Last December, 27 testers gathered for the annual Outside Magazine Bike Test, in which we select the rising crop of the coming year’s bikes and ride the bejeezus out of them to determine which are the most promising. It’s how we pick the two Gear of the Year–winning rides and the overall favorite road and mountain bikes that will be announced early next spring in the 2017 Buyer’s Guide.
I initiated the test for Outside in 2005, and I’ve run it nine times since then. This was probably our smoothest, partly because Sedona, Arizona, where we tested for the second consecutive year, might be one of the easiest places in the country to ride. (And partly thanks to the killer support from bike shop Over the Edge Sedona.) The density of high-quality trails and roads allows us to huddle up testers and bikes in an Airbnb and crank out laps all day long. Testers fill out a review form with comments for every bike they ride following each lap.
This year, I showed up a bit early, both to scout some new terrain and get in a few more test loops. I rode the most of anyone: nine days, 309 miles, 28 hours and eight minutes, 30,940 feet of elevation, and a total of 48 bikes. I did more extensive testing on the other bikes we had in the months prior to the event. (And the 11 women’s bikes don’t fit me.)
Officially, however, the bike test is only six days long. Based on my calculations, the following is what the total numbers looked like.