Singletrack’s Predictions For The MTB World In 2017

by Chipps 9

Every year, or nearly every year, we’ve sat down and tried to put in a few predictions for what might happen in the year ahead. While some of our previous predictions have been far-fetched, or a few years ahead of the game (more electronic shocks, a 29er World Cup DH winner, Chipps will get some air…), some have been bang on the money and we’ve successfully predicted the increase in plus tyres, wider range cassettes and internal dropper posts. So this time we sat down among the mince pie wrappers and tried to work out what might happen in the 12 months ahead of us in 2017.

Mystic Meg’s let herself go…

And we wouldn’t be so cheap as to ask for some hints from our industry friends (who are already working on 2018 and more) – for these predictions, we’re as in the dark as you are.

Going back to 2012 – we predicted that ‘Touring would become the new cyclocross, which was the old fixie’, that ‘there would be a new UK World Champion’, ‘electronic shifting would start to appear on pro-racers’ bikes’ and more.

And back in 2015, Chipps predicted that in a year, you wouldn’t be able to move for these new Plus bikes.

2016’s predictions foresaw that the fat bike would lose out in popularity to the new Plus-size wheel, we predicted the return of the 29er trail bike and predicted 11 speed SLX and electric XT.

Chipps – Editor and Reluctant Tech-head

  • With SRAM vowing to never again develop a mountain bike front derailleur, we’re going to see more bikes designed for one-by only. I reckon that SRAM will roll-out wide-ranging one-by 12 speed groupsets like its recent Eagle XX and X0, but at a much more affordable level. Is the front mech dead? SRAM seems to think so.
sram eagle
One day, son, all this will be yours…
  • By contrast, Shimano will just about have finished taking Deore to 11 speed to join XTR, XT and SLX and will be found blinking into the spotlight, saying ’12 speed, wide range what?’ and ‘Did you know we make the finest front mechs in the world? Look! Squirrels…’
  • Post-Brexit and post-Trump pricing will mean a steep increase in bike components thoughout the year. Expect everything to go up by 10-20%. If you want a new bike, buy it quick.
  • Some race organisers will call it quits in 2017, tired of fickle racers who only enter a week before any event unless it’s sold out – creating a loop where sold-out events sell out even more quickly and those that haven’t sold out wait in limbo for those racers to enter at the last minute having checked the week-ahead weather forecast. That’s no way to have to run a business, so who can blame organisers for trying to seek stable income elsewhere. Cue loads of ‘But that was my favourite event!’ blubs. ‘I was just about to enter that and everything… well, maybe next week anyway. Definitely!’

Jason Miles – World Recumbent Tandem Record Holder and Cheese on Toast Fan

  • Wibbly-wobbly 3in x 27.5in tyres will vanish to be replaced with happy medium 2.6in ones that don’t need sidewalls made of plywood.
Is plus-minus the way of the future? Jason thinks so.
  • The traditional beard/sandals/rigid singlespeed synergy will be replaced by a beard/sandals/gravel bike synergy
  • Location tracking-enabled devices and apps will become more affordable/commonplace. Perhaps combined with cameras for Facebook Live-type annoyances.
  • The world’s first pop-up bikepacking tent-cum-raft will be invented. A bit like a liferaft. (Actually a liferaft).
  • An explosion in the number of long-distance, unsupported races. Want to do the Tour Divide but can’t get enough time off work and/or can’t afford the airfare there and back? Loads of these things cropping up in Europe now.
  • A realisation that riding around in circles for 24 hours is nowhere near as much fun as riding for two weeks and trying to sleep in a binbag. Mountain Mayhem reinvents itself as the Gloucestershire Divide.

Mark – Publisher and Resident Grumpy

  • Independent Bike shops that survive the year will sell less stuff and service more bikes as the trend towards a service centre/workshop based business model continues to be the only viable business model in the retail sector.
  • E-bikes will evolve as batteries and motors get smaller and lighter and easier to integrate into frames. Battery capacity will go DOWN rather than UP, allowing smaller batteries to fit inside the frame. Most people ride for a couple of hours, they’re not out for 40 miles. And if you’re planning a big day, a smaller battery will allow you to pack a spare when you actually need it, rather than carrying around excess capacity.
electric emtb ebike spain
Something like this, Mark?

