IFMA Presents The Bicycle Trends Of Today And Tomorrow

The booming e-bike segment - a key theme at the fair The bicycle is the "first evolutionary winner of climate change, " says the German trend researcher Matthias Horx. And he's absolutely correct, as IFMA Cologne will confirm from 18th to 21st September 2008: never before have high-tech functionality and the demand for sustainability and climate-conscious behaviour gone so harmoniously hand in hand. IFMA is putting the main focus on city and trekking bikes, an area in which the bicycle industry is working hard to meet the challenges of the future - e-bikes are the boom bicycles of the new era and are experiencing rapid and targeted specification. Even the traditional bicycle has never before seen such combinations of practical utility and fun. Sensible and enjoyable cycling will also be significant in the future, and IFMA Cologne will demonstrate this on its test tracks.

A few years ago bicycles with electric pedal assistance, otherwise known as e-bikes and pedelecs, were an overlooked segment. However, the organizers of IFMA Cologne quickly recognised the trend for bikes with a built-in tailwind and brought the bikes into the spotlight through special areas and test tracks that reflected this theme. Today the ideas surrounding electrically assisted cycling mobility are numerous. Every larger European manufacturer with a trekking and city segment includes pedelecs in its portfolio. Therefore the topic of e-bikes and pedelecs will be represented more extensively at this year's IFMA than ever before. A conference and special dealer training sessions will be held as an additional feature in the enlarged test and exhibition area in Hall 6!

Pedelecs are not simply pedelecs any more! In the future LEVs (Light Electric Vehicles) will be available in many different bicycle segments. For example: "Twist Sport RS stands for recreational sports, " explains Oliver Hensche from the huge trekking bike manufacturer Giant about the new pedelec. The bicycle features derailleur gear systems that allow the bicyclist to cover long distances. Giant's two-storage-batteries system enables bikers to undertake long journeys - up to 130 kilometres are possible. Giant is also presenting a new motor system. The innovative Clutch Tight Motor in the front wheel combines high performance with minimal resistance. As soon as you switch to driving with e-power, 100 per cent power transmission is available. If the new Twist is just being used as a normal bicycle, a special clutch completely breaks the connection between the wheel and the motor so that the bicycle can move without any resistance from the motor.

The premium manufacturer Riese und Müller is extending its portfolio to include a complete fleet of hybrid e-bikes. Its cult folding bike Birdy will also be featured here - the motor is in the rear hub and the rechargeable battery is in a special bag attached to the handlebars. The bike's sporty riding characteristics and its small dimensions when folded up remain unchanged - and bring bicyclists fascinating new mobility! As a result, the Birdy will become by far the lightest pedelec on the market. The traditional manufacturer Hercules is also extending its collection of e-bikes. Horst Walter, Product Manager for e-bikes at Hercules, announces a new trekking variety with a powerful bionix motor. This bike will for the first time reach the 20 kg weight limit for e-trekking bikes. At Kalkhoff, a cooperation with Panasonic has enabled its entrance into the fast-paced e-bike sector. A high-performance motor lets the bicycle reach the speed of a moped - provided the cyclist keeps pedalling. The operation of this bicycle requires a license.

Lifestyle and performance for everyday life and travelling
However, bicycles without motors are also still popular. The general trend is toward bikes that are light, fast and high-quality, with the focus clearly on the latter. In the first half of 2008 it was already apparent that customers are increasingly turning away from cheap deals and focusing on high-quality bikes. The manufacturers are accommodating this trend. They offer bicycles in the medium price range that two years ago would have been in the "ultra-light" category. Weights between 10 and 12 kg for tour equipment don't need expensive tuning components any more, but instead use light, high-quality parts and innovative manufacturing techniques - this especially applies to frames. For example, the Giant Aero is manufactured using an elaborate hydroforming process so that the torsional stiffness of the fast trekkers' frames, which are ovalised lengthwise and crosswise, guarantee sporty handling of the bike and at the same time reduce its weight.

Visitors at IFMA can also expect to find this trend at the stands of Derby Cycle. "They're more practical for everyday use with less weight, " explains Frank Jeniche. The trend is thus again turning slightly away from trekking suspension forks to lightweight offset forks, and carbon will also be featured. Bikes orientated toward comfort will keep the front wheel suspension fork, especially those in the upper price category. KTM is also using new high-quality aluminium frames on bikes in the trekking category in its efforts to reduce weight. The quality offensive mentioned before also applies here. From 2009 the company will give a five-year guaranty on the frames of city, trekking, racing and mountain bikes.

As expected, the "carbon fraction" delivers even more weight reduction. The range of carbon-fibre products in the trekking sector will, as experts predict, drop slightly. In the upper price category, trekking bikes made with carbon will still be available. In this segment the selection of bikes will also be expanded. For example, the small manufacturer Circle Cycles will present a monocoque frame in a traditional trapezoid design at IFMA. "Women too increasingly want to ride sporty trekking bikes, " says Managing Director Torsten Braunschön, "and with our super-light carbon bicycles for women we are paving the way." In the area of design, aluminium and carbon are finding common ground - with racing bikes and mountain bikes the trend is increasingly more in favour of a sophisticated coat of paint rather than the black structured carbon effect. In the trekking and lifestyle sector, carbon can still be seen in parts of the frame.

More and more specialities
The special bikes sector has for a long time now been an important feature of IFMA and an essential sector of the bicycle market. Its innovative vitality is still going strong. HP Velotechnik is expanding the growing market for recumbent tricycles with a fully spring-supported model of the Scorpion trike. Thanks to complex design features adopted from the automobile sector, the tricycle boasts safe and comfortable handling. Its easy-to-fold features make the transportation of the Scorpion FS in a car as comfortable as the actual riding of the trike. Even with the complex technology, the weight of the bike compared to that of the rear-spring version will hardly increase. The best idea would be to test the trike yourself on the special bike test track at IFMA Cologne!

Components for more comfort, fun and safety
Component manufacturers are offering more - Shimano is taking its LX series of quality gearshifts to a higher level and making them the trekking gearshifts of the higher classes. The lightweight, high-tech design of the new gearshifts makes them lighter, more precise and more dynamic.

Targeted research makes it possible - the ergonomics specialists at SQ-Lab have managed to come very close to the perfect saddle, which will be featured in the 2009 model "Active". In addition to the company's width and height measuring processes, through which the proper type of saddle can be determined, this seat features a special carbon suspension on the longitudinal axis.

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