Boost spacing on hubs, forks, and frames.
27.5 (or 29) plus.
Electronic shifting and suspension.
Visit any mountain bike website–including ours–and you’ll see articles about new products or standards that claim to be “game-changing” or “the next big thing.” The pace of so-called “innovation” seems to really have ramped up in the past few years. Product cycles last a year, if that. 2016 products get launched in the first quarter of 2015. I’d hate to be a shop owner right now.
While it’s fun to read about the latest and greatest bikes, components, and gear, the sheer volume of information can be a lot to digest.
Each post on a new product brings out the armchair engineers claiming that it will be either the best or worst thing to happen to mountain biking. Inevitably, there is griping about the cost of the product. And generally, this is before anyone has had the chance to try the product in question.
With so many new products and so much information available, one can easily be led to analysis paralysis. Should you pull the trigger on that new fork you’ve been saving for when the next model is just months away and will be so much better than the current offering? Having all these options can be a blessing and a curse.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the material side of mountain biking. A buddy shows up to the ride on a new Nomad with all the latest wunder-bits. His bike has 6″ of travel and weighs 25 pounds. Twenty-five pounds! “That’s lighter than my hard tail,” you think. Suddenly, your bike seems inadequate, inferior. But is it, though?
While it may be nice to have the newest and best components, if you don’t have them, does it really affect your enjoyment of riding? Really think about that. Why do you ride in the first place? Is it to be a model in the mountain bike fashion show, or to act like a big kid playing in the dirt?
I’m fortunate to have a good group of riding friends that keep me grounded. There’s a wide range of ages (20s to 60s), abilities (XC to DH), and equipment (hardtails and full suspensions in all wheel sizes and travel brackets). There is definitely some good-natured ribbing and teasing that takes place, but it typically revolves around the condition of our bikes, rather than our choice of equipment. Show up with a clapped-out fork and a wobbly wheel and we’ll ask how you even ride that thing. Drivetrain sounding crunchy? We’ll heckle you about your mechanical skills–or lack thereof.
Once we’re out on the trail, though, it’s our legs that do the talking. Pushing the pace, smoking the group on a climb, or cleaning that technical section where everyone else dabbed is what gets you respect. Not the bike you showed up to the ride on.
Don’t let the never-ending stream of new products get you down. Your bike isn’t going to be obsolete, at least not anytime in the near future. Factories are still churning out 26″ tires, although maybe not in the latest tread pattern. But that’s ok. You can still buy tires that took racers to World Cup podiums in years past. Forks for 26″ wheels are getting slightly harder to come by, but you can snag a sweet deal on a closeout or used one. Why not stock up for the next few years and get two? 10-speed cassettes are still readily available. 9-speed cassettes are still readily available. Hell, you can even find eight speed cassettes without too much trouble.
If you find yourself getting irritated by all the mountain bike news, here’s an idea: instead of taking your anger out on your keyboard, turn off your computer and go for a ride. And if you really want to give a big middle finger to the bike industry, ride your current bike until the wheels fall off. Well, don’t let it go that long, but you know what I mean. Want to give two big middle fingers to the industry? Ride a rigid singlespeed, just so long as it’s a 26er. That’ll show ’em.
Your turn: What’s your opinion? Do you “need” to have the latest and greatest components, or are you totally satisfied with your current steed?