Anthony DeHeveningham – Trailbuilding guru and savoury snack connoisseur

  • The return of the pump track. I did think the novelty was wearing off and they were going the way of DH bikes and 26” wheels, but recently a bunch of fancy new asphalt-surfaced ones have popped up, including at Flyup 417, Cwm Carn, and this absolute beaut in Inverness: And the local trail crew at SingletrAction have just broken ground on a brand new one at Stainburn. Winter-friendly and perfect for that old 26er you’ve got in the shed
  • More UK-made stuff. One of the few upsides to the pound getting weaker is that it’s going to become more cost-effective to make bikes and parts here. We’ve seen UK frame builders get more successful and ambitious over the past few years (thanks in no small part to the wonderful Bespoked handbuilt bike show) and there are folk like Robot bringing some serious engineering chops to the game. Established manufacturers like Hope and Orange are going from strength to strength and upstarts like Superstar are moving their production to the UK. So bike stuff isn’t going to get cheaper in 2017, but it might come with some additional feelgood factor.

Hannah Dobson – Editorial Wrangler and dungaree collector

  • Political uncertainty will drive a survivalist attitude to cycling. Bikepacking will boom, but with a greater emphasis on survival and self-sufficiency. Expect loads of bike attachable kit to help with living off grid – water purifiers, dynamo lights, short wave radios – plus post-apocalyptic wearables such as bike tailored hazard suits and goggles with integrated gas masks. An emphasis on low maintenance, adaptable and wear resistant bikes will accompany this trend
  • A high profile EWS/Crankworx/Rampage rider will come out as gay and the MTB world will wonder if it needs to tackle homophobia as well as sexism. The roadies will be one step ahead of us on this, being a little less ‘yo bro’ than the MTB world
  • I will fail to train adequately for any of the events I plan to do this year.
  • Strava data will be used by a landowner to justify closing trails or prosecuting someone for trespass.


James Love – On and off roader, tallest man in the building

  • less shits will be given about waffle & nonsense, more fun and goodtimes will be had
  • resurgence of spatter paint jobs
  • increase in clear as day/flowery wank nomenclature for all e.g. this bike is a dart/plough/good for bog and slog but not for smudge and float, nor spin ‘n’ win but ’tis ok for grin from time to time
  • more of this type of thing festivals –
Northern Grip Featured Image
More events like this please
  • the acceptance of e-bikes as a valid option/enabler!
  • more savory/interesting flavours trail food options/offerings

