Single Best Cycling Innovation To Date

In your experience and opinion what one cycling related innovation do you think has helped you the most or moved the industry the most? Pretty general and obviously there is no right or wrong…just interested to see what big things people have found important to them cycling (mountain, road, cross, gravel, r-bent, commuter, other).

This will date me, however, there have been three innovations that I’ve lived through that seemed to stand out more than others: Front suspension, STI and modern pads in bib/shorts. If I had to pick one I’d say suspension is the single best innovation that I’v experienced. How about you?

edit…state when you started riding consistently. For me mid 80’s…

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Clipless pedals.

I still train on alloy rims, I don’t think disk brakes are really an advantage on a road bike (unless you are forever riding in the rain), and I could go back to downtube shifters if I had to.

Clipless pedals are a non-negotiable. I would not want to go back to 1987 and my last set of toe clips.

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The bicycle.

The pneumatic tyre!


Totally forgot about this one. I think I agree…

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Would be hard to just name one.

  1. Pedals cant imagine going back to toe clips
  2. Shifting downtubes without indexing was a nightmare lol
  3. More gears going from 14 speed to 22 (dont have 24) makes it easy to choose what cassette to use during races.
  4. Powermeters! HR sucked and rpe wasnt so good either
  5. Carbon sooooo much nicer

I could probably go on from when I started riding in 87 ish till now.


In my cycling life time(2015) 2 come to mind.

Sub £500 Powermeters. Still a lot more accessible.
Disc brakes for road, there just safer.

Honourable mention:
Kickr that helps TR.

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Interesting. I should have asked people to state when they started riding consistently. For me it was mid 80’s. I’ll edit the op.

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Carbon Fiber used in cycling, endless possibilities.

Started riding seriously around 2015 (wow what a noob)

For me I think it would be power meters. Smart trainers too. Game changers.

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Thanks for the response. Having been around a bit longer I find this fascinating. I never would have thought smart trainer a game changer but, this maybe illustrates how the game has changed and where cycling is going.

You can still do without any of them, but to me indexed shifters, disc brakes, carbon fibre, tubeless tyres, have all made a significant impact. Add clipless pedels, and I’d also add gps and chargable lights!!

Also suspension and mtb ( geometry).

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Yeah. I came into the sport basically when all these training innovations started happening, so I’m not sure if its the tech that got me training hard, or if it was just part of the natural progression and the tools were there. Power meter definitely.

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GPS - how astounding it is to be able to have precise speed, elevation, routes, and a record of everything done outdoors on a bicycle.

  1. Direct drive trainers
  2. Apps (TR) for training

Gotta pick just one though!


Everything power related. Power meters, interactive indoor training, etc.

In the world of consumer cars, manufacturers can mask a crappy chassis by throwing in a huge engine. In the world of cycling, manufacturers have attempted to mask a crappy engine by optimizing every last bit of the chassis, with limited success.

Now with structured power-based training, everyone can work on the engine. While folks have been able to develop big watts long before this technology was available, I was not one of them. Been riding since the mid 90s and yet I’m just now achieving my highest ever fitness levels.



Started riding seriously in the mid-1970’s. Was doing centuries (on tandem with dad) by about age 10 and racing TTs then junior mass starts from about age 12 onward.

On the bike, the things that have made the biggest difference are the contact points. Clipless pedals, carbon fiber handlebars with great choices in bartape and dramatic improvement in saddles all make a big difference. When I started you rode a Brooks leather saddle, Cinelli bars wrapped with cloth or Benotto cellotape and Campy pedals with Christophe toe clips and Binda straps. Oh, and your shoes were leather with nail-on cleats.

Advances in carbon fiber frames, better wheels, drivetrain with index and more cogs, powermeters, etc are all nice, but I could easily ride a five speed block with downtube friction shifting today and be fine as long as my contact points are comfy.

Although I miss picking components and assembling the perfect bike, do think the advent of an out of the box, amazingly capable bike at lower price points is fantastic. An Ultegra or 105 groupset on a generic alloy frame (Spec Allez, C’Dale CAAD, etc) presents a remarkable value for riders of all abilities.

The absolute biggest innovation in cycling for me has been technical clothing. Again, comfort and contact points. When I started we rode wool clothing and while it looked cool, it was limited. Particularly in temperature extremes. I do miss my Jones Cycle Wear, Protogs wool and Cool Gear kit from time to time as it looked great. But today’s engineered clothing is fantastic.

Mountain biking I’d say #1 is hydraulic disk brakes that really work, followed by tubeless tires, wide range 1x drive trains, dropper posts and finally great suspension. I put suspension last as even a SS full rigid with good tires and brakes is a blast. But good stoppers and great rubber make all the difference. We’ve come a long way from canti brakes, Farmer John’s and Porcupines.



Tubeless mountain bike tires