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Best Stories of 2021: Top Five and Editors' Faves

By Spencer Powlison

Published

Best stories of 2021
Come here often? I hope so! Because TPC’s Magazine grew a lot in 2021, and I’m certain we’re publishing the best stories we ever have. I’d even argue that some of our work is the best bike media on the web these days.

But enough bragging. In 2021, we published 65% more stories than in 2020, pandemic be damned! Along the way, we added six new contributors this year, half of whom are women.

Without further ado, here’s a snapshot of our five most popular stories of 2021, plus a few editor’s picks.

Top five stories of 2021

1. 2020 Yeti ARC vs. original: More similar than you think
Yeti ARC old vs. new

By now you should know that our vintage bike museum is one of my favorite parts of TPC. I jumped at the chance to make a connection between a modern, Certified Pre-Owned bike for sale on our site, and one of the legends of our museum, a Yeti ARC. 

2. 7 underrated bike brands
Underrated bike brands

Whenever Bruce pitches a story idea like this, we brace ourselves for a torrent of comments. We weren’t disappointed. You readers have strong opinions about bikes, just like us! Keep ‘em coming!

3. How to buy a used Specialized Stumpjumper

Along with bikes, I’m obsessed with vintage motorcycles. I love digging into the tech evolution of a legendary BMW or BSA. So I thought, why not do this for bikes too? And what better place to start than with a Specialized Stumpjumper, the original mass-production mountain bike. It’s come a long way

4. A case for: Banning the front derailleur
Should we ban the front derailleur?

Oh boy. This has to be our most controversial story of 2021. We’ve already committed to single-chainring drivetrains on mountain bikes. Gravel bikes aren’t too far behind. But road bikes? You have to give Bruce credit for his avant-garde thinking.

5. Should you ride a Lefty fork?
Riding a Lefty fork

Bruce did not convince me to ditch my road bike’s front derailleur. He did, however, convince me to try a Lefty fork with this in-depth story about Cannondale’s one-sided fork. It looks bizarre, it’s been around way longer than you’d expect, and actually, it rides pretty dang well. I spent most of the summer on a Lefty Ocho, and I can vouch for it!

Best photography

What cyclists should eat at a convenience store

Beat a bonk at a gas station

We didn’t invent the concept of eating gas station junk food on long rides (credit goes to the 7-Eleven team, contrary to what you might see on social media). But we did make it look oh-so-glamorous. Our photographer, Chris, met me at a colorful local quickie mart on a sunny July day to capture the joys of Coca-Cola, Doritos, and Snickers. We even made friends with a vagrant who was hanging out in the parking lot.

Spencer’s fave

Stop calling it “loam”
By David Schultz

Stop calling it loam
Photo: Tom Caldwell

This story is stuck in my head like a pop-music earworm. We mountain bikers are addicted to using the word “loam” to describe any sort of dirt that is remotely good for traction. And especially out here in Colorado, we are often dying for a bit of grippy trail. But our contributor David debunked this MTB misnomer with aplomb. Turns out, in addition to being a ripping mountain biker, he’s also tight with some pro geologists. — Spencer Powlison, Senior Editor

Bruce’s fave

Mountain biking was in the Winter X Games. It was weird.
By Spencer Powlison

MTB in Winter X Games
Photo: Scott Clarke | ESPN Images

It sounded like a joke at first, mountain biking getting featured in the Winter X Games. With snow-covered courses, rubber speed suits, and afterparties with Cypress Hill ripping blunts, it wasn’t just weird, it was insane in the brain. I see it as a coming-of-age story, documenting one of mountain biking’s more awkward attempts to find its place in the world. I’m kind of glad snow racing didn’t stick, but dang, it was fun to read about. — Bruce Lin, Writer

Matthew’s fave

Out and proud, this national champ thrives on honesty 
By James Jung 

Brendan Housler
Photo: Craig Huffman

All sports are still working toward a fully inclusive and supportive space for LGBTQIA+ athletes, and in the bike space, we have a lot of room for progress. Brendan Housler is helping pave that road for American road cyclists (and beyond) and he’s a fantastic role model for all young athletes. Housler’s story is timely and inspiring and I’m proud we shared this angle of Brendan’s success as an athlete and human. — Matthew Ankeny, Director of Brand & Content

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