2021: Everything gets a headset shock, get over it

Let’s talk bikes in the coming year.
I’m guessing that the main things happening overall will be more e-bikes, a whole lot of cheap-ish bikes intended to keep the covid bike boom buyers around in the hobby, and probably some bullshit with mtbs where they’re longer and slacker?

It sounds as if Shimano may be totally fucked on delivering bike components in the near term, which, cool, definitely a good thing to do if you’re a market leader.

I’m seeing more big companies rolling out wildly ostentatious road bikes, so presumably the next few years will see more attempts to get people back on pavement?

Road seems like it’s in a weird spot now, where the easy gains from doing aero improvements have plateaued (integrated front ends, dropped stays, kamm tail tubing), much like the weight reduction before it plateaued about a decade ago. From a marketing standpoint the differentiation from gravel bikes is getting easier as gravel bikes basically turn into shittier XC bikes with slightly curved handlebars, so maybe road can basically stand still in terms of development and still offer a category alternative?

Robot shifting might get cheaper at some point, but with the scarcity of existing parts, I doubt that anyone’s rolling out a budget group any time soon.

curious to see if urban / cargo gets a boost from the rise in bike commuters, or if everyone’s going to go back to buses and trains as soon as there’s a covid vaccine. Maybe this is when ebikes get a huge bump?

I assume that mountain bikes will get more complex and expensive shock absorbers, which they could avoid if they just stuck to normal biking spots, like roads.


I’m definitely seeing a lot more normies on Radpower e-cargo and e-kid hauler bikes around here, as well as the electric moped type.

I feel like the industry is doing a good job of supporting gravel and it’s gently converting people from riding fitness hybrids gingerly on roads to maybe having a better time riding on rail trails and stuff. it’s a harder sell to get someone to make the jump to full kit road riding if they’re not already into it.

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yeah, I want to see what gravel turns into in a couple of years. Right now it seems as if it’s grabbing people who find road cycling weird and dorky and mtb a little xtreem, but who also definitely want to spend a few thousand bucks on bike stuff each year.

I suspect that some of those people will realize that they either want to be going really fast on pavement or doing five foot huck to flats, but maybe there’s a critical mass of people for whom something gravel-ish really works.

And all of that is a total sideshow compared to the general conversion of bike shops to e-moped shops, for real.


Yuup. Just talked to one shop that is re-locating a bit and also converting to mostly e-bikes. This shop is one of the very commuter-y practical iBob Velo-Orange Surly type shops in town. Dynohubs in teh case, fenders, swept bars, lots of steel gravel travel bikes and practical city bikes.

He is friends with the owner of one of the big MTB shops in town. Basically the big MTB shop sends their customers with just-pulled-out-of-the-garage type bikes to him for service etc, on which he makes little $. But back at the big MTB shop the conversation about a new bike starts at like $3 bongs, while this commuter shop is scraping by on cheapie stuff. He’s like eff that, I’m switching to selling name brand supported e-bikes, make more $ on each sale, stay in business, etc.

He’s also going to only service the brands he sells, or at least only the type of e-bike system he sells. (for e-bike specific drivetrain problems at least).

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Anecdotally there are a bunch of ebikes I see in town. And props to them I also see folks commuting on them often in all weather.

There’s a storm a-brewin’ regarding ebikes on trails. Lots of stuff in motion or already in place for land managers and honestly I think in the end ebikes will be allowed on many trails but we might be able to win the fight to limit it only to class 1 type e-assist and banish anything with a throttle to the ORV moto trails.

Honestly I’d rather ebikes were totally banned from the human-powered trails but I think that might be a lost cause. We’ll see.


yeah, to be clear I’m not taking a major stand on any of the stuff I outlined in the first post, at this point in my bike life I generally know what I like and am happy to just sit on the riverbank and watch most of it float by. As long as I can get my midrange road bike components and whatnot the industry is servicing me perfectly well.

I’m kinda ebike-agnostic when it comes to trails. Obviously someone with a full on motorcycle that runs on batteries shouldn’t be using them, but I’m not clear on how a pedal assist motor on some random person’s bike is worse for a trail than a big rider laying down watts with muscle power. How that gets written as formal regulation and how those regulations are enforced, who knows.

my only negative experiences with e-bike riders on mixed trails is they seem to be going faster than they realize, and definitely faster than many other riders in the same conditions. I’ve been passed uncomfortably close and fast when hiking with my dog and can see how an e-biker could miss the feedback of slippery conditions in a way that a regular rider would feel. having said that, I would definitely ride an e-assist mtb especially if it let me access more trails with challenging climbs I wouldn’t do otherwise

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Two thoughts:

  1. Many people in urban areas who bike commute will continue WFH, potentially forever. This will reduce the demand for urban bikes.

  2. Many people in urban areas who potentially WFH forever will have more time on their hands with the reduced commutes. This will increase the demand for urban bikes.

I really don’t know what in the hell people want out of a bike anymore. I am surprised that budget e-groups haven’t become a thing yet, but I’m definitely not an expert in that regard.

I do think that bikes are becoming prohibitively expensive for some reason, and it’d be great to see more companies step in and provide more cost-effective bikes for normies who don’t want to go even further into credit card debt. 99% of humans don’t need a space ship (yes, this includes you), they need something comfortable that they can have fun on.


