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Shaping the Future.

What – and exactly how – will we be riding in the future? Are e-mountain bikes going to take over and reign supreme? Who comes up with the trends? Who’s going to push the development of our sport? And will there ever be an end to this wheel size madness?

Of course no one can predict the future, but recognizing potential and steering trends along the right path are within the realm of human capability. So that’s exactly what the Design & Innovation Award sets out to do. For 14 days the 40-strong Award Team didn’t just analyse and scrutinize the industry’s current best products, it also staged pivotal expert discussions and looked towards the future. Many questions were asked along the way; such as how much innovation is truly necessary? Are products solving problems that don’t even exist, and why are some products taking an innovative approach but still floundering in their infancy?

The crux of the issue: Can we commend emerging products for their (attempt at) innovation? After all, the Design & Innovation Award has been put together to applaud the world’s best and most innovative products, and the Award Logo will be lauded in shops and by manufacturers – places where we’re not able to explain the minutiae and criteria that led to their victory.

The fact is that potential plays a huge role in the Design & Innovation Award. Recognising potential requires impartiality, unflinching curiosity, an open mind and the ability to distance ourselves from personal experience and what we’ve been brought up to deem the norm. It therefore holds that only those who properly give something a fair try can be qualified to form an opinion.

And this is where we return to the initial statement: the future is in our hands. With groundbreaking technology, more options and confounding bike categories, it’s the responsibility of us all to communicate better, form standards and offer direction through the dense jungle of marketing hype spawned by the bike industry. Given the presence of more than 100 bike manufacturing companies and a seemingly infinite number of part manufacturers and suppliers, the concept of unified communication that does not confuse consumers is never going to be easy, particularly in such a crowded industry. However, this isn’t to say that it’s impossible! In fact, this is what we’re dedicating this year to: in cooperation with international bike developers and industry experts we’re setting up the world’s first independent Bike University. Intended to publicise non-brand-biased expertise and knowledge from across the whole spectrum, it aims to grow into the Wikipedia of the cycling world. So while we’re on the subject of potential… Recognizing new developments, discussing and actively influencing; rather than avoiding and closing our eyes to potential – this is the way to a better future.

Words: Robin Schmitt Photos: Christoph Bayer Video: Klaus Kneist

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