The Design & Innovation Awards (DIA) have almost become a permanent fixture at the beginning of every cycling year. With the ninth edition, the initiators are changing their approach somewhat. They are downsizing the range of common types of bicycles and no longer divide the award winners into identical categories. As justification, they point out that people have always paid little attention to the industry’s terminology. Instead, they have sat on their bikes and used them for more purposes than they were designed for according to the catalogue. This is entirely what the Design & Innovation Award advocates.
For 2022, the assessed bikes are divided into the following categories:
- Mountain bikes
- E-mountain bikes
- Road bikes
- Gravel bikes
The categories urban, road bikes and gravel bikes are in principle open to bikes with and without electric assistance. In fact, however, only among the urban bikes this year are there more with an e-drive. After all, 14 out of a total of 27 award-winning models have electric assistance.
1. Design & Innovation Award: ebikes in the “Urban” category
By far the most diverse of the categories is “Urban”. It clearly shows the attempt of the jurors to depict the real image of what we encounter on the road today. And that goes far beyond city bikes.
Exemplary material cycle
The Advanced Reco One is the only classic low-step bike represented. It actually earns its award less with its appearance. The initiators of the award are much more impressed by the material used for the bicycle frame. It is a carbon fibre-reinforced composite material in the form of granules. The manufacturer Advanced has so much confidence in its production process that it offers a 30-year guarantee for the frame. And if the material does tire afterwards, it can be turned back into a granulate and is ready as a raw material for a new frame. This process is clearly superior to the usual production of a bicycle frame from aluminium in terms of environmental compatibility, as it produces only a fraction of the CO2 emissions that occur with the first-mentioned variant.
Trendsetter cargo bike
Otherwise, the “Urban” category is the much-cited reflection of the trends. No less than four cargo bikes received an award. Each of them stands out with at least one detail from the mass of other new products of the past season. In the case of the Ca Go FS 200, for example, it’s the cargo box made of expanded polypropylene; in the case of the Concept Dynamic Cargo from Cube, it’s the tilting technology of the rear wheel axle and the integrated differential gear; in the case of the full-suspension Kettler Cargoline FS 800, it’s the steering of the front wheel hub; and in the case of the Multicharger Mixte GT vario 750 from Riese & Müller, it’s the incredibly comprehensive equipment package. Two longjohns, a longtail and an e-cargo bike with three wheels – here, too, the diversity of the current range in the bicycle industry is evident.
Mountain bikes are also very much in vogue which, thanks to their mudguards, rear carriers and lighting systems, display a versatility that hardly anyone thought of when this type of bike started its worldwide triumph. The Thömus Longrider E2 Men City Kit has now received one of the awards, on behalf of an entire genre. Even if the lack of suspension elements and knobby tyres do not make it an SUV ebike, the geometry unmistakably reveals where this bike has its roots.
Like the Thömus, the other two urban award winners defy classification into traditional schemes. With the Qio Eins, the manufacturer Hartje has attracted a lot of attention in many places. The 2022 Design & Innovation Award goes to the P5, the model in the series that, at first glance, perhaps lags behind those with even more high-quality features. On the other hand, hardly any other ebike can compete with it in terms of robustness and durability. The admittedly simple 5-speed hub gear from Shimano does not offer an incredibly wide range, but it is the only hub from the world market leader that is approved without restriction even for use on e-bikes. Together with the robust and at the same time compact frame and the 20-inch wheels, this creates a pedelec that cuts a remarkable figure both on the campsite and as a fully-fledged everyday bike.
The next hybrid is a rather chunky one. Extraordinarily massive down tube and seat tube. A chain stay with the perceived elegance of a railway barrier. Visually, this certainly takes some getting used to. Behind the massive exterior, however, there are many imaginative technical tricks. And that is precisely the reason why the jury awarded the Vaast E/1 a prize. Hidden in the frame is a complete suspension and damping system in which the seat tube rather than the rear triangle really gives way. During the test rides for the Design & Innovation Award 2022, an “unprecedented feeling of riding comfort” is said to have been experienced. What is certain is that rarely before has an ebike combined so many classic features of trekking, city and mountain bikes.
2. Design & Innovation Award: ebikes in the “E-Mountain Bike” category
Perceived and real innovations
In the case of e-mountain bikes, on the other hand, one encounters many familiar things. Very good solutions, but no real novelties. What is meant by this is symbolised very well by the Flyer Uproc X 9.50. This is a classy e-MTB, technically mature, with an excellent chassis and an enormously powerful e-drive. Nevertheless, such an ebike could have appeared among the prize winners two or three years ago, albeit with slightly different figures in terms of motor and battery.
However, this category is not entirely without excitement. For example, with the Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay Carbon 70 and the Specialized S-Works Kenevo SL, two different styles of mountain bikes face each other. While the Rocky Mountain flexes its muscles and, with 108 Newton metres of torque and a battery capacity of 1,034 watt hours with optional overtime pack, makes a powerful impression as the bike that makes everything possible for you, the Specialized S-Works Kenevo SL is much more modest. The capacity of 320 watt hours seems almost ridiculous in comparison. On the other hand, with 18.7 kilograms of weight, it brings an argument into play with which Altitude and Co. nevertheless run out of breath.
The Scor 4060 Z might also be of interest to some of you. The brand is often announced as a newcomer. And it is. Behind it, however, is BMC, an old acquaintance.
3. Background to the Design & Innovation Award
The fundamental difference between the Design & Innovation Award and other relevant prizes is the fact that at the DIA the bicycles are tested first-hand by those directly involved. No mere re-measurement and appraisal. Engineers, test riders and journalists take two weeks to do this. Afterwards, the 30-strong international team deliberates on the awarding of the prizes.
Pictures: Design & Innovation Award