I’m still waiting on the iPod of ebike upgrade kits, the Copenhagen Wheel looked like it might do it close to a decade ago, but never went disc compatible and now seems discontinued. I suppose cheap ebay/ali kits will get cheaper but even the simplest install is still a pain in the ass.


It’ll be interesting to see how he does with that. A few of the local ebike only places haven’t done so well, at least two of them have closed, or merged with each other then closed, or merged with someplace else yet again and then might have still closed. One of those places was mainly focused on stuff from Riese & Müller, Tern, Benno, etc. Good bikes but not exactly names that normies recognize, or maybe prices they want to pay.

Some of the inexpensive ebikes look pretty good lately.

value: my sense is that a $2k road bike is fucking amazing these days, if they fit you. were I not 2 meters tall, I’d be riding a CAAD13. Most of the stuff that gets thrown on a bike to bring it up to $10k+ is not useful at all unless you’e a gifted athlete with a good coach, and counterproductive if you’re not racing. Like, you don’t need the aerodynamics if you’re just trying to max out w/kg!
I wish a big company would sell a nice, fully specced cycletruck. As it is there’s like one model extant / easily obtained from QBP/Merry Sales at a time, and it never comes with all the stuff you need to make a bike like that really work. My Raleigh Lorry is pretty close now that it’s set up with dyno, bucket, and functional seat, but it would have retailed at $1100 at least, which is a big ask for a fucked up looking bucket monster with mismatched wheels.

I assume that cheap roboshifting groups will happen sooner or later, it’s like how power meters were $5k twenty years ago and now the same basic strain gauge based deal is a couple hundred buck upgrade that talks to your smartphone (which to be fair is a sunk cost that makes the PM look cheaper). I’ll definitely try a 105/ultegra level group when it’s a $100-200 premium over mechanical.


While I acknowledge that a $2k road bike is very technologically badass, not every human can afford a $2k road bike.

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very few can! however, many rich country bike hobbyists are demonstrably capable of buying such bikes, tucked away as they are amidst product ranges in which they are the lower end!

an actually affordable bike for the world is probably about $20-50

I got my Big Dummy in like nearly new condition for around $850. It is heavy as fuck but I personally love riding it, and it gets a great response from people around town and at the grocery store. I don’t think a bike like that is ever going to retail for $850, but I’m just struck by how practical it is, how curious people are about it, and how $2000+ is just too big of a gamble for most people, even if it could be a car replacement.

Any brand who doesn’t have an e-bike in their line will have one pretty soon. Management types love shit like gravel and e-bikes because they can point to a graph that shows huge growth in the segment and be like “look how much money we can make”.

I’m not a businessy type but I feel like it isn’t that simple.

Traditional road has been in a slow decline for a while now so I wouldn’t be surprised to see major brands putting less effort into those bikes. Especially the really high end stuff, since it’s hard to get much profit out of that sub segment.

I’ve been out of the loop for the past year and a half since I left the industry but the recent growth in high end MTB has to be coming to end soon if it hasn’t already.

Fucking cheap hybrids and city bikes will.continue to be outsold by dirt cheap shitty e-mopeds (e.g.radpower). Bike shops will continue to close as the market shakes out the marginal players and hobbyists.

ugh, tell me about it. I was getting facebook ads for a while for this particular shitty XC bike which doesn’t even have curved handlebars! I mean what the hell is this marketing copy. MOUNTAIN SKINNY?


Right now gravel is a trend that might become a fixture in the industry, or it might fizzle out when people realize that everything they’re doing with a gravel bike is better done with an mtb.
I don’t really have a dog in that fight, but I’m curious to see how the marketing and product development work to make that happen.

The long slow death of road bikes is sad, but the industry really painted itself into a corner by overhyping features that appeal to many people but materially improve cycling only for an extremely elite few.

My 2021 outlook is fairly bleak for the retail side. Massive shortages led to massive wholesale orders that are being delivered just in time for the demand to slow. With the vaccine coming I don’t think we will see another season as strong as the last and many shops will be stuck with tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars of product that they ordered last June. There will be huge liquidation sales and many shops will not recover.

To make this worse, we are already starting to see bikes bought over the past 8 months hit the used market as folks realize that their new bikes haven’t gotten any use.

On the bright side(?), even with the vaccine I think the population is traumatized enough to avoid public transit and will continue to work from home. This will continue to prop up the utility and sub-$1000 hybrid categories.

As far as product development goes we aren’t expecting too many new releases from our brands as they are already sold out of 2021MY bikes and many of them are rolling over into 2022.

Personally I’ll be relying heavily on service and experience. We are launching a skills coaching and guiding service that will hopefully translate to some higher end mtb work to supplement our bread n butter services.


I kind think most of what has happened in the last couple product cycles in the road race segment has actually led to some improvement for the average joe with some caveats.

The manufacturers spend a lot of time hyping aero gains but in reality, the brands that were already on top of that the ten years ago have barely made their bikes more aero than they were before. For the brand I worked for, the flagship aero bike released in 2011 is borderline as fast as the latest model. What the two product cycles that came after delivered was a stiffer front end for better handling, more integration for better consistency in aero performance and disc brakes for better stopping with the fastest wheels. The addition of disc brakes negated any overall drop in weight.

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