Two bikes this year stand out as the best I've ever ridden. That may sound over the top, but with bikes still improving year-on-year (albeit at a slower pace), it's not so surprising. The first is the Canyon Strive. The Strive got a lot of people's knickers in a twist with its super-long sizing, but if you can size down, as I did
, it makes a lot of sense.
On the size large, I felt at home on the Strive straight away, and on every ride since. The proportions, the ratio of reach and stack, the slack head angle and the low bottom bracket combine to a fit and handling package that suits me very nicely. It's surprisingly agile (mostly down to that low BB) while still having all the stability you need. The suspension is impressive too, with excellent small-bump sensitivity and predictable support.
I'm still on the fence as to whether the Shapeshifter system is completely necessary, but since I wrote my excessively lengthy review
I've learned to take advantage of it more often. For example, on some climbs, I'll use the softer and slacker "shred" mode for pedaling over bumpy but less steep sections - which feels smoother and more relaxed - then return to the "pedal" mode when things get steeper or smoother.
I wouldn't call it perfect. If I could edit the numbers at will, I'd give it a 10 mm longer chainstay, a degree steeper seat angle, and maybe 10 mm more travel.
But I've ridden the Strive a lot since I wrote the review - I've raced it (mediocrely), I've taken it on a riding holiday, and I've tried it with different tires, forks and handlebars - and in all that time I've not yet had a ride where it didn't feel like the right bike. It climbs really well. It descends really well. It corners really well. It's just a bloody good bike.Price:
$7,299 USD / £6,249More information: Canyon.com
The second bike I really liked this year was the Merida One Sixty
. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to ride it back-to-back on the same day as the Strive, but the Merida is similarly impressive in terms of its all-round capabilities. With a steep seat angle and plenty of anti-squat, it climbs really well. Whether on the mid-range or top-spec version, the supple suspension stood out, while the geometry cuts a good balance between stability and agility. Once again, I tried the Large and the XL, and while I could ride both fine, I slightly preferred the XL, which has a similar wheelbase to the Large Strive.
Naturally, all the comments were about the headset cable routing; while I don't think this is a good thing, I don't think it's a deal-breaker either. What I really like about the Merida is the simplicity of its suspension design. The flex pivot suspension saves on parts, servicing and weight, and in my view, has no real downsides. I also like how Merida showed the flex pivot design can work in aluminum as well as carbon, and for long-travel bikes (the One Sixty delivers over 170 mm rear wheel travel in mullet form). I think eliminating unnecessary parts
is an important design principle, and Merida are showing how it's done. Price:
£4,600 / €5,760 (as pictured)More information: www.merida-bikes.com
Garmin Edge 520
I've had my Garmin since 2017 and use it regularly. I love being able to see the ride stats rack up and counting down to the next milestone - the first ten kilometers, the first vertical kilometer, or the first thousand calories... I also use it to track my heart rate to gauge my effort and as a lap timer to see how fast I can go. One metric that's not found on many other GPS devices is vertical speed. I find this quite useful as a way of gauging how efficient a climb is.
But what puts the Garmin on this list is its longevity. I've had various GPS devices and the Garmin has lasted the longest - I had two from Lezyne which suffered with water damage before long. Most impressively, this year I put it in my pocket to spare it from being hosed down with my bike, then, ironically, forgot to take it out when I put the shorts through the wash and tumble drier. Amazingly, it didn't seem to affect the device at all. Obviously, I'm not recommending you try this yourself, but it's probably going to survive the odd downpour.Price:
£350 More information: www.garmin.com
One of my favourite tests this year was comparing the new Öhlins RXF 34 to the category benchmark Fox 34
I love it when I can do a direct comparison between two products and find a clear winner, so readers have some pretty unambiguous advice on how best to spend their money. I'm not saying these tests are gospel, but hopefully I can at least provide some meaningful insight into how they compare and explain why I think one is better than the other.
In this case, the Fox 34 was noticeably suppler, more predictable and better at keeping the front wheel tracking the ground. It's also slightly cheaper, making it a clear winner in this test.
