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Matthew Loveridge's Gear of the Year 2021: Pinarello Dogma F, Dura-Ace, Canyon Grizl, heated gloves and a coffee grinder

29 Dec 2021

The kit and bikes that cheered me in the Second Year of Quarantine

Words: Matthew Loveridge

Oh what a circus! Oh what a show! The bike industry has gone to town. And by gone to town, I mean it’s run out of components. And bikes.

There were high points in 2021 however. I joined the lovely people at Cyclist to make great bicycle content, and despite the shortages, we got to play with some good stuff this year. 

It still feels like early days for me here (I’m a mere four months in…) but I’m thrilled to be on the team.

As I’m so new, I don’t have many personal content highlights, so instead I’d like to shout out some of my favourite pieces from the team.

I loved Robyn Davidson’s first-person account of the atmosphere in the Roubaix velodrome as Lizzie Deignan sealed her incredible win, and Emma Cole’s look at dotwatching was an enjoyable insight into a bizarre yet charming world.

Joe Robinson’s review of the year in pro cycling was a delight, while Will Strickson gets a gold star for running with our new In the Drops weekly round-up and including carefully curated playlists in his editions, which you can read here and here

Here are some of the bike and kit highlights that tickled my pickle in 2021. 

Pinarello Dogma F

Bike journalist picks £12,000 bike as highlight of the year. I know, right? 

Let’s get one thing straight – I would never in a million years spend twelve grand on a bike for myself. I’m just not built that way, I couldn’t justify it to myself even if the cash were just sitting around the house (it isn’t). 

At this price level value for money simply can’t be a consideration, because you’re so far into the realm of diminishing returns. 

All the same, the Pinarello Dogma F is one of the best, if not the very best race bike I’ve ever ridden, and I do think it’s truly special. 

I haven’t always ‘got’ Pinarellos. Early Dogmas weren’t all that light and sometimes struck me as wilfully different rather than clever. 

The Dogma F is the real deal, however. It’s a genuinely distinctive design and I think it looks fantastic. It’s also an extraordinary thing to ride. 

Push hard on the pedals and it is completely unyielding. All modern race bikes are stiff, but the Dogma F stands out all the same – it’s purposeful, thrilling, intoxicating even. 

Nobody needs a bike this expensive. But, and I hate myself for admitting this, damn it’s so good.

Shimano Dura-Ace R9200 groupset

Oh hey, it’s the groupset that was on that Dogma. God, I’m so predictable. 

Look, we knew Dura-Ace was going to be good, it would be shocking if it weren’t. And again, this is seriously expensive stuff, out of reach for most. 

But I think Shimano deserves praise for managing to improve on a groupset that was nearly perfect already. 

Dura-Ace R9100 was pretty hard to fault, but R9200’s front shifting is somehow even better. The way it fires the chain onto the big ring is extremely gratifying.

And of course there’s that whole semi-wireless thing and the extra sprocket at the back. 

Sensible people will, as ever, buy Ultegra but new Dura-Ace really is excellent.

I am a little sad that mechanical Dura-Ace is no more, however. There are lots of good arguments for electronics groupsets but when it came to pure mechanical jewellery, mechanical Dura-Ace always had its own appeal. 

With SRAM seemingly out of the game already, this leaves only Campagnolo flying the flag for un-powered premium groupsets.

Sealskinz Waterproof Heated Cycle Gloves

From the sublime, to the heated. Battery powered gloves are more orthopaedic than they are cool and roadie, but my stupid cold hands are immune to fashion considerations when the temperature drops. 

They’re not perfect, but these gloves are the best solution I’ve found so far for properly cold weather, and they allow far more dexterity than gigantic insulated mittens. 

The power level is easily adjusted on the go and battery life seems to live up to its claimed 5–6 hour runtime, although it very much depends on the setting.

I do wish you didn’t have to remove the batteries from their pouches every time you charged them and I wonder if one day the wires will fail as they are forced into some tight bends, but overall they’re excellent.

Oh, and if you’re in any doubt about your size, err on the larger side, as I’ve found I sometimes get a cold spot where my finger butts up against the inside of the glove’s finger. 

Canyon Grizl gravel bike

2021 was the year Canyon launched its follow-up to the polarising biplane-barred Grail – a more socially acceptable carbon gravel bike called the Grizl. 

Looking like an Endurace CF that got stacked, the Grizl has big clearances and reasonably progressive geometry, with a nice long top tube and short stem combo that helps with good manners off-road. 

It’s ultra comfortable, good looking, and it comes in a good choice of specs at decent if not exceptional prices.

The Grizl isn’t exactly a radical bike, but it just works so well and my time riding it around my local trails in the Forest of Dean was a real highlight for 2021.

I don’t agree with Canyon’s sizing recommendations – the brand would put me on a small and I much prefer the medium – and I wish it had mounts for standard mudguards (fenders) rather than proprietary ones, but it’s a fantastic all-rounder.

In October, Canyon launched the aluminium Grizl AL. We haven’t had the chance to try it yet, but as a big fan of the Grail AL, I’m pretty confident it’s going to be good too. 

Melitta Molino coffee grinder

2021 was also the year I became one of Those People. For so long I swore I was happy with my pre-ground supermarket coffee, but deep down I guess I knew my life was a lie.

So I bought a coffee grinder.

Because I’m a boring man in my thirties with an internet connection, I usually spend months researching dumb purchases like this, combing through forums populated by similarly troubled individuals so I can curate strong opinions about a topic I actually know nothing about.

This time I couldn’t be bothered so I just bought the same one my friend uses, and it’s totally fine.

That’s it, that’s the story. 

Freshly ground coffee smells really good and comes with a side order of smug self-satisfaction.

I’d struggle to argue it’s objectively better, but I’m enjoying it, and the grinder wasn’t terribly expensive. 

It did scare my dog witless the first few times I used it, but treats and reassurance have solved this. Unfortunately I may have gone too far, as she now expects largesse every time I turn the thing on, a true Pavlovian response.

That’s all from me, thanks very much for reading Cyclist and please do join me in 2022 for more bicycle goodness. Oh, and follow me on Instagram if you don't already, it's the responsible thing to do.

Riding shots: Joseph Branston