Better MTB Media

The Industry Speaks

Words by Cam McRae and Seb Kemp. Photos by . Video by . Posted by
January 28th, 2015

We hear about it right away. Pissing off our audience produces instantaneous results. We get it on social media and down below in the comments, and even at the local bike shop. We learn, often the hard way, what won’t go over well. Sometimes we say screw it, and push forward regardless when we believe in something, and then bend over for the beating.

It can be tougher to know when we’ve nailed it. Our species is great at complaining but pretty pathetic about praise. So we can look at traffic numbers and sift through a smaller number of positive comments, but the feedback we get about what we do well is generally less specific, and certainly less colourful, than what we hear about what we are doing wrong. And we are serious about doing a better job in every aspect of our publication, so feedback is essential.

Seb Kemp started this project a few years ago by compiling comments from people we respect in the bike industry. He asked them a simple question: What can the mountain bike media do better? We updated most responses, but some were just as relevant today so we let them stand.

Here’s what we got.
(Commentary below the responses is divided between Seb Kemp (SK) and myself (CM) and the headings are mine as well.

Don’t Mail It In

“No more regurgitating press releases. Say I’m reading an article about one of our bikes, and thinking “oh that sounds pretty good, actually sounds familiar…” I go to our website, and realize “I wrote that!” It’s almost plagiarism. That’s not what readers are looking for.”

Gabe Fox, Devinci marketing man.

It happens. Anyone with a sharp eye can see it happens. Not often but there are outlets and reviewers who don’t take their job very seriously or just don’t have the balls or brains to say any different. Companies and brands don’t like seeing reviews like this any more than readers. Guilty parties aren’t always invited back to the dance by companies. SK

Respect The Art

“I think the art of storytelling is dying, as far as the written word is concerned. That is by no means confined to the bike industry and related media, and is more of a general cultural shift with ramifications probably greater than the invention of the printing press. So I can’t really point the finger and get preachy about the caliber of writing when it is A) less compelling than photo or video as a means of expressing an action sport’s identity, and B) a form of communication undergoing huge evolutionary change brought about by radically evolving technology. And in the context of mountain biking, c) Pretty poorly compensated in general. We get what we pay for…”

Mike Ferrentino – Random Juggernaut, Bike Magazine

A master wordsmith and big thinker, you’d imagine Mike Ferrentino would be among the highest paid gents in the Bike indsustry. And yet for some reason words are cheap in our society. And as the cultural shift Mike is talking about gains steam, the problem is likely to get worse. CM

 Get Your Shit Together

  1. Work in media outside the bike industry for awhile
  2. Shut off the fucking comments section on your website (when that is the main draw, you’re doing it wrong)
  3. Email marketing/PR people for non-technical information
  4. Send questions a few days (or more than 3 hours) before you need answers if you expect quality
  5. Stop re-hashing the same shit over and over again. We know you discovered MTB in the nineties – nobody cares.
  6. Get a technical clue. If you can’t prove it, or explain it yourself – stop parroting technical claims

Joe Graney, COO, Santa Cruz Bicycles

I was contacting Joe about another matter today and realized that he’d be a great addition to this piece. Yep – 3 hours before I needed it. Thanks for getting ‘er done (with quality) Joe! CM

Hey Look! A Squirrel! (Parts 1-3)

“I just feel like we need more outlets to hone their craft, control the message and curate the content. I get it… The rider getting hit by the antelope is “super” and the year end shreddit isn’t bad, but that should be reserved for the social feed… Focus and have some control.”

Tyler Morland – SRAM Marketing Manager

“While it is great to have the immediate race results and quick news bursts that digital media provides nowadays, I’d like to see in-depth articles mixed in more often. These types of articles are becoming less common and we are losing some of the intimacy we have with mountain biking. Whether it’s the technical break down of a product, a thorough product comparison, an athlete profile or an epic bike trip, the occasional article with more photos and a richer storyline would be a great enhancement to the typical quick hits.”

