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4 bike things we’re looking forward to in 2022

Joe Robinson
3 Jan 2022

The Cyclist team's bike industry predictions for 2022

Another year has and come and gone quicker than Filippo Ganna in an individual time trial. 2021 is writing its final chapters in a year for cycling that has been dominated by covid, supply chain issues and heated debates over when is acceptable to use a bar bag.

Soon 2022 will be beginning its own story, giving the team here at Cyclist a chance to look forward to the next 12 months and the things that should be exciting you in the bike industry.

From being able to buy disc brake pads to international sportives being back on the cards, and the continued pursuit of wider tyre clearances on road bikes, there are plenty things we are keenly anticipating over the next year for both you, the reader, and ourselves.

Below are some of our top picks....

Bike components actually being in stock

Shimano Ultegra cassette

A smorgasbord of covid, Brexit, a massive fire at Shimano’s factory, that Evergreen ship getting stuck in the Suez Canal, a worldwide raw material shortage and unprecedented demand combined to create a perfect storm that pretty much broke the bicycle supply chain in 2020 and 2021.

Bikes bought by paying customers, especially those at the cheaper end of the scale, have been delayed by months, vital components such as disc brake pads are no longer in stock and prices of things that you can get hold of have risen through the roof. Anecdotally, on a recent trip to my local bike shop, the owner told me that certain Shimano parts were even being quoted for Spring 2023. Thankfully I ride Campagnolo groupsets.

There has been some stability in recent months – you can now buy an 11-speed Shimano cassette again for example – however, we are far from the return of normality where you could buy a bike, groupsets or even tyres on demand.

For 2022, there is hope that the supply chain issue will continue to heal. We’re already seeing some components come back into stock for the first time in almost 18 months while we are also hearing rumours of new bike launches which suggests at least some capacity and capability to manufacture bikes.

However, it is very unlikely that normality will return in 2022 if we continue along the same path of before and therefore the industry needs to explore solutions to regain control of the supply chain. The most sensible solution was offered to Cyclist for a feature on this issue earlier this year by Neil Holman from George Halls Cycle Centre.

‘Two years. I think it could take two years before we see any kind of continuity return to the bicycle industry, and the only way to get there is to scrap two years’ worth of range changes.’

To put it another way, drop the idea of product one-upmanship, sell existing stock while the supply chain stabilises, and all look forward to seeing the latest and greatest bikes again in 2023.

The return of the sportive, particularly those abroad

2022 could be the year the international sportive returns. ‘Could’ being the operative word as at time of writing the spread of the new Omicron Covid variant is casting doubt over the continuation of international travel and easing of restrictions.

Fingers crossed this new Transformers-inspired strand is either contained or eradicated both swiftly and safely so that normal life can continue its march back to normal which for us cyclists means the return of mass-start sportives both at home and abroad.

Some sportives managed to sneak back on the calendar in 2021 – the Fred Whitton springing to mind – but it feels as if 2022 will see their grand return.

The most significant event of note returning is RideLondon, the biggest closed-road sportive in the UK, with a new course through Essex taking in all the sights – Mark Wright’s house, Gemma Collins’ mansion and David Essex’s gaff.

The international sportive is also back on the menu. Like that tiramisu you’ve been eyeing up all night, who can say no to the brutal Tour of Flanders Cyclo, awe-inspiring Marmotte Granfondo Alpes or, our personal favourite, L’Eroica.

If a recommendation is what you’re after, we cannot speak highly enough of L’Eroica, the vintage sportive through Tuscany’s rolling vineyards. Riding across the strade bianche aboard bikes built before 1987 in retro woolen jerseys, sipping Chianti at the feed stops, praying the ancient tubs glued to your borrowed bike are not going to roll and that your 39-19 gear will be enough to get you over that 20% gravel wall. It’s an unrivalled cycling experience.

Riding the new Shimano Ultegra groupset and... 105 Di2?

Shimano Ultegra Di2 has long been the groupset of the intellectual. Providing almost identical performance to the headlining Dura-Ace Di2 at a more friendly price, if you could overlook the slight concession in overall weight, there really was no beating trusty old Ultegra.

In 2021, Shimano overhauled Ultegra with the marquee changes being that it's now 12-speed, semi-wireless, and most notably, electric-only with the mechanical option having been scrapped entirely.

So far, we are yet to see a new Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8100 groupset at Cyclist HQ let alone test one, but we are holding out hope that our luck will change in the coming months.

If the improvements to the new Dura-Ace are anything to go by, as recently tested by deputy editor James Spender, we can expect braking to be smoother and more responsive, shifting to be marginally quicker and the undeniable satisfaction felt by no longer having to use a junction box for charging. All very exciting.

But more exciting is the possibility that Shimano’s dedication to trickle down technology could finally see the advent of the groupset we have long been hoping for – 105 Di2.

The release of SRAM’s entry-level Rival eTap AXS groupset opened the doors to electronic shifting at previously-unseen price points and you cannot help but think the top bods over at Shimano will follow suit, just like they did when the brand moved to 12-speed and introduced wireless (sort of) shifting. If this is the case and Shimano 105 Di2 does occur, the possibility of electronic shifting on budget bikes could be a reality.

Saying that, with all the supply issues, this is probably a pipe dream. 

The continued emergence of the do-it-all bike

The concept of ‘n+1’ seems to be slowly dying a death.

While previously you would have wanted an aero bike to ride fast, a light bike to climb hills, an endurance bike to ride long distances, a cyclocross bike to ride gravel and a mountain bike to ride trails, the consumer is now being presented with bikes that claim to do all of the above and more.

Here are some examples:

  • Enve released its first ever bike in April which offered a customisable geometry tailored around either ‘race’ or ‘all-road’ with max tyre clearance stated at 35mm while also utilising integrated, aero components and tubing.
  • Specialized updated its Crux cyclocross bike, pivoting it into the ‘gravel’ space, upping tyre clearance to a whopping 47mm while mirroring the aggressive Tarmac geometry and skimming overall weight down to 7.25kg, lighter than some cut-and-dry road bikes.
  • The thoroughbred Cervelo R5 climbing rig became lighter but also more compliant – under direct orders from Tom Dumoulin – while also upping its tyre clearance to a whopping 34mm from 28mm.
  • The BMC Roadmachine became the BMC Roadmachine X, keeping the same frame but coming with a 1× drivetrain and 32mm tyres as standard, while the BMC URS LT got front suspension.

This trend is only going in one direction too. The further development of suspension systems and wider clearance means drop handlebar bikes will only become more capable, improvements in carbon fibre will see all bikes continue to drop weight and the continued tweaking of tube shapes will push on aerodynamics.

We suspect when you are next in the market for a new bike, chances are you’ll be looking for something that offers the versatility of Bradley Walsh to explore gravel as well as high Alpine climbs as opposed to shoeboxing yourself with an ‘only for certain occasions’ machine which, again, will further fuel the rise of the ‘do-it-all’.

And on a side note, could this be part of the solution for the ongoing supply chain crisis? Rather than brands manufacturing many bikes for many occasions, focusing on a tighter range of options that offer increased capability? Just a thought.

And finally...

Some other minor things we are also looking forward to are: Eurostar allowing bikes back on its service, aluminium coming back in a big way, the development of an unstainable tan wall tyre, the new Toast of London spin-off, the return of the TransCon Race, fluoro becoming de rigueur again, local authorities opening more footpaths up to cyclists, early-season reliability rides, Kent lad Ben Tulett in the WorldTour and the acceptance that wearing pro jerseys is cool.

Happy New Year everyone!

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