Wow! What a year it’s been. In the past twelve months, we’ve shot roughly 300 bikes. From gravel races, to NAHBS, the Philly Bike Expo and our normal travels, we really captured some unique builds and we’ve got a good handle on the bikes the readers of the Radavist enjoy checking out based on some key metrics.
Every year we try to do our best to sort through twelve months of archives to narrow down to this list. The first filter is the comment count, which we start at 50 comments. Then comes page views, with the minimum number being 20,000 views. Finally, we look at the social media chatter; including Instagram comments and how many times was the post shared across various platforms.
What we end up with is a list that is filled with a plethora of interesting, versatile, and quirky bikes. The only editorial decision I myself made was to omit reviews of stock bikes. So no Santa Cruz Stigmata or Cannondale Topstone this round!
Check out the full Top Ten Beautiful Bicycles of 2019 below, in no particular order…
There were a lot of practical and well thought out bikes at this year’s Super Stoke Weekend and if time had allowed – short days and long ride agendas always make it hard – I would have shot them all. My methodology was to try to capture some of the themes present in the stable of steeds. With Gideon’s bike, I was able to shoot a 333 Fab. One of four present at the ride. With Spencer’s bike, it was about a similar approach to frame design but from an overseas production perspective. Black Mountain Cycles is a shop in Point Reyes Station, California. Mike Valey who owns the shop designs bikes for the brand after he spent years designing bikes for other companies in the industry. He and Sean from Soulcraft worked on this frame, dubbed the MCD, or Monster Cross Disc, with specially-designed dropouts for the thru-axles. While this bike is a departure from the traditional monster cross ideologies (700x45mm ish wheels with wide dirt drops,) it gets the point across and thrives off the ambiguity of mainstream monster cross definitions.
The general rule of thumb is if you build it, people will cram the biggest tire possible into it. I wish we lived in a world where tire clearances were maxed out with drivetrain efficiency in mind, but it’s not always the case. However, when it is the case, you end up with a very capable bike. So yeah, if you build it… with ‘it’ being the Specialized Sequoia. While people have certainly put mountain bike tires on this bike before, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone fit as big of a tire as Sarah Swallow did with the Ground Control 2.1″. This bike is her recon bike for her 125 mile race next month, the Ruta de Jefe, in Elgin, Arizona. While there is no singletrack per se on the course, the roads can get rowdy, where a wide bar and fat tire will soften the blow from the washboard and ruts.
“The kinda danger I’m into is riding tubes in the desert”
“Any bike can be a mountain bike if you ride it in the mountains”
These are just a few quotes pulled from the freshly shaven mouth of Ultra Romance, the cycling sensation, turned Rivendell sponsored rider and mobile dealer. Bené, as I like to call him, is wintering in Tucson where I was spending my New Years with friends. Turned out, there were a lot of out of towner cyclists around, so we organized a ride at the 50 Year trails. More on that later…
The Moots Baxter is a do it all, lightweight bikepacking rig. It has clearance for 2.3″ XC 29er tires, boost spacing, provisions for a third bottle cage, good standover, with the option to run an 80mm travel front fork or a rigid fork like the Salsa Cutthroat Carbon. Its intended use is for drop bars and even a dropper post, making it an odd bird in the Moots lineup. Maybe that’s why I fell in love with this bike? It’s a Moots so you know it’s made by some of the best titanium welders around but it’s not a classic Moots, according to my opinion. It’s like the rough and tumble bad boy in the Moots lineup and it felt like the perfect bike for such a rough and tumble ride!
Hubert d’Autremont from Madrean Fabrication is building bikes that he wants to ride. From a chubby road bike, to a bikepacking rig, and even a bird as strange as this. The Tucson Special is a single speed or fixed gear with 50mm of tire clearance and more relaxed geometry, tuned for hitting cutty singletrack around town and jumping curbs. Put a rack and basket on it, flat bars or drops, clipless or platforms. The beauty of the platform is its inherent versatility.
Matt’s brain – the owner/operator/designer for Crust Bikes – always has rats spinning on a hamster wheel. His affinity for the modern randonneur is apparent in a lot of the bikes he designs. What does a person who could essentially develop any conceivable bicycle that their hearts do, well they start with a simple question? What would Weigle do? Call it an homage or a cap nod to the Concours de Machines that Peter Weigle made a few years ago, the top tube and downtube are cut from longer butted tubes and only the thin-walled center section is used. Matt is a lighter rider so he can afford to run this type of tube set without worry. Fabricated by Darrin Larkin in LA, this is one of one and it’s a beautiful example of pushing the custom bike limit especially when built around a smaller rider.
This bike is the direct result of many experiences, beginning with my 44 Bikes touring bike and culminating with the Moots Baxter I spent a great deal of time on last year both fully-loaded and set up in what I could call expedition mode. After a lot of back and forth, I realized that I like 29+ bikes for bikepacking and yeah, titanium is really nice for desert riding. These mental musings came to the full realization after spending some time talking with Adam from Sklar Bikes this summer in Bozeman.
Todd from Black Cat displayed this seemingly innocuous all road at NAHBS. Sure, it’s bright red, but other than that, it looks pretty standard, for a Black Cat anyway. This bike is a sleeper, full of details, even someone like myself who shoots a lot of custom bikes didn’t catch them all. One obvious eye-catcher is the lugwork, with a black datum rinning from the seat tube cluster to the head tube but the drivetrain is what I felt like set this bike apart from an already impressive NAHBS lineup.
The Starling Murmur, a full suspension, steel mountain bike with a single-pivot linkage design, made from Reynolds tubing and was a real treat to ride in the mountains of Los Angeles on. This bike surpassed all my expectations and it’s no wonder that it made it into this list. I loved this bike so much that I ordered a made in the UK frame from Starling Cycles and it spent over 7 months being stuck in the USPS’ lost package depot before it was stolen and put up on eBay… Expect more to come on that bike!
When you think of the mountain bike brand Evil, chances are you think of the three pillars of modern mountain bike design, long, slack, and low. So when the brand began developing a gravel bike, they tapped into that design DNA. I got an in-person look at this new bike at Grinduro prior to the bike’s official launch last month.The consensus of the Radavist’s readership? Click above to read for yourself!
If a bike didn’t make this list, be sure to drop the link to the gallery in the comment section!