The top 9 road bike trends that will define 2022
The pace of new things arriving in bike stores may have slowed down a bit over the past year, but in 2021 innovation was advancing as quickly as ever.
The new 12-speed Shimano Dura-Ace was the big story of 2021, which we correctly predicted. We didn’t anticipate that Ultegra would launch at the same time, but for 2022 we’ve given the crystal ball a good shot.
So let’s take a look at what we expect to see more – or less – in 2022.
1. Integrated cockpits (but more flexible)
Concealing brake hoses and gear cables and merging bars and rods in the name of aerodynamics has become an obsession with the bicycle industry in recent years and if 2021 is anything to do with it, it should continue. There has been some backlash from consumers who damn want to retain the freedom to swap stems, stack spacers above or below without disconnecting everything or even changing the incline of the handlebars. – which is of course impossible if a bar / stem is a single piece of carbon.
However, we are seeing the emergence of a middle ground with the integrated cockpit. While the Vision Metron 5D (pictured) – one of the one-piece bars / stems that led the trend in the pro peloton – doesn’t have any tweaks, we expect more component makers to take the system route. Vision ACR / FSA. , in which the bar and the stem are separated but the cables run inside and down into the head tube of the bicycle. The Specialized Tarmac SL7 Expert uses this type of setup, albeit with proprietary components from Specialized, just like the new Cervélo R5.
2. Even more tire clearance
With disc brakes now dominant in the world of lightweight racing bikes, manufacturers realized they were free to incorporate almost unlimited tire clearance.
Over the past couple of years, greater tire clearance has become one of the expected highlights of a new bike’s launch spec, alongside watts saved and increased stiffness, and will continue to do so.
While the walls of a 28mm tire were the outer limit of clearance on road bikes, we now see room for 34mm rubber and beyond.
Lower rolling resistance, more comfort, and a better chance for the tubeless sealant to do its job due to lower pressures are all benefits of bigger tires that will be appreciated more and more from now on.
3. Creative aerodynamic additions (or “smart boxing”)
Specially shaped and specially positioned bottles have been a key part of a bike’s aerodynamics since the 1980s – the best known is Campagnolo’s famous flattened white bottle.
But more recently brands such as BMC have experimented with filling in the space between the down tube and the seat tube with a custom “Aeromodule” box, on which the water bottles sit – look at the Swiss brand’s Timemachine. .
Meanwhile, time trial bikes, borrowing storage box ideas from triathlon, were also tested faster with them than without.
But the most drastic solution, which could have softened the air but definitely divided opinion, was the Orbea Orca Aero’s “Cargo Foil” box, located between the front wheel and the down tube.
Of course, none of this is UCI legal, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them for a Strava KOM.
4. More comfort, less rigidity
When the new Cervélo R5 was launched at the end of 2021, the big story was that it was less stiff. Less steep ?! Had the Canadian brand gone limp in the head as well as other bike parts?
In fact, it was quite a smart move and very original. With the old R5, ultimate stiffness had apparently been achieved and now was the time to recall it for extra comfort for Grand Tour riders.
Cervélo claimed that there is a magic ratio for head tube / down tube stiffness and that the new R5 has been designed around it.
As one of the long-time innovators in bike design, we wouldn’t be surprised if more brands followed Cervélo’s lead and started taking a more moderate approach to the stiffness of their own bikes.
5. Electronic only frames
The new Cervélo R5 was a trailblazer in many ways – naturally it ticked off the bigger tires and the integrated (but adjustable and swappable) cockpit – but the Canadian brand almost mentioned in passing that it was only intended for electronic groupsets. This allowed for a more efficient manufacturing process with fewer holes, according to Cervélo.
We’ve even heard of brands like Vielo, which already makes 1x specific bikes, only working on SRAM AXS bikes with no hole in the bottom bracket for a rear mechanical wire or cable.
