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The three revolutions that changed the world of cycling

In history there are moments in which evolution has made leaps forward that have radically changed our habits, often these changes have been linked to the objects of everyday life. From the invention of the wheel to the advent of smartphones, there are many revolutions that man has witnessed that have changed his way of life.

Often these changes were linked to the objects of everyday life. From the invention of the wheel to the advent of smartphones, there are many revolutions that man has witnessed that have changed his way of life.

Wanting to use this reflection also for our world, after the invention of the bicycle as a means of transport, what were the innovations that changed the way we experience it?

The ranking of inventions

Each of us will have our own personal list of inventions but they will all arrive at the same point, the real invention that changed the bicycle was the mountain bike.

MTB in its early days was a cultural phenomenon that definitively changed the very concept of the bicycle, revolutionizing it profoundly. The introduction of this strange vehicle that allowed you to race, move, go on asphalt (malino) and on dirt; also being able to go down paths that until then were unthinkable for two wheels, it was a shock for many enthusiasts of that time from which they struggled to recover.

I still remember with how much effort the old road riders greeted me when I passed them during the outings, not recognizing me as one of them, if I then think about what an insult it was to see a boy on that strange vehicle overtaking them uphill and on the flat...

 Things have now changed from this point of view, but the advent of MTB has allowed a different audience to approach two wheels, effectively expanding the number of practitioners, then also creating that contamination which over time has allowed road riders to also discover the joys of going off-road and vice versa.

Raise your hand if you got into cycling thanks to fat tires and didn't buy at least one road bike over time.

Sector magazines were born, some companies grew up in basements to build bicycles and are now among the most influential brands in the cycling scene. Even at a competitive level, some iconic names of the road have a history in our sector and perhaps without that first experience with fat wheels they would not have become the acclaimed champions that we all know.

 But the revolutionary spirit of the MTB has also influenced the road one from a design point of view.

If we look at the bikes before and after the advent of the MTB, we will discover that sloping frames, constant in our environment, were absent in the road scene. The frame tradition included bikes with a truly horizontal top tube and stop. Only after the entry of this strange element was it understood that a more compact frame was more manageable and reduced the dispersion of force. Let's think about the recent introduction of the disc brake, certainly borrowed from experience in the off road world, the use of rudimentary shock absorbing systems for the Roubex, the latex and neoprene inserts which in some races are also used by road riders, or the telescopic that made its appearance at San Remo, guess where they come from?

Ours always remains 'the younger brother', both due to the media imbalance and the resources that revolve around the racing world, but without our somewhat anarchic mentality, road bikes would probably also be more boring.

But this spirit doesn't stop at the concept of MTB itself, it goes beyond and so let's try to see which other custom elements or components have had the strength to create something that wasn't there before. Because when we talk about revolutions this is where we want to arrive. Many adaptations have appeared, think of forks, rear shock absorbers, disc brakes or mouses inside the tyres, all solutions which over time have greatly improved the experience of riding the MTB, but which in fact have been adaptations of something that already existed.

But then what were the real revolutions?

The telescopic.

Speaking of technical components, I believe that the telescopic seat post is the real revolution in our sector. That element that didn't exist before and that changed the way of riding MTB. Raising and lowering the saddle depending on the conditions has made it possible to transform the way of riding, changing the setting, a bit like what happened in skiing with the arrival of the carvin.

  An element that is moving from the world of enduro to that of

The telescopic seat post was a truly revolutionary invention for the world of two wheels

But looking at the telescope and the environment from which it originated, I think another element of custom can be identified as a watershed between before and after. That is, the birth of all mountain and its competitive version, namely enduro.

In the early years this discipline managed to encapsulate the essence of MTB, combining the flavor of exploration with the adrenaline of downhill and the fight against time. Then, as is normal, the competitive aspect took a more specialized path, however leaving a wealth of experience to all mountain and some special events which allowed MTB to be developed as a real tourist tool.

This umpteenth revolution, which is also a return to the origins, was the key to making it a very powerful multiplier of the holiday offer. Even before, thanks to the bike parks and cycle hiking, the vehicle had potential, but it was the rapid technical evolution that occurred in the first years after the birth of this discipline, which brought the concept to cycle mountaineering and cycle hiking. at a higher level. How many places are there that, driven by all mountain, have decided to invest in the creation of trails that are not just marble runs?

Think of the balcony of the Matterhorn, of some trails that from Paganella lead to Lake Garda, of the paths that go down from Mottarone to Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta and of all those places that in the wake of this new way of conceiving fat wheels they have created more or less epic trails, once again widening the audience of potential tourists.

 So, no longer just kids looking for adrenaline and jumps, or devourers of positive height differences in Lycra onesies, but a wider audience who have often discovered this tool as a valid summer alternative to ski mountaineering.

The consequence of this new frontier of MTB has allowed the rapid development of another innovation, a curse and delight for many bikers;  the e-bike. The development of enduro bikes, with their geometries and increased travel, was the fertile ground on which to plant the seed of this slightly hybrid solution, which generated a new revolution, further expanding the audience of those who wanted to tackle single tracks.

All this waiting for the new revolution that will start from the fat wheels, what is it? We don't know yet, but we will certainly find out in the next few years.

Written by

[email protected] Mountain bike travel editor and expert. Chiropractor and personal trainer, for years following some of the strongest national interpreters of enduro mtb.


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