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.
…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!