Editors’ Choice Awards – All the best bikes and gear of 2021

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In Singletrack Magazine Issue 140, we brought you our Editors’ Choice Awards – this is where the Singletrack Staffers pick the standout products and locations from their riding year. And now it’s time to share the news of those awards with you too…

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.

Amanda – Art Director

This past year I’ve worked hard on improving my fitness to allow me to enjoy longer adventures without the fear of running out of beans. In the process, I seem to have found my cycling niche. Cross-country riding has combined my mountain bike skills with fitness training, and the races I’ve entered have improved my bike handling skills due to the nature of cross-country racing – laps of a circuit where you can learn from your mistakes. I’ve gone cross-country.

Andi – Tech Editor

Another crazy year, but not quite as crazy as the last. It has been a challenge to get in test products, thanks to the ongoing cycling boom, but it has been awesome to see more riders on the trails. This year I also discovered gravel riding, which much to my surprise, is a hell of a lot of fun!

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.

Chipps – Editor At Large

It’s been a busy old year for me, what with getting engaged, moving house across town, getting married and then stepping into the Editor at Large role here at Singletrack. I can confirm that having both moving and marriage, two of the most stressful things you can do, plus an ongoing pandemic, in a single year, hasn’t been conducive to fitness and riding. However, it has all made me appreciate those times when I have been able to get out and steal an hour or two on the hills. And with the year closing, the opportunity for some more extensive wild and woolly riding is beckoning!

  • Scott Spark RC – ‘It’s a true ‘Turn yourself inside out, just for fun’ machine’
  • 2021 GT Malverns Classic – ‘It was that gathering of like-minds in a dry, grassy field that has been core to my life’
  • Thule Rail Hip Pack 2L – ‘I’ve gone from scoffing at the teeny-ness of this bag to using it on every ride this summer’
  • Glentress Forest – ‘it’s easy peasy to find yourself completely alone in a silent forest, yet still on a marked trail’

Hannah – Managing Editor

After a year of keeping my wheels firmly on the ground and being very cautious after partially dislocating my shoulder in 2020, this year I found myself looking down trails I know I can ride and saying ‘nope’. A concerted effort through the summer has pushed me back into the realms of ‘I wonder whether I can…’, leading inevitably to my first crash post shoulder injury. Getting up and riding on (and crashing again, and getting up again) has helped me get over the feeling that I’m fragile and breakable, and has re-instilled a sense of bounce. I’m heading into 2022 hoping to stay away from injuries and get back to progression.

No, this isn’t a cop out – I have been to some actual real life places this year and I have ridden some great trails. But we can’t always be out there shredding and berm whipping, and when that – and bimbling along the canal – isn’t an option, then the Forum is a great destination. With so many aspects of life played out, advice sought – and received – jokes shared and genuine care shown, it’s often a pretty good substitute for a real life meet up. Occasionally things do spill over into real life – if Zwift is real – or a pub quiz, or an encounter on a trail that results in a shared and dawning ‘ahhh…so you’re…’.

It’s too easy to dismiss the Forum as a cantankerous collective of people who should ride more and type less. The reality is that whatever time of day or night, there is usually someone there to answer your questions, allay your fears, and laugh at your jokes. Like the rider who brings up the rear on every group ride and always has an extra jelly baby and a pump, time and time again the Forum is there to coax you up that hill and safely back home. In an ideal world we’d all be out there riding, but there have been many occasions when I’m glad you’re not. Thank you.

Mark – Publisher

This year has been about raising my riding skills. I’m a much better rider now in terms of speed on flowing trails, which I’ve particularly noticed at trail centres, but I didn’t set out to do this at the start of the year. It has just kind of happened as a result of riding almost exclusively e-MTBs. I ride more, faster and for longer and I go back and ride sections again, because on an e-MTB it’s not a massive hassle or effort to do that. E-MTBs this year have clarified why I have always ridden mountain bikes. I ride for fun. Getting fit or staying fit has always been a side effect and not the point of why I ride. This year I have become very comfortable with that. Your reasons for riding bikes may differ, and that is totally cool too. It’s all bikes.

Ross – Ad Sales

Another year done and dusted! It doesn’t feel like 12 months since I wrote my last Editors’ Choice, and a lot of my sentiments remain the same. While there still hasn’t been any exotic foreign riding, I’ve managed to ride a good amount this year. The local trails have seen almost daily action and I’ve managed to squeeze in a good few trips to the Lakes, along with a bit of riding north of the border. It’s always easy to want more – longer tracks, bigger hills – but these last couple of years have shown that you don’t need to travel far to get top drawer riding.

See all of our 2021 Editors’ Choices in one handy spot.

Do you agree with our choices? Or have we overlooked something that made your riding year a bit better? And if you are thinking about buying a bike this coming year, what will it be? Head here to tell us!

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Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
  • Editors’ Choice Awards – All the best bikes and gear of 2021
  • Premier Icon wildhunter2009
    Full Member

    Pretty keen to try the Microshift Advent X but seemingly impossible to find anymore 🙁

    If you’re in the UK then Kids Racing has Advent X in stock – I’ve bought it from them with no complaints.

    Microshift Groupsets

    Premier Icon wildhunter2009
    Full Member

    Ah really? Will have a look. Cheers!

    Premier Icon zerocool
    Full Member

    Are the 11 speed microshift cassettes compatible with sram and Shimano drive trains? They’re pretty cheap and same weight as the Sun Race ones (which seem a few hundred grams lighter than an NX cassette).

    Premier Icon grizzpup
    Free Member

    Our local bike shop has Microshift Advent X…these guys:

    https://www.firetrail.co.uk/

    Not on their website but they have stock. Maybe call them?

    Premier Icon wildhunter2009
    Full Member

    Cheers guys. Have ordered from kids racing.

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)

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