South Africa has world-class trails, mountain passes galore and seemingly endless gravel roads. If you’re not already hooked on cycling, it’s time you bought a bike and started exploring on two wheels.
Want to buy a bike? Use our guide to find the best bike to suit your needs, whether you want to tackle trails or gravel.
GETTING INTO IT
There are lots of cheap mountain bikes out there. However, most of these bikes have outdated frame geometry, poor suspension and inferior components, and things will eventually start breaking. Rather spend a bit more and get a bike with a strong, lightweight frame and a drivetrain and suspension that can handle what you’ll throw at it. You don’t need a dual-suspension – a hardtail is just as much fun, especially one with wider tyres to soak up the bumps. With a bike like the Trek Roscoe 8, for example, you can do just about anything: after-work trail rides, weekend missions with your friends, even some light gravel touring. If you find that you start to enjoy one particular discipline over everything else, then you can get a bike that’s better suited to that specific purpose. Until then, jump on and enjoy…
TREK ROSCOE 8
The Roscoe is a tough-as-nails hardtail, with wide 2,8-inch tyres on 27,5-inch wheels and a 120 mm suspension fork. It’s like a cross between an XC bike and a fat bike and one of the best value options on the market. Rocks and roots dissolve under your wheels and you can run a lower tyre pressure for oodles of extra traction. The frame is no-nonsense alloy and the drivetrain is 11-speed SRAM NX. (There’s only one chain ring up front and 11 gears at the back. Neat and simple.) It even comes standard with a dropper seat post, which allows you to lower the saddle height on the flfly fly and get more centred on the bike when things get gnarly. R18 R18700 700 at trekbikes.com
Also known as “XC”, this is the kind of mountain biking that South Africans adore. And so we should: Most trails around the country fall into this category, with a mix of jeep track, single track and some more technical sections. As a result, there are dozens of XC bikes to choose from, ranging from entrylevel alloy bikes to carbon-fibre race machines that cost more than a car. If you’ve fallen in love with your local trails and you’re thinking you might enjoy the challenge of a stage race one day (like Wines2Whales or Sani2C, for example) then it’s a good idea to invest in a dual-suspension bike. The rear shock gives you better traction on rough terrain and spares your bum on longer rides.
GIANT ANTHEM 29
Every bike manufacturer competes furiously in the XC market in South Africa, but none offers the same bang-for-buck as Giant. The sheer scale of their worldwide operation allows them to ship us the excellent Anthem at an even more excellent price. The base 29er model has a bombproof aluminium frame, Shimano Deore 2x10 gearing, Shimano hydraulic brakes and Rockshox air suspension: 90 mm of travel at the rear; 100 mm travel up front. The 29-inch wheels are great for covering long distances at speed, and for rolling effortlessly over obstacles. ( The frame can also accommodate 27,5-inch wheels with wider tyres if you have a more trail-focused approach.) Fellow cyclists won’t fawn over your bike at the coffee shop after the ride, but that’s not the point, is it? From R31 826 at Giant retailers – find one at giant-bicycles.com/za
Like a car, a bike loses value the second you roll it out of the shop. If you know what you’re looking for, it makes sense to buy second-hand. The best resource for this is the classifieds section at bikehub.co.za. The community nature of the site means that charlatans are quickly rooted out, and prices are generally fair. If you’d prefer the security of a retail experience, many bike shops also sell second-hand models that have been vetted, or they can point you to a shop that does.