Mark Jordan, Fox Shox Communication manager and former Decline Magazine editor.

Quite frankly it might not be the media’s fault and may be the reader’s fault instead. Statistics indicate that production value is rarely a factor in the success of a post or piece of content. Breaking news, a blurry spy shot or shaky crash video from a phone is likely to get more eyeballs than a soul-revealing interview with a pro rider or the most epicly-produced riding edit. Depth and passion in content doesn’t guarantee views, which can be tough to swallow. It used to keep me up at night because content I believed in, worked hardest on and felt was most important to the community didn’t perform like a pro fat bike check. That would make me wonder why it was worth even trying.

I’ve finally come to realize, however, that this is nothing new. It’s been like that in TV, movies and publishing for years. I’ve noticed that my web-browsing habits outside of MTB reflect this too. I want to digest most things I see quickly or be completely blown away by a concept or idea (like NSMB’s music videos…pure gold!). For that reason, I don’t think every piece of content needs a high production value to be high quality. Sometimes the idea is more important than the execution. For instance, a Vital G-Out Project isn’t even close to high-production, but it’s fun, entertaining and possibly more relevant to most gravity riders than an exotic-location-riding-video filmed with $100k in camera gear and a helicopter rental.

Shawn Spomer, VitalMTB Head Honcho.

Why slave for crafted beauty when it is worth nothing? Work of worth can be overlooked, especially in the age of the internet where something is here one moment and pushed off the bottom of the screen the next.

The internet has changed everything. It is the greatest change in communications since…well, some say since the printing press but I think it has perhaps changed even more profoundly than that. Information used to be pre-packaged, filtered by an editor and given to people in pre-determined, timely amounts. But now news ‘bursts’ compete with constant, unfiltered and unedited information.

We are still getting to grips with how the internet works and how we can make it work for us. In the space of little over a decade our world has been altered immeasurably. We are in the very early stages of understanding, perhaps infancy or perhaps honeymoon. Either way, we are trying everything at the moment in the hope something will stick. But perhaps what happens is we chase our tails about the room. SK

Find The Balance

“I guess the short answer is ‘find the balance between information and credibility’. Don’t overwhelm readers with excessive product reviews and technical details, but rather connect with them through insightful observations that validate your understanding as a partner in the shared experience that is mountain biking. Increase the value of your opinions by building credibility and respect with your readers in all areas that touch mountain biking – products, brands, people, places, food, etc. Be a source of knowledge and experience, not a clearinghouse for generic or questionable ‘content’.”

Matt Robertson – Shimano MTB Product Manager

Words of wisdom right there. CM

Make It Real People (Parts 1 and 2)

“I’d like to see more focus on the humanization of bikes. Also to see people make content that is more engaging, not just flash and glitz.”

Darcy Turrenne, Norco factory pilot and film maker of growing reputation.

But at least mountain bike media isn’t as bad as motocross. Talk about a lifestyle sport bereft of any emotional connection. SK

“I’d like to see the media portray the kind of riding that 90% of riders do. For most people what they do isn’t big mountain, slopestye, dirt jumping, and racing. It is going out on a ride, either on their local trails or adventuring to new ones, riding with friends or just getting out for a quick ride, perhaps backcountry riding. That is what we all do and enjoy, so cover that instead.” –

Pete Stace-Smith, Semi-retired Norco marketing maestro.

