Have we Reached Peak Bike?

Monsal Gravel Bike

Have we Reached Peak Bike?

Are we at peak bike?

For years the cycle industry has been literally reinventing the wheel. We’ve had trends of BMX, mountain bikes, the 2012 road boom. Seasonal colourways. We have had the 26”, then the 29” and then the 27.5” (Inevitably the middle ground won out and 650b/27.5” became the norm adopted by the mainstream brands). 29” still makes up some XC mountain bikes and size specific applications ie XL bikes. Road bikes too have been picked apart and rebuilt…they needed to be lighter, more aero and had to be special for the numerous  tribes following the sub disciplines of sportive, aero, touring….

From all of this though, I feel something both really good and bad has emerged. The good is a new breed of bike, and a new movement – probably in no small part down to disc brakes. Gravel bikes are booming. I’m seeing more and more adventure/gravel style bikes out there. I think we’re in a new era of cycling, one that is more suited to our British climate and riding inclinations.

The bad though, is while we can all joke about N+1, and as retailers appreciate the need to keep moving new bikes, I think, we may just have reached….peak bike.

Gravel bikes are growing in market share in a significant way, all the time. Its because they represent Cycling

With the constant evolutions, has our average consumer gotten fed up with bikes which no longer hold a wow factor for longer than 6 months, and whose value plummets with the next season’s release.   Sure it caters for that small minority that hold court at the coffee stop discussing watts, VO2 max and gear ratios but in essence I think the cycle industry has inadvertently saturated the market.

Gravel, is though a shining light. It is possibly the wrong label for them but, Gravel bikes are growing in market share in a significant way, all the time. Its because they represent Cycling, not aero, strava KOM hunting or full gnar trail centre shredding. Its just cycling, as it used to be. They’re comfortable enough for days in the saddle, sensible weight, clearance for wider tyres. You can head out from your front door, keep a sensible road pace and peel off along that byway you pass. With the right tyres you can cover most terrain.

One Gravel bike can be enough, it doesn’t do everything, it isn’t a massive compromise in performance but its enough for the average rider. You can commute, bike pack, sportive, trail ride, green lane. You don’t need to have a stable full of bikes, its cool to have but its not (despite what the marketing departments at the big 5 say) essential anymore. 1x drivetrain with wide range cassettes keep weight down and maintenance to a minimum. Disc brakes allow stiffer through axles and reliable braking in all conditions. Wider wheels allow a bigger choice of tyres – tubeless means wider isn’t slower either.

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