But that doesn't make the RXF 34 a bad fork. Instead, I'm convinced the Fox is a very good one. I briefly got to test the Fox 34 back to back with the 2023 RockShox Pike, and while it wasn't a thorough enough test to commit to a review, initial impressions were better on the Fox fork again. Price:
$969 USDMore information: foxracingshox.com
I get to travel to all sorts of amazing riding destinations as part of my job, but for a summer riding holiday, I keep coming back to Les Arcs in the French Alps. This year I went back for the first time since before Covid and it's every bit as good as I remember. It combines chairlift access and reliable bike-park trails with loads of amazing natural singletrack hidden away in the woods. I've been seven times now and I keep finding new trails. It's also just a lovely place to be, with great views, amazing food and amenities close by. If you've not been before I'd recommend going with a guiding company so you can find the best trails. Price:
About a Euro per baguetteMore information: en.lesarcs.com/bikepark
ODI Elite Pro Grips
I tried out a lot of different grips this year to figure out which suit me best. So far, the comfiest I've tried are these. I don't think it's worth saying any more than that about a set of grips, so I won't. Price:
$32More information: odigrips.com
The Tweed Valley
I've lived here for over a year now and I have to say it's lived up to expectations. Even though a huge storm took out countless trails a year ago, there's still almost too much choice of what to ride. I can think of several tracks in the valley that are among my all-time favorites, but which I haven't ridden for ages because there are just too many good trails to ride on the way there.
Seeing the EWS roll into town again was cool. The way those guys are riding these tracks is an entirely different sport. But the best thing about the Valley is that it's got something for everyone, from international-level enduro and downhill tracks to family-friendly trails which I sometimes like to ride with my daughter on board.Price:
About £3.50 for a post-ride pizza crunchMore information:dmbins.com/ride-guide/tweed-valley/
Loooooong dropper posts
This is more of a trend than a "thing", but I'm really glad long-travel dropper posts are becoming the norm. While I used to think of anything longer than 150 mm as a bonus, I now consider anything less than 200 mm to be too short. I'm now wondering if going longer still will bring even more benefits, or if there are diminishing returns. I've got a OneUp 240 mm dropper on the way, and I'm genuinely excited to see what it's like.Price:
$231.20 USD for a 240 mm OneUp V2 dropperMore information: oneup-announces-new-240-and-90mm-dropper-posts
I'm not going to tell you I use these to save the odd gram of plastic from landfill; I use them because they're so much more useful than disposable zipties. I regularly swap mudguards between bikes or take them on and off depending on the weather and these are the perfect solution for this. They can be used for strapping things to your bike or for fixing things just like a regular ziptie, but with the added benefit of being able to adjust, re-position or re-use them. It's worth having a pack handy.Price:
About £14 for 200More information: Amazon
Here's a half-hour documentary on the history of climate science by a published climate scientist, with references and excellent visuals.Science YouTube
I'm a big science nerd and I watch a lot of educational YouTube. Thing is, being able to tell what's trustworthy and evidence-based, especially on a platform that rewards popularity and regular uploads over diligent fact-checking can be tricky. Here are some things to look out for.
Are they an expert in the area they're talking about? If a video is about climate change (like the one above), it's a good start if the writer/presenter/researcher is a climate scientist. If they aren't, that's not necessarily a problem, so long as they consult experts in the field and refer to them.
Do they provide evidence to back up what they're saying? Ideally, they should provide links to their sources.
Do they refer to uncertainty and nuance? Most things aren't black and white. Scientists should be good at conveying the quality of evidence behind an idea, or the range of error that goes with an estimate.
Are they open to new ideas and changing their mind in light of new information?
Here are some examples of credible YouTube channels that I enjoy. I have pretty eclectic interests, but at the moment I really like learning about science, engineering, nutrition, climate change, and sustainable technology. To be clear, I'm not saying that any of these channels get all their facts right or have all the answers, but they do a good job of the key points above. Just as importantly, they manage to explain things in a way that I find easy to understand and enjoyable to watch. Veritasium
, Simon Clark
, Sabine Hossenfelde
, Climate Town
, Nutrition Made Simple
, Real Engineering
and Engineering Explained
"Disagreements are not problems. They are opportunities for everyone to learn something." - Derek MullerPrice:
All of your free timeMore information:
The box of reusable zip ties becomes a whole situation to manage
I also reuse the front fender zip ties that go around the lowers on the arch when I reinstall the fender. I don't pry them open anymore I just cut them to maintain length... and the ones from the arch.... they can be reused on external cables... which, yes, all my bikes have full external routing except the dropper.
