As we've noted many times, 2020 was a big year for bikes. As a preternaturally great option for socially distanced outdoor fitness, bicycles saw huge spikes in sales — and corresponding issues with shortages — beginning in spring and rolling on through summer and fall. But just because the very nature of bikes makes them a hot commodity doesn't mean brands themselves do not continue to iterate and innovate. Just check out the most interesting releases of the past 12 months to see what we mean.
Evil Bikes Chamois Hagar
We've taken this fun, funky gravel bike across every type of terrain imaginable and it's crushed them all. The lightweight carbon frame, fat-but-fast 700x50 tires, sleek internal cable routing triggering the 1x12 drivetrain and a handy dropper post combine to let you nimbly navigate or powerfully plow uneven ground, both uphill and down. Oh, and it's pretty quick on flats too.
Canyon Spectral:ON CF 7.0
A Red Dot Design Award winner, this German-engineered bike boasts a carbon-fiber front triangle that sneaks the weight under 50 pounds and three incredibly smooth levels pedal assistance powered by a streamlined, in-tube Shimano battery. Bonus: a USB-C socket lets you charge lights, smartphones, GPS units or cameras to document your offroad adventures.
Apidura Packable Backpack
In its condensed, muffin-sized form, this clever 4-ounce vessel easily attaches to your top tube with a Velcro strap, so you can forget all about it during a long, streamlined road ride. Then, on the way home, it unfurls into a spacious, 13-liter backpack, perfect for picking up groceries or some Dale’s Pale Ale to reward yourself for that high-wattage half-century.
A battery seamlessly integrated into the top tube is the coolest innovation of the second Red Dot award winner on this list. But there are other winning features too, including built-in lights, seamless electronic gear shifting, some of the best theft protection we’ve ever seen — and stunning good looks, of course.
Castelli Say Their Names Jersey
Castelli teamed up with an unlikely cycling enthusiast, 6'7" former NBA star Reggie Miller, and Team BOOMBABY to release a jersey festooned with powerful phrases from the Black Lives Matter movement. Those phrases include I CAN'T BREATHE, WE WON'T BE SILENT and SAY THEIR NAMES, with all proceeds going to the Equal Justice Initiative.
Lumos Ultra Bike Helmet
This helmet has absolutely crushed the crowdfunding game, raising more than $6 million on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. It doesn't hurt that Lumos has a rep for delivering quality brain buckets. The Ultra boasts front and rear lights, turn signals, Apple Watch compatibility and a MIPS option for ultimate protection.
"They essentially combined two bikes into one, which is an interesting commentary on the direction road bikes have gone," observes GP cycling expert AJ Powell. "There used to be 'climbing bikes' and 'aero bikes,' but now all road bikes are basically aero, and the tech has gotten so good that you don’t really take a weight penalty anymore by going more aero." The result: a unicorn roadie that weighs less than 15 pounds and can go anywhere, fast.
Wahoo Kickr Axis
With unmatched accuracy, controlled resistance that can simulate 20 percent climbs and compatibility with Zwift and other apps, the carbon-and-steel-bodied Kickr Smart Trainer has long battled boredom, but its latest update truly leans in, so to speak. A new Axis platform adds five degrees of lateral movement, enabling you to shift left and right as though you’re rolling over, yes, an actual road.
Specialized Align II
A game-changing safety innovation, the Multidirectional Impact Protection System (MIPS) is a helmet liner that creates a slip plane, handling angled collisions at least 10 percent better than a similar helmet without it. And while it used to be a pricey feature, Specialized has made MIPS super affordable in a dial-adjustable, commuter-friendly helmet that looks good, too.
When paired with the GPS-connected Lumenus app, this light can be programmed to respond to movements, such as strobe as you enter high-traffic areas, blink yellow to point out impending turns and blinker red to indicate braking. You can actually queue up a number of patterns and colors, our favorite of which is an eye-popping rainbow.
Price: $100 (1-pack), $180 (2-pack)
Cervelo x Lamborghini Limited-Edition R5
This ultra-rare release is stravagante in the best possible way. Honoring Automobili Lamborghini's founding year, just 63 of these bikes rolled out with the finest Campagnolo, Deda, Fizik and Vittoria components. Oh, that paint job? It echoes that of the Aventador SVJ that burned a record-breaking lap at Nürburgring in 2018.
This update to the hit home exercise bike is truly revolutionary. See, that 24-inch HD touchscreen from which your workouts emanate now rotates, allowing you to dismount the bike to more seamlessly tackle other types of Peloton routines, like strength, yoga, stretching and meditation.
The Handlebar Bag by Routewerks
This project got fully funded on Kickstarter within six hours, and it's not hard to see why. We love the universal mount on top that accepts a cycling computer, GPS device, GoPro or smartphone, the spring-loaded lid for smooth one-handed access while riding and the handy little lever that makes it easy to detach, grab and go.
The brainchild of a couple designer buddies, one a Specialized vet, the Doggler is out to prove that modern mountain bike geometry, a 1x12 drivetrain and a dropper post can take you just about anywhere. Three distinct builds (city, gravel and mountain) emerge from a single aluminum frame/carbon fork combo — and we can't wait to take the city version we've been testing out on some gravel and dirt.
Bike Flights Bike Boxes
These new boxes make shipping a bike simple and relatively cheap. Included clips, axle covers, tube spacers and bungees make packing and securing your wheels a snap. The boxes are designed for multiple trips and to disassemble flat for easy storage. They're earth-friendly too: Bike Flights just ships you the box, efficiently folded with all the packing accessories inside.
The pet project of the Croatian Elon Musk, the G6 is the most technologically advanced pedal-able bike we’ve ever encountered. It comes complete with a T-Mobile-powered 4G eSIM card for continuous internet connectivity, a GPS chip, front- and rear-facing 1080p cameras and a USB-charged handlebar mount that turns your smartphone into a next-level dashboard. Oh yeah, it’s pretty dang fun to ride, too.
State Bicycle Co. X Free & Easy OG Klunker
This recently released laidback joy ride has us dreaming of (vaccinated? maskless??) summer fun in 2021. BMX bars and wheels, mountain bike pedals and tires and old-school coaster brakes will have you cruising the neighborhood and boardwalk in a beforetimes state of mind.
Wolf Tooth 8-Bit Pack Pliers
Like most bike multi-tools, Wolf Tooth's latest boasts a bunch of screwdriver and hex and Torx-compatible bits. But this 17-function wonder also incorporates a spoke wrench, a valve core wrench, a tool for clearing tire sealant clogs from a valve stem and the ability to install and remove master links. It also happens to be one of the most haptically satisfying gadgets we've held in a long time.
Cannondale x Rapha x Palace SystemSix
Cool: Rapha, Palace, Cannondale, POC and Giro joining forces to style EF Pro Cycling in the swaggiest Giro d'Italia kits ever. Cooler: Cannondale and EF Pro Cycling teaming up with USA Cycling to sponsor new co-ed cycling teams at HBCUs and Tribal Colleges and Universities. Best way to raise money? Raffling off two Giro-ridden bikes and related swag, of course. Thousands of entries later, the raffle has ended, but the good vibes roll on.