Contender Bicycles 2021 Staff Choice Awards
What a year! 2021 was filled with challenges, adventures and lots of experiences. From an ongoing pandemic to global supply chain issues - Suez Canal, anybody? - the bike industry has had 12 months of ups and downs and we’re getting through it - much like everyone else.
While there have certainly been some things we’d rather not deal with again, the year also saw a lot of developments and innovations we’re absolutely stoked on. From lighter, stronger, faster and more efficient bikes to new technology in tools and accessories. We took a trip around the shop and asked a handful of our employees for their recommendations for our favorite stuff of 2021 that is available now in our shop in 2022.
Like many award winners, our honorees are not necessarily the absolute best stuff, but things we really dig. Some are simply cool, others are extremely functional. Some are fast, some are pretty, some change the way we ride. Not everything was a brand new product in 2021 and some have been around for years. But we love them all.
Presenting the Contender Bicycles 2021 Staff Choice Awards.
Mountain Bike of the Year: Scor 4060 LT
In the words of our mechanic, Brook Hillsgrove: "The all-new Scor 4060 LT mountain bike offers one of the most well-rounded bikes builds for mountain riders. Their combination of high-end brakes, top-of-the-line suspension, a beefy drivetrain, and a strong carbon frame makes for a great build for the money. Not only are the components thoughtfully specced, but they also make a point to make their bikes interesting and different. The frame can be transformed from a long-travel enduro bike to a shorter travel all-mountain bike with the twist of a couple of bolts and swapping the shocks. Along with the flexibility of travel, they also use the SRAM universal hanger, allowing riders to easily get their hands on a new hanger in a pinch. They even give you an extra hanger in the stash box that's built into the frame."
"The integrated stash box located right near the bottom bracket allows for seamless storage of all the tools you'll need on the trail. Lastly, the colors offered by Scor are sharp and original, allowing riders to look back at their bike and say "damn.'"
Electric Bike of the Year: Yuba Spicy Curry All Terrain
Why the Yuba Spicy Curry All Terrain cargo bike? Let’s see what Jared Eborn has to say. “What can’t you do on the Spicy Curry AT? I’m a relatively new grandpa and the idea of loading a couple of littles on the back and cruising the parkway on an ice cream run. The 28 mph motor has plenty of juice for quick rides and the cargo capacity makes it a utility bike for so many purposes. When I get the hunger for some backroad adventure, the All Terrain functions of the bike are amazing. Mountain bike tires, front suspension, and enough cargo space for a long weekend off the grid - all on a bike.”
Helmet of the Year: Bell Super R Air Spherical Helmet
Our resident Park City shed head, Brian Ramirez, has this to say: “Noggin, noodle, crown, whatever you choose to call the protuberance resting atop your shoulders spherical MIPS is the best way to protect what's inside of it while offering MIPS patented multi-directional impact protection resisting side and twisting impact-related injuries. Available at Contender Bicycles in the convertible full-face Bell Super Air R and half shell Giro Manifest.”
“Spherical MIPS offers a slightly softer foam shell within a harder more durable foam outer shell capped with a rugged plastic layer forming a ball in socket envelopment of security for your dome. This is among my favorite new technologies because it not only takes safety to a whole new level but it seems to thread the needle between my need to look and stay cool out there. Bell and Giro have you covered there too with superior ventilation and rider envy-inducing good looks. Don't take it from me, come in and check one out!”
Accessory of the Year: Bivo One Water Bottle
In the words of Contender Bicycles owner Alison Littlefield: "The Bivo One is a great alternative to all my plastic water bottles that seem to just get grosser and grosser after every use. It has a cool, clean aesthetic and functions as well as any water bottle I have had."
Apparel of the Year: Ripton & Co. Performance Overalls
The Ripton & Co Overalls might not be explicitly for riding, but they’re extra functional in the shop, on campus, or just about anywhere else. Plus, they’re freaking cute! Here’s what our service writer/mechanic Madi Larsen has to say: “They’re so cozy. I feel like they fit a lot of body types well and they are just so very comfortable. I love that they stretch and move with your body so they never really get in the way. Oh, yeah, they look pretty cool, too.”
Tool of the Year: The Park Tool BCB-4.2 Bike Cleaning Brush Set
Tools just need to get the job done. And, according to our guy Sam Segal, the Park BCB 4.2 brushes do exactly that. “This set is the tool I use most. Having the right brushes to fit in hard-to-reach places makes cleaning my bike easy. I've tried everything; towels, kitchen sponges, toothbrushes. This brush kit is the best thing to clean your bike, hands down.“
Saddle of the Year: Fizik Antares Versus EVO
Our e-commerce web monkey, Carlos Interone, is also a serious snob when it comes to bike saddles. “I own the early version of this Fizik Antares Versus EVO saddle (glow in the dark lime green-yellow). Yes, it’s a comfortable saddle but not perfect. To me though it does represent the doors opening on new ideas for bike comfort and bike manufacturing in general. We’re already seeing 3D printed frame components, accessories, shoes, and helmets. Most are still in the prototype stage but it’s exciting to see where things could go.
Back to the saddle… it’s light. Carbon rails and a full-carbon shell make up the base of the saddle. The shell flexes slightly but most of the give and comfort come from the 3D printed mesh which lies on top of the shell. As you press your thumb along the length of the saddle you can feel the distinct zones of compliance. The front to middle of the saddle is noticeably softer. The back has a bit more material to it, though it is firmer to offer more support for your sit bones. The transition from the middle to the rear seems rather abrupt; I wish this was more linear. The middle channel is always a welcome relief. My only complaint is the shape, as I’m more of an Aliante rider. From the front of the saddle, the Antares is more squared off than the rounded Aliante.
One quirk of this saddle is that the construction of the saddle is that it tends to keep you in one position. Part of it is the shape, and part of it is due to the gripping nature of the material. As a result, it is more difficult to slide your position back and forth on this Antares Versus EVO than other saddles. It is like a Selle SMP in that regard, even though it lacks the curvature of those saddles.
In short, more saddles like this, please. I believe there are only 3 or 4 options (including the Fizik) for 3D printed saddles available in the wild. More customizability. Interchangeable meshes? It makes me wonder, if we do this for saddles why don’t manufacturers do this for brake hoods or grips?
Words by Jared Eborn. Imagery by Ezra Jefferies & Alison LIttlefield.