The Top 10 People, Places, & Things That Inspired Us In 2022

December 31, 2022

barry lachapelle
barry lachapelle

In many ways, 2022 feels like a watershed year for our little site. So much has happened—we built a team of writers and contributors who have changed how we operate by continuously putting out fantastic stories and reviews. Readership has grown and it is starting to feel like we have slowly become a member of a warm, fuzzy community. A huge thanks to everyone who has made it all possible. Onto the list…

In a plague of unending year-end top-ten lists, we wondered how ours could stand out. We considered the obvious paths of top gear we used this year or our favorite bikes but that just wasn't cutting it. That all felt like the spam that continuously gets regurgitated by so many other sites. Thus, our year-end top-ten list focuses on inspiration. Throughout 2022, we have had the opportunity to meet and be inspired by so many people that make up the adventure and mountain biking communities and we would like to take a second to showcase them. This list is pretty open-ended in its construct: it includes people and products that either surprised us or somehow made us think differently.

Happy new year everyone! From Barry and the team at Bike Gear Database!

Corvid Cycles: Our Favorite Indie Builder

Corvid Cycles from Colorado had our interest way before we approached founder Chad Corbin to request an interview. Corvid’s titanium bikes feel less like simple adventure bicycles and more like works of art. What truly inspired us about talking to Chad was his career arc and how he became a bike builder. At the start of his career, Chad was an established computer engineer who then pivoted into frame building. He started from scratch at frame building school which led to a fantastic gig at Dean and Merlin bikes and ultimately his business Corvid Cycles. This could not have been an easy adjustment for Chad and the people around him; these reinvention stories always capture my imagination.

Read the interview here.

Austere Manufacturing: Next-Level Craftsmanship

Like Corvid above, talking to Austere Manufacturing founder Uriel Eisen felt like an absolute privilege. In today's world of bigger, better, faster, and cheaper it takes guts to do one thing and do it at a level that is hard to rival. Austere’s cam straps are just that—hard to rival. They make you stop and look at them. The appreciation is in the details of Uriel's straps; you can smell the craftsmanship off of them (maybe that's CNC fluid?). During my time in Japan, I was exposed to many makers of this level: people who could reimagine the smallest detail into a work of art and build a sustainable business around it. It is rare to find this level of craftsmanship and thoughtfulness outside of Japan. When I come across it, I pay attention. 

Read the interview here.

Todd Nisbet: Most Original Rider

The instant I found Todd Nesbit’s Instagram feed (aka Concrete Trails) I knew I had discovered something different. Or should I say, someone different? Being an avid all-terrain cyclist my whole life, I have come across a lot of people and it's undeniable that there are many characteristics in common among the community. I spell it out quite plainly in our interview with Todd. It doesn’t take much observation to notice that bikepacking videos star the same guy. You know him: bearded, loves coffee and slow-motion shots, and probably hangs out in the mountains. Todd challenges all of that. For the past 8 years, Todd has been bikepacking New York City (and now much further) in a fashion only he can own. He bucks the trends and pretty much every bikepacking stereotype out there. I’m not sure how to explain it fully, but man, it's fresh. 

Read the interview here.

Neuhaus Metalworks: Additive Innovation

Nick Neuhaus’s bikes caught our attention early last year. We instantly fell in love with his two sleek hardtails, the Hummingbird and the Solstice. However, it was only once we started talking to Nick did we understand how much was happening with his builds. Somehow, we missed the additive manufacturing techniques that Nick incorporates into his frames. Both models of Neuhaus bikes have printed titanium yokes that are simply put, out of this world. The idea of additive manufacturing may put off some of the purists out there, but to those people, we say, “whatever, get over yourself”. Nick’s bikes are solid and somehow timeless in their design no matter how much innovation is being applied.

Read the interview here.

Horse Mountain Moto: An E-Bike Surprise

Ugh, e-bikes.... am I right? No matter how you slice it, e-bikes are polarizing. The purist in me that bikes for distance want to hate them. However, when I see someone flying uphill to a mountain gravity park, I stop and think, “man, that looks alright”. It turns out I’m even polarized depending on the type of cycling I am doing. I was even more confused when I came across the Moutain Moto by Horse Cycles on Fuck Yeah Hardtail. Here is a sexy, steel mountain bike with an electric assist. It was the first time an e-bike called to me, let alone captured my attention. Talking to Horse founder, Thomas Callahan about how he designed the Mountain Moto I could feel my hard stance on e-bikes waiver and I daresay, I even became interested. I started daydreaming about what it would be like to e-bike through an ultra-long bikepack trip. I guess it's as fun as you would think.

Read the spotlight here.

Dispersed Bikepacking: Sustainable Manufacturing

I honestly believe there’s a story everywhere and in everything. And in regards to Dispersed Bikepacking, there are stories in stories. Dispersed is the bag-making pseudonym for single-speed endurance bike stars Andrew and Katie Strempke. Andrew and Katie make their bags from their van between racing events. This opened up a lot of questions for me about how that was possible and what I found out blew me away. Dispersed bags are made 100% from solar power! So much about Andrew and Katie's story inspires me but I don't want to ruin it. Go read it. 

Read the interview here.

Our First Overnighter

This summer my 7-year-old boy Huxley and I went on his first overnighter to a campground just outside of our city limits. Doing things with children forces you to slow down and revisit why you love something. This trip was the first time I had to plan out a route, gear, and food for someone more than myself. The experience taught me a lot about being a bikepacker and a father. I will never forget it.

Read the story here.

Aenomaly Constructs: Changing How We Ride

Out of all the products we tested this year few challenged existing cycling paradigms like the SwitchGrade from Vancouver-based Aenomaly Constructs. At its core, the SwitchGrade is a hunk of well-crafted alloy that allows riders to adjust saddle tilt. It was originally conceived for mountain bikers who spend all day going up and down mountains where the use of the SwitchGrade seems pretty obvious (and much needed). We, however, used a bit of a different lens and looked at the SwitchGrade as an adventure cycling accessory. Our key assumption was that adjusting rider position would help any bikepacker or endurance cyclist hit those hard dusty miles. Our assumption was right and the SwitchGrade still hasn't left our bikepacking rig's seat post.

Read the review here.

Vintage Biker: 90s Classic Rad

Cycling isn't known for its nostalgia. Sure, some races and riders have found their spots in history but I refer more to the bikes themselves. The media machine of the industry constantly pushes the latest and greatest and it takes a different mindset to find appreciation in the old. That’s why I reached out to Ben of Vintage Biker headquartered just outside of Amsterdam to do an interview. I needed to know what made him tick, how he started, and where on earth he finds all his parts! The process of talking to Ben was like opening up a glossy magazine from the 90s—a walk down memory lane. But also, I was inspired by Ben himself and how he found his path into building his wonderful 90s mountain rigs.

Read the interview here.

Mini Bikes From Japan

Having spent almost 7 years of my life in Tokyo, I am never really surprised at how good something can be when a Japanese person dedicates themselves to going ultra-deep on something. Haniwaya-san is a middle-aged man who wishes to remain anonymous and has gathered an incredible following building his minibikes. In our interview with Haniwaya-san we spoke about his process for choosing a bike, then modeling, and printing them. This is some amazing, beautiful stuff.

Read the interview here.