We can hardly believe that 2020 is already right around the corner! But, well, here we are. We’ve been looking back at the past decade in pedal-power and have come up with our moments that defined the decade…
7. Strava launches
We’ve put this in at number seven because Strava’s launch didn’t *technically* define this decade. The massive ‘social network for athletes’ was actually launched in 2009, but still deserves a mention here for the massive impact that it has had over the last 10 years.
In 2019 alone, Strava athletes numbered 48 million logging 19 million activities a week. On the cycling side, that equated to 5.6 billion rides.
Strava users out there will already know all about the ride data that it provides: every segment is mapped, won or lost and you can re-live everything from your dismal performance as you panted up Box Hill to your white-knuckle top speed down it. Perhaps most interesting to us, though, is how city planners are starting to buy and use the huge volumes data the Strava is collecting. How will Strava change our cities in the 2020s?
6. Lance Armstrong admits to doping
Say what!! We were pretty shook when Lance told Oprah that he had taken banned substances during every single one of his Tour de France victories. You mean that he wasn’t able to dominate the field for seven consecutive years completely naturally?!
Seriously, though, Lance’s admission of guilt was a watershed moment for pro-cycling. He was stripped of his Olympic medals and Tour victories and companies that he had worked with scrambled to distance themselves from him.
The ‘hero’ of the early noughties was a fraud, but he was in good company and fans were left wondering if there was much point in continuing to watch a competition that seemed to be more about avoiding positive drugs tests than being physically superior to your opponents. But, of course, drugs testing is getting better and better (the 2019 Tour was probably the cleanest yet) and drugs use had been rife for decades. Was it really fair to vilify Armstrong over all others?
Bradley Wiggins is still happy to credit Armstrong as a leading inspiration to his pursuit of a career in cycling. There is, perhaps, still a compelling argument that Armstrong’s impact on cycling - especially in terms of massive increases in participation at a grassroots level - has really been net positive.
(If you're interested in digging deeper into bike doping, definitely check out Netflix's Icarus. It's one of our favourite documentaries of the year.)
5. Brits become world-beaters
While Armstrong brought cycling into disrepute, Brits including Chris Froome, Chris Hoy, Laura Trott, Bradley Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton treated us to a host of unforgettable moments in the saddle as they inspired a new generation of cyclists.
Since 2010, Chris Froome alone has won two Vueltas, four Tours and one Giro...and that’s not even counting the times that he came second or third in some of the toughest races on earth! And, of course, who could forget Wiggo’s Olympic Gold and Tour de France double header in 2012, when he made sideburns briefly cool again too? Or Laura Trott’s successful defence of her Omnium and Team Pursuit titles at Rio 2016 to become the country’s most decorated female Olympian in any sport?
Team GB, we salute you…and can’t wait for next summer’s races or Tokyo 2020!
4. Beeline Velo is released
Some might even argue that this was THE defining moment of the decade! We’ll be modest, though, and pop ourselves in the middle.
We’ve come a long way since that first launch, and are excited to have you all along for the ride as we enter the roaring 20s....we have two big launches coming up next year, you may want to join our newsletter to stay in the loop...just sayin'.
3. Cycling got technified
Ten years ago, stationary cycling generally meant heading to the gym to jump on an exercise bike or popping the back wheel of your bike into a turbo trainer and staring at the wall for an hour or two. All of this was fine, but not particularly exciting!
Enter Zwift and Peloton. These two companies have burst onto the scene in the 2010s to revolutionised turbo training and spinning. And people were ready to jump head-first into the revolution with them; when Zwift launched in 2014, 18,000 people signed up for the beta test alone. Their virtual races that allow you to hook up your turbo trainer to your TV to take on other real cyclists in real time have captured imaginations and fans around the globe.
Over a million people are now registered on the software and it looks like that number is only set to grow. Will they (or a competitor) take the revolution a step further over the next decade with the help of virtual reality?
If Zwift doesn't integrate VR...Peloton might! With users including Hugh Jackman, Richard Branson, Michelle Obama, David Beckham, Peloton has stormed into the spinning world over the last few years, and definitely deserves a mention here too. Their resistance bikes have screens that allow users to tune into live or recorded spinning classes from their living rooms and garages any time, day or night.
Our team gave it a go just ahead of its launch in the UK last autumn and a couple of us developed minor addictions of our own (they were offering free tester sessions at their London studio and one anonymous member of the team went ‘to test out a bike’ every week for two months)! And it’s not hard to see why. With live and recorded data on power, speed and distance, leaderboards that allow you to overtake and be overtaken by others in your class, and instructors who give riders shoutouts, the dopamine hits come thick and fast.
Their road to success hasn’t been without its speedbumps though! If you hadn’t heard of them before, chances are that Peloton popped on to your radar last month when their ‘sexist’ advert went viral for all the wrong reasons. Oops. You may also have heard about their combined $450 million of lawsuits this year related to their use of copyrighted music in their classes. Double oops.
It’s fair to say that this year has been a fairly tumultuous one for the cult spinning bike but there is no denying that, with 1.4 million users, and a $8.1 billion IPO the company is making its mark. Will it continue to be a key player in the 2020s?
2. E-bikes hit the mainstream
Long crippled by large, cumbersome batteries and a widespread sentiment (in the UK at least) that using one was cheating, e-bikes have been on the slow burner for decades.
As we reach the end of 2019, though? They are among the hottest property in the cycling industry!
As lithium-ion battery technology improves at a rapid rate, manufacturers have popped them on mountain bikes, foldable bikes and classic bikes to give a bit of a power boost to the rider. The best way to describe it is like pressing the L button in Super Mario Cart: one minute you’re stuck behind bloomin' Birdo, the next you are leaving him in the dust. It’s still you...but on a very, very good day.
With cyclists now able to comfortably beat most city traffic and get up even the most hellish of hills without breaking a sweat, a couple of the biggest barriers to using a bicycle as a mode of transport - needing to wear perspiration-proof gear or a change of clothes and a shower at the end of the journey - is effectively eliminated. As cycling infrastructure and routing improves and the safety barrier is also removed, we see e-bikes exploding (in a sales sense, not literally!!) over the next decade. Some predictions suggest that e-bike sales will even far outstrip those of electric cars.
1. Mobike kicks off a micro-mobility revolution
Back as recently as 2014, if you picked up a random bike on the street and cycled off on it you’d most likely find yourself being chased by a very angry owner! Bikes were not generally considered to be ‘shared’.
By 2015, though, Mobike was already on its way to becoming the first huge micro-mobility success (it was acquired for $2.7 billion last year) as it launched distinctive silver and orange bikes across the world. When they arrived in London in 2017, they were pretty Marmite-ish. Some people loved them, others hated them and a few them into the river in disgust (or maybe just because they were bored).
In China, where Mobike is head-quartered, shared bikes from all operators were quickly piled on top of each other in small steel mountains. Piles of bikes began to pop up on pavements everywhere; evidence of some of the big challenges, including lack of parking spaces and time-and-labour intensive fleet management, that these new micro-mobility providers were facing.
Nevertheless, shared vehicles have become part of the street furniture (in non-mountain ways) in cities across the globe, and a slew of companies have jumped into the micro-mobility space. While some, like the Cangoroo shared pogo-sticks, might have slightly more limited appeal, the likes of Jump, Lime and Bolt have proved that the appetite for micro-mobility is huge. And the operators are beginning to overcome some of their biggest initial challenges too. Watch this space.