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news's 10 Cycling trends and predictions for 2009

We buff up the crystal ball and make 10 predictions for the coming cycling year

We don't have a crystal ball here at but we do have a picture of one, so we thought we'd gaze at that and try to sum up where we think cycling's going to go in 2009. Here's how we think it'll roll: what do YOU think?

1. A race season to remember. Armstrong back. Basso back. Three grand tours to savour. The Vuelta starts in Holland (well it did used to be the Spanish Netherlands – that was about 500 years ago mind) but the route favours climbers, a quite fantastical Giro route with all the climbing at the start and a really long time trial near the end, and the Tour (check out the fly through below) sticking to the sunny bits of France only and chucking in that finale on the Ventoux.

Plus the old firm back to take on the new firm, it's going to be really hard to make any of that boring…


2. Higher bike prices Vs credit crunched consumers
Cycling is very much in but more people are likely to be feeling the pinch in 2009 just as exchange rates and economic uncertainty is forcing bike prices up… something's gotta give. One thing that might help is the continued growth of the various bike to work schemes – that government tax break for bike buyers is going to look even more attractive, while it lasts.

3. Big year for sportives
Sportives and mass participation rides of all sorts get even bigger. Check out and for the evidence. With the pound about to achieve parity with the euro we're predicting a good year for British sportives in particular. Hey, and maybe we'll have good weather too.

4. One gear rules!
The irresistible rise of the urban singlespeed – makes more sense in more places for more people than a fixed.

5. Roller racing
Coming to a pub near you soon – the big brewers are always looking for a way to entice people into pubs, this could be it. Roller racing is the new darts! Well, you can hope!

6. “Bad cyclists”
More crackdowns on “rogue” cyclists riding on the pavements or without lights. Now, we don't condone either activity. Unless you've got a good reason to do it, riding on the pavement is pretty dumb. Mind you, that hasn't stopped plenty of councils creating 'cycle lanes' by painting a white line down the pavement. And while it makes a nice headline there's no real evidence that these cyclists are a menace to anyone other than themselves. Nor is there a recognition of why some people might feel forced to ride on the pavement. 

There has been a noticeable upsurge in police forces announcing crackdowns on errant cyclists. Edinburgh, Bath, Bristol, and Oxford,have all had such operations recently. As more people take to two wheels in 2009 expect a lot more of this as it's an easy PR win for the police and it panders to the prejudices of those who feel in some way threatened by the rising numbers of cyclists, Leslie Philips spoke for them on the BBC recently.

The fact remains pedestrians are a lot more likely to be injured by a car on the pavement than a bike. In fact the people most at risk of injury from pavement cycling are the cyclists themselves.

7. Lock it or lose it!
Cycle security – one to watch according to It is certainly a topic that a lot of talented designers are turning their attention to, we covered the Cyclehoop last month and there is the Putting the brakes on bike theft exhibition running in London at the Royal Society of Architects until the end of the month plus the bikeoff website which is dedicated to helping designers come with better cycle security. We had a look around the beta version of their Design Resource section back in October and we'd heartily recommend it to anyone who has a bike to park anywhere.

8. More cycle routes…
… That aren't white lines painted down the pavement. More money on cycling infrastructure and more infrastructure attracting more cyclists – in the last few weeks we've been deluged in Sustrans announcements of partnerships and agreements between the organisation's Connect2 arm and councils up and down the country for new schemes funded by lottery cash. Cycling England too is weighing in with advice and match funding for schemes in Bristol and Cambridge. Building work on many is scheduled to start now and the new routes and facilities will start to come on stream over the next couple of years.

9. Doing it all night long…
Coming to an airfield or stately home soon… Enduros for roadies, this year someone is going to make it work. It's not a new idea and there are some good small ones like the Jole Rider 12 Hour but it's time that road cycling had a cycling festival of the same size and vibe as Mountain Mayhem.

10. Electric bikes…
Soon but not now. The hype says 2009 will be the year of the electric bike, we're not so sure: bikes are built and shipped in dollars and euros so already pricey electric machines are going to look even more expensive. Demographics and continued technological development (particularly in batteries) is on the leccy bike's side – they ARE coming.

Two to watch…

Lance's comeback
There will be no escape, and who'd want to anyway. Whatever happens it's going to be a great ride. 2008 was a fruitful year for the great man with news of his return to cycling, the announcement that he is going to be a father again, and the release of his 2005 Cabernet wine, Cuvee 7. 2009 is going to be way bigger he is certainly going to get plenty of publicity for his fight to promote cancer awareness, but even though the Giro organisers seem to have bent over backwards to give him the race on a plate, we don't believe in fairy stories – sorry (watch that one bite our arse come May). As for the Tour? Time stands still for no man, even Lance. This is the Contador era.

