2022 Predictions from Singletrack – What’s in the future of MTB?

by 83

Every year we play at making like we’ve got our finger on the pulse of the future and have a go at predicting what’s coming in the year ahead. Despite current inclinations to hide under a blanket and not think too much about tomorrow, we’re having a go again, casting our future vision to the sunlit uplands of 2022…

Mystic Mark – Publisher

Since Mark didn’t make any predictions last year (perhaps he saw 2021 coming…) we’ll dive straight into his vision for 2022:

Keeping It Real

I’m coming at this from a publishing perspective and the buzz word of the year will be ‘community’. But don’t worry, it’s still very much relevant to us as mountain bikers – we are already a community after all.

There will be a slow transition away from platform based, so called communities and back towards real, and in many ways more independent platforms out of a realisation that the big tech companies are not in fact there to help us connect, but to exploit us for ad impressions. Not that we weren’t already aware of the controlling tech giants behind our platforms of choice but that slow transition from awareness to action will start to pick up in pace this year.

Influencers will be less influential as everyone realises that a) there’s so many of them and b) they are mostly exploited themselves by corporations and sponsors behind the scenes. Real communities belong to the community and not to the platforms that manipulate them.

To be fair, this is less a prediction and more a continuation of a movement that has already begun (How many of you are planning a social media ‘dry’ period already?). Be ready for a response from the giants though, they are cunning, manipulative and very powerful. There will be resistance. Wolves in sheep’s clothing and all that.

More, Better, Cheaper eBikes

On a specifically more bike related theme I see the evolution of the eBike continuing a pace. They have already dominated the bike buying market for the last few years and their continuing development will continue at an exponential rate in 2022.  Expect more acceptably light offerings as well as options with even greater battery capacity for those consumers attracted to sheer scale of watt hours. I see the next big market move towards ebike offerings at the lower price points – in the next year these bikes won’t actually be very good by our standards but they will increase the thirst in the market for this type of technology and will provide a level of product that the better technology at the top end can drip down to in the years to come.

Crystal Baller Benji – Tech Content Manager

How will our newest addition to Singletrack Towers fare in the soothe-saying stakes? With the number of ideas he has, we think he’s opting for a spread betting approach – something he suggests must come true, right?

A return to the noughties

Sometime in the mid-noughties the bike industry tried to convince us that regular trail bikes should have 150mm of travel. They were right of course but their timing was about 15 years too early. In 2022 we now have the technology and (crucially) the rider attitude and experience to make 150mm travel trail bikes perfectly, well, perfect. From now on trail bikes are going to have as much travel as possible so long as the overall genuine on-trail weight doesn’t stray too far over 16kg. The 30lb barrier has been consigned to the past. Good riddance. Well-designed 16kg trail bikes are much nicer places to be for big days out than anything else.

World Cup DH resumes ruling

The XC bubble is going to burst. There’s only so many times you can watch riders awk their way around a manicured faux-tech course. It’s not like it doesn’t always still come down to whoever is the fittest. If anything XC is selling itself a wrong ’un by trying to up its tech level. Bring back massive climbs please. Downhill is leagues and leagues ahead as a spectator sport. As well as the racing itself, there’s the pre-race behind-the-scenes YouTube gawping and the post-race OTT analysis.

Mo’ electronics, no interest

Bike designers are clearly into microchips and electronic stuff. Which is fine. I’d probably be of the same mindset in their position. But I’m not. I’m just someone who likes mountain bikes. And mountain bikes work incredibly well already. They don’t need computers and chips. Expect more electronic gubbins on suspension units and drivetrain bits. Don’t expect anyone to buy them much. Having said that, this chips-with-everything mentality is already coming unstuck due to the global microchip shortage.

Winter of e-contentment

This is a prediction for this time next year ie. winter 2022. Basically, loads of mountain bikers are going to buy their first ebike. It arguably would have happened this year but supply chain woes and other global things got in the way. Winter 2021 is going to be the last winter that a lot of experienced UK mountain bikers are prepared to take on without assistance.

