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What advances do you forsee in MTN Biking?

ChopStiR's picture

By ChopStiR - Posted on 17 August 2011

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.

Last weekend I attended a meeting with NPWS in Glenbrook(unrelated to the disscussion paper or north sydney projects)

Most intesting Question of the day was what advances do you forsee likely to occur with mountain biking in the next 10 years? example. Will riders be using electric motors? Will downhill pedalling store energy to assist with climbing?

My opinion was that if its available there will be users, but it goes against what mountain biking is and that the majority would refuse to use it. 29ers are still new to the market and thats the biggest change since dual suspension. Mtn Biking is reaching a plateau. But ofcourse it will still evolve.

Logan's picture

Will be the next thing I think.

hawkeye's picture

The Luddites that are the UCI will protect mountain biking from those sorts of advances I think. Recumbent bicycles are much more efficient than the traditional "safety" bicycle with the diamond frame, yet that design is the only one legal for road and track competition despite being basically unchanged since the late 1800's. Any "innovation" is promptly outlawed.

So, just like the recumbent bike is now a fringe-dweller, I think these energy storage and release devices will never be mainstream. The ethos of the UCI is that it is all about the rider, not advances in the bike.

One advance I think will enter mountain biking in the next 5 years is electronic shifting, and 29ers becoming more dominant in the market, but I don't foresee any technology advances that are likely to have an impact on trails strategy in the way their question implies.

ChopStiR's picture
"but I don't foresee any technology advances that are likely to have an impact on trails strategy in the way their question implies."


Lach's picture

While there will no doubt be some tweaks with tech advances making the basic cycle design and components work better, major advances would probably make it "not cycling".

Main advance in off road cycling is likely to be the continued growth of the sport / recreation. Us baby boomers don't want to fade into armchair retirement, and I can't see the following generations being much less inclined the same way. This will sustain continued and increasing demand for XC type riding opportunities.

Little-Ditty's picture

Whether it is revolution, or evolution, it really is just the sport of cycling evolving slowly year by year. What can change? I think bike frame material will get stronger, lighter, more exotic. Carbon alloys, more carbon in smaller parts as manufacturing techniques mature, exotic metals, more use of Ti, magnesium, etc. FR bikes will get bigger and beefier like MX (i.e. bigger forks, more travel, bigger welds, stronger wheels) but with the use of technology will not weigh any more. You can see already the way technology lets a current 6 inch travel bike perform the way a 4 inch travel bike did 10 years ago with no loss of speed performance. As some have said, electronic shifting will find its way onto bikes but probably only where there is a performance gain or is economical, such as road riding and maybe some aspects on a mtb where the components are less likely to get ruined (ie not on a freeride bike). What about night riding with night vision gear on? Surely that is not too far away. How about as the internal gear box matures, becomes lighter, more technologically sophisticated then the move towards ditching the chain and derailleur and instead take up the belt drive? That may take off over the next 10 years. These are already found on cruisers. What about tyre technology, maybe a company will invent the punctureless/impenetrable tyre carcass soon that will mean no more flats, ever, under any circumstances. And will weigh less than current tyres/tubes. The future is limitless.

ChopStiR's picture

I remember years ago and im talking 15+ years ago. Someone had invented the punctureless tyre. it was solid through and slightly flexable to act like a real tyre. I think it was even made of recycled materials. I wonder what ever happened to that.

I suppose it was one of those things that came out ahead of its time.

Noel's picture

If we wanted to ride powered bikes we would just ride them now. For the price we pay for a high end bicycle, we could buy a low end motorbike but choose not to. Why would we change that theory? We want things to be simpler, things are easier to maintain when they are simple. Has anybody had a car with a problem with the electric window, ariel, or mirrors, after shoving your arms up under guards to change the parts you start to wonder.. "It really that hard to roll down a window? or stick your arm out the window to adjust a mirror?" WTF is with society needing to have more buttons and switches?

If you can't reach down to flick a lockout switch on your RP23, or on your forks, stop riding, your a danger to yourself and the people around you. If you need an electric switch to change gears then stay in the cafe with your mocha-lycra-latte.

dangersean's picture


you need to get some mate. you come across as one angry little dude..

