2019 was a big year in bikes, with exciting new groupsets, radical chainless drivetrain tech and sneak previews of ABS and gearbox tech. Oh, and I changed my name. RIP Matthew Allen, hello Matthew Loveridge.
Trek Emonda ALR
- £800 / $1,000 (frameset)
My 2019 long-term bike was a bit of a passion project for me, an opportunity to build something from the ground up however I pleased.
I’ve been boring people about how good aluminium bikes are these days and the Emonda was my chance to prove their worth.
I built the ALR with a SRAM eTap groupset (the now-obsolete 11-speed version) and an eclectic mix of other components.
The result was a bike weighing just 7kg with pedals and cages that I think looks absolutely fantastic, and compares well to much more expensive machines.
Latest deals for the Trek Emonda ALR
- £varies, RX600 shifting groupset from £600
Full disclosure: I haven’t actually ridden a bike with GRX on it yet. However, it makes this list because it was probably the product announcement that excited me the most this year.
Shimano is not a company that jumps on bandwagons, instead preferring to let the market mature before committing to new product categories.
GRX marked Shimano’s first proper 1× offering for drop-bar bikes, as well as its first foray into gravel and adventure-specific components.
It’s great news for bike makers who want to offer full Shimano groupsets on their trendy gravel bikes.
It also gives riders some useful gearing options, and intriguing component options such as the new inline brake levers.
Latest deals for Shimano GRX components
The Anywhere is the rigid-fork version of the True Grit, and while it’s a pretty understated thing it made a real impression on me thanks to its excellent ride quality and smart geometry.
Unlike some gravel bike makers, Lauf hasn’t just supersized the clearances on a road bike. The Anywhere follows mountain bike trends, with a long top tube and short stem.
A medium frame has 399mm of reach, which sounds like a lot, but it works really well in practice. It’s a long bike and as such it’s really confidence-inspiring off-road, while still working brilliantly as a general-purpose road bike.
Giant Trance E+ 2 Pro
2019 was the year I fully embraced e-mountain bikes as a concept and I have this Giant to thank for my Damascene conversion.
It finally clicked that, for a relatively casual mountain biker like me with limited time to ride but easy access to trails, an e-bike makes a great deal of sense.
With electric assistance, riding to the trails is quick and painless and once I’m there, I can do more of the fun stuff without burning a lot of energy on the climbs.
An e-MTB is a brilliant tool for working on one’s skills and I’m utterly untroubled by any notions of purism. Is it a real bike? I don’t care! I’m having fun.
Bon Appetit pasta pomodoro
They say an army marches on its stomach, and I’d argue that food is just as important to cyclists.
I fancied myself a tomato pasta connoisseur, but BA’s ultra-simple recipe has completely changed my approach to making it, using the bare minimum of ingredients but focusing on technique.
A couple of notes: I don’t bother fully straining the tomatoes, I just lift them out of the can with a fork because I’m lazy and it’s a lot less messy. Also, I use less salt, around 1 to 1.5 tablespoons in the pasta water is about right for me (but it does depend how much water you’re using).
The reason this is so delicious is thanks to the way you cook down the tomatoes thoroughly (rather than boiling them in a sauce) and finish the pasta in the sauce instead of combining the two at the end.
A good knob of butter and a healthy handful of hard Italian cheese create pure eating pleasure, and a few capers take it up another level if that’s your jam.
I can’t think of anything I’d rather eat after a cold winter ride.