The Singletrack Staffers pick the standout products and locations from their riding year. This article was originally published in Singletrack Magazine Issue 140.
The year has felt a little like approaching that nemesis feature on the trail: you roll up to it full of optimism, then at the last minute pull on the brakes in an attack of ‘nope’. Whether it was a ping that put paid to yet another plan, or a shipping container that didn’t arrive as expected (by now, perhaps, that should be ‘as expected, a shipping container didn’t arrive’), we had plenty of interruptions along the way. However, our northern hills had an unusually dry summer, so we managed a decent spell of short-sleeved riding on our doorstep, and there were a few chances to get further afield that we grasped and enjoyed. Like that trail feature, once we cleared it, the elation at meeting friends, riding new trails and generally enjoying bikes was all the sweeter.
Charlie – Merch Monger
This year I have been mostly falling back in love with mountain biking. I have had a turbulent few years where I sold my bike shop to enable me to ‘successfully complete my marriage’ (aka get divorced), and it left me… well, to be polite when I should really swear, I barely gave a hoot about riding bikes. I started off-road in 1979 and there have been a hell of a lot of muddy miles in the forty something years, so it is easy to justify taking a break. However, it is just bloody great to have my fire stoked up again. New bikes, new trails, new faces, new skills… new, new, new. Shame my knees are not entirely in agreement with me. I am now doing wheelies* in the light at the end of the tunnel, in love with bikes, and now also engaged to the brightest light I have ever met (shut up you soppy old shandy).
*I can’t actually do wheelies.
Specialized Levo SL Comp
The SL version of Specialized’s Levo has a half-weight powered battery and motor. An e-bike that doesn’t claim massive battery Watt hour thingies or loads of motor power torques… What the hell is that about? It’s about giving you an e-bike that will give you all the help you deserve, with only a 4kg weight penalty, and the same sort of range as a full on e-bike.
In real life this translates to a bike that you can lift onto a roof rack and feels pretty normal on the trail, but still also makes you work on the super steep stuff. Visually, you can barely tell it’s a bike with a motor, as everything is tucked away, and it’s very quiet. Beyond the electrics it’s a very capable bike with great handling and fine spec.
Why has an old singlespeeder got an e-bike? To be blunt: I’m old, my knees hurt, and it is really bloody hilly round here.
I can do three Calderdale climbs in a day on a regular bike, and the last one is saved for the half-hour 900-foot climb back to my home on the moors. On the SL I can do six climbs, maybe more, plus the hill home, and then get up and do it all over again the next day.
Most importantly… I just want to have fun.