Chipps reflects on the best, worst and out-there inventions of the 2022 Eurobike Show (his 25th visit!) and the bike industry in general.
It was all-change for Eurobike 2022: after around 25 years, it had moved from the sprawling aircraft hanger halls of Friedrichshafen to the city centre show complex in Frankfurt, which was more like being in a massive airport, with different levels and travelators between halls.
After the pandemic put a stop to the 2020 show, and saw a half-size show in 2021, Eurobike was BACK. There were 33,780 trade visitors from 105 countries and hundreds and hundreds of booths.
The show’s theme this year was based around increased, mostly urban, mobility, with talks on the cycling cities of the future and evidence that (finally?) governments are taking cycling very, very seriously.
To this end, the German government sponsors seven cycling policy professors to help shape transport policy. Will that happen in the UK? We can hope…
I strode the halls to see what was new and what the mood of the bike industry was. Or, at least I tried to stride; it’s hard to stride when you bump into someone you’ve not seen for two or three years every 50 metres…
There were a lot of new things to see, and there was also a lack of new things to see. It’s no secret that the world got on a bike in 2020, and many of them have discovered the joys of daily cycling. The bike industry was obviously happy to sell bikes and spares to these people, but the unforecasted demand, combined with worldwide factory shut-downs saw huge stresses on the supply lines.
As those have eased, the order times are still long (two years if you’ve not already got an order in…) but equally, for those companies that put in hurried, or perhaps over-optimistic pre-orders at the start of the pandemic, those chickens are now coming back to roost, a container of bikes at a time, every week.
Or else, whole production lines have been held up by a single, missing component, like a fork or chainset.
Looking forward to how that will affect, or perhaps benefit, the daily bike buyer is hard to divine. However, I reckon that if you’re in the market for a mid-level bike soon, or at the end of the year, there will be plenty of choice.
You might even be able to snag a bargain – in fact, I reckon you probably will. The bike may not have the same components as on the glossy brochure, with cranks or tyres swapped out for ones they could find at the time.
However, supply will still be patchy for another year, especially on components, as every bike manufacturer scrabbles to get all the bits and pieces in to finish their builds – and no one wants to make a big deal about their new components unless they can be sure they can deliver, so I reckon we’re going to see a few short notice bombshells appearing in the next year or so.
‘That bike we designed two years ago, that got put on hold has suddenly arrived. All of them! All at once! Quick! Get one while they’re hot!’
With that all in mind, walking the aisles of the show showed a spectrum of bikes, from awesome kids bikes, through to five figure ebikes.
The general quality and reliability of modern bikes is astounding – something we might not see as we take in the small, incremental improvements year on year. However, think of how many ride-delaying or ride-ending disasters you’ve had recently.
Punctures aren’t the daily occurrence they used to be, wheels rarely ‘taco’, gears just work. We’re living in a golden age where whatever branch of cycling you’re into, there’s a bike for. And that bike is also probably pretty functional at several other disciplines too – looking at slack geo cross country race bikes, or 180mm enduro bikes that can climb with the best of them. Even road bikes that’ll handle some soft-roading. Bikes really are great.
So, in trying to choose ten things from the show, it’s easy in that everything is so good, but it’s hard in that all bikes are so good that it’s hard to see what stands out. Our slicing of the innovation pie is getting finer and finer, with true game-changing a hard thing to pull off.
Nevertheless, here are my ten stand-out things from Eurobike 2022:
1. Qvist Hubs
This company hails from Dresden in eastern Germany. It’s an area with a strong watchmaking tradition (like Biel in Switzerland, home to DT Swiss) and this is evident in Qvists lovely hubs. These days we’re used to the dull efficiency of Shimano’s pawls, or the DT Swiss star ratchet, or the bee buzz of Chris Kings that it’s hard to get excited about something that promises a new way of doing things. However, Qvist seems to have done that with its clever twin ratchet system. It’s like a two sided DT Swiss ratchet, so that the stepped ratchet ring engages alternately on either side of the mechanism, effectively speeding up engagement and, with 128 clicks, lowering the angle between clicks to less than 3°. The hubs will be out in 2023 and will come in Boost six-bolt, in SRAM XD and Shimano Microspline. Hubs are 270g rear and 145g for a front. Pricing will be ‘less than Chris King, but more than DT Swiss’ – so look around Industry Nine levels. Gravel hubs are in the works too.