Don't worry I am not a danger to you though. I ride a fully rigid SS. Must be because I am too stupid to change gears or flick the little dooberlacky thingies on suspension...

Oh wait I also have a Nomad that has all the bells and whistles I could find!

At the moment I really like where remote seatpost are going. I had an early joplin and now have a reverb.
As Liam said, little things will progressively evolve, but MTB will hopefully always be MTB...

daveh's picture

Noel, I disagree. I ride a road bike commuting through Sydney traffic and like to ride my mountain bike fast. Anything (within reason) that enables me to keep my eyes on the road/track is a good thing. Similarly, anything that enables a driver to keep their eyes on the road (and also see me) is a very good thing. Although I agree on simplicity, for me it's more about reliability. Something that's simple but unreliable is far worse than something that's complex but reliable. Thus I see advances in things becoming more reliable through better materials, more efficient designs, more refined manufacturing, etc.

I do, however, agree that powered bikes are not necessary or part of what I see riding bikes is about.

Flynny's picture

I see more and more electric and petrol driven "DH" bikes coming to the market. at the moment they are too heavy to be considers serious DH bikes and too weak to be considered motor bikes.

To me it's goes against what MTB is all about but I'm sure as the technology gets cheaper and lighter their market will grow. How will that effect us?

I don't know half of me thinks I'd hate to see these semi motorised bikes on one of my trails. The other half of me thinks when I think that I sound like a NIMBY bush walker ranting about mountain bikes.

If they can prove themselves to have as minimal impact as a standard MTB then I guess they will have a valid argument for inclusion for some trails.
In National parks and wilderness I'd like to push the self propelled line and deem anything with a motor as out.

As for what will be the big developments. Well for the last 15 (or is that 80) years we've been saying internal gear boxeswill be the next big thing and for a while the G-Boxx looked to be getting there. Again it comes down the the technologies getting lighter and cheaper but I can't help but think that if the big 2 Ss weren't making a fortune out of replacement derailleurs the frame mounted gear box would have succeeded by now,

Electronic shifting is an interesting development as is the electric suspenion control cannondale was playing around with.

Matt P's picture

Hydraulic shifting

Some fangled polymer based wheel which will deform on purpose but reform to original shape.

On the fly adjustable head angles in conjunction with travel adjust

Segmented tyres that isolate bad punctures to only one area allowing continued riding rather than a complete failure (ok maybe pie in the sky).

Impact or crazy angle actuated Body armour.

Boris's picture

Hi All

Theirs quite a bit of reference too electronic gearing which i find interesting as opposed to hydraulic gearing , im no tech head just a thought.

teeps's picture

Square wheels.

Flynny's picture

Shimano have had patents on hydraulic shifters for a while

The Shimano Airlines were a bit of a flash in the pan. got a lot of people talking for a short time but faded into obscurity

Noel's picture

Yeah i was in a grumpy mood, maybe it just reads more serious than intended? Leaning down a bit to lock out the front or the rear is simpler than reaching for a water bottle, taking a sip and putting back i recon.

I have a remote for my seat-post, that's to keep two hands on the bars when pushing it down, which is approaching pretty rough DH stuff. I do think some things are going into 'fad zone' with the remotes. Locking out the front, isn't the surface pretty smooth (1 handed fine)? Flicking rear shock on and off, it's not all that often really? To put it more delicately, I predict the move to add more cables, and actuators is a bit of a fad. I might be wrong, so what? Simple is generally more reliable I recon. Jump on a ridged dirt jump hard-tail with one rear brake lever and that's pretty reliable, compared to an electronic shifting, with 3 remotes + front and rear Derailleur bile. Sometimes I wonder about disc brakes. Sure I could wear out some expensive rims, but, do I really need all that much modulation, particularly if not riding in wet conditions. Are disc brakes really as necessary as we might think?

Matt P's picture

What would be the alternatives other than v-brakes?

I certainly benefit from the stopping power afforded by my Saints with 8" rotors.

As an aside, I read an article about one of the Hope guys developing a one lever brake system. There was a bias system built in which mean't only one lever was required.

He didn't see it going into production any time soon!!

kitttheknightrider's picture

That would be great for amputees', and yes, they're out there. Have seen teams at the Mont, solo guys at both the fling and DW and also bumped into a hand amputee fixing a flat on Long trail earlier this year, while his mates stood around watching and chatting.