More people getting the bike they want

This is a great thing. No one is being limited or forced into buying a mountain bike that doesn’t suit them. The mountain bike media is finally at the age where we’re not recommending bikes based on the likely terrain they’re intended for. Bikes are beyond that. The perfect mountain bike is the 150mm trail bike I mentioned above. But perfection is boring and un-inspiringly sensible. It makes no ‘sense’ to ride a short-travel coil-sprung bike that weighs a ton. Nor does it make sense to ape Nino Schurter’s bike when all you’re doing is riding tepid bridleways. But if you want to do that because it floats your boat. You can do. The bikes are out there.

More stack

Head angles are fine. Reach numbers are fine. Seat angles are fine (in fact they may actually have become too steep but that’s another story). You can even find 165mm cranks on bikes these days. The area that needs attention next is stack. Basically, bikes’ front ends are too low for a lot of riders. We arguably only had low slung front ends to help counter the illness of the other geo numbers on mountain bikes. It’s time to get our grips up and grin again.

Put away the idlers

As a longtime idler-curious person, it comes as something of a sadness to say that high-pivot idler bikes have possibly run their course.

More metal filing cabinets

Now that Specialized and Trek have put down tube storage compartments on their bikes, the rest of the world is sure to follow. I’m not sure I’d buy a bike that didn’t have frame storage. Which sounds like a bonkers thing to say but it’s true. Frame storage is the new bottle bosses.

More diversity

There will be more people in mountain biking who aren’t white men. If you have a problem with that then you have a problem full stop.

Hannah’s Hunches – Managing Editor

Last year I predicted:

  • The resurgence of Shimano
  • Restructured Race Support
  • Waterproof Flat Boots
  • Price Increases

Shimano sold out (but then, so did everyone), the race support thing didn’t really happen, but we did get waterproof flat boots and price rises. We also finally got my prediction for 2019 – the rise of women’s freeride. What do I think the future holds?

Experience over excellence

This might be cheating since I think it’s already happening, but I expect brands to focus their marketing on the experience of mountain biking rather than the ability to go faster and win races. Longer, slacker lighter and stiffer will be usurped by promises of fun, adventure, relaxation and friendships.

Collaborative corporate social responsibility

I think some brands will focus their marketing efforts on projects that give back to the sport, but without the stamp of a proprietary initiative. We’ve seen World Bicycle Relief – initially a mostly Giant and SRAM led project – receive support from across the industry. I expect to see similar support for Trash Free Trails, and perhaps a more cross-brand collaboration on trails maintenance and inclusion initiatives. This may well coalesce around an existing multi destination event, like Crankworx or the EWS.

Elastomers

Have I predicted this before? I feel like I have. Everything comes back around, and they’ve probably figured out how to stop elastomers disintegrating like rubber bands, so it’s time for the resurrection of the elastomer. RevGrips and Fasst handlebars are already in on the act. Expect seatposts for gravel comfort, and just slightly less than rigid forks for bike packing.

The golden age

As riders from the birth of mountain biking hit 50 and more, ebikes continue to make the outdoors more accessible, and people look for covid safe outdoor pastimes, I think we’ll see bike companies target older riders’ disposable incomes. Light weight ebikes, low standover options with electronic droppers for easier mounting, electronic shifting for weakened or arthritic hands, and regular service packages to ensure reliability… your parents and grandparents are going to be spending your inheritance on bikes.

Access and dissent

I think we’ll see more rumblings around access rights, though not all the noise will be coming from mountain bikers. A push for more outdoor access generally will have an overlapping agenda with those who want the right to protest, the right to gather, and the reduction of private interests over public. Whether it’ll all come to anything might well depend on whether there’s an election or leadership battle – and who wins it. Maybe I’m two years early with this one?

Mystic Chipps – Editor at Large

Chipps says: After 2021 didn’t really go the way that most of us thought/hoped, we seem to be in a similar position to a year ago, so who knows what’s going to happen? With that said, I’ve put my prediction glasses on and I’ll have a go to see what I can see for 2022. 

Here’s what I suggested a year ago:

Events cancelled: I said “I don’t think we’re out of the Covid woods yet and I can still see a few events even going into the summer that’ll be curtailed or cancelled. Can you imagine a spectator-free Fort William DH or Olympic final? It’s unimaginable, but it’s what many football games have been doing for the autumn.”

Mostly right there, I reckon.

