Issue #019


Now, who put the topic of time back on the agenda? From best times and split times to delivery times, us road cyclists have a love-hate relationship with the concept. So it’s time for something else right now: it’s time to rethink cycling. Other than gravel, all-road, trekking and racing, what else can we discover? Get ready for a change of mindset.

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Time passes so quickly in certain situations, like on an adventure ride, when it’s all new routes, great company, and balling with the best that nature has to offer. Other times, an hour can feel like a day when you’re stomping on the pedals on your usual post-work loop in the dark, listening to your chain whirr and your mind wishing you were elsewhere. But the passing of time doesn’t ever change – only our interpretation does. The sense of it speeding up or slowing down is in our control. Those who can find pleasure (or pleashurr, as Top Shotta would say) have it easier, period. Right now, entering the season of darker, colder, shorter days when it’s easier to grab the biscuit tin rather than your rain jacket, turning the pedals still needs a place in your life. To get in the saddle and spin. By embracing the agonizing burn of lactate on the home trainer or the biting wind that batters you while outdoors, we advocate choosing to grin over grimace. It all comes down to a mindset. Hint: equipment helps too, so if you are layering up to stay outdoors, check out our HYPE THIS section, where we’ve compiled a carefully curated edit of eight essentials for thriving and not just surviving this winter.

We hear you. It’s easy to preach but there’s only so much self-talk that can soften the blow of waiting months for your next dream bike or an urgent spare part that’s woefully unavailable. Why does the bike industry insist on spewing out new models despite a glaring lack of stock? It’s not cool to drip out a limited first run then announce a 54-week wait. Is now the time, given the current state of the bike industry, for it to look outside of its usual fold for leadership? We sat down with Winni Rapp, Canyon’s new CEO and former CFO at Vodafone to discuss whether industry outsiders in upper management will be a blessing or a curse for the bike sector.

The Highlights

  • Gravel vs. MTB – 6 bike concepts in comparison
  • Cold as ice! Eight essentials for winter gravel and road riding
  • With or without? Are tire inserts on gravel bikes any good?
  • Ötztal Cycle Marathon – Big dreams and reality
  • Gravel ride with Canyon CEO Winni Rapp – The bike industry is growing up
  • 11,157 readers have spoken – The most important findings of the GRAN FONDO readers’ survey 2021

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All the bikes in this issue

BMC Twostroke 01 ONE | BMC URS LT ONE | Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 1by | Falkenjagd Aristos R | Fustle Causeway TRAIL Lite | Lauf True Grit SRAM XPLR Edition | ROSE BACKROAD+ | Stayer Groadinger UG | Trek Supercaliber 9.8 GX

What else is there to discover in this issue?

Looking at the latest product launches from the entire gravel market, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d entered a time portal to the early 90s, when mountain bikes were in their infancy. Back then, these all-terrain bikes took cues from the road, adding ever wider tyres, bigger gear ratios, more powerful brakes and suspension. Fast forward 30 years, and some of you will be getting a sense of deja vu. It looks a bit like a renaissance right now, leading us to question if anything has really changed. Is it even a bad thing if it hasn’t? If the lines between modern gravel bikes and progressive mountain bikes are becoming more blurred, couldn’t both movements – just like 30 years ago – be considered all-terrain bikes and we end the discussion there? Isn’t it time for the discourse on definitions to cool off? Can we let bike riding be bike riding, period?

If mountain biking is the new gravel and gravel is the old mountain biking, then trekking is basically gravel meets bikepacking plus straight bars and a step-through frame. I know … some people are just happy to sit back and watch the flames as the world burns. For this issue, we’ve experimented with six bike concepts that are all somewhere on the gravel and MTB spectrum. Should your next bike be a gravel bike? What’s the most versatile bike conept around? We’ve put in the hard work for you so that you won’t have to question if your dream bike is a bad choice purely because it’s intended for one particular purpose. Check out the Gravel vs MTB group test for everything you need to know.

Time is all pervasive in this issue, which is why you’ll find Robin’s cliché-bashing article in our feuilleton section, that looks way beyond traditional limitations and restrictions. Written on a recent gravel-slash-trekking ride, he looks at how technological advances alone won’t cut it if we want progress. On somewhat slimmer tyres, Tobi recounts his experience of the notorious Ötztaler Radmarathon – a physical and mental eight-hour battle over four Alpine passes – that doubled as an experiment into whether WorldTour equipment makes a faster rider and whether time even matters.

Getting full treatment in THE LAB, we’ve had three smart gadgets that are intended to take your riding to the next level on long-term test and it’s now judgement day. Plus, gorge on test reviews of the latest gravel and all-round products for your riding pleasure. Two bikes got a very special reception at the GRAN FONDO office, warranting their own individual reviews: the brand new Falkenjagd Aristos R is a bike that reimagines the use of titanium through 3D printing, while the ROSE BACKROAD+ is a Bosch-powered e-gravel bike that promises one hell of a good time.

This issue’s expert know-how comes in the form of deep conclusions from our group test and a thorough examination on tyre inserts for your gravel bike. Charismatic Munich DJ and producer Top Shotta takes us riding through the bougie Bavarian capital and expounds on why it’s always worth doing your own thing. Friend of the magazine Phil Gale takes us to the high seas of Northern Sweden to surf the gravelly waves with partner Emmie.

As you see, this issue is a glorious exploration of the bike scene in all its diversity. Join us to discover what fills the gaps between gravel, all-road, trekking and racing. We know you’ve had to wait for this issue, but we’re confident you’ll forgive us once you settle down to read what we consider to be one of the most comprehensive and exciting issues we’ve ever made.

Excited? These (and many more) stories are just a few clicks away. If you have already installed our free app, you can download the latest issue directly there. If not, first install it from the App Store (iPhone / iPad) or the Play Store (Android smartphones & tablets) and then load the latest issue within the app. Then you can sit back and enjoy the new issue (ideal with a cold beer or delicious coffee)!

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Words: Photos: GRAN FONDO-Team