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Sim Mainey goes behind the scenes to find out who decides what colours you’ll be wearing and riding next year, and what will be old hat the next.

While most of us would like to believe that we base our bikerelated purchases on performance, value and fit, the truth is we’re heavily swayed by a far less quantifiable, but no less important factor – colour.

Whether you are a firm follower of fashion whose wardrobe changes in step with the seasons or you’re an ‘any colour as long as it’s black’ kind of rider, colour likely has some bearing on the bike you ride and the clothes you wear. Manufacturers are all too aware of this and spend huge amounts of time and resources making sure their colour choices are in line with, or just ahead of those of their customers. Picking the wrong colours can mean a warehouse full of unsold stock, no matter how good the product is. Conversely, an average product can become the ‘next big thing’ thanks to some smart decisions on colour. But who decides which colour is going to be big in the bike industry for next season? Why do some colours come and go while others are perennial favourites. And wouldn’t it just be easier for everything to be black?

Game of tones.

Colour forecasting is big business. There are agencies whose sole job is to take the colour temperature of what’s going on in the world and predict which colours will be fashionable in the near to long term. These agencies filter and funnel emerging trends into a set of swatches and colour reference numbers that can be sold on to clients. Industries such as fashion, automotive and tech rely on being as up-to-the-minute relevant as possible, not just with product features but with styling too, relying heavily on outside guidance as to what’s going to be hot in six to twelve months time. Like it or not, the outdoor sports industry is to a large extent a fashion industry, so you can bet your bottom Pantone swatch that there are plenty of brands who rely on the information gathered by colour forecasting agencies to make big decisions on how their product range will look season to season.

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About Singletrack

Editorial: There Is No Right Or Wrong. Choose a bike, any bike, and enjoy it. International Adventure: Panning For Trail Gold In Arizona. Huw Oliver finds gold in the ghost towns of Arizona. Classic Ride: Don’t Mynd If I Do. Tom Hutton rides the Long Mynd in search of forgotten corners and new trails. Behind the Scenes: Colour Wheels. Sim Mainey finds out how the next bike fashions are decided. UK Adventure: Cornish Fasties Barney Marsh goes to the edge of the UK and finds a world of overlooked trails. UK Adventure: How To Lose Friends And Alienate People. Sanny reduces the nicest man in mountain biking to rude words. Hope’s Helping Hand. Chipps checks out a bit of innovative thinking from Hope Technology. Bike Test: Overlooked Awesome. Daz Hall checks out three smaller wheeled, shorter travel bikes that you probably should be riding, from Bird, Cotic and Santa Cruz. Column: Jason steps out of his comfort zone. Pete’s Pros: Rock[et] Science Manon Carpenter may not be racing much, but Pete Scullion finds she’s still aiming high. A Day In The Life: Fort William Saskia Dugon goes behind the scenes at this noisiest of World Cup races. MTB Culture: The Quiet Revolution Rich Rothwell argues that GPS technology has opened up a whole new world of mountain biking joy. Last Word Hannah gets to ride somewhere she thought might only be a far-flung fantasy.