2020….A Nantucket Sleighride!

2019 to 2020

2020

…A Nantucket Sleighride![1]

By

Jay Townley

We are at the beginning of the third decade of the new Millennium.  2019 was a year of disruption for bicycle business supply chains, stress on economic systems and uncertainty about sourcing and distribution channels.

2019 was also a seminal year when important new business models, innovations and technology that will influence the future of the American bicycle business and Micromobility emerged, and those focused on Micromobility, as new and separate economic systems. 

All in all, 2019 was not a particularly pleasant experience for the traditional-mainstream American bicycle business, although it was a relatively better business year for the European bike business, and the American bicycle brands doing business in Europe, primarily because of ebikes. It was also a relatively good year for the emerging new economic systems around the world. 

The new decade that starts January 1, 2020, is a leap year and the first time in 60-years that the Gregorian calendar coincides with the start of the 12-year cycle in the Chinese zodiac and the year of the rat, beginning in January with Chinese, or Lunar New Year. 

It is also an election year in Taiwan and America.  The Taiwanese election in January is of importance to the American bicycle business because it is estimated that over half (or more) of current sourcing, primarily in China, is owned or controlled by the Taiwanese bicycle industry.

Early in 2019, as the U.S. – China Trade War was heating up the future of Tsai Ing-wen, the current Taiwanese President was bleak at best.  Nine months later American trade policy and President Tsai’s reshoring strategy have her positioned in most polls to win a second term, although the opposition will probably win control of the legislature.  A second term for President Tsai is projected as generally a win for the American bicycle business supply chain. 

While the Taiwanese election will be over in January, the American election will just be ramping up.  According to The Economist[2], two subjects will dominate social media, news and headlines around the world in 2020: America’s presidential-election campaign and the weakness of the global economy.  Quoting the Economist:          

“Both will induce anxiety, and each will influence the other.  It will be a volatile year, characterized by unstable, angry and polarized politics, and an enfeebled economic outlook for the world, regardless of who wins on November 3rd, when American voters go to the polls.”

America itself has hitherto been least affected by global growth slowing in 2019, and American consumers ended 2019 still confident and ready to spend.

But look for that confidence to start ebbing in 2020, as the stock market stumbles, the fiscal boost disappears and the jobless rate inches upwards.

There is a high probability America will escape a formal recession, particularly since the Federal Reserve will act promptly to reduce interest rates further.  However, the mood in the country will be gloomy as the longest expansion on record slowly comes to an end.

Retail sales of bicycles of all types and 20-inch wheel & larger have been essentially flat in terms of units in the U.S. for the past decade, while retail dollars have increased. 

The Specialty Bicycle Retail, or Bike Shop channel of trade has experienced a decline in the total number of American store fronts, but has maintained retail sales of about 3 million units per year while controlling over half of total retail sales dollars of new 20-inch wheel & larger bicycles.

All indications ten-months year-to-date are that 2019 will be another flat year, with no growth in 20-inch wheel & larger wheel new bicycle unit sales or retail dollars.

This finding is complicated by the imposition of punitive import tariffs on new bicycles and components from China, the source country for most new bicycles and components sold in the U.S. 

Some of the punitive tariffs were passed along to consumers in the form of price increases, and some were absorbed by the supply chain and were not passed along as retail price increases.  Punitive tariffs affecting the American bicycle market started with the application of Section 232 tariffs March 23, 2018, Section 301, List 1 July 6, 2018, Section 301, List 2 August 23, 2018, and Section 301, List 3 on imports arriving after June 1, 2019.

There is a probability that the passing along of at least some of the price increases to consumers has had a dampening effect on the sale of new 20-inch & larger wheel bicycles in the American market through the 12-months of 2019 resulting in another flat to down year in unit volume.  The impact on 12-month YTD 2019 retail dollar volume has yet to be determined and will have to wait for year-end data during the first quarter of 2020. 

The specter of the American stock market stumbling will serve to compound weakness elsewhere in the world as it becomes a reality.

