Each year I like to look at our content in its entirety and reflect back on bikes that took you, the readers of this website, by storm. Back in the mid to late 2000’s it was all fixed gears, then came the gravel bikes, the tourers, the MTBs, and the kooky, eccentric builds you’ve come to enjoy checking out in full-res detail. We’ve got some incredibly talented individuals contributing to this site and their hard work is something I cannot express my gratitude for enough. Going back through the 2020 content here at the Radavist, I am amazed at what we were able to accomplish all things considered.
For this year’s Top Beautiful Bicycles of 2020, we have compiled a great list of ten bikes, ranging from rim brakes to fixed gears, basket bikes, and more. This list is based on web traffic, commentary, and social media chatter, and each of these builds really brought something unique to our content. We omitted bike reviews here but included production bikes. Oh and I hope you like baskets!
Let’s jump right in!
Isao’s Larkin Cycles 24″ Mini Velo Touring MTB
After having his 20″+ wheeled Falconer for a full year, Isao realized he loved it for touring and for riding around the city – he lives just outside of Tokyo – but he didn’t enjoy it as much as a mountain bike and he was hoping the Falconer would be a MTB as well. When I asked him about it, he described the sensation of getting the wheels stuck between roots and rocks. Yet, Isao still lives within the confines of a modern Japanese apartment, so he doesn’t have a lot of room for a full-size bicycle. Truth be told, he likes mini velos too! He wanted to get another bike this year, as a supplement to the Falconer. This one epitomizes deep custom!
Adam’s Sklar Scorcher Gravel Fixed Gear
Something happened down in the Sonoran Desert this past winter. Maybe it was Ronnie’s influence but people began riding gravel roads on fixed gear bikes. These bikes aren’t like the street track bikes, popularized by MASH and the like in the mid-2000s, yet they utilize a gravel bike’s geometry, down to the tire clearance, yet they just don’t have gears, or in this case, brakes. This type of machine is great for developing a smooth pedaling cadence and perhaps it’s the long and low rolling hills of the grasslands found around Patagonia, Arizona. Adam Sklar‘s personal gravel fixed gear has an incredible patina and was a personal favorite this year.
Nam’s Crust Bikes “Cantibolt” Lightning Bolt Thrower
This gallery was full of retro-grouch lingo, laced with rainy cantilever goodness. Ronnie had a real way with words when describing Nam‘s cantilever Lightning Bolt…
Without sounding too much like a beardo weirdo (……wait), I want to start by saying nothing truly timeless has been made since the advent of Shimano Octalink. That was 1996/97. Campy held on for a few years longer (a move that will forever endear me to Campagnolo0; but the dreaded “mid-school” era followed. Ergo bend bars :/ . 31.8 handlebar clamps. Aluminum bikes with carbon rear ends that cleared 700×20 max… need I say more?
JP Weigle’s Hot Blue Thing: One Impeccable Randonneuring Bike
Kyle Kelley documented a classic example of JP Weigle‘s randonneuring prowess with this Hot Blue thing.
There were so many bikes at Peter’s worthy of being shot, but there was something about this particular bike that I just kept going back to. It was the cleanest, but for some reason felt like it was the most loved. I could’ve shot the bike that Jan Heine reviewed in 2017 for Bicycle Quarterly, but there was just something about this very blue bike that had me going crazy.
Andy’s Drop Bar 8-Speed 1996 Ibis Mojo
Andy works at Argonaut Cycles. He’s been a bike mechanic for 20 years and like many cyclists, he loves to tinker. When Ben from Argonaut gave Andy this Ibis Mojo, which Ben bought when it was new in 1996, Andy wanted to make it into a drop-bar bike but as you can imagine, that took some tricky problem-solving. This bike caused quite the stir once when we asked the question if this is a gravel bike?
Pandemic Escape Vehicle: Jared’s All-City Big Block Fixed Gear
Part of the beauty of this piece was Jared‘s honesty about its inception:
I guess this is a little embarrassing. I built this bike from a single part: the stem. When Paul released the first version of the Eddie Van Halen Boxcar stem, I just had to have it! To be clear, I am not a Van Halen fan.
Panasonic Mountain Cat Project
Jarrod from Hope Cyclery walked us through a very special build with this one.
Sometimes the best bikes for camping are the ones you’ve got or ones that are gifted to you. Although this bike is the latter, many people right now are clamoring to source a bike, partially brought on by the pandemic, a rekindled love for cycling, and scarcity of bikes. There may be a rad bike in your future and you don’t even know it yet. It might just be the one if your basement, parents’ garage or a craigslist ad. An 80s MTB seems to make the perfect donor bike to get out, explore more, and connect with nature.
Cari’s Elephant NFE is a Do It All Basket Bike
Cari keeps the lights on over here at the Radavist and this bike has been her go to for the past four years. It’s her do-it-all, round-town, touring bike, and after lots of use, it’s developed quite the patina. Featuring this bike was very special for us.
Bailey’s Rocky Mountain Hammer Basket Bike
Earlier this year, Bailey got the idea to convert this older Rocky Mountain Hammer frame into a basket bike. His intent with the bike was to have a no-nonsense, do-it-all beater that he could lock up anywhere and not worry about it. Yet, because it’s Bailey, there was a twist to this bike’s use…
Morgan’s Kona Unit Basketpacker
Man, if anyone racked up more points this year for stellar bike reviews, it’s Morgan. His work here at the Radavist has been a real treat but his Kona Unit Reportage was all-time!
Sometimes a bike is worth more than the sum of its parts. You know, that feeling of home that isn’t just about having your favourite bars and saddle in the right place. My Kona Unit began life as a $999 single speed complete – a heck of a good value, and a bike I never knew I’d come to love so much.
Well, there ya have it! I’m sure we’ve left out one of your favorites, so be sure to drop your pick in the comments.
Thanks again for hanging in there this year and here’s to 2021!