If we asked what you are looking forward to this season, what would you reply? In German, there’s another one of those untranslatable words that doesn’t have a direct English equivalent, but captures a very specific feeling of joyful anticipation: Vorfreude.

Vorfreude is where we turn in the depths of winter. It’s the why behind booking training camps on Mallorca and always including coffee stops. It’s knowing you’ve got an epic summer bikepacking trip planned, and it’s the reason why you’re counting down to post-work rides when the sun will still be high in the sky. On a tough training day or at the end of a lung-burning race, it’s the thought of how damn good it’s going to feel to finish, mingled with the taste of a chilled beer, the podium, or lifetime membership to the Cinglés des Mont Ventoux Club – just a few more pedal strokes to go.

Vorfreude would be nothing without imagination. Without it, those images won’t come true because they would never have existed. This is also what makes it so great, offering double the satisfaction, if you like. Thanks to Vorfreude, you can enjoy the future while still in the present. We’ve crammed this issue with Vorfreude: dreams, intentions, and also some seriously real experiences.

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One of said experiences included accumulating airtime on the new Specialized Epic with Peter Sagan and Martín Vidaurre in Chile. We’ve summed it all up with an article that goes into Peter’s fresh Vorfreude after a few rather unhappy years on the road, why bravery is a prerequisite for change, and what makes a champion. Elsewhere, there may be traces of how we huffed and puffed our way through this interview, and learned how ebikes have changed Peter’s career.

Gravel racing has a blossoming future, but is it enough for a hit of Vorfreude? Depends who you’re asking! What’s your take on the way the sport is developing? How concerned are you about the impact a more competitive nature could have on the OG spirit of gravel? One thing is for sure: there are some very cool new bikes on their way! We’ve just had three World Champion-worthy bikes on test: the new Canyon Grail CFR Di2, the MERIDA SILEX 10K and 2023’s GRAN FONDO Mag Gravel World Champ, the Ridley Kanzo Fast. Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fastest of them all?! We went to France to find out.

Gravel race bikes aren’t the only trend – all-road bikes are also en vogue, which is why you may have spotted us grinning wildly on the French Riviera, full of pre-season Vorfreude. Did the endorphins from exploring unpaved roads, signpost sprints and numerous Aperol Spritzes lead to some skinny dipping later that evening? Quite possibly. Off the beach and away from the Aperol, the new Specialized Roubaix was tested against a trio of hot competition, including the GIANT Defy, FOCUS Paralane and Canyon Endurace. Inside this issue, you can find out which proved itself to be the best all-rounder.

If you’re struggling to see the light at the end of the cold, dark winter, we know you’ll love the lyricism of GRAN FONDO staff writer Nils Hofmeister, who has scribbled down a poem that will transport you to God’s land.

The very same writer has also penned the story of his ailing heart: 130 BPM goes into the highs and lows of receiving a diagnosis that will literally put the brakes on your riding. But with Nils being part of GRAN FONDO, you will not be surprised to hear how he flexes his creativity and finds some wiggle room.

Are you into aero wheels and marginal gains? Good—because we’ve got you covered too. Pretty soon we’ll go live with a groundbreaking new project, but first we’ve got to do the legwork and that involves this issue’s article about wheel and tyre pairings. Ask yourself this: what use is the most aerodynamic wheel if it isn’t optimized for the tire that’s meeting the wind head-on?

For another example in the same theme: what use is having the best or fastest bike if it’s not optimized for you? AI bike fitting apps are a thing these days, so we tried out two of the top-rated apps and compared the outcome to what we heard from in-person expert bike fitters. Is this going to be another field in which AI could dominate or do humans have the advantage? Where will the differences appear?

Oh yes, and the best thing about getting a bike fit: the Vorfreude at how your future position will bring more comfort and more watts. Yes, please!

Are you chomping at the bit to get started in spring? Waking up to birdsong and hoping for sunshine? Us too! Fortunately, you don’t always have to wait, nor go straight to Spain. You can get the holiday feeling right here at home. Jan and Christoph went to the Black Forest for a cold start to the season. With TQ-powered e-gravel bikes and the hotel sauna to finish, they had an absolute blast and made sure that their Vorfreude levels were truly topped up.

Enjoy the mix of articles that have made it into this issue, and grab yourself some inspiration! Get the latest issue directly on your device if you already have our app. Otherwise, simply install it from the App Store (iPhone/iPad) or the Play Store (Android Smartphones & Tablets). Have fun reading. Here’s to maxing out the Vorfreude for whatever you’ve got planned for this year.

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Words: Robin Schmitt Photos: Jan Richter