China’s economy will gradually slow further, as its government strains to provide enough stimulus to keep its growth targets in sight.  This will serve to further slow the already contracting retail bicycle market, creating financial strain on the Taiwanese and American brands doing business in the Chinese consumer market.

It appears that Europe will face a particularly difficult 2020 because of the EU’s reliance on foreign demand, particularly from China.  Germany, the largest European market begins 2020 close to recession. 

Britain’s finally reaching a reckoning with Brexit will leave the country divided, and unfortunately damaged and diminished.

This could have a negative impact, slowing the surging ebike sales growth throughout the EU and dampening sales of the Taiwanese and American bicycle brands doing business in European markets.

GDP

Monetary stimulus will help keep global GDP growth at around 3.2% in 2020, just above the 2019 figure. 

America’s Federal Reserve, as noted will cut interest rates to take the edge off a potential slowdown.  China will do the same. 

Overshadowing the business climate will be America’s greater protectionism.  The trade war won’t ease much, and other countries will be under pressure to pick sides. 

In the worst case, tensions between America and China could morph into a global currency war, which would be a bad situation for American bicycle business importers. 

So long as this is avoided, there could be trade growth with Taiwanese and other
Asian bicycle sources able to capitalize on China’s trade difficulties with the U.S.  

Interestingly, much needed infrastructure growth in potential bicycle business source countries like Vietnam could come from China’s “Belt and Road” investment initiative.

Source countries like Taiwan, Vietnam and Cambodia will have to figure out how to position themselves, in trade and technology, between a Chinese sphere of influence and an American one.

American bicycle brands and related products will have to craft strategies incorporating short term initiatives including sourcing, distribution and uncontested market space that support mid and long-term positioning for the future. 

Trade

Although the United States will succeed in signing a Phase 1 mini-deal with China on January 15, the bulk of America’s punitive tariffs on Chinese goods and its growing determination to limit China’s access to American technology will continue. 

This and the lack of detail about what China and the U.S. must do to comply with Phase 1, and the fact that confirming compliance has not been locked down is the “Catch 22”[3] the American bicycle business faces in 2020.      

According to Bloomberg Policy & Politics: “How much Beijing complies with the recent agreement will set the tone for relations in an election year.”  As of this writing China and the U.S. have different understandings of how quickly remaining U.S. punitive tariffs will be removed once a Phase 1 deal is signed January 15, 2020. 

One of the objectives of the U.S. is to greatly reduce the trade deficit with China so that the U.S. sells more to China than it buys.  U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer says that under the Phase 1 deal China will have to double imports of American goods and services.  Additionally, the U.S. is demanding China protect intellectual property and technology transfer. 

The biggest immediate issue for the U.S. Administration will be determining how it will monitor Chinese compliance, and perhaps more importantly, what it will do about noncompliance. 

For the most part the American bicycle business is an interested participant that has limited intellectual property and technology transfer issues with its Chinese supply chain. 

Some of this is because many bicycles and related products are not high-tech, but mostly because the American brands and companies have supplier agreements with the Taiwanese owners or JV partners with manufacturing facilities in China that protect intellectual property and technology transfer under international and U.S. law.

Where the American bicycle business is involved and vitally interested is tariffs, and what punitive U.S. tariffs on bicycles and related items imported from China will be rolled back under the Phase 1 and any subsequent deals.

What has been disclosed so far is that the U.S. is only lowering punitive tariffs from 15-percent to 7.5-percent on the smallest tranche of Chinese goods, which are the Section 301, List 3 imports arriving in the U.S. after June 1, 2019.  This covers primarily bicycle accessory and components and does not cover complete bicycles. 

The U.S. has already announced that in a show of good faith for China agreeing to the Phase 1 deal it has delayed indefinitely the Section 301, List 4 punitive tariffs that were scheduled to become effective December 15, 2019. 

List 4 would have added bicycle related imports from China that were not on Lists 1 thru 3, including lights, helmets, unspecified parts and accessories, apparel and footwear.

