheel sizes–front suspension could increase in travel again. Riding became even more plush and playful.

Fork technology has also come a long way in improving ride quality. Small bump sensitivity, traction, and damping keeps getting better and better as companies come out with newer, nicer, and more fine-tuned suspension. Many forks can also now be completely fine-tuned to the rider with rebound and low-speed adjustments.

changes in the bicycle industrychanges in the bicycle industry

 

Rear Shock

Developments in the rear shock aren’t often noticed by most customers, but recent models with larger, higher volume canisters now have better small bump sensitivity. This, along with improvements in damper design, help create better traction and a smoother, plusher ride.

 

Drivetrain

Probably the most difficult change for riders to understand and accept is the switch to a 2x or 1x system. In this case, the adage “less is more” really is the answer. Simplicity in shifting allows riders to focus on better handling and quicker control, instead of shifting through an endless number of gears to find the right cadence. Simpler drivetrains also significantly reduce maintenance and mechanical problems like dropping/jamming chains or tuning issues. Not to mention losing a front derailleur, some cables and housing, and a few chainrings also take weight off the bike. Smoother, lighter, faster. Simple as that.

But for all of the pros of a simplified drivetrain, people still panic over whether or not they’ll lose their precious granny-gear. Here’s the deal, plain and simple: With the right set-up, you can ultimately create the absolute perfect gear ratio for any rider. Believe it or not, you could get an even lower gear ratio than you have on your current bike! Most people in reality don’t need it that low, but the fact of the matter is that mixing and matching different chainring sizes creates an endless number of possible gear ratios, ranging from super low to super high. Ultimately you will sacrifice some range when switching from a 3x system, but truly most people find that they just don’t need the length of range of a 3×10. It just gets quite complicated, and opens yourself up to lots of problems, while trying to shift from one end to the other.

So take your pick. You could skim a little range off the low end and become a faster rider.  You could take a little off the top because you’re rarely pedaling downhill with everything you’ve got. OR you could go with the new 1×12 technology and not have to sacrifice any range at all. In the end, a 1x drivetrain gives you gears that shift like a breeze, allowing you to focus on hitting the trail better and faster.

changes in bicycle industrybicycle industry trends

Frame Cable Routing

This is a simple change and one that most people find pretty logical. Routing cables internally, as opposed to externally, protects the cables and housing from snagging or catching on objects as you ride or getting damaged during a crash. It also keeps the cables better protected from dirt and contamination, extending life and maintaining performance. Internally routed cables also just make for a cleaner, slicker, better-looking bike.

 

Handlebar Width

Last, but certainly not least, widening handlebars creates more stability and control. A wider stance, brought closer to the body with a short stem, helps the rider control and maneuver the bike better than narrower bars with a longer stem.  Wider handlebars allow you to have better control over the front wheel and require less effort in keeping the bike under control.

 

The Big Picture

We hope at this point you’ve got a good understanding of why changes in the bicycle industry are often so readily welcomed by bicycle enthusiasts. Hundreds of engineers and mechanics all over the world are dedicating their lives and careers to developing the technology that makes our riding better and better. In just a few years, we’ve seen some trends come and go, others explode in popularity to the surprise of many. The next couple years will be both exciting and surprising, for sure, as we watch what the industry has in store for us.

We’ve included this side-by-side comparison of the specs on our Cascade Peak since 2013 to help you see clearly how things have really changed. We think it sums up well what’s going on in the bicycle industry lately and what we might be able to expect in the years ahead.

2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Wheel Size 26 29 29 27.5+ 27.5+
Tire Size 26×2.35” 29×2.1” 29×2.2” 27.5×3” 27.5×2.8”
Internal Rim Width 19mm 19mm 21mm 45mm 40mm
Front Thru Axle 100x15mm 100x15mm 100x15mm Boost 110x15mm Boost 110x15mm
Rear Axle 135mm Quick Release 142x12mm Thru 142x12mm Thru Boost 148x12mm Thru Boost 148x12mm Thru
Front Suspension 150mm 100mm 100mm 120mm 140mm
Rear Shock Canister Standard Standard Standard High Volume High Volume
Drivetrain 2×10 2×10 2×10 1×11 1×11
Frame Cable Routing External External Internal Internal Internal
Handlebar width 680mm 680mm 725mm 740mm 740mm

 

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Left: 2017 Cascade Peak Right: 2014 Cascade Peak with a few modern upgrades

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