Every year, BikeRadar gets the opportunity to ride the latest and greatest bikes at some of the coolest sportives or riding events around the world.
The often challenging courses, such as the 200-mile Dirty Kanza gravel event or the infamous cobbles of Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders, give us the chance to put these bikes through their paces and in some of the most extreme riding environments.
Often the bikes are handed to us on the morning of the ride, but for some events the bikes can be built from the ground up to specifically cope with the riding conditions or challenging parcours.
Occasionally, the events are also focused on specific components, such as new wheels or tyres, and so frame and groupset choice is perhaps less important.
Below, we have rounded up all of our Horse for the Course articles from 2018, including events from California to Belgium, as well as gravel races, this year’s UK hill climb series, open sportives/Gran Fondos and national and world championships.
Horse for the Course 2018
Trek Madone for Flanders sportive
Ben Delaney at this year’s Flanders sportiveBikeRadar/Immediate Media
Ben Delaney has returned each year to ride the same slippery cobbles the pros ride in the Ronde Van Vlaanderen — a day after the pros, of course. Some 16,000 riders tackle the Belgian Gran Fondo annually on the tiny paved roads that crisscross the Flemish Ardennes.
This year, Ben rode the event on a borrowed Trek Madone and with the then-unreleased Bontrager Aeolus XXX 6 carbon clinchers.
5 things we learned riding the Paris-Roubaix Challenge
The cobbles of Paris-RoubaixBikeRadar/Immediate Media
Back in Europe, Jack Luke and Reuben Bakker-Dyos took on the brutal cobbles of northern France in the Paris-Roubaix sportive. Like its Flandrian counterpart the week before, the event is held the day before the professional race, and the duo stayed around to watch Peter Sagan win the event in the famous Roubaix velodrome.
The difficulty of the Paris-Roubaix cobbles is well documented, so Jack and Reuben opted for wider rubber and gravel bikes for the event.
Testing prototype tires over 12,000 vertical feet on asphalt and dirt
Ben tested a set of prototype 28mm S-Works Turbo Cotton clinchers at the Haute Route RockiesBikeRadar/Immediate Media
Ben joined stage 2 of the Haute Route Rockies, which began near his hometown in Boulder, Colorado and traversed a 143-kilometre/89-mile, 3,660m/12,000ft elevation road route up to the Winter Park ski resort.
Ben used the event to test a set of prototype 28mm S-Works Turbo Cotton clinchers, choosing to ride his personal but familiar 2012 Specialized S-Works Tarmac.
Alongside our regular Horse for the Course articles, our video team enjoyed plenty of riding on an array of different bikes this year.
The team also documented their training, riding and more in the Hill Climb Diaries, which covered Joe, Reuben and Jack’s season, culminating at the national hill climb championships.
BikeRadar takes on Grinduro
Jack, Joe and Reuben headed north to take on one of the best gravel events of the year… Grinduro Scotland. They didn’t just go to ride, they went to answer a burning question for the BikerRadar team: what is the best gravel bike?
With that in mind, the trio took three different bikes: a “traditional” gravel bike, a hardtail mountain bike and a monster-‘cross bike to find out which comes out on top.
Jack and Reuben ride pavé in style… on gravel bikes
We set Reuben and Jack the challenge of riding the brutal cobbles of Paris-Roubaix, they then watched the pro race unfold on the following day.
37% hill on fixies
Jack, Joe, Reuben and Benedict headed for one of the steepest hills in south-west England, the fearsome Prospect Place, which hits a supposed 37 percent! However, being gluttons for punishment, they also decided to try conquering the short and brutal climb on fixed geared bikes. Did Jack’s knees snap in half? Did Joe make it to the top? Or did Reuben tear his bike in two? Watch the video to find out.
Hill Climb Diaries
BikeRadar’s Hill Climb Diaries covered the 2018 hill climb season in the UKBikeRadar/Immediate Media
Hill Climb Diaries – Joe & Reuben’s First Race of the Season
Hill Climb Diaries – Reuben’s New Bike Day & Joe Goes Deep
Hill Climb Diaries – Tough Racing & How To Feed A Hill Climber
Hill Climb Diaries – How To Warm Up & Racing in the Wet
Hill Climb Diaries – Joe’s Incredible 5.2kg Trek Emonda
Hill Climb Diaries – Exotic Carbon Upgrades & Savage Training
Hill Climb Diaries – Bad Starts, Brutal Headwinds & Jack’s New Fixie
Hill Climb Diaries – Podiums, PBs & Boutique Upgrades
Hill Climb Diaries – It’s the NATIONAL HILL CLIMB CHAMPS!
Hill Climb Diaries – Cycling’s Toughest Season & Your Questions Answered