Small target audience yes, and you're not likely to get much of a return on your R&D investment, but wouldn't it be ncie to see a couple of the big players putting a little back once in a while

LadyToast's picture

I'm with ditty, ditch the chain and get a hub based gear box operated via battery not cable.

Hop fiend's picture

the internal gearbox the Honda DH had about 5 years ago that Greg Minaar rode to many victories?-from what I can remember you just twisted the lever to get more gearing to speed up!

Flynny's picture

The honda turned out to be just a derailleur in a box (Well the final verison of it anyway.) But yeah a central frame mounted gear box, like the G-boxx I linked earlier, makes much more sense then hub mounted

1 lever brakes.... good for one armed people but I'm not sure if it's practical for the rest of us. Or am I the only one who doesn't use both together at all times?

bobozzie's picture

Just take a look at motocross & can get a pretty good idea at many of the things in store. There is massive room for improvement with suspension systems, rear swingarms, & especially the front end. Longer travel suspension with less pedal energy lost. Electronically controlled, adaptive integrated suspension is a possibility as well. As time goes on adjustable seatposts with remote, + remote control suspension will become standard on more bikes.

Manufacturers marketing teams + racing will come up with ever greater categories of bicycles to encourage more sales, just look at how an all round mountain bike has been divied up into specialist categories (e.g. DH, FR, XC, Trials, BMX, 29er, etc.)

Weight reduction is a no brainer.

Simon's picture

A few motor bikes effectively have this as the foot brake for the rear can be linked to be activated by the front hand lever brake.

However it's no good on a mtb on for example techy rollers etc as you would need to alter the front rear bias on the fly as your weight gets transferred forward otherwise the rear will lock and your back wheel will overtake you. Kind of controlled instinctively now with two brake levers.

I dont know motorbikes well but I have only seen this on my father in-laws sport bikes with ABS.

ABS on a mtb......?

Discodan's picture

several motorbikes (mostly Honda's) have linked brakes but they are not loved by riders at all. They are OK for tourers and scooters but not very good for performance bikes because of the lack of control. I think exactly the same applies for MTBs

ps's picture

I have linked brakes on my aprillia scooter and have got used to them but wouldn't want them on a mountain bike. My aprilia does have an extra lever for the second disk on the front so I can manually adjust the bias with the right lever however it still makes me nervous when I arrive a bit quick for a sweeper and want a bit of rear brake and can only pull both on via the linked lever.

tate's picture

im hoping for internal hub gearing. already exists i know, but something lighter and more mtb specific than a touring rohloff.

imagine it:

no front derailleur
perfect chainline
no bent hangers

hawkeye's picture

Was gona say YEAH! to ABS brakes, but then there are times you *want* to skid the rear. Maybe ABS for the front?

philberesford's picture

Hoverbikes with lasers

hawkeye's picture

I'll just settle for the lasers. Need something to fend off the bogans on my commute. Sticking out tongue

Matt P's picture

I remember a few years ago someone in the Dakar used a 2 wheel drive motorbike.

That might provide some interesting MTB opportunities........

Matt P's picture

Double post

Flynny's picture

2wd MTBs have been around for years with companies like christini producing them

best review I ever read on one was "It's a great engineering solution looking for a problem to fix."

It gives you more traction, yes but how often in your standard ride are you seriously compromised by lack of traction on your back wheel? Would those instances really justify the extra weight and complexity of being able to drive off the front wheel too?

MarkkyMarkk's picture

Cool link there Flynny. I've been thinking about how you might get front wheel drive on a bicycle.
I can think of a few steep rocky fireroad climbs that I struggle with that have had me thinking that additional drive to the front wheel would be handy. I used to do a bit of 4wding & you can really feel the difference that it makes over regular 2wd on steep rocky terrain. It just seems to claw its way up effortlessly - quite the opposite manner in which I climb hills on the MTB!!
But you're right flynny - the extra weight & complexity would be a trade off.

hawkeye's picture

Drive system looks light at 2.3lbs (1kg?), but can't see an aluminium spiral drive gear set lasting more than a couple of rides before wearing out in Sydney trails.

Flynny's picture

New Nicholia with pinion gear box launched at Eurobike

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