While sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the marketing hype around a concept, to find the path to true enlightenment we must first discern whether a product demonstrates genuine innovation. Does it add value to our cycling lives, or is it just an ingenious solution to a problem that was hitherto nonexistent? The Design & Innovation Award 2017 comprised two intense weeks of testing where the experienced test team racked up hundreds of miles in the pursuit of answers.
Our conviction that the world of road cycling is in the throes of a shake-up is still true. While the collective category of road bikes continues to become increasingly subdivided into bikes that create new niches, we have to ask if such division is the main aim. Wider tires, innovative drivetrain set-ups, hydraulic disc brakes, and ground-breaking frame designs are being created to allow riders to simultaneously indulge in the benefits of responsiveness and comfort. This holy grail of bike performance stems from one common goal: a revolution of road cycling taking place away from pristine tarmac. Instead, it’s focused on the increased freedom of being able to explore forest fire roads, cobbled lanes, and gravel tracks. This new mindset means that ‘all-round’ and ‘endurance’ are the current buzzwords within the industry. These new concepts form a key to unlock new possibilities and a move away from the traditional limits presented to a conventional road bike user, unlocking new routes, adventures, and good times.
This year’s DI.A highlights have been cherry-picked to meet the test crew’s main criterion: is this a product you’d recommend to all your friends? What could be a better benchmark? So here they are, friends: meet the crème de la crème that we wholeheartedly and unreservedly applaud.