The Phase 1 deal leaves in force and effect punitive tariffs imposed and not subject to exceptions or suspension under Section 232 (steel and aluminum) effective March 23, 2018, Section 301, List 1 effective July 6, 2018, and Section 301, List 2 effective August 23, 2018. 

This means that most complete bicycles and ebikes imported into the U.S. from China are still subject to regular and punitive tariffs, with the exception of12-inch, 14-inch, 16-inch, 20-inch and 24-inch wheel bicycles, that were granted and exclusion from the punitive tariffs.  This exclusion reportedly went into effect mid-December 2019 and expires August 7, 2020. 

On December 31, 2019 the USTR announced an exclusion for HTS numbers that when combined with the other 20-inch wheel bicycles excluded from punitive tariffs in mid-December 2019 results in all 12-inch wheel through 24-inch wheel bicycles imported from China being excluded from the punitive tariffs through presumably August 7, 2020.  The USTR also excluded certain bike saddles imported from China. 

The exclusion also stipulated that U.S. importers of 12-inch through 24-inch wheel bicycles and certain bike saddles are entitled to recover the punitive tariffs they have paid on the specific HTS numbers covered in the exclusions.   While the importers are entitled to recover the punitive tariff payments they made, experience indicates that this might be an expensive and lengthy process.

Earlier in 2019 the Administration had granted exclusions to narrow product categories, including some single-speed adult road bikes, some cruisers, carbon fiber frames valued under $600 and some wired cycle-computers.

For China and the American bicycle business the issue of punitive tariffs and the rapid rollback of all these additional tariffs that are both still in force and effect and outside of the Phase 1 deal is of paramount importance. 

As Bloomberg Politics & Policies reports, Beijing is insisting on rapid rollbacks in U.S. punitive tariffs for “simply having reached this deal.”  If this is reasonably factual, this is the issue that will most likely sink the current deal and any hope of a Phase 2, or any comprehensive trade deal with China in 2020. 

The USTR has indicated that the Administration prefers a discretionary approach to lowering punitive tariffs contingent upon commitments made by China being met.  Normally the U.S. and China would agree to scheduled tariff rollbacks based on metrics like performance or time.  The reported lack of a schedule that both sides agree on and adhere to is at the core of the concern about the success of Phase 1.

Assuming no schedule emerges from the January 15 signing of Phase 1, we suggest three date ranges to watch for to gauge the volatility and potential disruptive impact of the trade situation between the U.S. and China for the rest of the year.

  • By early in the second quarter (April to mid-May) of 2020 we should be getting an idea of how well China is following through on its Phase 1 commitments.
  • By the summer and early fall (July to mid-September) we should know without question if China is making acceptable progress on its’ Phase 1 commitments – or not.

By September 2020, if not earlier, the Administration will have to decide between escalating the trade dispute and reigniting the trade war with China – or risk appearing unwilling to challenge Beijing in the middle of an election campaign.

This is because the Administration, and the incumbent cannot afford to be branded “soft on China” by his Democratic challenger.  No Democratic candidate will run a campaign championing a more co-operative strategic relationship with China.  If anything, the pressure to be more aggressive will grow.

Depending on who the Democratic challenger is a destabilizing link between politics and economics could kick-in.  Fearful of a radical overhaul of swathes of American business financial markets may stumble further if, as could be the case, the election seems close. 

There is no question 2020 is going to be a turbulent, disruptive year for international trade and potentially for supply chains built on the principals of globalization, like the traditional, mainstream American bicycle business and its dependence on Taiwan, China and South East Asia. 

Future Trade Probabilities

The two most important trade issues to the American bicycle business going forward from 2020 are:

  • [4] and to decouple from China and other developed production economies and focus on dramatically reducing or eliminating trade deficits by producing and manufacturing more in the U.S. and negotiating bilateral and unilateral[5] trade agreements. 