The UK's first cycling city is starting to look a bit of a worry, slow to get going, and pulling back on some of the plans that have been announced. It's no longer early days and it is starting to look worryingly like this could be an opportunity frittered away. The grumbles are getting louder and while they aren't registering much outside Bristol at the moment … we're just outside Bristol and we're going to be watching.'s founder and first editor, nowadays to be found riding a spreadsheet. Tony's journey in cycling media started in 1997 as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning - finally handing on the reins in 2021 to Jack Sexty. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes, though he'd like to own a carbon bike one day.

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BigDummy | 15 years ago

Probably not a big one, but with the Kona Ute, Surly Big Dummy and Yuba Mundo all in the country, Xtracycle shifting more Free Radical kits than ever before, the Xtracycle longtail standard going open-source, driving getting pricier and a middle class thrift vogue intersecting with contuinuing predictions of the end of the world we will surely see more longtail utility bikes knocking around. Which is all good.


ourmaninthenorth replied to BigDummy | 15 years ago

Well, wouldn't you.  3

I shall be building an Xtracycle this year. And I shall be harrassing you for assistance.

You have been warned!

BigDummy replied to ourmaninthenorth | 15 years ago

You will be a statistically significant part of the trend that I claim I reckon.

Tony Farrelly replied to BigDummy | 15 years ago

You could be on to something re the cargo bikes. I rode past a woman on one of those Cycles Maximus trikes this morning, and she was towing a trailer which looked like it contained the contents of her house. There was so much on there (including furntiure) it towered a good few feet over her.

I really wish I'd had a camera. In fact she was moving so slowly I probably could have got to the office and got back… she'd just hit an uphill section. Those things certainly must have a lot of gears.

It was a seriously impressive site.

Tony Farrelly replied to Tony Farrelly | 15 years ago

(see no 6) this time in Hull.

Tony Farrelly replied to Tony Farrelly | 15 years ago
ourmaninthenorth | 15 years ago

With Armstrong's return, does this also mean a return to the weirdness and isolationism that seemed to characterise the latter part of his career - you know, the tacit intimidation of "non-believeing" journalists?

Frankly, i think it's a backwards steps to include both Armstrong and Basso in any part of pro-cycling. Armstong proved that one man can be bigger than the Tour, and has done a lot of good for cycling, but his attitiude to the likes of Simeoni stinks even now. Basso is just a proven cheat and indicative of the fundamental attitude of the peloton when it comes to doping.

I predict that 2009's racing calendar will be as full of doping stories as the last few years.

On the other stuff: I reckon 2009 will see all sorts of cycling generally growing, but not with the same speed or explosion into fashion as was seen in 2007 and especially in 2008. And the focus will continue to be on urban riding (as transport solution and for utility). It will be interesting to see whether the fakengers feel the same as they did last year when their bikes are filthy and in need of a good service come springtime....

Blackhound | 15 years ago

Got to that age where redundancy would be welcomed. (50 in a few weeks) No mortgage and daughter through uni. So busy though its unlikely.

Great Divide in 2010 would be my aim.....

DaSy | 15 years ago

I really want to see Contador serve Armstrong his @rse on a plate. I mean, if Armstrong comes back as strongly as he left off there is no excuse for my lack of ability other than an innate lack of ability....come on Alberto!

cactuscat | 15 years ago

2009 isn't going to be a big bike-buying year for me  2
The only chance i'm likely to get is if my employer sets up cyclescheme or one of the other bike-to-work things. or i do it on the never never, but that's what got us into this mess in the first place  1

thebikeboy replied to cactuscat | 15 years ago

Yeah, things may be tough for some people in 2009, but if I've got money to spend one way or another I'm going to be spending a chunk of it on bikes.

I've worked through the last three recessions and the thing to remember is that away from the hype life goes on as normal for a lot of people -if we're headed for 6% unemployment that's still 94% in a job: mortgages are going down, fuel prices are going down (now that may have an effect on bike sales  39 ) VAT has gone down, and there's even talk of tax cuts.

What a lot of people seem to forget is that if you've got a job and some money you can actually be better off in a recession, which obviously isn't much consolation if you haven't got a job.

Couldn't agree more about Contador btw.

James Warrener replied to thebikeboy | 15 years ago

Let's get it on!!!

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