Mountain bike retailers give us an inside look at what shredders are coveting this season.
Writer: Travis Poulin
There are many trends sweeping the mountain bike industry right now including fat bikes and plus size bikes, which have tires that are bigger than traditional tires, but smaller than fat bike tires – a concept that makes the bike easier to ride. The ever-changing mountain bike technology can leave riders feeling like their equipment is outdated within hours after purchasing, but many bike shops’ top selling models are not the most expensive. Here are some trends in the mountain bike industry right now.
All Mountain Models
Jaime Jacoby, sales manager at Full Cycle Bike Shop in Boulder, CO, said she has seen a trend in sales switching from cross country bikes to higher suspension travel trail/all mountain models. Jacoby said it all has to do with terrain and where people want to ride. “All mountain bikes climb well and descend well and that is where the market is moving,” she said. “Riders are looking for bikes that can handle tougher terrain and more technical riding. Today’s all mountain bike was yesterday’s enduro.” Full Cycle’s top selling mountain bike model is the Giant Trance II and Jacoby said the reason is affordability combined with performance. “The Trance is the most bike for your money,” she said. “Giant has made several changes to the bike in the last few years and the bike is appealing to a lot of people.”
Moab, UT is a mountain bike mecca, and the sales trends are similar there.
Chile Pepper Bike Shop in Moab said their top selling model is also the Giant Trance because of affordability and performance. The bikes can handle all the terrain that the area can throw at them, and if they can handle Moab, they can handle anything. A sales associate at Chili Pepper said the shop sells many demo models after customers have a chance to test their all mountain bikes.
According to mountain bike retailer Evo, there are other trends on the 2017 market besides all mountain models. Evo has seen selling trends on short suspension travel bikes with more aggressive designs featuring slacker head tube angles, longer wheel bases and longer reach make bikes in the 110-140mm range. Models in this category include the Intense Spider and the Santa Cruz 5010. Evo said the appeal comes from the weight savings and better pedal efficiency, allowing riders to be able to tackle longer adventure rides and less predictable terrain.
29-inch wheel bikes have also become very popular in the last few years as technology has changed. According to Evo, with the technological advances, bikes like the Yeti SB5.5 and Transition Smuggler land in a grey area between cross country and more heavy duty all mountain performance.
Swappable Tire Sizes
Another trend in the industry is bikes that can use either 27.5 or 29 inch wheels and tires. Due to the similar circumference of 27.5 and 29 inch tires, bike manufacturers realized it was possible to swap between the two by slightly widening rear triangle clearance on the right models. Bikes like the Devinci Marshall and Santa Cruz Hightower have the extra width to run either wheel setup and are sold with 27.5 or 29 inch wheels depending on the model, according to Evo.
A large change in mountain bike technology has seen riders preferring not to have a front derailleur for simplicity of their drive train. 12-speed bikes are now popular in the market using only one chain ring on the front. Now, the focus has shifted to improving the gear range of the rear cassette with a versatile “granny gear” for climbing, according to Evo.
SRAM has introduced their Eagle 12-speed system, which offers a larger gear range, improved longevity and smoother actuation via a new front chain ring, refined crankset and derailleur clutch. The added versatility of climbing/descending gears is great for any bike that sees a high variety of pedaling.
Based on these insights, it seems newbies and experienced riders alike have some tough choices to make when upgrading their equipment. And as the season ratchets up and temperatures climb along with those who pursue their adventures on two wheels, we’ll see which trends fly — and which are left in the dust.
Lead photo courtesy Full Cycle Bikes