As we wave goodbye to 2017 and welcome in 2018, its a time to reflect on what were some of the biggest trends and shifts in urban cycling during the year. Written from the perspective of a denim-wearing, hackney-based commuter cyclist mother, this list might not ring true to everyone, but they are some of the trends that i have observed myself working in the cycling industry, 9 years in the Trends business, and riding my bicycle around central London everyday.
In summary, 2017 was all about e-bikes, dockless bikes, premium stylish helmets, socks, second-hand over new bikes, urban backpacks, puncture-proof tyres, cargo bikes and scooters.
The continued rise of E-bikes
The popularity of E-bikes has been bubbling up for a few years now, but in 2017 e-bikes officially hit the mainstream. We have seen them in the news with crack-downs on food delivery e-bikes as they take over the streets of New York and we have also seen more official rules and regulations applied to the safe riding of them. For example in the UK, their riders must be over 14 years of age, the e-bikes must have pedals an they cannot go over 15.5mph / 25km/hr and not have a motor that exceeds 250w.
Here is a graph showing the increase in interest of ebikes over the last 5 years.
There are many specialist retailers selling e-bikes these days and innovative products from companies such as White Bear, Brompton and Volt and Pinnacle. Read about the Independent's pick of the best e-bikes here on this article.
City bikes and dock less bikes littering the streets
Call me old fashioned but i’m not a big fan of lonely bicycles leaning against rusty fences and splayed in the middle of footpaths. Like it or not there has been a rise in businesses taking advantage of the rise in city congestion. The Guardian reported “ Mobike launched with 1,000 bikes in Manchester on Monday, and Ofo has started a small trial with 20 bikes in Cambridge.” In Chinese cities, dockless shared bicycles have taken over cities. If their success in other cities is anything to go by, we will start seeing the formalisation and integration of dockless bicycles more in more cities.
Image credit: Dockless bicycles in Shanghai, The Guardian.
Since Thousand graced our presence and took the fairly lethargic cycling helmet industry by storm in 2016, we have seen more cool cycling helmet brands emerge for urban cycling. Dashel helmets (which we stock in our Hackney store) are made in Wales and crafted with carbon fibre are well worth the investment. If you are not sure whether you want to use a helmet or not you can always read this article.
Image credit: Dashel.cc
Its all about the socks when urban cycling. Paired with a lycra or non-lycra based outfit, socks are the true uniting accessory between serious hardcore cyclists and the toodlers (as i call them who can be seen cycling along listening to podcasts or carrying bagettes under their arms. My favourites include London based Look Mate who collaborate with artists and designers on new and limited edition monthly runs, Hackney GT, and one of my all time favourite cycling brands Ten Speed Hero, everything about this brand makes me smile. [except their shipping rate to the UK:(]
Image credit: Ten Speed Hero
Its funny to see that without fail we see a spike on the search for socks at Christmas time, here is the google trends chart showing the increasing interest in cycling specific socks over the last five years.
Urban day packs
People's work lives, commuter identities and social lives are merging into one, so no longer do they need one sports bag, one work bag and one going out bag. We are seeing more bags that are versatile in both functionality and style. Brands like Ortlieb are also introducing urban backpacks such as their Day Pack. The focus is on being waterproof, lightweight and versatile enough to be take across a field or across a motorway.
We at Goodordering are also almost sold out completely of our new Rolltop backpack bicycle pannier which again is designed specifically for urban life inspired by London.
Puncture Free tyres
Puncture resistant and solid tyres are on the increase as people ride through increasingly dangerous terrain. Riding through Shoreditch on a Monday morning, its a miracle NOT to get a puncture with all the glass littered along the bike path! In 2017 we have seen more innovations in polymer resins that require very little maintenance.
Back in the day these would be super heavy and clunky, but we are seeing more progress in this area which will really change the bike industry significantly. This may not be for the better, because often when i take my bicycle in for a puncture i get a few other things tweaked and checked at the same time which is good for safety. The question is will solid types really take off in the UK? Statistics show that in South Korea and countries with poor road surfaces, these tyres such as Tannus solid tyres have been sold in volume. For urban commuting where speed is not the top concern, i predict that these will continue to become more popular in 2018.
Refurbished vintage bikes over new bikes
Veganism is on the rise, re-selling through apps such as depop, ebay and even facebook are also on the rise - bear with me on this one - :) Additionally, its been officially reported that imported new bike sales were down in the last 2 quarters of 2017. This leads me to the conclusion that people are buying refurbished and second-hand bicycles more. Lock 7, Isambards Cycles on Brick Lane and the Hackney Peddler in East London are examples of companies who only sell refurbished vintage bicycles.
For me its an obvious win, you get a bicycle with character and a history, you usually get to support a small business, you get on-going servicing and care from the vendor (usually local) and lets face it, these bikes are built well and are just better looking! People are starting to value all of these benefits, not just in bicycles but in all their purchases, so this is why i think 2017 has been a good year for vintage bike sellers and i hope to see this grow more in 2018.
In conjunction with the rise in electric bikes, cargo bikes are also on the increase as families as well as business’ look to alternatives to motorised vehicles. People are much more environmentally aware and are choosing greener alternatives in every aspect of their lives. InI have noticed an increase in bikes that are slimmer and easier to navigate with that hold the equivalent load of two children, such as the Yuba bicycle below.
Image credit: Yuba Bikes
Scooters and electric scooters have also been popular in 2016. Not to mention brought into the mainstream UK television on Bake Off as featured by Yan :) Scooting is firmly established as a kids mode of transport, the perception is that riding a scooter is easy and takes less skill than riding a bicycle especially in an urban environment. You can technically ride a scooter on the footpath/pavement so this makes it safer for people hesitant to ride a bicycle on busy roads.
Image credit: Swifty Scooters
Also, foldable scooters are portable and take up hardly any room, which is a key consideration for people who live in flats in highly densely populated areas - like Asian cities and central London. Within the scooter world there are a huge amount of brands ranging in price, quality, portability and comfort. One of our favourite is Swifty Scooter whose premium scooters feature pneumatic tyres for extra speed and comfort.
So, in summary, my top 9 urban cycling trends for 2017 have to be:
- Dockless bikes
- The continued rise of e-bikes
- Helmet loving
- Sock Doping
- Urban day packs
- Puncture-proof tyres
- Refurbished bikes
- Cargo bikes
The main shift that has happened over the last year is that, like in other areas of life, consumers are seeking transparency, quality and style over fast and cheap items. We also require more practical cycling accessories for our increasingly complicated urban lives. We are embracing technology as a way to increase the attractiveness of cycling for longer distances, and in more challenging weather. We are braver to carry loads and our families around on bicycles as the infrastructure improves.
Here is the video version: