11 methods mountain bikes have influenced street bike tech and design
What has mountain biking ever carried out for the street bike? By way of expertise and design, rather a lot truly. Listed below are some key methods mountain bike design has influenced trendy street bikes, from compact body geometry to disc brakes.
1. Geometry and compact body design
Maybe the most important factor that trendy street bikes have borrowed from their mountain bike cousins has been within the geometry and form of the frames, however removed from being a latest affect, now we have to return to the Nineteen Nineties when most street bikes got here in a dozen sizes with excessive ahead sloping prime tubes. Large Bicycles, led by designer Mike Burrows, challenged the established order by bringing the compact body design then frequent on mountain bikes to a street bike, with smaller entrance triangles and sloping prime tubes. Advantages included a stiffer and lighter frameset and elevated match choices regardless of a smaller vary of sizes. It was dubbed TCR and today nearly all of street bikes can hint their DNA to this compact body design strategy.
Whereas the geometry of most trendy race bikes falls inside a reasonably small window of angles and measurements, trendy mountain bike geometry has modified hundreds, typically getting longer and slacker to swimsuit the tougher terrain the bikes are being ridden on. One key change has been a transfer in the direction of lengthy entrance centres and shorter stems for extra secure dealing with, and there’s proof this concept is discovering its method into street bikes, at the very least these designed for tackling extra than simply easy tarmac.
Two manufacturers – Merida and Whyte – have taken this concept and utilized it to street bikes, with the Silex and Glencoe fashions respectively. Each are constructed round a brief stem and wider handlebar for extra leverage and management, helpful when using descents and off-road trails, however placing extra size into the highest tube to make sure an optimum attain for street using consolation. We don’t count on this strategy to grow to be mainstream anytime quickly, each bikes are aimed on the gravel and street plus using types, however it’s getting folks debating geometry and that may solely bea good factor as the road between a street bike and mountain bike continues to blur.
2. Threadless headsets
Return to when street bikes have been constructed from spindly metal tubing, and you’d discover forks mounted into frames utilizing a 1in fork steerer, threaded headset and quill stems. Early mountain bikes initially used all of the expertise then commonplace on street bikes together with the threaded headset, however their limitations have been rapidly uncovered on the demanding off-road trails these new bikes have been being ridden on.
Developed by John Rader and produced by Dia-Compe because the Aheadset, this radical new system of attaching the stem to the skin of the steerer tube with simpler bearing preload due to the star-fangled nut, was less complicated, simpler, faster and lighter than the threaded headset. It wasn’t lengthy earlier than it grew to become customary on all new mountain bikes, and was ultimately adopted by the street bike business and utterly relegated the basic threaded headset and quill stem to the historical past bikes and retro bike occasions.
Together with this new threadless headset got here a rise in steerer tube and head tube diameter. The early threadless designs moved as much as the 1 1/8in customary, and extra lately tapered head tubes, combining a wider decrease bearing race diameter, have grow to be in style on each mountain and street bikes within the pursuit of decrease weight and elevated stiffness.
3. Disc brakes
That is a straightforward and apparent one. Mountain bike brakes have been via some critical developments through the years, from cantilevers after I first began mountain bike to V-brakes, a slight detour down U-brake alley, earlier than disc brakes got here to dominate. All mountain bikes, apart from some very bargain-priced bikes, now include disc brakes and most are of the hydraulic selection, save for some entry-level fashions. There was some preliminary response to the introduction of disc brakes however it was short-lived with the advantages far outweigh any negatives.
Highway biking is a way more conventional and conservative sport and disc brakes are a polarising expertise, however we’re seeing extra new street bikes being designed with disc brakes and there is proof they’re proving in style with customers who just like the improved braking efficiency. They are not with out their issues although, being heavier than rim brakes, vulnerable to squealing and extra fiddly to put in and setup, and naturally it’s a must to purchase a brand new bike, wheels and brakes to improve.
The thru-axles, through-axle or bolt-thru axle, is an outsized axle system that was first developed in mountain biking when disc brakes have been being launched and have now been ported over to trendy disc-equipped street bikes. In comparison with skinny 9mm fast launch skewers, thru-axles comprise a hole outsized axle threading right into a closed dropout. Chief advantages included additional stiffness and safer wheel retention, however downsides contain having to utterly take away the axle to launch the wheel for slower wheel adjustments. Mountain bikes have settled on 12, 15 and 20mm axle diameters relying on the applying, however after the early disc-equipped street bikes used 15mm axles, we’re now seeing 12mm grow to be the usual on all new bikes.
5. Huge tyres
Within the early days of street biking, tyres have been vast as a result of the roads have been tough, however as street surfaces improved tyres obtained narrower. The reverse is now taking place, with street situations deteriorating and wider tyres positively again in style. So vast tyres have made a comeback on street bikes, and whereas this isn’t a development that’s immediately impressed by mountain biking, that sport has additionally gone via appreciable adjustments with tyres additionally getting wider than was frequent a decade in the past, with 2.8, 3in and wider tyres being bought on lately designed mountain bikes. So vast tyres is a development mirrored on each side of the fence.
6. Tubeless tyres
Everybody hates a flat tyre, and they’re frequent on mountain bikes, from thorns to pinch flats. Tubeless expertise was one other key growth that genuinely improved the enjoyment of mountain biking by nearly eliminating flat tyres, although they do nonetheless occur on occasion, however not with the identical frequency they used to. Tubeless tyre expertise, like disc brakes, have come a good distance, with higher compatibility between the numerous tyre and wheel manufacturers. Highway tubeless is slowly gaining floor within the street market with most trendy wheels now tubeless appropriate and a rising checklist of respectable tubeless tyre choices and nice understanding of how one can setup a tubeless tyre with liquid sealant, however it nonetheless faces hurdles, mainly compatibility between completely different tyre and rim manufacturers to make sure straightforward setup.