In 2020 the results of the trade war with China and the national election in the U.S. will either yield a slower and constructive transition away from the old and to the new global economy that will unfold over the next decade, or a more rapid and disruptive protectionist transition that will unfold over the next four to five years and lead to much more pronounced shifts to the new global economy during the second half of this decade.   

Imports from China and any other country will need to be strategically negotiated to minimize the impact of U.S. import restrictions and create collaborations and alliances that take maximum advantage of the new emerging global economy for the purpose of establishing assembly and manufacturing in the U.S. and other target consumer markets around the world with the emphasis on speed to market and gross margin return on inventory and investment (GIMROI)[6]

The current Administration has been straight forward in its promotion of making consumer and industrial goods in the U.S.  Depending on the results of the 2020 and subsequent 2024 and 2028 national elections and the impact of the Climate Emergency on the geopolitics of the U.S., eco-friendly variations and economic options will emerge that combine made and grown locally with global sourcing and collaboration.    

Disruptive Trends in 2020

Trade is obviously the single most important and disruptive issue facing the mainstream American bicycle business and the emerging Micromobility economies, as covered in detail above.

However, there are seven trends that we are following that have or will be disruptive and which we are advising clients to both follow and adjust their strategic business planning to accommodate or take full advantage of.

Ride Share, or Self-Service bicycle rental and bicycle-sharing systems have been gaining ground and expanding in America and are now firmly established as part of Micromobility and the last-mile solution for 200 cities and municipalities[7]

Going into 2020 two trade associations, the North American Bike Share Association (NABSA), www.nabsa.net and the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), www.nacto.org represent what is projected to be a significant part of a $200 billion to $300 billion Micromobility business in the U.S. by the year 2030.

Chinese dockless ride share brands have come and gone in a blur of 24 to 36 months, but the bicycle ride share economy has been transformed by dockless as well as electric bikes. 

The latest innovation in the form of electric scooters has spread quickly and has been incorporated into most municipal ride-share programs – but not without controversy and rancor on the part of city governments and the public. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York vetoed a bill the end of December 2019 that would have legalized both ebikes and e-scooters, and in the process angered supporters of environmentally friendly last-mile solutions. 

However, Governor Cuomo said he would introduce a similar bill right after the new year – with the safety requirements included that he said were the reason for his veto.

This addresses another issue that the whole bicycle business, including bike ride share faces, and that is rider safety!  Governor Cuomo wants a requirement that riders of battery powered conveyances wear helmets, which is similar to what the National Transportation Safety Board recommended in its November 2019 Safety Research Report on Bicyclist Safety. 

E-scooters have been quickly adopted by the Micromobility ride share business and many municipalities as “battery powered conveyances” and while there is still a great deal of controversy the traditional mainstream bicycle business and NABSA representing the new Micromobility economy have jointed together in advocating that e-scooters be included within the definition of ebikes, and in some states, bicycles.

The traditional, mainstream bicycle business, or the old economy, has been tracked at a total annual retail revenue of $6 billion for the better part of the last decade. 

Micromobility in America essentially took root with the 4 to 5 bike ride-share systems in 2010, defined by NACTO as having at least 10 stations with docks and 100 ride-share bicycles. By 2018 NACTO reported 55 bike ride-share systems with at least 10 stations and 100 ride-share bicycles from which people took 28 million trips.

As already noted, Micromobility is projected to be a significant part of a $200 billion to $300 billion business in the U.S. focusing on sustainable, environmentally friendly transportation connecting the first and last mile of, or completing journeys to work, school, shopping by the year 2030. 

The brands, companies and investors already involved in Micromobility, or the new economy, except for B-Cycle which is owned by Trek, are not from or involved in the old economy, and include:

            B-Cycle founded in 2008 and owned by Trek Bicycle Company

            Motivate founded in 2009 and owned by Lyft

            Jump founded in 2010 and owned by Uber

            Lime Transportation Company founded in 2017 private, largest investor Alphabet

            Zagster founded in 2007 private

            Spin founded in 2017owned by Ford

            PBSC Urban Solutions founded 2008

Specialty Bicycle Retailer, or bike shops have the best current opportunity to become involved in the bike ride share portion of the new Micromobility business economy by offering rentals, including renting an ebike with the rental fee applied to an eventual purchase.