“Wireless XTR – Still no sign. However, 2021 is an Olympic year and Shimano’s 100th birthday, so if ever there was a time.”

A solid ‘Wrong!’ there… I also suggested there’d be an unspecified scandal (nothing there either), a move further away from 27.5in wheels by manufacturers (mostly correct, I reckon, unless you count mullet bikes) and ‘Cheaper and more electronics’ – This seems to have been borne out with the launch this spring of SRAM’s GX AXS groupset, a more affordable (though still hardly ‘cheap’) electric, wireless groupset. Nothing yet from the other Big S though. I reckon that’s still a win for that prediction.

So what does Chipps think 2022 has in store?

Solo Longo

On to next year… After two years of travel and social restrictions I think that some riders might just take up other sports. It’s hard to travel, it’s been hard to cram into a pub/cafe after a ride and it’s hard to get hold of bike bits to keep your bike running. I reckon that a small part of the lockdown mountain bikers are going to give up again. However, I also think that the great majority will throw themselves at making the most of what they have – whether that’s an out of date bike, or limited travel opportunities and they’ll just get out there regardless and scour the hillsides for every single trail they can get to. There’ll be more spontaneous riders out on bikepacking adventures (the original socially distant sport) and more riders on longer, solo missions because those are easier to organise and easier to adjust/postpone/cancel than trips away with a bunch of friends.

Shortages

It seems that component and material shortages will continue into 2023, so don’t expect to be able to go into a bike shop and get everything you need every time. Saying that, though, there’ll probably be oddities resulting from over-ordering during the scarce months, so those places that pre-emptively ordered 1000 10-50T cassettes are going to be left wondering if they need to sell them cheaply, expensively, or not at all and to just hang on to them. It’s definitely going to be the year of ‘You like it? Then buy it now, because it won’t be here tomorrow’ impulse buying. Or of not buying at all. 

KIS/SS – Keep It Simple/Single, Stupid

And keeping in that vein. Is it time for the singlespeed to return? Charlie seemed to think so last year. How about a three speed, for those of us with slightly older knees now? 

No problems with FOMO

One thing that the last couple of years has shown is that plans have had to change, trips cancelled and meet ups put on hold. The great thing to come out of that is that, for the most part, no one minded. If you couldn’t get to the ride due to isolating, or if your yearly trip to the Lakes was moved back a year, no one really minded. What really mattered was making the most of things when you got the chance. I think that will continue. If you can’t get to an event, or on a trip, don’t stress. We’ll all get there in the end… 

What do you think? Would you like us to pick your lottery numbers for you? Or would you not even trust us to pick your energy supplier? Head to the comments and let us know what you think is coming!

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Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 83 total)
  • 2022 Predictions from Singletrack – What’s in the future of MTB?
  • Premier Icon LittleG
    Full Member

    More of a wish than a prediction but hoping people be a little nicer to each other, especially those with different opinions and views. I predict some wins and some frustrations.

    Premier Icon mattkkitch
    Full Member

    If you couldn’t get to the ride due to isolating, or if your yearly trip to the Lakes was moved back a year, no one really minded..

    Disagree

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    I hear @gdm4 and Benji’s prediction of more diversity. I’m in hope.

    I’m going out there and predicting 2<span style=”font-size: 0.8rem;”>022 is the year of:</span>

    – ‘country mtb’, the evolution of ‘gravel’ and ‘bikepacking’ to the bikes and rides we all used to do in the 1980-1990’s around hills,fields and woods.

    – utility bikes become fashionable and the next N+1

    – hardtail renaissance, related a lot to cost of bikes and the above countryside biking.

    – colours will be more earthy and naturistic.

    – Enduro and DH continue to grow as spectator sports.

    Premier Icon thegeneralist
    Full Member

    From now on trail bikes are going to have as much travel as possible so long as the overall genuine on-trail weight doesn’t stray too far over 16kg. The 30lb barrier has been consigned to the past. Good riddance. Well-designed 16kg trail bikes are much nicer places to be for big days out than anything else.

    What utter garbage, really really really.
    16kg for a big day out…. what have you been smoking?

    Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge
    Free Member

    The gravel massive will transition onto balance bikes, to make it even more difficult for themselves, making your local rugby pitch moar fun to lap round, while maintaining a vice like grip around the neck of the morally bereft heretics who dare to have suspension and sensible bars.

    Premier Icon vondally
    Free Member

    Stack height….totally agree.

    Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge
    Free Member

    – utility bikes become fashionable and the next N+1

    I love the idea of a utility bike, my trailer on my commuter kinda works, but I’d like to try a proper one.

    There’s a guy locally I see with an old Peugeot, triple clamp forks and a big plastic box fixed to the bars, must be horrendous loaded!.

    Personally, I’d like to see N+1 in the sea, a waste of money and resources.

    Premier Icon salsaboy
    Full Member

    Benji, stack height. you’re right.

    Premier Icon feed
    Full Member

    The DH, Enduro and XC race scenes will die as event organisers realise they can make 10x the money with 1/10th of the effort by organising gravel “events”. Slap up a few signs, give 1000 people a gpx, pay a few marshals, charge £60 a head………..

    Premier Icon TheGhost
    Full Member

    Spot on with stack height.
    Why should the rider of an XL bike have to be more bent over than the rider on a medium?

    Premier Icon rob howells
    Free Member

    ok i wood like to see back some good hardtails from bc likes of chromag and covebikes back and much more xc raceing in south wales and more some help with trail building in afan and afan bike shed is haveing a new building at last.

    Premier Icon ScotRoutes
    Full Member

    Judging by the amount of early interest in the Cairngorms Loop ITTs for 2022, I don’t think those types of events have peaked yet. I guess they remain possible under all but the severest Covid restrictions so are an easy bet for folk wanting an “organised” event.

    Bike choice for 2022 will still be limited. I’d like to see more folk improving their bike maintenance skills in order to keep their kit running longer. Not sure this will happen though so more wishful thinking than prediction (as per Marks).

    Premier Icon trailrunner
    Full Member

    We’ve had the predicted death of XC for more than 20 years now – with the younger riders to lead the way (Lecomte, Richards, Pidcock, VDP, etc) I think those of us who do like XC will be more hoping for a resurgence…..
    I’ll actually predict that BMX could also increase after the olympics – perhaps BC will now realise that supporting grassroots should be a given (although we’ve been asking for that for over 20 years as well….)

    Premier Icon sirromj
    Free Member

    26″/29″ oval wheels to really make the trails come alive!

    Premier Icon Paul
    Full Member

    Agree with more lightweight ebikes, it’s a big gap in the market for only 3 manufacturers to fill.

    And I do hope that short seat tubes and 200mm droppers become standard, after riding with a 200mm dropper on my hardtail I’ve realised I need a 200mm on my FS too.

    A 200mm reverb AXS would be nice too. Maybe?

    Premier Icon oldfart
    Full Member

    It’s all very well a Spring Chicken like Chipps saying never mind there’s always next year . If like me you are now drawing your State Pension and your Lake Garda trip has been snatched away for 2 years plus you begin to wonder if there will be a next year 😔😔😔😔

    Premier Icon Chipps
    Full Member

    Thanks for the backhanded compliment, @oldfart 🙂
    I think what I’m trying to get at is that, whereas I would worry about not getting to every single event and weekend away I could, now I’m happy to have fewer, bigger impact events – and I won’t beat myself up about the ones I miss.

    Premier Icon oldfart
    Full Member

    Chipps yeah I hear you now I’ve got your attention though how about another ride out for a magazine article it’s been too long since that Quantocks Mendips washout weekend .I suggest my annual Seaside Shuffle Summer time day out at the seaside ( obviously 🙄) Location Charlie Hobbs old stomping ground of the Purbecks ( ask him about the Square and Compass and Frank’s Tank 😎) It’s not Lake Garda but my imagination is pretty good .

    Premier Icon rootes1
    Full Member

    more stack = yep deffo!

    Premier Icon wheelsonfire1
    Full Member

    Is this predictions or hopes?
    I hope there’s a resurgence of 26” wheels (non chuffin boost) and triple 8 or 9 speed gearing again. My reasoning is that if I pop my clogs in the next 20 years (highly likely) my daughters will be able to retire by selling my secret stash!
    Predictions?

