Charlie says: Bikepacking, or rather “saddle tramping” as I prefer to call it, is just like being Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn, but without the slavery side of it, and…
It’s that time of year when each ride is an opportunity to look out for signs of hope. Snowdrops, daffodils, lambs, bees – with each sighting Spring gets a better foothold and we escape winter’s clutches. Of course there can be false starts – mild days suddenly ending when morning greets us with sharp frosts, or flurries of snow remind us that it’s not time to pack away the winter layers just yet. But even if the cold returns, the daylight remains. Precious minutes, a day at a time, shrug off the gloom of winter and give us more time to get out there and look for those clues of warmer and longer days to come.
It’s coming people, hang on in there. Keep riding, keep looking for the snowdrops, the crocuses, the nesting birds, the swallows. They’re coming. Just keep looking, keep pedalling, keep the faith.
Canyon Spectral:ON CF 8
- Price: £5999
- From: Canyon.com
Not quite the top of the line model, the CF 8 is made of carbon and comes with Fox 36 150mm fork (Grip damper) and the latest Shimano EP8 motor. There’s a 630wh battery on board and even a USB C port on the top tube so you can keep up with the socials while charging your mobile (or lights, more sensibly).
It weighs in at a burger bun over 50lbs Oh, and this Spectral is now a 29r front 27.5 rear of course.
This test model is destined for a bit of an adventure on some local trails next week so stay tuned for some middle aged man action on an eMTB (with some drone footage for the kids) – that’s what you keep coming back for isn’t it?
Singletrack Inner Tube Belt
- Price: £24.99 (members get a discount)
- From: The Singletrack Boutique Of Belts
Charlie says: we just cooked up a fresh batch of our recycled inner tube belts… and that is why they are photographed in a pan with some chillies. Yes, just for the corny pun. However these are no novelty product, you see they really are bloody good belts. They do such a damned fine job of holding up my pants that they are now my belt of choice. One reason for this is the elastic qualities of the tube. It’s a bit like having those super comfy elasticated waist mature gentlemen slacks that are advertised on daytime TV… buy way cooler. What’s more they are made in Malawi so people in one of the poorest places on earth can learn a skill, earn a decent living, and support their families. Never before has keeping your pants up felt so good.
Aftershokz Aeropex Wireless Headphones
- Price: £149.95
- From: Aftershokz
Bone conduction headphones that allow you to hear surrounding sound while riding or running, as they don’t block up your ear canal – but rather send sound vibrations through your cheekbones. Open-ear listening for up to 8 hours, with volume and skip/pause/answer calls controls. They’re waterproof, too!
Aftershokz OpenMove Wireless Headphones
- Price: £79.95
- From: Aftershokz
Similar to the Aeropex but with a few features shaved off to make them more affordable, the OpenMove headphones are sweat resistant and have a 6 hour battery life. A full comparison of both coming soon.
Famously shocking at its first performance (the police were claled!), let’s have something a bit different from the usual:
Microshift Advent Gravel Groupset
- Price: £64.99 RH Lever, £59.99 LH lever for dropper, £49.99 rear derailleur, £34.99 cassette
- From: Microshift
Jason Miles is giving his old Uncle John bike a new lease of life with this 11-42 1×9 set up with dropper compatible levers. Before you all say you can’t get hold of Microshift in the UK, there’s news on that coming soon, watch this space!
Brand-X Ascend 27.2 dropper
- Price: £139.99
- From: Hotlines
A dropper to go with the shifters above so Jason can test out that drop bar dropper lever. This 27.2 dropper comes in 85mm and 105mm drops.
Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pro Tyres
- Price: £80.49
- From: Chicken Cycle Kit
These beauties just landed with our resident big-mountain Scottish correspondent, Sanny. Weighing in at 1,063 grams (a full 3 grams more than advertised!), these folding Ice Spiker Pro tyres are destined to enable Sanny to do a big mountain piece in association with Canyon while the mountains are still covered in the white stuff.
Featuring 402 Tungsten Carbide spikes, these may just be the best chance you have of riding through the worst weather that winter can offer while laughing like a pirate in the face of hard packed ice and compacted down snow. Featuring Schwalbe’s Snakeskin and Double Defense puncture protection technology, Sanny reckons that if Mad Max rode mountain bikes, these would be his tyre of choice.
- Price: £14.95
- From: TORQ Fitness
TORQ aTAC is a 28-dose powdered drink mix to be taken at the first signs of fever, cold or flu infection that can also be used during heavy training loads or during ‘international travel’, whatever that is. Each serve contains 1000mg Vitamin C, 1000mg Glutamine and 500mg Echinacea. Amanda is constantly overtraining, and she has a compromised immune system, so she’s going to treat this as a supplement and she how she gets on!
Forgotten how bonkers Tori Amos is live? Let us remind you:
Michelin Wild AM2
- Price: £49.99
- From: Silverfish
Michelin’s new all-mountain/trail tyres have landed and Andi is pretty excited to get this rubber mounted and ridden. The Michelin Wild AM2 is the more aggressive of the two new tyres and can either be ran on the front with a Force AM2 on the rear, or both front and rear for even more loose dirt grip and traction. The tyre uses Michelin’s Gum X compound promising a balance of rolling resistance and sticky traction.
Michelin Force AM2
- Price: £49.99
- From: Silverfish
For those months when the sun shines and the trails are handpicked and dusty, Michelin has released the Force AM2 tyre. The Force AM uses the same Gum X rubber technology but with a fast rolling, lower profile tread pattern making it ideal for summer riding. Suffice to say we don’t expect the Force to get much use until the sun has been shining for a few weeks.
Singletrack Club Ride Shirts
- Price: From £79.99 (Members get awesome discounts)
- From: The “Singletrack’s World ‘O’ Rad“
Charlie says: We have seamlessly blended at least three music genres in to one awesome shirt. Not only do these shirts gently shout “country” and “western”, they are also rammed with more “techno” than one of Hannah’s many 1990’s compilation albums that sound like a dozen bin lorries reversing over a shed load of car alarms.
To illustrate the genre of technical country via the medium of sound, here’s some Techno Country music for your listening pleasure.
The “New West” short sleeve shirt has pit vents, a sunglass cleaner, tech fabric, and a secret zip rear pocket. The “Go Long” long sleeve shirt has the same, but drops the rear zip pocket and gains a sunglass chute on the chest.
If you have any more suggestions for the underrated Techno Country music genre then feel free to suggest them below.
Finally, a non traditional ending – a short film. Because your kids probably need more screen time?
Happy riding people, we hope there are snowdrops.
Singletrack Sponsored Features
Featured Premier Partner
Join our mailing list to receive Singletrack editorial wisdom directly in your inbox. Each newsletter is headed up by an exclusive editorial from our team. There’s usually some links to what we think our most important news stories and Charlie likes to highlight some Singletrack merch from time to time. Don’t be surprised to find some pretty cool offers mixed in with all that lot too.