Fun fact- twisting zip ties to trim rather than cutting leaves a nice dull curly Q that doesn’t break skin.
Or does it….???
Now I'm getting a bit worried about where this thread is heading. Considering there are Americans in this thread too, I'm sure there will be a few of those who use the existence of zip-ties as an excuse to exercise their "God given" right to carry a gun (and use it too if the zip-tie refuses to open).
Hey wait a minute.. I’m an American. And, that sounds about right.
Personally, I don’t like stuff that might fail on the trail. I have about 150 good zip ties lying around. I’ll use one of those rather than a compromised second hander..
@hankj: This is not about cheapskating. This is about turning "single use plastics" into "multi-use plastics".
All these people wasting their time debating the economic value, and potential compromised structural integrity of a used zip tie.
What have you done Levy!
($20 per hour) * (10 seconds per zip tie) * (1 hour/3600 seconds) = $0.06 per zip tie.
I looked online at the type/size of very heavy duty zip tie that we're doing this for they're about $0.15-$0.25 which definitely makes this worthwhile. (Even if we took up to a 30 - 45 seconds per zip tie! and at a higher, more realistic payrate than you used) Depending how the brand/model/level of bike there's gonna be 2-5 of those really heavy duty ones packaging the bike.
I finally stopped doing that 30 years post college.
I bet I’m not the only one to install a zip ty, just to have it spring open again. Looks like all the rest, but simply doesn’t catch. And yes, the lip was there.
I’m betting somewhere there exists an acceptable percentage of “bad” ties per batch for a given manufacturer. That being said, there must something in between “good” and “bad”.
I could have marginal ties on my bike right now that seem to work. But since I’m not a micro surgeon, I’m assuming I’d be topping out the lip by lifting it, which would put it past the position it would ever see in normal use. Now it’s further marginalized..
And how would I know I haven’t dulled the edge of the lip where it engages the ridges by the second go around?
I’ll just grab a new tie.
Well played Levy. Start a brawl, then slowly back out of the bar..
My point is, while there's good content on youtube, the recommendation algo effectively turns it into a tabloid, only 100x shittier. It's not curated for learning.
If you relate to what I'm saying, I urge you to consider 2 specific life upgrades. One is a free chrome extension called Undistracted which has a toggle to remove Youtube recommendations and thumbnails, turning Youtube into a thin client which looks like the Google home page. Clickbait vanquished.
The 2nd, which I subscribe to, is a platform called Wondrium.com. It's like Netflix but for first year college-level lectures (includes The Great Courses library and similar content). Much better use of time than Netflix, and it's curated, so there's no clickbait, no celebrity BS, no stupid thumbnails.
I love this quote. I wish more people would have an open enough mind to think this way.
I really like her. She destroys so many overhyped science things so easily and talks about how good, or bad they actually are. I also enjoy Kyle Hill, Arvin Ash and ScienceClic english
The 2017 Scott Spark says "hi!"
Also. The skiing is world-class, one of the best resorts in Europe for sure!
But I reckon I cut the ends off 99% of them meaning you have a load of really short fiddly clips in a box somewhere.
Endlessly reusable, lighter, more versatile, maybe more environmentally friendly, sustainable, etc
Twine Would actually look right on one of those bamboo frames :-)
You got this fella, I believe in you!
Meant purely as sarcasm…
I think THE should bring back their moto fender, I remember having to replace them on the regular as they broke pretty easily. But man they looked cool!
And I don't understand how/where the sarcasm is...
Just add more twine, and more knots I guess
And it looked like it was epoxy bonded (so eco) and about 3/4s of an inch thick layer. I doubt doubling it would have made a difference, the bamboo might have been the failure point then lol
Right now I feel like Iam describing St. Louis!
"2030: I own nothing, I have No privacy, I have never been so Happy"
Thank . Carl
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