What is a trend? I suppose it depends on which century you prefer to live in. Deriving from the Old English “trendan,” which meant to turn around, revolve, or roll about, about a thousand years later the word came to mean “a prevailing new tendency in popular fashion or culture.”
I kind of like the 11th Century definition, because it confirms what we know about all stupid bike marketing hokum: What goes around comes around.
However, the ad folks who run the Internet want you to think that “trend” means “important tendency that you must be aware of so that you can go buy some and not be uncool.”
I canvassed the Internet briefly for the top trends of 2021 and uncovered a stinking dumpster full of lame marketing, stupid ideas, repetitive hucksterism, and silly ad copy masquerading as news so pathetic that even the writers don’t believe it. Here ya go.
- From the hacks at Bike Rumor, we learn that the biggest trend is, and I’m not making this up, “everything will be in short supply.” Wow. Even spoke nipples? Chain lube? Pumps? Air? I better run out and by four of everything just in case. Bike Tumor’s suggested fix? Again, not making this up: “Put down your deposit NOW.” I scrolled down for the section about how you should just make do with what you’ve got, hang onto your stuff for another year or two, but wow, that section wasn’t there.
- Next big Bike Tumor trend? “Only a few models will launch.” Ah, so instead of being able to buy five models each of gravel bike, an MTB bike, an e-bike, and road bike, you’ll only have two or three $8,000 pieces of plastic to choose from. Gosh, better put down another deposit. Bike Tumor rounds out its paranoia-buying-spree “trend” with fearmongering that includes parts shortages and, gasp, the difficulties of getting stuff because of … Brexit. Now that America has left the EU, what’s a fella to do?
- Bicycle Adventures cuts straight to the point: Buy now: “The start of a new year—and a new decade!—is the perfect time to think about new trips, tech, and trends that will change the way we ride.” Of course who doesn’t want to change the way they ride, besides everybody? If there’s one thing you are likely flat fucking happy with, it’s the way you ride. What BA means is “buy more shit.” Their first trend? “Wearable tech.” Ya, so new, digital gizmos you can attach to your body to record watts, heart rate, sperm count, etc. Have they never heard of Apple Watch? 7.6 million units in 2020. Such a new trend for 2021.
- Then they get to the biggie, the one thing that really is going to change the way you ride, the “foldable e-bike.” Now, instead of enjoying a brisk bike ride under your own power, you’ll enjoy looking like a fucking idiot on a clown bike that pedals itself. Better put down your deposit now!!
- This next one really is a trend, it’s new, it’s exciting, it’s fresh, it’s taking the world by storm, and you’ve gotta go get some. Yeah, gravel bikes! Unfortunately, they’re all sold out.
- Someone ran out of acid or vodka, because the next “trend” is that bike makers are going to put smaller labels on their bikes. And this affects you how? Apparently “some manufacturers are taking aesthetics seriously,” which would be news to Irio Tommasini, Dario Pegoretti, and any of the other hundreds, er, thousands of people who have built bicycles over the last century.
- Do you like riding down the road and suddenly getting sprayed with a pound of wet, sticky, uh, goop? Then you are going to LOVE “road tubeless,” the next “hot” item that you haven’t been able to live without all those years you’ve happily lived without it. The reason road tubeless hasn’t caught on? It’s messy, it doesn’t work, and it’s dumb. Other than that, it’s for sure a hot trend.
- Finally they get to something I like, “bikepacking.” Unfortunately there is no mention of drowning in your tent, freezing, horrific sunburn, only talk of gear gear gear gear.
- I’m going to lump these next two horrors into their own trend, e-bike racing, and e-racing. Of course we’ve had e-bike racing for over a century, commonly known as motorcycle racing. Only now it’s slower, not as deadly, and makes a great excuse for why you suck at road racing. With regard to e-racing, there’s not much to say except “what a great way to spend even more time in front of a computer screen.” If you’re like me, you really love looking at a screen. It’s fun. It’s human. It’s rewarding. And best of all you can get advertised to 24/7, which you can’t say for taking a walk outdoors and staring at a tree.
- More slave labor. The only folks out there dealing with real trends seem to be Bicycle Retailer magazine, which says that if you want to know what’s going to happen in 2021, look at the tariff exemptions that are getting ready to expire on Chinese bike imports and which aren’t going to be renewed. In the short term you’ll have to pay a lot more, as in 25% more, for all the bikes and gear you won’t be able to actually get cuz supply chain backlog, but in the medium-to-long term the bike manufacturing industry challenge will be the “scramble to relocate production to new factories in Vietnam, Cambodia and other Southeast Asian countries.” As you are probably aware, “Southeast Asian countries” is a “place” like “African countries,” nameless and homogenous in the only way that matters: Starving people taking starvation wages to keep cranking out junk for Americans who just can’t make it through 2021 without hopping onto the latest trend.