THE CYCLING OF THE FUTURE

The romantics of cycling always tend to look at the history of our sport. Who hasn’t heard of the exploits of Maurice Garin, Fausto Coppi, Jaques Anquetil, Eddy Mercks, Miguel Indurain, Lance Armstrong, etc.

The further back in history we go, the greater the fascination some cycling fans show. Merely imagining the greatest cyclists in history (early 20th Century) climbing the Tourmalet with no asphalt and only one gear (pinion) makes us look at the past with great admiration.

What about the future? What do the coming years hold for us? Evidently I’m not a fortune teller, but looking at the present we can guess what the immediate future will be like.

Regarding the physical training for cycling, in just a few years we have gone from having to download the training files and sending them by email to the trainer, to receivers (GPS) directly sending the files to the different digital platforms, once we have finished the training. Nowadays trainers use indirect measurements to identify the various physiological milestones, thus determining the areas and times of training. I have the impression that, in a few years, it will be the cycling training apps themselves that will provide us with the training we need quite accurately.

If we focus on materials, bike manufacturers have been able to offer very light bikes for years, even below the weight stipulated by the UCI as the minimum (6.8 kg) for competitions. We are currently seeing the expansion of disc brakes on road bikes. Although discs have been consolidated for years on mountain bikes, it has not been so easy to integrate them into road cycling. The danger, the excessive weight (+500 g) compared to traditional brakes and above all the difficulty or slowness in releasing the wheel (due to the through-axle), have meant that some cyclists (Contador, Froome, etc.) have been very critical of disc brakes. Even so, the manufacturers are making an enormous effort to improve this type of brake, and I would dare say that the brake of the future shall be the disc brake.

We could say the same about electric bikes. Today 10% of cyclists use an electric bicycle in Europe. Manufacturers forecast that the figures will shoot up to 40% by 2023.

Electric bikes are currently very heavy, the assembly of the motor and the battery usually weighs between 4 and 6 kilos, so the total weight of the bicycle is excessively increased. Moreover, the majority of motors stop working over 25 km/h, so on flat routes where road cyclists reach about 30 km/h, the motor does not help and the cyclist has to pedal, dragging the excess weight of the bike itself. The autonomy of the batteries is limited, so cyclists intending to do very long routes must take an extra battery with them. Evidently, in the very near future, the shortcomings of electric bikes will be improved and manufacturers will be able to offer lighter, faster electric bikes, with greater autonomy.

What can we say about the cables! The recent years we have seen a clear tendency to conceal the cables inside the handlebars, frame, etc. Electronic gearboxes and disc brakes have reduced wiring with respect to the traditional gear and brake system. One of the latest new products in this regard was the marketing of the wireless electronic transmission by SRAM. Along the same lines we have the OREKA O5 trainer, that was also the first direct drive trainer on the market, without the need for electric current.

It is clear that the future of cycling goes hand in hand with all the technological advances we have around us.

By MIKEL ASTARLOZA          Ex-profesional cyclist    @TXIRRINDOR

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