GEAR

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.

go! - - Contents - BY JON MIN­STER

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

CROSS COUN­TRY

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

BUY SEC­OND-HAND

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.

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