Do you want to know the truth? Despite what bike media or your snobby riding buddies say, previous-gen bikes are often just as good as (and sometimes better than) brand new bikes!
Pre-owned bikes give you the most performance for your money. Look for bikes around 2-4 years old and you’ll reduce the wallet-crushing impacts of depreciation while still getting a quality bike with up-to-date standards, geometry, and components. Like Arnie’s aging T-800 from the most recent Terminator movies, these bikes still hold their own against the latest models. As he says, they’re old, not obsolete! For this week’s Dream Quiver, I went in search of awesome previous-gen bikes that can still pack a punch. Here’s what I came up with.
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Road bike: 2020 Specialized Tarmac Expert SL6 - $5,499.99
Place a Tarmac SL6 and SL7 side-by-side and they will look pretty similar. The Tarmac underwent a major redesign for 2018, leading to the world-dominating Tarmac SL6. It combined lightweight and stiffness with aerodynamics and compliance. It was widely reviewed as one of the best road bikes ever designed and it racked up a long list of major race wins. The newer SL7 is a refinement, but it’s not leagues better. Sure, it’s more aero, and it has other benefits like increased tire clearance and a threaded bottom bracket, but the speedy Tarmac SL6 is lighter and won’t hold any rider back. It remains a threat in any group ride or race.
Gravel bike: 2020 Trek Checkpoint SL 7 - $6,399.99
Gravel is still young and constantly evolving. The original Checkpoint brought a unique party piece to the scene in the form of an IsoSpeed decoupler. Decoupling the seat tube increased comfort for big gravel adventures where riders are hammering in the saddle for hours at a time. There wasn’t much to improve upon, so the big change for 2022 is the geometry, which has been made much longer. Does that mean better? Well, it changes the ride characteristics so that it’s more stable in rough terrain. But plenty of riders will prefer the original Checkpoint's road-bike-inspired handling, especially racers and those who ride fast hardpacked surfaces.
XC/Trail MTB: 2019 Yeti SB100 Turq - $6,399.99
When it was introduced in 2018, the SB100 changed the playbook for 100mm mountain bikes and opened the door for a new wave of “downcountry” bikes. Love it or hate it, the term has come to define XC bikes that maintain lightweight efficiency but have components and geometry that favor downhill shredding. After a few years at the top, the SB100 was revised into the SB115 with an extra 15mm of rear travel. But many riders, including me, still have a soft spot for the original 100mm design. The more restrained travel numbers help it match dedicated XC bikes in fast races, but it can still leave them for dead on gnarly descents.
Enduro MTB: REEB Sqweeb V3 - $4,899.99
I chose the Sqweeb V3 for this quiver because: 1. It looks like a Terminator, and 2. I own one. It’s one of the best mountain bikes I’ve ever ridden, so of course, I was tempted by the new V4 version recently announced. It’s slightly lighter, and the redesigned suspension linkage gives you more travel and the option to run a mullet wheel set-up. But I’ve decided to save my money and keep the V3. Why? Because it’s still so good! Even if the V4 is better, I’m nowhere close to outriding the extremely capable V3. Unless your name is Greg Minnaar, the same is probably true for you too.
Total cost: $23,199.96
At just over $20K, this is actually one of the most reasonable Dream Quivers I’ve ever put together. If I sell my current four bike quiver plus my car, I can actually afford it! Unlike some of my other recent Dream Quivers, there are no $10,000+ bikes here. But every one of these rides could go toe-to-toe with a modern superbike.
As I said, I already own a Sqweeb V3, so I’m very biased when I say that the Sqweeb is the best deal on this list. I highly recommend it. But if I were to pick another bike for myself, it’d probably be the Tarmac SL6. I think the paint looks fantastic, and since I already own a flatland-loving aero bike, the feathery Tarmac would slot perfectly into a vacancy in my quiver.
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