7. 1x drivetrains
My first mountain bike had a triple chainset – at this time all my mountain bikes have single ring drivetrains. Ditching the entrance mech and going to a single ring crankset with a wide-range cassette has grow to be vastly in style in mountain biking, with SRAM instrumental in making ditching the entrance mech a lot simpler with its wide-range cassettes and clutch-style mechs (extra on these later) designed to cease the chain dropping off. In porting this expertise over to the street market SRAM has discovered prompt enchantment with the rising gravel and journey bike market, the place the simplicity and vast gearing vary are large appeals, in addition to cyclocross the place the decreased mud clogging results of eradicating the entrance mech not been misplaced on racers.
And it’s taking place on street bikes. Each the Whyte Wessex One and the unique model of the 3T Strada are designed totally round a 1x drivetrain, there’s no method of becoming a entrance mech. The 3T Strada is even being raced within the skilled peloton, although 3T later relented and made a dual-chainring model. It’s unlikely that 1x will ever substitute 2x drivetrains however we do count on to see much more uptake with non-racing cyclists who can see the enchantment, and the variety of do-it-yourself 1x drivetrains we’re seeing is a testomony to the curiosity on this expertise.
8. Clutch-style rear mechs
Which brings us neatly onto clutch-style rear mechs. A couple of years in the past Shimano launched a Shadow Plus mountain bike rear mech with a clutch-style mechanism designed to stop the chain flapping about when using over tough floor, making dropped chains a factor of the previous.
Mixed with thick/skinny chainrings it grew to become pivotal to SRAM’s 1x methods. All of it however eliminates the danger of the chain dropping off the chainring within the absence of the entrance mech. And now Shimano has launched it to the street market with its new Ultegra RX rear mech. It’s aimed toward street and gravel bikes and first made its debut at Paris-Roubaix, a troublesome race the place dropped chains have ruined races prior to now. Count on to see these grow to be extra frequent, firstly with 1x groupsets on gravel and journey bikes however more and more on common street bikes.
9. 650b wheels
In case you’ve paid any consideration to mountain bike, you’ll know the business has been via quite a lot of wheel dimension adjustments lately. Initially mountain bikes had 26in wheels, then 29in wheels got here alongside, earlier than 27.5in was launched. Now, 29in and 27.5in wheels are the 2 customary sizes getting used, with 26in wheels principally confined to children and bounce bikes, and the historical past books.
However 650b, to provide 27.5in its correct title (you may blame the People for that one) is an outdated French touring bike customary and mixed with giant quantity tyres, has roughly the identical outdoors diameter as a 28 or 30mm tyre on a 700c rim, however with the advantage of a vastly greater tyre for elevated cushioning, consolation and traction, with wonderful rolling resistance.
Extra new bikes that straddle that gray space between an endurance bike and gravel bike, some are calling it street plus, are being designed round 650b tyres, and plenty of gravel bikes are providing twin compatibility with 700c and 650b to permit the shopper to decide on the right tyre to swimsuit their using fashion and terrain. Because the roads get rougher tyres are getting wider and 650b is a pure evolution.
Suspension forks and rear shocks are mature applied sciences within the mountain bike world, and save for just a few makes an attempt – the Bianchi full-suspension bike for Paris-Roubaix and Cannondale’s Silk Highway – suspension hasn’t actually been launched to street bikes with any actual optimistic affect. However that’s slowly beginning to change.
Within the pursuit of extra consolation, a number of the newest endurance bikes are including suspension to the combination. However in addition to consolation, suspension, because the development for wider tyres is displaying, has the potential to supply a quicker experience with improved traction and helps to scale back fatigue from all these nasty little vibrations going immediately via to the contact factors.
There’s the Specialised Roubaix with its Future Shock, a spring housed inside a cartridge situated on the prime of the top tube, although it’s a relatively rudimentary affair with no rebound damping or straightforward adjustment. However it’s a spring. In a street bike. There’s additionally the Pinarello and Wilier bikes with their mushy tail suspension designs utilizing small elastomer bumpers to easy the experience.
However peer into the gravel bike market and we discover the Fox Girt and MRP Baxter quick journey suspension forks, mainly reduce down mountain bike forks with round 40mm of absolutely adjustable and damped suspension journey. Taking a extra easy strategy is the whacky Lauf Grit fork with a row of glass fibre leaf springs.
So we would but see extra suspension designs being experimented with on street bikes of the long run.
11. Dropper seatposts
Okay, so this isn’t actually one thing we’re seeing on street bikes per se, however on gravel and journey bikes there are some good circumstances to be made for borrowing the idea of a peak adjustable seatpost for simpler tackling of steep and technical descents. A few take a look at bikes, a Bianchi, Vielo and Specialised, have arrived within the workplace with dropper posts and it’s an intriguing thought, and positively has deserves for off-road using the place you is likely to be getting, fairly actually, over your head on very difficult terrain. However on street bikes? Most likely not but, however you by no means know.
What else can we count on sooner or later?
That’s difficult to invest. Who might have seen any of those applied sciences turning into frequent on street bikes simply 10 or 20 years in the past, so something is sport it appears. One development that has occured on mountain bikes lately is a shift to wider axles. Disc street bikes have already borrowed the 142x12mm rear axle setup of a mountain bike, might in addition they borrow the 110mm Enhance entrance axle (up from 100mm) of contemporary mountain bikes? I am undecided the buyer is prepared for that, however you by no means know.
However what do you assume we might see launched on the street bike sooner or later, or what would you wish to see being launched? Let’s hear your ideas within the feedback part beneath.