Where is the road less graveled?
More and more riders are heading off the tarmac and onto the gravel, but road bikes are not dead. Not even close.
While the overall presence of vendors at Interbike 2018 was down, it’s clear that for the second year in a row (at least) that the road category is lagging far behind mountain, gravel, and e-bikes. In fact, Basso Bicycles seemed to be the only brand showing off new road bikes. But there’s hope outside the trade show for lovers of the black top.
Just about all the big road category releases this year took place in conjunction with major European races. That’s notable for a few reasons. First, it indicates that manufacturers have identified the most significant market for these types of bikes, and that market isn’t in the US. It’s in Europe.
Second, it points to the notion that road bicycle sales are still strongly tied to racing and the racers piloting them. While the influx of endurance bikes and price-point models seem to have flooded the overall market, road bikes still largely depend on the idea of going fast, riding aggressively, suffering, and crossing the finish line first.
That’s counter to the riding trends in the US. More and more riders are heading off the tarmac and onto the gravel, or further onto the trails. And racing has become less of an anchoring activity, while adventure-style rides are growing in popularity.