2. Classified internal two-speed hubs
More hubs – and possibly on the ‘game changing’ level, depending on how many gears you reckon you need. Or how seamlessly you want your gear changes and ratios to be. Classified is a company that has basically made a two-speed hub gear actually work for the 21st century. Despite being as far from a Sturmey Archer hub as you’d imagine, the hub features an internal gear system that offers either 1:1 ratios or 0.67:1 ratios. It’s shifted wirelessly with high speed and little fuss, and it fits a normal thru-axle frame. Classified reckons you can shift under full power up to 1200Watts. The weight is similar to the components you’d have lost (front mech, shifter, cables…) although you will need to run Classified’s cassette. But didn’t we already lose our front mechs? While the main push is obviously for road bikes, Classified already has prototypes for mountain bikes and gravel ratios. Some riders, and many racers, don’t like the big jumps between gears on modern 10-51 and 10-52 setups, so Classified will be offering an 11-40 cassette with smaller jumps between gears and a lighter overall cassette weight. We’ll have to see where this goes, but a quick test pedal showed it to be very responsive and fast.
3. SRAM UDH – Universal Derailleur Hanger
This isn’t a new product, but it’s a great example of how the incremental improvements are making things better for everyone. SRAM has designed a single derailleur hanger and encouraged all bike designers to adopt it, which is definitely gathering pace. Looking at the Merida booth, I spotted this neat tube and CO2 frame holder, but it also carried a UDH. The beauty of the system is that it’ll fit any bike that has the UDH on it, so even if you don’t need it on your gravel bike, you can help out a stuck enduro rider… After so many years of wheel size change, bar size change, 10-11-12-13 speed gearing, it’s good to see some ‘standards’ emerging and actually standardising
4. Leatt has been listening
Leatt has been quietly expanding its clothing and footwear range and this year unveiled a completely new range that has (obviously) been developed with rider feedback – none more so than these HydraDri boots. Although not a full boot, it is effectively a performance flat pedal shoe with a full zip-up waterproof cover for winter (or three season UK) riding. The range has five new shoes in it in addition to these waterproof beauts, with features like ‘pro’ rubber that is 20% softer for extra grip and the WaffleGrip Pro soles that work with shorter pinned flat pedals.
5. Lezyne Air Cage
I usually can’t be bothered with trackers and similar gadgets (unlike Mark, who can often tell you where his lost luggage is now…) but the Apple AirTag seems to have brought it into the ‘too simple to ignore’ category, and the new Lezyne Air Cage makes keeping a tag on your bike a one-time brainless operation. The cage is almost identical to Lezyne’s regular bottle cages, only with a slightly flared base. The AirTag fits inside and some security Torx bolts lock the cage in place. It’s simple and discreet and it’ll take a while to both discover and to remove (without the right Torx key, and while I know I have one somewhere, you can always fill the head up with epoxy to slow down removal even more…). There were other mounts too – one without a bottle cage and another for your saddle rails.
While I’m here, Lezyne also showed some automotive-style permanent fix patches for tubeless tyres. Clean the inside of the tyre, pull the patch through the gaping hole using its metal tip. Glue into place and snip off the tip for a permanent repair of your £80 tyre.
6. Schwalbe going green
While bikes are green, the bike industry isn’t really. We ship products around the world, sometimes several times, we make stuff out of hard to recycle materials (like carbon fibre, rubber and synthetic fabrics) and don’t really help you, the customers, reuse or recycle the components at the end. That does seem to be slowly changing, still within the restrictions of a giant manufacturing industry…
Many companies are adopting plastic-free shipping cartons (without those wodges of expanded foam on all the tubes and big zipties holding it all together) and others, like Schwalbe are doing their best to help the customers recycle. Schwalbe has a scheme, currently running in mainland Europe (which I guess is all of it, these days?) where bike shops will take old tyres and tubes in and, when the giant box is full, they ship it to Schwalbe, which breaks the tyres down to component parts, like Carbon Black, which can go into new tyres, rubber chips (ditto) and other components like metal tyre beads. Schwalbe UK is currently looking into how it can bring this scheme to the UK.
One other thing that Schwalbe is doing, is an ‘eco bike wash’. And unlike, well all other ‘eco’ bike washes, it doesn’t even come in a squirty bottle. It’s literally a bar of bike-friendly ‘bike soap’, a metal tin to keep it in and a wood-handled, horsehair bristled (sorry vegans) brush that you later up and wash down your bike with. A bit of a gimmick? Or an attempt to help? Given the rest of their efforts, I’m prepared to give Schwalbe the benefit.
7. A Tale of Two Gravels
One thing that was very obvious from the show is that gravel bikes are definitely a ‘thing’. However, I have a theory that there are two, separate and often incompatible gravel bike universes. In the absence of a name, I’ve decided to call the two camps ‘London’ or ‘American’ gravel and ‘Northern’ or ‘Mountain’ gravel…
London Gravel is all about aero bibshorts, stiff soled shoes (because you won’t be unclipping for 200km) and miniscule treads for those groomed towpaths. The bikes are, effectively big clearance road bikes with big gears and perhaps a snack-box on the top tube or handlebars.