With Shimano’s two best road groupsets, Dura-Ace and Ultegra, now Di2-only, you’d expect flagship models in a lineup to be electronic-only, and if you’re a SRAM AXS user, that would add a nice personalized touch if the holes that aren’t needed just weren’t there.
6. Electronic gear shifting for cheaper groups
Whereas in the past electronic gears were only for the pros, they are now reaching the third tier group. In 2021, SRAM was the first to introduce the electronic switch to a mid-range groupset with Rival eTap AXS, which is third in its hierarchy after Red and Force, but so far Shimano only has its first two. – Dura-Ace and Ultegra – as electronic groups. .
While Shimano remains very tight-lipped about its upcoming tech and makes a point of not responding to speculation (despite our best efforts), we predict that 105 Di2 will arrive – maybe not as early as 2022, but you can bet its team. of R&D is already working. build a prototype.
While Shimano would never admit to considering what SRAM is doing, since the American company is a fraction of the size of Shimano, the new Rival eTap groupset has been well reviewed, including by us, and appears to be very popular with of a new breed. of cyclists, many of whom also train and run indoors and expect everything to work electronically the same outdoors as well.
Shimano must think it’s time to catch up.
As for Campagnolo, for the moment only its top-of-the-range group, Super Record has an electronic EPS version but a new Record EPS v4 should join it. We hope that Chorus will remain mechanical for a few more years. Read on to the next point and we’ll tell you why.
7. Shimano 105 mechanical 12-speed
OK, we’ve already said we’re expecting a Shimano 105 Di2 at some point in the future, but we’re going to sit here and postulate that the 12-speed 105 could also be on the cards – and maybe more likely. Shimano’s two best mechanical groupsets, Dura-Ace R9200 and Ultegra R8100, were released in 2021. Tier 4 Tiagra was updated in 2019. Knowing that 105 was last updated in 2018, this c is almost certainly the next to be redesigned.
Right now there is a big jump from 105 to Ultegra R8100, both in terms of price and performance. At the moment, the 105 R7000 rim brake costs around £ 600 and the 105 R7020 disc brake costs just under £ 800. The new Shimano Ultegra R8100 costs just over £ 3,000 (power meter crank version).
We hope Campagnolo takes note and continues with the excellent Chorus mechanical groupset, which was equivalent (but at a slightly higher price) coming out Ultegra mechanical.
8. The slow and continuous death of the rim brake
When Pinarello’s new Dogma F launched in 2021, perhaps for the first time, there was a general surprise that there were both disc and rim versions.
With the demise of the rim brake continuing across the board, consumers and industry alike expected the new team bike to be disc-only, in line with Ineos Grenadiers’ gradual migration to discs – even in Paris-Roubaix, as we have seen.
Indeed, 2021 was the first time that there was not a single rim-brake bicycle at Paris-Roubaix.
Fausto Pinarello says he likes giving riders a choice, but Pinarello’s own figures reveal that he expects 80% of sales of the new Dogma F to be the disc brake version and it seems likely that will be. the latest rim braking Dogma. .
Even Giant, the world’s largest bicycle maker, only offers the best models of TCR Advanced SL disc brakes (although you can still buy the rim brake version as a frameset).
If you want a top-of-the-line rim brake bike, French carbon specialist Time still offers each of its three models in rim brakes, but it increasingly looks like they are a dying breed.
9. Hookless rims become mainstream
Wheel manufacturers who did not yet offer hookless rims may have used the practical – and genuine – excuse that hookless rims meant limiting cyclists’ tire choice: the hugely popular Continental GP5000 was not compatible without hook.
But then in 2021 Continental released the GP5000 S TR and it instantly won Paris-Roubaix with Sonny Colbrelli.
While our own testing demonstrated that it was absolutely essential not to inflate the GP5000 S TR beyond recommended limits or risk a blowout, the tire gave hookless rims the traction they needed to break through. the general public without the technology being questioned, and hookless will become much more prevalent from now on.