Editor’s Note: “Over a Beer” is a regular column written by Greg Heil. While Greg is the Editor in Chief for Singletracks.com, any opinions expressed in this column are his alone and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Singletracks.com.

To many, mountain biking is about having fun and enjoying the great outdoors in a healthy way. There are many different sub-sets of mountain biking and many different reasons why people ride, but I think the very core of why we choose to ride is because we enjoy it and it makes our lives better.

If mountain biking is all about having fun, why are mountain biking forums and websites full of some of the most hateful people around?

Ok, that’s a gross generalization, and we have plenty of amazing folks in the Singletracks community–on our forums, commenting on our articles, and even on Facebook (gasp!). But you don’t have to go far before you encounter vitriol and hate. I’d give you an example, but if you’ve been reading MTB articles online for more than about two days, you know what I’m talking about.

For years, this bothered me, and I couldn’t wrap my head around it: why is there so much hate in a sport that’s about having fun? But recently, I had this realization:

The apparent hate could spring from the incredible amount of passion that mountain bikers have for their sport.

You could deride this conclusion and instead say I’m delusional and looking at the world through rose-colored glasses, and maybe you’re not entirely wrong. But I’d prefer to think that the reason there are flame wars and showdowns in mountain bike comments sections across the internet is that riders are passionate about their type of riding, their idea of what mountain biking is, and they’re willing to defend it with everything that they have.

The ebike riders want places to ride their ebikes, so they defend their use of a motor with a vengeance. The mountain bikers don’t want to lose access to the trails where they ride their human-powered mountain bikes, so they attack ebikers with a vengeance. And on and on it goes.

I’m not saying that they’re right in doing so. I think we all routinely need to take a deep breath, chill out, enjoy the ride, and drink deeply of life. But the passion is still there.

This passionate debate crops up with the Wilderness issue, Strava, and different types of trail building. It even applies to criticizing someone’s choice of bike, because you love your bike and don’t want to see 26” wheels discontinued (although I think criticizing someone’s gear is particularly asinine).

I love the passion that mountain bikers have for this sport of ours. It’s way better than the alternative! But please: let’s take a deep breath, and when we engage with other riders, respect that they are just as passionate as we are. Maybe more so.

# Comments

  • Plusbike Nerd

    26″, 27.5″, 29″. It’s all good! Narrow, Plus, Fat. It’s all good! Rigid, Hardtail, Full-suspension. It’s all good! XC Race, Bikepack, Trail, Enduro, Downhill, Trials, Road, BMX. It’s all good! Human-powered. It’s all good! E-bikes, Motorized. HELL NO!!!!

    • Lee Lau

      Agreed. To the extent ebikes (or something else) impairs trail access then nope

    • Greg Heil

      Nope she’s still kicking it!! Review of a wheelset on the GT should be published soon…

  • Dirtchacer

    Fantastic articles, what is get for one might not be best for another.
    I used to play simi-professional soccer in my late teens and early 20s. I never argue about footwear because the shoes fit everyone differently. My spouse picked her bike because it inspired confidence in her ability. I did not pick the bike, she did. I am not riding it, she is. It is wonderful to see her enjoy the rides and for her to become more confident and challenge herself.
    Promote, protect and enjoy.

  • Bill Pitts

    What are you guys going to say to the old mountain biker who discovers one day that his tired body can’t spin the pedals anymore without some sort of assistance? Are you going to curse him soundly and fight to keep him off the trails that he loves if he shows up with an e bike? Remember, this could possibly be the future for all of us as we age beyond a certain point. Will YOU stop riding then and refuse to consider this alternative?

    Greg, didn’t Singletracks run an article a while back about a group of 70 and 80 year olds who ride e bikes together?

  • Bill Pitts

    Found it! Seems only one of them was mentioned as riding an e bike, BUT he is still riding. And isn’t that the most important take home here?

    Shredding with Father Time and The Gerries
    By Maureen Gaffney
    Updated February 1, 2016

    • Lee Lau

      Bill. If the ebike use doesn’t jeopardize trail access then sure… go for it. If it jeopardizes trail access then perhaps the ebike use should be reconsidered

  • mrfallover

    Ebikes are just a little faster than bipeds. I don’t see the big deal. I ride mine and no one cares.

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