In this second part, Simon Vincett revisits his highlights of 2015 in the commuting–touring spectrum of bikes and riding.
Thanks for reading over the past year. What were your highlights? Following on from my colleague Iain Treloar’s list, this is my collection of the highlights of 2015, ranging from products to experiences and from articles to developments in the cycling landscape. Please share your’s in the comments below. We’re looking forward to sharing more about the wonderful world of bikes with you in 2016.
Urban Arrow Family cargo bike
Say hello to the future. The Urban Arrow Family is a true car-replacement that offers a new paradigm of ‘normal’ urban transportation. A Bosch electric motor, a NuVinci infinitely variable hub gear and hydraulic disc brakes deliver car-like performance combined with bike-like efficiency and convenience.
Vivente World Randonneur ‘The Gibb’
The best touring bikes in Australia became better still with this 2015 iteration. You could buy a Tout Terrain for more money or you could build up your own ultimate touring bike but you won’t get a better complete touring bike at a better price than a Vivente World Randonneur. With the Rohloff hub on The Gibb this bike pretty much made my dream bike incarnate and I had to buy one. So it’s become my go-to bike for the next 30 years of commuting and adventures.
Breezer Beltway 11+
My regular commute makes up the bulk of my test riding and provides a standard against which all bikes are tested. This bike made my commute a joy. Unladen it was swift, and loaded up it carried everything I needed to cart about with no perceptible change to its handling. For the rain it had full mudguards, for the dark it had dynamo lights. The Shimano Alfine components matched with the Gates CarbonDrive belt delivered top-shelf performance. I have a lot of faith in Breezer bikes and I have no hesitation in recommending the Beltway 11+ as the best commuting bike of the year.
Smiles per hour
Okay, this is not a product, place or event, it’s an article. But I have to list it because it was the most satisfying article of the year for me. The variety of stories and situations it covered showed off the diversity of bike riding—the way that bikes can reach in to so many aspects of our lives. It typified the sort of message that Bicycle Network is trying to get into the public consciousness.
Central Otago trails
The article that came in to us about the Clutha Gold and Roxburgh Gorge trails in southern New Zealand made me hungry to go and ride them myself. Realising that they can also be linked up to the famous Central Otago Rail Trail secured the region on my bucket list.
Can bikes save the economy? State governments see potential it seems. Despite delivering an overall disappointing budget for bike riders, the new Victorian Labor government honoured a promise to build a $1million MTN park in Harcourt. Meanwhile in Tasmania, biking in all forms has been embraced as a powerful new aspect of tourism to the state. Road cycling events, rail trails and mountain biking trails are benefitting from promotion and funding.
This booming region demands individual mention as the most exciting new area to mountain bike in Australia. Within easy reach of Tasmania’s second city, Lauceston, the Hollybank and Blue Derby trails have opened up to add to the existing Blue Tier trails. More trails continue to open and the towns of the region are bustling to provide services to visiting riders.
It’s hard to go past Quad Lock for mounting your smart phone on your handlebars. It’s super simple to use but it’s secure. It’s also low profile but adaptable through its variety of different mounts.
Also admirably adaptable and now in Australia is the KLICKfix system by Rixen & Kaul for mounting bags, baskets and racks on your bike. Its German quality and ease-of-use easily ranks it with the best of such systems and the variety of different interchangeable products is huge.
With sumptuous photography and a design rich in cycling details, chef Henrik Orre shares the tried and tested recipes he feeds Team Sky, including ride snacks and balanced breakfasts and dinners. There are also interesting profiles of Team Sky riders in their kitchens. For the recipes alone this is the best ‘cyclists cookbook’ I’ve seen but the extras on offer mean this lovely tome transcends the mere cookbook to become a smorgasbord of delicious items for the cycling enthusiast.
While I love an evening ride, I’ll admit I didn’t relish starting at midnight and traversing the wee hours. How wrong I was. Ride the Night was a blast for a range of reasons: the carnival mood was infectious, the familiar streets were strange and alluring in the quiet dark, and the route hit all the highlights of the city and revealed a few new ones. I’m looking forward to the next one.
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