Our 12 Most Popular Articles of 2020

To sign off for the week and give thanks to our members and readers, we rounded up the articles that grabbed the most attention in 2020 for this list of our 12 most popular posts of the year. See them all here…

Despite a year of tragedy, lockdown, and unrest, 2020 was our biggest one yet. As mentioned in our photo annual earlier this week, we somehow stacked up more than 1,000 posts this year, with a boatload of original articles and new routes. And that number doesn’t even include the hundreds of entries on our bikepacking events calendar or the two collections of essays and stories we published in print in The Bikepacking Journal. In taking a moment to review and reflect on what you found most interesting, we put together a list of the dozen most popular articles of 2020, based on the number of views.

Once again, we’d like to thank our readers for all of your comments, clicks, and feedback on everything we shared in 2020, especially our Bikepacking Collective members, who support the work we do and make this resource possible. Without further delay, here are our 12 most popular posts of 2020:

1. Gear Indexes

For the second year in a row, Gear Indexes were by far our most engaging posts of the year, taking several of the top spots. Launched in 2019, The Gear Index is our series of comprehensive reference and comparison lists for various types of popular bikepacking, cycling, and camping gear. Our list of Gear Indexes is always growing, so be sure to check back for updates and use the comments below to let us know what types of bikes and gear you’d like to see in future Indexes.

Gravel Bars, drop bars

Here are the six most popular Gear Indexes with three being new for 2020 and three that were updated and refreshed this year:

2. Guide to Mullet Drivetrains

As tons of dirt-drop enthusiasts await Shimano or SRAM to make a drop-bar shifter compatible with larger 12-speed cassettes, there are lots of hacks and tricks for making a mountain bike-esque 11- or 12-speed 1x drivetrain on a curly-handlebar bike. We explored several options and published a guide with our findings. Find it here.

Road Shifters and MTB Derailleur and Cassette, Mullet drivetrains

3. Bikepacking Race Rigs

Our “Rigs of” roundups are always some of the most popular articles on the site. And despite the race season being cut short, and almost non-existent, due to COVID-19, the two that we were able to squeeze in were both popular, with the Rigs of the Atlas Mountain Race taking the number three spot overall. The other one that was quite popular is the Rigs of the Badlands. We hope to bring you more of these next year. Fingers crossed.

Rigs of the Badlands 2020, Transiberica

4. Isolation Archives: Our Favorite Bikepacking Films

While most of us were self-isolating to help slow the spread of COVID-19, we decided to make the Isolation Archives from our deep well of bikepacking content. To kick it off, we asked each of our editors to pick their favorite bikepacking films of all time. Watch them all here. Also, find our favorite stories here.

5. Logan’s Kona Sutra LTD

After picking up a 2020 Kona Sutra LTD frame, I built it up with a choice kit for dirt road rambling and a trip through Colombia’s high-altitude Paramos. After a lot of miles, and endless climbing, I published full details on the build, my rationale behind the component choices, and a complete pack list. See it all here.

2020 Kona Sutra LTD Review

6. Ritchey Outback Review

The Ritchey Outback saw a complete redesign for 2020. Its updated geometry, more mounting options, and clearance for 650b x 2.0” tires had us immediately interested in getting our hands on one for a review—and it didn’t disappoint. The iconic Ritchey Logic steel tubing lived up to the hype, providing some of the smoothest gravel riding we’ve had, and the frame is kitted out with several aesthetically pleasing details that Ritchey lovers will appreciate. It was no surprise to see the Ritchey Outback included in our 2020 Gear of the Year awards as one of the top six bikes we tested in 2020. Find Miles’ full review here.

2020 Ritchey Outback V2 Review

7. Santa Cruz Tallboy Review

Even though drop-bar rigs seem to have taken the spotlight over the last couple of years, there’s still a lot of love for all-mountain beasts like the venerable Tallboy. This year, the 2020 Santa Cruz Tallboy was revamped with lower-link suspension, 120 millimeters of travel, and an interesting axle flip-chip that allows 10mm of chainstay adjustment and clearance for 29 x 2.6″ tires. We’ve put one to the test and compared it with the Ibis Ripley. Find the review here.

2020 Santa Cruz Tallboy Review

8. Miles’ Flat Bar Trek 520

Although we can’t know for sure, Miles’ Flat Bar Trek 520 might have briefly blown up the internet. What started as a fun winter bike project morphed into a flat bar conversion that tickled a lot of our readers’ fancy, leaving a new generation of Trek 520 lovers in its wake. Miles took Trek’s quintessential steel touring rig and added a 1×11 drivetrain, the biggest tires he could fit, and a classic bull moose handlebar to create one of the most comfortable commuter rigs he’s had. Find it here.

Trek 520 Flat Bar

9. 2020 Gear of the Year

Each year, we have a series of three awards posts to honor the products, people, and creative endeavors in our community. Despite the fact that it was only published a few weeks ago, our 2020 Gear of the Year post got a ton of traffic and quickly made it to this list. Find it here.

2020 Bikepacking Gear of the Year Awards

10. Shimano Deore 12-Speed Drivetrain Review

Announced back in the spring, the Shimano Deore 12-speed group brought the massive 510% 1x gear range of XTR/XT/SLX to a more affordable package. We had a chance to weigh the complete Deore group and install it on a new Surly Karate Monkey to see how it all works together. Since then, we put several hundred miles on our test group and it’s running smoothly, and it ultimately earned a spot in our Gear of the Year, too. Find the original post here.

Shimano Deore 1x12 Review

11. Local Overnighter Project

Although the Local Overnighter Project was launched in late 2019, it took on a life of its own in 2020. That comes as no surprise, given that most people were close to home during the pandemic and were encouraged to explore their own backyards. Throughout the year, we added more than 50 new overnighters to the database and have plans to add many more in 2021. Explore the map here.

Bikepacking Overnighters

12. New Bikes

Last up are our new bikes Dispatches. There were a lot of new bikes introduced in 2020. That’s great, considering they’re selling out in record times. Just in the New Bikes section of our Dispatch alone, we announced over 150 in 2020. The two that were the most popular for web traffic were the new Specialized Rockhopper and the Decathlon Riverside 920 Touring bike. You can see them all here.

New Bikepacking Bikes

Our Favorites

We’d also like to give a shout out to a couple of our favorite accomplishments of the year. The new routes page with the Bikepacking Collective Routes Fund means a lot to us. We were the first organization to create intentionally designed bikepacking routes and publish in-depth guides, and that continues to be the cornerstone of our work. We published over 60 routes in 2020, including the incredible Ruta Chingaza, San Jose del Pacifico Grand Dirt Tour, and VTXL, and we have many more in the works. In addition, we’re proud to have raised nearly $40,000 with our Routes Access Fund, which we’ll be implementing in 2021. Lastly, we’re pretty stoked about our new branding and graphics, with a few more surprises on the way. Happy New Year, everyone. We really appreciate you being a part of this community and supporting our efforts. We’ll see you in 2021!

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