Northern Gravel is basically 1990s mountain biking – loose, rocky descents, stiff climbs and singletrack. These bikes often have bigger, chunkier tyres, lower gears, dropper posts and/or luggage permanently attached. Both have their places and both were in abundance at the show, although manufacturers lump both camps in, when there are clearly different equipment needs. Just ask anyone who’s tried climbing a Lakeland fire road pass on ‘gravel’ ratios, or a rider on semi-slicks staring down a slatey Welsh enduro trail. Hopefully both camps will flourish and gain their own sets of fans and appropriate components.
8. Hope Technology
It’s always good to see the Hope stand at Eurobike. Normally they get put in with the German inventor booths, like Trickstuff and Tune, but this year they were in with a load of industry e-bike and component suppliers, whose booths were usually very sparse. Hope meanwhile was rammed. Mind you, with all this interest, Hope did get something stolen – bizarrely, the coffee machine…
Click on a photo below to see the full awesome of the new Hope 916 machine
Centre stage was Hope’s 916 mountain bike frame, complete with on-trend idler pulley and an incredible flip-flop clearcoat green/purple lacquer job (with matching handlebars, that Hope might start to sell separately once it has made enough for the bike orders). Again, though, for Hope, it was the incremental improvements that were new, but not necessarily news. The Gravity stem has been neatened and lightened, coming in 35mm and 50mm lengths and 35mm clamp size. (£105/€130). It was showing 12 speed SRAM 14T lower jockey wheels in colours and thick/thin tooth profile (£45). And there was the announcement that all Hope bottom brackets will be SRAM DUB compatible, and the adaptors will be included, free of charge with all new Hope BBs.
Possibly the best bit about the Hope stand, were these brake bleeding blocks and pad spacers. No big deal, everyone makes them. This time, though, Hope isn’t making them. Hope is going to be providing the source files to let you download and 3D print your own. And if you don’t have a 3D printer, just ask a teenager to print them at school for you.
9. ActoFive Cycles
I can’t say that I’m normally a fan of completely machined bikes, nor of high-pivot idler bikes, but something about this ActoFive machine kept me coming back to look at it on the booth it shared with the Qvist hub folks. Actually, a quick word about the booth – it was sponsored by Cycling Saxony, which was formed after the last Eurobike show when a load of east-German engineers all found themselves separately at the show and decided to form a sort of co-operative to share costs for future shows. The local government got involved and helped fun the stand to promote bike companies from Dresden and Saxony in general, (similar to how Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland works. Reckon your council would be up for it?) Other Saxony-made components on the bike included Beast Components carbon bars and machined stem, as well as some neat clear – but non-yellowing – grips that let you put coloured stickers underneath.
Other Licorice Allsorts patterns are available…
The ActoFive P-Train bike is machined in a factory that makes CNC machines, by a mountain biker who studied metal bonding, both things that are very much in evidence on this bike. The P-Train CNC is a high-pivot 29er with 135 or 145mm rear travel and a 150-170mm fork. The two frame halves are CNC machined and then glued together. And it’s just very, very pleasing to look at.
10. Trek Fuel EX-e
E-bikes are here. There was no sense of e-bikes being anything other than ‘bikes’ at the show. A sign that they have entered the mainstream. There were some crazy bikes, of course, and the efficiency of an e-bike motor ironically makes even the most inefficient bike designs work (just look at the number of ‘monkey bikes’ or beach cruisers that have suddenly appeared). Despite all of those extremes, there were some very smart-looking e-mountain bikes at the show. Some subtle and some hiding their motors and batteries among oversized frame tubes. It’s no longer a case of bolting on a motor and a battery where the bottle cage should have gone.
However, there were some excellent examples of ground-up e-bike designs that showed some real thought. This Trek Fuel EX-e showed some flowing lines, a barely detectable motor and no sign of a battery. It was only the neatly integrated top tube display that really gave away its electrical basis. Expect plenty more in this line from the big companies, but don’t expect them to be cheap.
Well, that was a quick look at my two-and-a-bit days at Eurobike. I didn’t really get my usual chance to trawl the aisles for laudable innovation and laughable optimism, mostly because I was going from meeting to meeting to catch up with people and companies we’ve not had in-person dealings with for literally years.
But there was still enough to be seen there. The bike industry has been busy and there are great things in the works – it’s just that no one quite knows when. Tune in daily as all of that innovation starts filtering through the pages of SingletrackWorld…
Want to see more from Chipps’ Eurobike wanderings? Comments welcome below…
Sign up as a Singletrack Member and you can leave comments on stories, use the classified ads, and post in our forums, do quizzes and more.
Join us, join in, it’s free, and fun.