Also, bike shops and brands have already started to lease both high-end bicycles and ebikes, which could become the preferred way of acquiring access to, but not actually owning going forward into the new decade.

We are rapidly heading toward a time when bicycle advocates will finally achieve what they have desired since the end of World War II.  There will be more Americans riding bicycles and other forms of human powered transportation. 

Thanks to Micromobility and bicycle ride share, bicycle ridership and participation including ebikes will reach double the incident rates of 2019 during this decade, but at the same time retail sales of bicycles will be flat to declining! 

The bicycle business trade associations will need to change the metrics used to measure success.

There are many factors that have triggered a renewed interest in, and are increasing sales of Electric Bicycles in the U.S., including the rapid deployment of ebikes in bicycle ride share fleets, and the aging of the population coupled with the desire of aging baby boomers to be mobile while growing healthier and living longer.

Some combination of these demographic changes is highly likely to trigger the next surge in the sale of electric bicycles, which didn’t emerge as strongly in 2017 or 2018 as originally thought – but will take off as a part of the future Micromobility movement.   

 In 2018 ebikes were the strongest selling retail category in the bike shop and specialty outdoor channels that together accounted for 19-percent of all new bicycles sales and 63-percent of annual new bicycle direct effect retail dollars.

The U.S. bicycle market is much different than the European bicycle market that it is often erroneously compared to.  With this said, ebikes will grow to become a major product segment in the American bicycle business, but we seriously doubt that it will gain the market share realized in bicycle friendly countries like Holland and Germany.

As already noted, in the month of July 2018 a trade war that erupted between the U.S. and China, the source country for a very high percentage of compete ebikes and ebike motors sold in and used to fabricate ebikes assembled in the U.S.

On August 7, 2018 the United States Trade Representative announced that the round of tariff increases that included ebikes and ebike motors had been approved.

This meant that tariffs on electric bicycles imported under Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) headings 8711.60.00 or 8711.90.01 increase from zero to an import tariff of 25 percent.

Tariffs on e-bike motors imported under HTS heading 8501.31.40 increased from four percent to 29 percent. The tariffs went into effect on August 23, 2018 and are still being imposed and collected as of January 2020 and are not anticipated to be changed by signing of the Phase 1 trade deal between China and the U.S. January 15, 2020.

The impact of the 25-percent tariff is being felt in consumer pricing as ebike brands decide if they will absorb all or a portion of the increase in their cost, or pass some or all of the increase on to retailers and consumers in the form of price increases.

Despite this dampener, the natural growth trends for the ebike market in the U.S. remain positive and the probability of substantial growth going forward remains high.

All significant bicycle brands have added ebikes to their lines, including the high-end Trek, Specialized and Giant road and MTB offerings for 2020. 

Brands and all channels of retail can benefit by adding ebikes and related accessories including replacement parts and service. 

Demographics and the resulting changes in purchasing behavior, including the preference of younger consumers not to “own” assets and things will make rental and leasing options popular.

As the Circular economy expands there will be a growing market for used ebikes and refurbished lithium-ion batteries. 

The trade associations will need to consider including segmented and category definitions for ebikes to insure proper gathering of retail sales data for analysis.  Ebikes are now designed and available in the Road, MTB and Lifestyle / Leisure product categories and are quickly becoming an option within categories and not just a category choice. 

Internet and Retail are now intertwined.  Bricks-and-mortar retailers will struggle in the face of relentless competition from the likes of Amazon.  The situation is particularly dire in America where more than 12,000 stores faced extinction in 2019[8] and the number could rise as the economy slows in 2020.

Rising political uncertainty and changing consumer tastes will put the brakes on retail-sales growth globally, which is forecast to drop to 2-percent in 2020.

As online shopping increases, e-commerce revenue in the U.S. is forecast to increase to $120 billion in the coming year. 

