Does it have to always be bigger, wilder and more spectacular than the last? Even in the planning phase of an adventure, we can get so fixated on how to give it that extra glamour that we end up in gridlock and simply don’t do anything. So why not revert the terms and keep it simple?

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“But you’ve got to do it!” is your animated reply, in a bid to convince your inner couch potato. Despite your efforts, it is sometimes destined to fail. The sofa is more appealing today. No time, the wrong equipment, under-prepared. As inspired as you can get while plotting adventures, you’re able to muster up the same creativity with excuses. Living your life in subjunctive terrain with coulds and woulds might feel satisfying, but over the long time, expect it to feel frustrating.

But taking the easy option won’t always be as straightforward as you hope: Those day-to-day stresses that you use your bike to escape from won’t take long to catch up. Reaching a state of flow needs a breeze in your hair (or your beard), the rasping sound of your breath, the beads of sweats, the cinematic looping of the landscape rushing by you, and the mantra-like revolution of your pedals. This is where the slightly pissed-off sibling of your inner couch potato mumbles the following inside your head: “Psst… If it’s not on Strava, did it even happen!?” Damn you, the thought tears you out of roadie nirvana. Jolts you out of the flow state, and sees you dutifully sprinting for the next city limit sign and setting up shots of your bike next to a coffee cup. Correct us if we’re wrong, but did we miss the memo that all experiences need photographic proof?

Yet the most annoying part of it all nowadays is that even the most dazzling latte art creations tend to be met with a sort of average response on Instagram and co. Everything has to go one better. Even the concept of your upcoming adventure has to be so well-thought-out that even the thought of it makes sweat appear on your brow lest you forget something before even setting off. A lack of alternatives is not an option, and wouldn’t it be laughable if it was somehow possible to skirt around the arms race? Or, at least, that’s the hypothesis that ran through our heads when we started piecing this issue together.

The Highlights

  • Wrap it up, let’s go! – The 12 best bikepacking bikes in comparison
  • The best Gravel tire – 12 exciting models in direct comparison
  • What to consider before buying – Top 6 bikepacking bike buying advices
  • An afternoon with Marcus Burghardt – Bikes, barbecues and riding to the moon
  • Tour de Haßberge – Where tinnitus and indulgence meet
  • The ultimate rush – Jaguar I-PACE and the Heroïn road bike on Passo di Falzarego
  • In this moment – Cycling Colombia before quarantine

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All the bikes in this issue
Bombtrack Hook 2 | Canyon Grail AL 7.0 SL | Fern Chuck Explorer | Marin Headlands 2 | Mason Bokeh GRX | MERID SILEX+ 8000-E | RONDO BOGAN | ROSE BACKROAD AXS MULLET BUILD | Salsa Cutthroat GRX 600 | Specialized Diverge Expert | Specialized S-Works Epic Hardtail AXS Mullett Build | Trek Fuel EX 9.9 XTR Project One

What’s this issue got in store?

We call bullsh*t on the belief you have to go to extreme locations for excitement. Let our bikepacking group test prove the contrary. Forget Patagonia and Iceland, we pitch 12 of the hottest escape vehicles on test in the glamourous German destinations of Höfingen, Nußdorf am Inn and Steinenbronn. In the land mass between Chiemgau and Stuttgart’s TV tower, we set about uncovering the hidden beauty of our homeland while scoping out the best bike for the task.

For the ultimate real-life testing facilities to find 2020’s best gravel tires, we made the most of the premium gravel and woodland tracks that led us to camping idylls right on our front door.

You’ll find both of these massive group tests inside this issue, as well as our long-term “The Lab” test reviews and exclusive, swoon-inducing travel essentials in “Hype This”.

In the GRAN FONDO feuilleton, we cruise through the Haßberge Nature Park, take a wild ride over the Passo di Falzarego with a Heroïn road bike and the Jaguar I-PACE, plus kick back for an afternoon with Germany’s greatest ever gregario Marcus Burghardt.

Friend of the magazine Bryan M. Yate recounts his once-in-a-lifetime ride across Colombia, prompting us to question why we sometimes hesitate and decide that we should all simply throw caution to the wind and risk it all.

This issue is an ode to simplicity, a hymn to all the doers out there, and an invitation to us all to defy our inner selves. You don’t have to go to the Andes or out-sprint the world’s best on the Champs-Élysées. In the finest GRAN FONDO style, everything goes, whether it’s the Ritz Carlton or a camp bed. So, get comfy, make yourself a brew and enjoy the issue, focusing only on the bare necessities.

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