    The bike industry will start pushing a different category of bicycle as the next “must have”. Maybe the cargo bike that has been around for years from all sorts of companies will finally get trendy with gravel versions available for carrying the kitchen sink?

    The finances of a lot of people will get squeezed and they’ll start questioning the extremely fast wear rate of 1X (and the extremely high cost) and perhaps revert to 2X or 3X. (See point 1 above)

    Pressfit bottom brackets finally abandoned! (Another hope).

    Premier Icon Sandwich
    Full Member

    I’m with the generalist on big days out, lighter is better. If the prediction was around 13kg that would have been more realistic for an all day hard-tail.

    Premier Icon dan30237
    Free Member

    I wouldn’t agree that’s garbage. My bike is about 16kg and it’s fine on big days out (regular rides in the Dales, Lakes for example). Sometimes I wish it was a bit lighter for sure, but personally I prioritise robustness over weight.

    It’d very much depend on your definition of big, and also how quick you want to get round, but a 16kg bike is definitely not going to prevent you from enjoying a big ride out. To each his own I suppose.

    Premier Icon Paul
    Full Member

    I’m with the generalist on big days out, lighter is better. If the prediction was around 13kg that would have been more realistic for an all day hard-tail.

    For a hardtail, maybe. But this is referring to FS trail bikes.

    What utter garbage, really really really.
    16kg for a big day out…. what have you been smoking?

    Under 16kg is a realistic limit, 13kg is xc race whippet territory (ok, maybe 120mm downcountry) sorry… No.

    Both my bikes are around 15.5kg with pedals, one carbon framed 150/160mm trail bike with carbon wheels, bars, coil shock, 37mm forks, trail tyres with inserts. The hardtail is the same just with a gearbox and a titanium frame.

    Even after 5 days, 90 miles and 13k ft of climbing I was never wishing my bike was 2kg lighter.

    On a long day, hell multiple long days, give me a coil shock, 150/160mm travel trail bike with big tyres and inserts over a 120mm XC bike EVERY day.

    Premier Icon gowerboy
    Full Member

    The finances of a lot of people will get squeezed and they’ll start questioning the extremely fast wear rate of 1X (and the extremely high cos)

    I agree that 1X is relatively expensive but does it wear faster? I moved over to it somewhat reluctantly but it does have its advantages and the chains seem to wear quite slowly. I actually prefer it now.

    Premier Icon thegeneralist
    Full Member

    I wouldn’t agree that’s garbage. My bike is about 16kg and it’s fine on big days out (regular rides in the Dales, Lakes for example). Sometimes I wish it was a bit lighter for sure, but personally I prioritise robustness over weight.

    OK, fair play. You must be much fitter than me ( not hard). Personally speaking I find it hard enough lugging my Occam anything north of 50km or ~1600m. I’d really not be keen on another 2.5kg on top.

    ( just realised my Occam with big tyres and an insert IS probably knocking on 14.5 kg in mountain mode) Still wouldn’t want another 1.5kg if I could help it

    Premier Icon wheelsonfire1
    Full Member

    @gowerboy My contribution was a bit tongue in cheek in the spirit of the season, however, I don’t like the extreme angle between the chain ring and 1 or 12 and the grinding noises in those gears, the fact that the chain often drops down a couple of cogs when doing a back pedal in 1 or 2 for obstacles. The thick/thin chainring is essentially a friction device to stop the chain dropping off, and the cost of the parts! Yes it’s a simpler system and enables frame designers more freedom but why does everything cost SO much more?
    If you think I’m being objective then refer to my first paragraph – I’m trying to protect my daughter’s inheritance! I’d do a smiley emoji if I knew how, don’t take me too seriously!

    Premier Icon gowerboy
    Full Member

    @wheelsonfire1 sorry, I did get the tongue in cheek bit and then started thinking about the wear thing… 😉

    Yes, I do wonder about chainline and stuff too. I’m relatively new to 1x after being sceptical for ages.

    Premier Icon dan30237
    Free Member

    @thegeneralist Ah, I think that’s possibly the difference then – your definition of big is bigger than mine! My two biggest rides last year were a Fairfield / Birkside / Grizedale Beck combo at 30km & 1750m, and the Torridon lollipop at 40km & 1300m ish, both with plenty of hike a bike. Both full days out and I had no inclination to do any more at the end of either.