Walmart, the largest employer in the U.S. and the county’s largest retailer of bicycles is reaping the benefits of making a substantial strategic investment in growing its online retail business which will thrive in 2020 despite being challenged by Amazon. 

Specialty bicycle retailers can gain the advantage over their online competitors by becoming omnichannel and developing a retail methodology that integrates the personal touch that can customize products and service to an individual customer while using 24-7 availability as a tool in creating a sticky third place that is valued in their community.

Also, the purpose of retail stores is changing and BOPIS, or buy online, pick-up in-store has gained a lot of traction and is a hot trend that bike shop and other specialty bicycle retailers can take advantage of as a key component of omnichannel strategies.

The specialty bicycle retail supply chain needs to focus on collaboration and shorting time to market and enhancing gross margin return on inventory up and down the supply chain.

The mass merchant and full-line sporting goods channels will experiment with sales of ebikes and leasing to attract up market consumers to relatively high-priced ebike products as the middle-class consumer continues to decline.

As American consumers become environmentally conscious adapting a Circular business model will become particularly viable for bike shops and specialty bicycle retailers.

Climate Emergency is what Climate Change and Global Warming were called in the last decade! 

Use of recycled materials and formal and proactive recycling and sustainability and the effect on the Climate Emergency is going to become increasingly important to consumers – and will be an important piece of strategic planning and sourcing tactics for manufactures, brands, distributors and retailers. 

Greta Thunberg and the Climate Strike movement have gained the attention of activists of all ages around the world, and the Climate Emergency is rapidly finding its way into global geopolitics.

The Climate Emergency will become a major factor and will be debated as a policy plank by the time the Democratic and Republican conventions roll-around this summer.

Candidates from both parties will be confronted by young people leading voters of all ages in demanding promises and pledges to be proactive and take immediate action concerning all the issued surrounding the climate and the environment.

Companies, brands and retailers are going to have to decide if they get actively involved, one way or the other, or try to stay on neutral ground and take no active position.  This will have to be a strategic and a moral decision that will be scrutinized by more than the board of directors for the good of the company and brand, because in the Internet age such decisions will be judged by its employees and its customers. 

The mainstream American bicycle business and the Micromobility economies will be impacted as the Climate Emergency and its weather events restrict the ability and desire of customers and consumers to ride and exercise outside.

Smart Trainers and Indoor Cycles have come into their own, partly because of the Climate Emergency and partly because fit athletic bicyclists are time starved and want an efficient and stimulating experience from each riding session.  The endorphin rush is no longer good enough! 

In 1990 trainers were primarily rollers and stationary exercisers.  At the beginning of the new millennium indoor trainers had evolved to wind, electric and hydraulic resistance and robust frames that could be used by amateur and professional bicyclists to warm up before a race. 

Over the last twenty years rollers have become old school and are rarely used, while trainers have become more sophisticated, spanned a whole new generation of Indoor Cycles from unplugged trainers with no electronics or connectivity to sophisticated electronics that can use an App to micro-adjust the fit to match the riders bicycle, replicate the riders shifting and transmission system, monitor full body function throughout a ride, measure work and connect through the Internet to high quality virtual reality riding scenarios and competitive environments with other riders from around the world.

And online providers of ride and race software like Zwift, Rouvy, The Sufferfest and TrainerRoad have formed marketing alliances with Smart Trainer and Indoor Cycle brands like Saris, Wahoo, Stages and Wattbike.

This segment of indoor cycling has gone from an accessory to a full-blown category with at least three distinct and definable product segments.  The bicycle business trade associations will need to modify the criteria for collecting retail sales data to include:

  • Unplugged indoor trainers to accommodate a bicycle
  • Plugged-in indoor trainers with connectivity to the Internet to accommodate a bicycle
  • Indoor Cycle that adjusts to an individual bicycle with connectivity to the Internet and duplicates a complete riding experience while plugged into ride simulation software.

