The bike industry like many other trades is always trying to reinvent the wheel so to speak. Everyone has a road bike, sell them a gravel bike. You need a fat bike because it will soon be winter and we have a warehouse to clear. Now we can see them trying to move on from 160mm endurobro bikes and bring back the XC machine.
OK, my entire premise is made from one article on Bikeradar. Let us be honest though this is how we try to change perceptions, slowly blending the idea in, until you believe it was your own idea and you are back in the bike shop splurging the cash. I cannot escape from my own part in these shenanigans from my time working in bike shops and being behind marketing for other shops and bike brands, everyone has to make a living and as Bill Browder (and probably loads of others) said, you cannot be good and make money, it is one or the other. I will try and come back to that point later, probably next year.
Anyway, the language used in the Bikeradar article is interesting, particularly if you want to don a turtleneck and pretend that you a French poststructuralist from the 1970s or a pretentious philosophy student from any of the UK’s Russell Group universities. It is trying to shape your thinking and make you believe that you need new things, these new things will make you a better rider and they are more fun than the old things.
So we have the title “How XC bikes got their cool back”. There is nothing per se wrong with that, except you are really about to read an article on how great Specialized is and that the newest Epic is the greatest bike since forever.
“2009 Specialized Epic sporting 26-inch wheels, steeper/shorter geometry and narrow bars. On a demanding course this didn’t cut the mustard — the Epic was too nervous, unforgiving and simply not up to the task.” So old bikes were crap, and to be honest some were but you will still meet someone riding that style of geometry and they will blow through a field of guys on the new amazing modern low/slack geometry. I would also say wait a few years and bikes will go back to this geometry as a way to help you get better Strava times or something.
We are then told how amazing 29ers are and then that we all need 1x drivetrains. There again is nothing wrong with using a 29er or a 1x drivetrain, it is just the reinforcing that you need new ideas as they are so much better. Well, a 29er was obviously better if someone had a 26″ wheeled bike as they had to upgrade a whole bike, all your parts were now obsolete, great for the bike trade but not necessarily you.
“I can attest to how difficult those rock gardens really are when you’re at race pace. I’m also incredibly glad I never had to compete there on an ‘old school’ 26-inch bike” A nice little pointer that the 26″ wheel bike was terrible, you could never ride them over a rock garden. I must be confused because I do remember doing that and did it earlier on today, amazingly I did not die and according to Strava I did my third best time on that section and that put me in 11th place for that section and that was in snow and ice. I guess if I had 29er wheels I would have been in minus 5th place or something.
They finish their please buy a Specialized Epic piece by telling us that with a dropper post we now have a trail capable bike. See you were wrong in buying your neon endurobro shredtastic bounce machine, you can now go fast but with less travel, just remember and buy a dropper as you cannot possibly go and ride without one now, try and ride one in freezing winter conditions and then discover why sometimes a simple piece of bike componentry is better.
Now I am not saying that creating new technology is bad and we should all be Luddites but do we really need to keep trying to tell people that they need all new things to be faster? There is a secret to going faster on your bike and that is to get out there and ride, everything else mostly just empties your wallet. Is all that we want to do is to go fast on bikes? What about escaping into the countryside and seeing where you live and the wonderful things that surround you or you could just go to a trail centre and be one of the cool guys, bro.