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Our Favorite Gear Stories of 2021

'Tis the season to nerd out

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One of the establishing principals of Beta’s gear coverage is to always try and dig deep. To look at the stories behind the bikes we ride or, in some cases, the bikes we used to ride. So, because this time of year puts us all in a mood to look back, and totally not because we’re all taking the week off, we piled up some of our favorite gear stories of 2021 and dropped them here for you to read if you’re taking the week off.

The Long Game:

200-millimeter dropper posts have been slow to arrive. Why the delay?


Soon after Fox finally offered their first 200mm post, we figured it’d be good time to ask what’s so hard about it. After talking to Fox, OneUp, PNW, RockShox, 9point8, and Bontrager, we learned that it’s sometimes easier to redesign a post from the ground up than to stretch an existing one, which is exactly what most of these brands did. But it wasn’t worth it until the bikes could actually fit them.

In The Stand: A History Lesson on the Elastomer-Sprung 1996 GT LTS

We look, but we don’t touch.

Our In The Stand videos started as a how-to series, but the stories behind the bikes we were fixing were far more interesting than just how to fix them. The 43-year-old south Orange County, California, bike shop, Buy My Bikes, sees a constant influx of still-running bikes from our sport’s recent past. Few were more surprising to see still running than this entry-level GT LTS. Somehow, its elastomer rear shock hadn’t melted or turned to beeswax, but we decided to admire it for what it is and not try and fix a thing.

Higher Education: How to Set Up Your Cockpit

Custom tailor your bike to fit like a glove.

We didn’t abandon education entirely. Our Higher Education series is a way to break down some of the more subtly complicated aspects of mountain biking. In this installment, we think deep thoughts about important things like the backsweep and upsweep of our handlebars, and the angle of our brake levers and saddles.

A Trademark Battle is Raging Over the Word “Mullet”

Mullet Cycles has held a shaky ownership of the term, but may not for long.

Mixed-wheel bikes have become commonly known, in the parlance of our times, as ‘mullet bikes.’ But we noticed that very few of the major brands that released mixed-wheel bikes this year were using the popular term. We hoped that maybe we grew up as an industry, and ceased to use an outdated joke term to describe a legitimate trend in bike design. But one brand hinted it may be because of cease and desist orders that were being sent out by a brand that has been fighting to take the name ‘mullet’ as its own. We interview Mullet’s founder and dig through court proceedings for this especially nerdy story.

Inside Rocky Mountain’s Unique Powerplay E-Bike Motors

Rocky Mountain has taken a very different approach to its e-bikes, a philosophy made possible by the fact that they make their own power unit.