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2020 GravelBikes Editor’s Choice Awards: Top Bikes & Gear Picks

2020: The Year of Changes and Adaptation

The year 2020 has been filled with canceled events and sold-out everything. It’s been a year of solo rides and mask life. However, amidst the challenges, the bicycle has gained popularity, and more people are discovering the joy of two wheels. While things are still strange, there is hope for a return to normalcy soon, with new riders advocating for better cycling infrastructure and trail access.

Adapting to the Changing Landscape

Just like many industries, we had to adapt to the pandemic. Despite the circumstances, there were still numerous launches and exciting new products throughout the year. Our Editor’s Choice lists for 2020 highlight the best products we’ve used and tested. Although the selection is smaller this year, it doesn’t diminish the quality of the products below. It simply means there are other worthy options we haven’t had the chance to explore in person.

About Zach: A Rider’s Perspective

Heading into 2020, I anticipated a year of change. With my wife expecting our first child, we were prepared for adjustments, but the year turned out to be even more different than expected. While I spent a significant amount of time on a trainer, I still managed to embark on rides in the real world. However, these rides were closer to home, solo, and chosen to minimize contact with others. This experience has highlighted what matters most to me as a rider. When faced with limited time and options, I choose rides that challenge me. I enjoy exploring new genres that present fresh obstacles. On the other hand, I also appreciate using an e-bike for quick errands or family rides. As our family grows, I look forward to finding new ways to involve them in our cycling adventures, which will undoubtedly require new bikes and gear.

A Memorable Beach Experience

This year, one of the experiences that stood out was our family getaway to the beach. Usually, my year is filled with travels and riding events, so having the opportunity to disconnect and spend time with loved ones is invaluable. Despite the challenges posed by COVID, we managed to reschedule and enjoy a socially distant vacation on a nearly deserted South Carolina beach. One of my favorite parts of this trip is exploring the coast and Lowcountry on a fat bike. Beach riding offers unique adventures and proves that even during a beach vacation, you can still have amazing rides. I can’t wait for future travels, but I’m already counting down the days until we can do this again.

Mountain Bikes: Editor’s Choice

2020 Pivot Switchblade: Before travel plans were disrupted, I had the opportunity to Review the new Pivot Switchblade on its home turf. Riding it on the same trails that the designers ride daily gave me valuable insights. The Switchblade excels in various situations, effortlessly navigating technical features and conquering challenging trails. Its efficiency and lightweight build make even the toughest climbs easier. With its precision craftsmanship, innovative features, and tire clearance, the 2020 Switchblade is an easy choice.

Honorable Mention – Revel Ranger: Another bike that brought me joy this year is the new Revel Ranger. Despite its short travel, the Ranger possesses the spirit and playfulness of a much larger bike. It strikes a perfect balance between XC efficiency and trail riding fun.

Gravel Bikes: Editor’s Choice

Otso Warakin Ti: While I didn’t have the opportunity to ride many road or gravel bikes this year, it was mainly because I didn’t want to let go of the Otso Warakin Ti. This bike exudes confidence and versatility. It handles any terrain you throw at it, combining the spirit of a dirt jumper with the efficiency of a gravel bike. With the ability to accommodate various tire sizes and riding styles, it’s a truly adaptable and enjoyable ride.

E-Bikes: Editor’s Choice

Santa Cruz Heckler: E-bikes remain a controversial topic, especially regarding trail access. However, I couldn’t resist trying out the Santa Cruz Heckler. As a company that was initially resistant to e-bikes, Santa Cruz had to deliver a top-notch product. And they did. Surprisingly, the Heckler performed exceptionally well even without any assistance. It proved to be a great option for self-shuttling and training on gravity-fed trails. With the new and improved Shimano EP8 versions, the Heckler is definitely worth considering.

Suspension: Editor’s Choice

Manitou Circus Pro: My 2010 Manitou Circus Expert has shown incredible durability over the years. Whether I’m riding at Ray’s MTB or pumping my way through trails, it continues to impress.

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