Hottest bike tech trends of 2022

Tech trends come and go, but some have the power to change the future of bike design. Here's the bike tech I think will make the biggest impact this year.

Written by
Bruce Lin

Published on

Posted in
Features

Tech rules everything around us, especially if you’re into bikes. Every year, new bikes and components promise a dramatic leap forward in performance. But with so many innovative products entering the market every year, they can’t all be hits (R.I.P., Trust fork). So what’s going to really matter for your ride? Here are my picks for the hottest new tech trends in 2022. 

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High-pivot mountain bikes

The 2022 Cannondale Jekyll is one of several new high-pivot MTBs. Photo: Cannondale

High-pivot suspension designs aren’t new, having been around for over 20 years. I just wrote an in-depth article explaining how high-pivots work and why they’re back in fashion. Long story short, high-pivots provide a more rearward axle path, which improves suspension performance in rough terrain. After Commencal dominated downhill World Cups in 2018 with its high-pivot Supreme DH, they set off a high-pivot arms race.

But we need high-pivot bikes that we can actually ride on regular trails. Smaller brands like Forbidden and Deviate released high-pivot trail bikes early on, but it took a while to see any movement from major manufacturers. 

For the 2022 model year, the high-pivot-curious can choose between the new  Cannondale Jekyll, Norco Shore, Devinci Spartan, or GT Force. After pressing some industry insiders for info, I think you can expect a few more big brands to release high-pivot bikes of their own. That’s why I’m calling it now: 2022 will be the year of the high-pivot.  

 

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Wireless electronic groups

Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9200

Shimano's latest Dura-Ace group is (mostly) wireless. Photo: Shimano

SRAM’s wireless eTap and AXS drivetrains have been around for years, but it took Shimano until just recently to get into the wireless drivetrain game with its new semi-wireless 12-speed Dura-Ace and Ultegra groups. Will wireless drivetrains overtake mechanical drivetrains at The Pro's Closet? Don't bet against it. 

The future seems destined to be wireless. But electronic shifting is only the tip of the iceberg. SRAM has been leading the wireless charge (haha) with mountain bike components, such as the wireless Reverb AXS dropper post and the Flight Attendant suspension control system (which I’m excited to try for myself). Shimano also has its own wireless dropper in the works, along with several more gadgets that can be scrutinized in its latest wireless patents. And don't forget, Shimano is tight with Fox, which has its Live Valve electronic suspension system.

We could see some interesting bikes come out this year that can automatically control your shifting, dropper post, suspension, as well as things like lights, keys (so you can disable your bike while parked), and even — gasp — brakes? What a time to be alive. 

 

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Tubeless road tires

My personal road wheels are tubeless.

I’m a big believer in tubeless tires for all bikes, including road. Unfortunately, most die-hard roadies don’t share this opinion… yet. Sure there have been some kinks to work out, but ever since the international ISO rim and ETRTO tire standards were updated in 2019 to make tubeless systems reliable and easy to install, I’ve been feeling like inner tubes are destined for the history books.

More road bikes now come from the factory with tubeless rims. Top wheel manufacturers like Zipp, ENVE, DT Swiss, and Reynolds already make their flagship wheels tubeless-ready. And now, Continental has finally made the best (in my opinion) road tire ever, the GP5000 S TR, compatible with all of these rims. With tubeless components readily available, and knowledge spreading, it feels like the stars are aligning and this will finally be the year tubeless road tires take over.

  

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1x drivetrains with 1-tooth steps

SRAM XPLR

SRAM Red XPLR. Photo: SRAM

Yeah, you know I can’t write a tech article without mentioning my obsession with 1x drivetrains. Unfortunately, I don’t think 2022 will be the year we see a sudden influx of 1x road bikes, but I do think we’ll see a ton of new bikes equipped with SRAM’s latest gravel-specific XPLR drivetrain. Along with Campagnolo Ekar, we now have two dedicated 1x systems that provide several one-tooth gaps between the higher gears. That’s a key step toward a 1x system that roadies will finally accept. I’m now looking at Shimano to release a 1x 12-speed version of GRX to compete. Perhaps the glorious all-1x future I’ve been dreaming of isn’t that far off.  

 

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Gravel suspension forks

RockShox Rudy

RockShox Rudy. Photo: SRAM

Along with the XPLR drivetrain, SRAM also released the RockShox Rudy gravel suspension fork. Fox is set to release an updated AX gravel fork as well. Suspension forks are popping up on more and more gravel bikes, and suspension equipped bikes like the Cannondale Topstone Lefty, Lauf True Grit, Niner MCR RDO, and Bombtrack Hook ADV have generated a ton of interest among our buyers. Gravel suspension is hot, and I’m one of many hoping to get a new gravel fork this year. 

 

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In-frame storage

Trek bits storage

Trek BITS in-frame storage. Photo: Trek 

Specialized started it all with the SWAT door on the 2016 Stumpjumper, a clever down tube compartment where riders could store spares, tools, and snacks. Trek later followed suit with its BITS system. Now, for 2022, Giant and Orbea finally offer in-frame storage on the new Orbea Rallon and Giant Trance. If you haven’t owned a bike with in-frame storage, all you need to know is that it’s convenient and awesome. Expect to see more brands hopping on the bandwagon once they figure out how to incorporate hidden storage compartments into their frame designs.  

 

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Honorable mention: Supre Drive

Until gearbox mountain bike drivetrains mature, I’ll just keep ripping my derailleur off everytime I take a bad line through a rock garden — or will I? A couple of months ago we got our first look at the Lal Bikes Supre Drive, which splits the rear derailleur in half and tucks it into the rear triangle to keep it out of harm's way. It’s not yet in production, but if it works, it has potential to revolutionize mountain bike design. Lal Bikes is already partnering with a "major brand", and surely, a lot of designers are going to spend 2022 thinking of ways to use this design. 

 

I’ve seen plenty of hot bike trends hang around for a few year before fizzling out (anyone remember plus tires?), but every piece of tech listed here is something I think will stick around and influence bike design for years to come. But hey, sometimes I’m wrong. Let me know in the comments what you think of my list, and what hot new bike tech I may have missed. 

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