While the mountain bike YouTube boom is strong right now, shining light on the everyday mountain biker, not everyone is happy with it.
Professional mountain biker, World Cup and 4x World Champion, and Mountain Bike Hall of Famer Brian Lopes took to Twitter to vent his frustrations about the new era of sponsored mountain bikers.
“So if I can nicely edit a video talking 2 an audience of cyclist who R looking for knowledge, yet I have no credentials or skills, in fact I’ll even show U w/ my crap riding, im worthy of sponsorship, free product, a retainer? Don’t B fooled by “YouTubers” people. Most R hacks.”
Lopes didn’t seem to hold back any words to voice his frustration, saying that YouTubers may be crappy riders looking for a deal in the mountain bike industry.
Professional mountain bike “YouTubers” have become highly visible within the industry, with most brands investing money into the platform in one way or another, whether it’s with edits showing sponsored athletes, marketing, product placements, or supporting vloggers. Lopes seems like he is mostly taking aim at vloggers.
YouTube channels like Seth’s Bike Hacks, BKXC, and Skills with Phil have taken off exponentially in the past few years. Combined, their subscriber base is in the millions and they are attracting views from hordes of mountain bikers who are interested in what the professional vloggers have to say on their channels.
“Key word is ‘audience.’ Sponsors want eyeballs, that’s it,” replied one follower. Lopes insisted that the best racers out there are the ones that should matter.
“Wrong… let me give U 1 example. That bike you’re riding is most likely developed with much input from top racers feedback & testing. Knowledge, experience, & limits that most will never have.”
While Lopes didn’t name anyone specifically, Skills with Phil creator Phil Kmetz caught wind and defended his craft on Instagram. Kmetz has about 350,000 YouTube followers and posts videos showing everything from how-to videos to experimental scenarios, like taking a Wal-Mart bike down a downhill trail. Kmetz also used to be a professional downhill racer.
“@brianlopes let’s talk about your tweet calling most YouTubers hacks,” he said on Instagram. “NOTE TO MY FOLLOWERS PLEASE DO NOT ATTACK HIM IN THE COMMENTS OR ON HIS ACCOUNT, let’s keep it civilized.” Kmetz then went on to compliment Lopes.
“Why do YouTubers get sponsored? It’s simple, they are able to reach a large audience,” said Kmetz. “For a business, it makes sense partner with a content creator to help promote their products. It’s the same reason businesses buy ad-space on websites or magazines. However these YouTubers are often more relatable to average consumers than most professionals.”
Kmetz added that pro riders are still a vital component to the industry and bring credibility and inspire others. However, vloggers also have something important to offer that resonates with consumers and that’s why brands sponsor them.
Lopes has had one of the most long-standing, and winningest competitive careers out of any mountain bike athlete, but at 50-years-old, he doesn’t compete at the level he used to. Now, according to his website he maintains product development and brand ambassador roles, generating awareness and producing relevant media content for sponsors.