Wil Barrett – Staff Writer and short-shorts enthusiast

  • Mark has already pitched in about e-MTB’s, but I’ll go one step further; 2017 will be the year that the hate dissipates around pedal-assist mountain bikes. And why’s that? For a start, all the big brands are either already in the e-MTB pool (actually, that sounds quite dangerous), or they’re about to dive in. And because big bike brands have big dealer networks, more bike shops will have demo e-MTB’s. And once more people find their way onto a demo bike, most of those people will have their opinion changed. Riding an e-MTB is paramount to understanding what they’re all about, and I can’t think of anyone who has ridden one and hasn’t enjoyed it. As indicated in a recent poll on the Singletrack Homepage, 43% of respondents haven’t ridden an e-MTB yet but are interested in trying one out, and the 17% who have ridden an e-MTB thought they were great fun. It certainly helps that modern e-MTB’s are getting better and better, and the next generation will blow many peoples minds. Of course not everyone is going to buy an e-MTB – they’re still a pricey proposition after all – but after seeing how much fun they are to ride and understanding that it isn’t all moto-throttling and roost spraying, those who previously only typed with in Caps Lock will put down the keyboards and start to see the lighter side of the technology.
focus jam emtb ebike nice france rocky dry dusty pike rockshox steps shimano e8000 motor battery electronic pedal assist
Whether you choose to accept them or not, e-MTBs will be EVERYWHERE in 2017. The good news is that the latest generation will blow minds.
  • I’ll echo Jason’s prediction and the article that I published back in September about the 2.6in tyre trend; expect to see more of these plus-minus tyres around the 2.5in – 2.6in width, as they bring a solution to the needs of British all-weather mountain bikers and enduro racers who don’t want the casing roll and bouncy castle effect of chubbier 2.8in – 3.0in tyres, but still want more rubber on the ground.
  • My 2016 prediction about further electronic integration with suspension appears to have been premature, but I’m convinced we’ll see more ‘smart’ suspension in the future. Particularly with SRAM’s acquisition of ShockWiz, my spidey-senses tell me that something else is bubbling away underneath the data-acquisition exterior…
Quarq (SRAM) is getting elbow-deep into electronic suspension data acquisition. A sign of things to come?
  • And on the note of providing easier suspension setup, while I haven’t had a lot of luck personally with Specialized’s AutoSag function on their rear shocks, it would still be neat to see a similar solution for air-sprung forks. Anything to allow easier and more accurate setup for more riders is a good thing.
  • A more accurate prediction I put forward last year was about the re-ignition of the 29er trail bike. I’ll follow on with that by stating that 29ers will continue to claw back marketshare in 2017, as more World Cup DH racers climbing aboard the big wheels, and more World Cup XC racers going back to the big wheels after flirting with 27.5in. As 1x continues to dominate more bikes, and as 29ers get lighter and more agile courtesy of improved geometry, 27.5in wheels will only exist in Small and Extra-Small sizes on shorter travel XC hardtails and duallies.
2017 Trek Slash 9.9 RSL 29er
More enduro race bikes are going big wheels. Expect to see lots more 160mm+ big wheelers in 2017.
  • In 2017, more wheel, frame and fork manufacturers will settle on Boost hub spacing. The wider hub standard has been gaining momentum, and whether you like it or not, regular QR15 and 142x12mm spacing will become a very rare sight on new bikes. But for everyones sake, I hopefully predict that there will not be another new hub standard emerging in 2017…
  • Likewise, Metric shock sizing will completely take over in the coming seasons. After it was initially suspected to be an April Fools hoax when first launched in April of 2016, the Metric shock size standard has already been picked up by some of the bigger players like Giant, and we’d expect that trend to continue through to 2017.


So, what have we got right and what is obviously never going to happen?

Comments (9)

  1. Just out of curiosity, what is that 27.5 tyre pictured?

    Any chance of a 27.5 + tyre roundup review at some point?

  2. It’s a Schwalbe. Follow Wil’s link for more on the 2.6 phenomenon.

  3. Northern Grip – awesome

    E-bikes – booo

  4. BoltonJon, have you ever ridden one?

  5. Sorry, but no one is arguing that E-bikes are not fun!

    Lets face it, E-bikes ARE fun, it’s the side effects we don’t like. I mean, crack cocaine is (probably i hear…) fun, so is alcohol, smoking, sky diving and numerous other things that can kill you.

    So we all get E-bikes, have a lot of fun, but then they get banned or we loose our “free” access to the countryside because they are considered by non MTBers (who outweigh MTBers at least 1000:1) to be “motorbikes” and hence the Devil incarnate!


  6. Totally agree Max Torque 🙂

  7. 2017 will be the year that we have Ebikes rammed down our throats whether we like it or not as publishers seek to fill pages with new content.

  8. Click the ‘news’ link and start counting stories backwards until you reach the first eBike story. Then reconsider your theory that we’ll be ‘ramming ebikes down your throats’.

    Actually, let me spare you the bother. It’s five pages back – over 60 published stories ago – dated 20th December.

  9. Yeah but he said 2017 was when you’d start to do it so looking back into 2016 news articles cos we’re only 6 days in is kind of a moot point.

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