    Premier Icon wheelsonfire1
    Full Member

    Ah, my prediction is coming true already, @gowerboy has doubts about 1X and is thinking of investing in 8 & 9 speed double and triple again (or 10 speed at a push)!
    Anyone else with predictions, or hopes?

    Premier Icon Paul
    Full Member

    Ah, I think that’s possibly the difference then – your definition of big is bigger than mine! My two biggest rides last year were a Fairfield / Birkside / Grizedale Beck combo at 30km & 1750m, and the Torridon lollipop at 40km & 1300m ish, both with plenty of hike a bike. Both full days out and I had no inclination to do any more at the end of either.

    My definition of a big day might be only 20 or 30k, but 1000m or more vertical – and full of lakes or Scottish mountain ‘ruggedness’.

    I’m assuming @thegeneralist version of a big day has more miles and climbing but less teeth loosening rocks where 150mm of travel is really needed on day 5 of 5. 😁

    Premier Icon ScotRoutes
    Full Member

    Personally speaking I find it hard enough lugging my Occam anything north of 50km or ~1600m. I’d really not be keen on another 2.5kg on top.

    ( just realised my Occam with big tyres and an insert IS probably knocking on 14.5 kg in mountain mode) Still wouldn’t want another 1.5kg if I could help it

    Yeah, My Occam is 13.6kg ready to roll. On a “big” day out I’d likely be carrying food, spare clothing and even shelter. That starts adding up so there’s no need to start with a heavier than required bike.

    Premier Icon wheelsonfire1
    Full Member

    Goodness me! This is supposed to be a fun New Year predictions thread not what Mark Cavendish would call – “dick swinging!” My big day is bigger than your big day.. come on fellas, I’m assuming you’re fellas? Just enjoy your riding whilst you can!

    Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge
    Free Member

    14kg Bronson, carted it on WHW in a day, was brilliant apart from *that* section. It’s bloody comfy to pedal all day, no doubt I’d be quicker on a light XC HT, but my hoop would be in bits.

    Each to their own.

    Edit- its no dick swinging, I’ve hardly rode much at all in the last couple of years!

    Premier Icon Paul
    Full Member

    No swinging of anything here, just really saying that a kg or 2 off my bike probably wouldn’t make much difference over a day and I’d rather have the extra comfort an extra 30mm of travel gives you.

    I’m suspecting the ever increasing travel of bikes will continue and ‘trail’ will cover 29er 160mm bikes, which would have been enduro bikes a couple of years back.

    Enduro will be 180mm as standard.

    Premier Icon gowerboy
    Full Member

    Ah, my prediction is coming true already, @gowerboy has doubts about 1X and is thinking of investing in 8 & 9 speed double and triple again (or 10 speed at a push)!
    Anyone else with predictions, or hopes?

    Yeh. Anyone want to buy some Eagle stuff?

    Premier Icon wheelsonfire1
    Full Member

    Happy New Year to you both, enjoy riding and the lovely scenery, a prediction that will come true!

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Full Member

    ta11pau1
    Full Member

    And I do hope that short seat tubes and 200mm droppers become standard, after riding with a 200mm dropper on my hardtail I’ve realised I need a 200mm on my FS too.

    Nah, I don’t want to have to lose 10mm.

    Premier Icon wheelsonfire1
    Full Member

    Happy New Year to you all, enjoy riding and the lovely scenery, a prediction that will come true!
    This was an edit to the above, too slow like my riding!

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Full Member

    Forecasting is a mugs game, but I reckon 22′ will see more “utility” bikes, based on MTBs.

    More people will be trundling about to shops and pubs by bicycle this spring/summer (many on the bikes they purchased last summer).
    MTBs make excellent “utility bikes” once you shove a pannier on the back.

    So that is my prediction, more shopping bikes, which is probably what the world actually needs…

    Premier Icon John
    Full Member

    The XC bubble is going to burst

    I don’t think it will whilst it remains the sole MTB Olympic event, plus with Evie Richards coming to the fore last season, I’m quite excited about the season ahead. I do wish DH would become an Olympic event though (alongside gravel riding on balance bikes with oval wheels 🙂).

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