Ride The Beloved Coun­try: The 2019 Bi­cy­cling Bike Buyer’s Guide

From gravel to grav­ity, you’ll find at least one rea­son to visit your LBS in these pages.

Bicycling (South Africa) - - Inside - By Jon Min­ster

…in South Africa, where we have world­class trails, moun­tain passes ga­lore, and seem­ingly end­less dirt roads.”

I’M GO­ING TO PUT MY HEAD ON THE BLOCK, AND SUG­GEST THAT SOUTH AFRICA IS THE BEST PLACE IN THE WORLD FOR CY­CLING.

If you’re tired of ma­niac driv­ers on the roads, choose a dif­fer­ent road. We’re spoiled for space: an hour out of any city, you’ll find empty dis­trict roads just wait­ing to be ex­plored. You can ride in the Ka­roo for a week and see fewer than 10 ve­hi­cles. Be­lieve me – I’ve done it!

The gravel trend is huge – so much so that it’s in­flu­enc­ing main­stream road bike de­sign. Many of the lat­est frames can ac­com­mo­date wider tube­less tyres. Disc brakes have be­come stan­dard. Car­bon-fi­bre tech­nol­ogy has be­come so ad­vanced that you get flex in all the right ar­eas, mak­ing for a com­fort­able all­day ride.

Steel is also mak­ing a come­back. But for­get that clunker in your garage – a mod­ern steel frame is light­weight, for­giv­ing, and tough as nails. Get a bike with rack mounts, and you can go bikepack­ing. How rad is that!

Moun­tain bik­ing con­tin­ues to grow ex­po­nen­tially. If you had a trust fund and a he­li­copter, you could ride a race ev­ery week­end of the year.

And bike de­sign con­tin­ues to push bravely into new ter­ri­tory: 120mm of travel is the new 100mm, es­pe­cially on the cross-coun­try scene. The ex­tra cush­ion­ing won’t hold you back in a marathon race like the Epic, but it gives you a more ver­sa­tile bike, for all the other stuff you might want to do. Why not sign up for an en­duro? This for­mat – where you’re only timed on down­hill sec­tions – is fast grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity.

Hard­tails are also mak­ing a come­back. The lat­est de­signs are long, low and slack. Throw on a set of wide tyres and a drop­per post, and you have a bike that can con­quer any trail – with­out the has­sle of reg­u­lar trips to the bike shop for ser­vic­ing.

If you fol­low the bike scene in the US and Europe, you’ll know that cus­tomi­sa­tion is huge. Be­spoke frame builders (fu­elled by In­sta­gram) are push­ing the bound­aries, and the big man­u­fac­tur­ers are scram­bling to keep up. At the top end of the mar­ket, many of the big guys at least of­fer a cus­tom paint job. (Check out the Bianchi Spe­cialis­sima on p62, for ex­am­ple.)

In­deed, it’s good to be alive and ped­alling in 2019. Es­pe­cially in South Africa, where we have world-class trails, moun­tain passes ga­lore, and seem­ingly end­less dirt roads.

We hope you en­joy this buyer’s guide, which is ba­si­cally a snap­shot of what’s awe­some right now. (Who knows what will hap­pen in the fu­ture – is it pos­si­ble to go even slacker?!)

If you’re look­ing to up­grade your wheels, you’ve come to the right place!

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