The bike industry is a littered mess right now, with a grip-load of stan- dards that have come about in the
past few years. Riders, retailers and manufacturers are all up in arms about it. When
a high-end bike was sold a decade ago, the
expectation was that the machine would
be at the top of the heap for at least a
year and then would easily last a few more
seasons until it would finally be retired.
Even then, most riders would cherry-pick
the Chris King headset they paid through
the nose for and install it on their new bike,
because God only knows, those things last
forever. Times have changed. Wheel sizes,
bottom bracket styles, axle configurations
and tire widths are all over the board now. I
suppose it’s a benefit to the rider, because
if you have a specific need—whether
it’s blitzing downhill on an 8-inch-travel
machine or trekking across the Arctic tundra on a fat bike—“the industry” has you
covered. It’s to the benefit of the rider to
have all the choices that we have now, and
we’re the ones who brought this train into
the station. What I’m so confused about
is, why the heck is everyone so up in arms
about it now that it’s here?
The Times Are Changin’, and
It’s Not the Industry’s Fault
It used to be that John Tomac would
race the cross-country national and the
downhill national on the same bike and be
very competitive—if not win both of them in
the same weekend. Now, bikes are so specific to their intended use that you can’t so
much as use the same bike for two different
courses—but let’s get back on track here.
I’ve heard the argument time and time
again from both retailers and riders that
bike companies are trying to pump new
bikes down our throats in the name of profit.
Sorry to say, but that’s flat-out wrong. If you
ask a manufacturer why they replaced their
26-inch bikes with the 27.5-inch version, it
certainly was not with the sole purpose of
making their perfectly viable 26-inch version
obsolete in the name of profits. Instead,
bike companies were saddled with loads
of 26-inch bikes built two years ago and
nobody wanted them. Go ahead and look it
up. Twenty-six-inch “superbikes” that are
still very current are selling for less than half
of the original price, because people simply
don’t want them. Bike companies aren’t
trying to slit your throat and take your wallet.
Instead, they’re trying to supply the bikes
that the rider is demanding now.
End of story.
You’ll notice that a large portion of this
issue is dedicated to the changing standards
in the industry, and that’s by design. This is
a golden age to be a mountain biker, whether you’re just getting into it and reaping the
benefits of trickle-down technology or riding
the top-of-the-heap $10,000 race bikes. If
you’re still into shredding a 26-inch hardtail
on your local trails, I’ll still be more than
happy to ride side by side with you any time.
In fact I still have a couple good friends in
Salida, Colorado, who occasionally punish
me on their 15-year-old Ted Wojcik hardtails
when we ride together. However, if you’re
planning to buy a new bike in the near
future, you had better get used to these new
standards. Rest assured you’ll end up with a
better bike by embracing the changes.
We here at Mountain Bike Action test the
latest and greatest bikes on the planet. We
call it like it is when we find new technology
that’s bogus and doesn’t work, or is merely
“vaporware” prototype stuff that will never
be used on the trails. The stuff you’ll find in
this issue is that which we as a group truly
believe is shaping the mountain bike world.
Hope you enjoy. ❏
BY MIKE WIRTH