Zwift has raised millions with the goal of having virtual racing become a professional sport – and even an Olympic event.  In September of 2019 Zwift signed an agreement with the International Cycling Union (UCI) to hold the first virtual Cycling Esports World Championships in 2020. 

There will be rapid growth of the Indoor Cycle segment of this multifaceted category and the top-end Indoor Cycling segment features retail price points from $1,500 to $4,000 and subscription-based ride and race software.  Look for one or more top tier bicycle brands to enter the segment with Indoor Cycles.

REI, the leader in the Specialty Outdoor retail channel is already a national retailer of the Wahoo Indoor Cycle and other Specialty Retailers, including Bike Shops have an opportunity to expand their representation of this emerging and evolving category.

The Summer Olympics in Tokyo will generate interest in all the Cycling Events, including BMX and the Sport of Cycling is going to get a boost through exposure to a broader global audience that is huge compared to the TV coverage the Tour de France and other Grand Tours get in the middle of the night – the Summer Olympics will get prime-time coverage.

Rock climbing, skateboarding, surfing and karate have been added as Olympic sports, and baseball and softball are returning to the games after 12-years.  These new “sports” along with the return of several old favorites and the continuation of young and old cycling events will help attract an audience in the U.S.

There is also the technology!  Beyond the avid cyclists, a wider audience of Americans will be interested in watching the technology from the UK and Australia that is being hyped now and will be covered by the news media for the six months leading up to the summer games.

BMX is already the leading sports related activity in the American bicycle market and as noted, it should get a nice up-tick from Olympic exposure – along with the track events where a lot of the new technology will be showcased up front and personal.

Bike shops and Specialty Bicycle Retailers have a golden opportunity to promote and host Olympic viewing events at their stores through the summer Olympic cycling events.

Technology and innovation go beyond the summer Olympics and Bosch will be hyping its Smart Glasses at the Consumer Electronics Show, or CES that starts January 10 in Las Vegas. 

We are also confident that Bosch will feature it new technology, including it Smart Glasses at the CABDA Trade Show in January, February and March.

3D printing has been a topic covered in our predictions about future technology for five years or more, and 2020 will be the year that 3D produced products have found their way to the bicycle business.

HEXR has introduced a fully custom bicycle helmet that is manufactured through a 3D process of printing from a unique headscan. 

Specialized and Italian brand Fizik have both introduce adaptive bike saddles utilizing a 3D printing process called digital light synthesis to build an individual saddle that can have varying densities of cushioning depending on what the rider prefers.

We believe this is just the start, and 2020 is the year that technology will be introduced in several categories of componentry and accessories, including communication and connectivity.

Pollution and air quality issues will drive purification and filtering systems for cycling helmets.  Safety will bring motorcycle clothing-airbag technology to bicycling along with enhanced reflectivity and innovations in active lighting, sensors and braking.    

This concludes our introduction to 2020 and our recommendations and insights for the coming year.  If you have questions or comments, please email jay@humanpoweredsolutions.com

Thank You and Enjoy the Future!


[1] I am opposed to all forms of whale hunting, but historically, a “Nantucket Sleighride”is an archaic term from the early days of industrial whaling, when the animals were harpooned from small open boats. Once harpooned, the whale attempts to flee, but the rope attached to the harpoon drags the whalers’ longboat along with it. The term refers to NantucketMassachusetts, the center of the American whaling industry; as well as the speed associated with riding in a horse-drawn sleigh. A Nantucket sleighride was extremely dangerous.

[2] The Economist: The World In 2020, on display until 2/18/2020

[3] A Catch-22: is a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.

[4] Globalization In Transition: The Future Of Trade And Value Chains published in January 2019 by McKinsey Global Institute

[5] A unilateral trade agreement is a commerce treaty that a nation imposes without regard to others. It benefits that one country only. It is unilateral because other nations have no choice in the matter. … Another type is a bilateral agreement between two countries.

[6] See Human Powered Solutions White Paper: Globalization and Global Trade are in Transition, not decline

[7] Reported by NABSA

[8] The Economist World In 2020 edition, page 115.