Pete has a point. Perhaps the spectacle and marvel of the big names overshadows the common man and the common themes in mountain biking. However, sometimes it takes remarkable images to get even a moderate reaction out of people. Perhaps what has happened is that some people within the industry or the media have lost sight of what happens for the everyday man on the everyday trails. SK

Speaking of every day riders, now we’d like to hear from you (we haven’t turned the comments off). Tell us what you think we could do better ( specifically or all of us who produce content about MTB), and if you have any energy left, feel free to let us know what, if anything, you think we’re doing right. CM

  • Bagheera

    There’s a point in what the guy from “VitalMTB” says, and then again, there isn’t. If you (and of course, your advertisers) judge success only by the number of views/retweets/likes, then yes, a big crash or spyshot will be more “successful”. But what about the impact a carefully written piece has? There are a few articles I have saved on my computer that I still read occasionally, some of them almost ten years old. Others are still quoted (sometimes without remembering the exact source) or remembered fondly during some bike ride or other. As I still quote Steve Peat in “Seasons” and Tony Rominger from some long forgotten interview (plus something from an nsmb article, I think) everytime I ride in the rain and/or cold. All of those pieces were neither about the latest greatest gear nor about huge gaps, but usually just about “Getting out there” and/or people liviing/riding in a way I could relate to. Recovery from injuries, in-depth pro interviews, all in all just well-told stories. Also, what brings me back to nsmb (apart from the forum) are not news (you often lag behind a little) or tales about the latest carbon wheels, but well-crafted pieces. There seemed to be a decline, but they seem to be appearing more frequently in recent times.

    Long story short, Impact and/or success can’t be measured in clicks, retweets or likes. Hell, there’s a ghost story that has haunted me for more than twenty years, and I can’t find anything about that author, no other books, nada. So he wasn’t successful. But his story was important to me, and as an author, I’d want to have an impact, not just sell (yeah, I know one has to live).

    • Kerry Williams

      Right on the money Bagheera. If we’re looking for quality, we don’t find it by measuring the quantity. Thank you Seb, Cam and NSMB in general, for trying to bring us the quality before the quantity. There is a balancing act in all of this. There are no rules here to follow other than hope what you feel is important will be important to others and therefore, the people will keep coming to have a look.

    • Mammal

      I fully agree. It comes down to how you judge successful content.

      Eye candy and short attention span theater will bring in more clicks on the short term, but adding in periodic thoughtful and deeply engaging content will bring the reader back more frequently. Or at least cause the readers who appreciate that type of content to browse more carefully and sample more often.

      Some of the best written content I’ve experienced of late is from Riley Macintosh’s Character pieces. I have those bookmarked and re-read them. Probably long after the click-tallies have been taken. I go back more frequently to the sites I feel will provide deeper content. Vital is certainly low on my list lately, for this exact reason.

    • Paul Lindsay

      Spot on Bagheera, the quality of the content on NSMB brings me back daily. Well written, entertaining and knowledgeable writing by people I’d happily have a beer with, who like riding bikes for the same reasons I do.

      Joe Graney’s comments are on it too!

      “Impact and/or success can’t be measured in clicks, retweets or likes” – Agreed…I know a number of people who read NSMB frequently, few of them are on twitter, not all are on Facebook, but they are all of an age when they can spend a lot of money on bikes.

  • pudding

    I always have 3 tabs open in my browser from day to day: Pinkbike, VitalMTB, and NSMB. I go to Pinkbike for news updates, new edits, and things of that nature. VitalMTB has Teamrumors, the best DH World cup and EWS content (slideshows), and the occasional review. NSMB has the articles I actually read from start to finish. Opinion pieces I actually care to read, and reviews that actually feel more genuine. I also enjoy the weekend warmup videos, more so than pinkbikes movies for your monday, mainly because I get bored of watching generic edits all the time and weekend warmup rarely has those types of edits. A lot of the time if there is a video that I want to watch and it is on all 3 websites, I will go to NSMB to watch it. All three websites have their strong points, and all 3 are worth me taking a look at every day. I don’t read newspapers or watch the news, but I enjoy immersing myself in MTB content every morning before work. Thanks for your continued efforts to bring the best articles you can to the front page.

    • Badonde

      I can’t agree with this more. Vital used to be really high on my list for the content that required a commitment of time and attention (which as stated several times in the above article is becoming somewhat of a rarity these days), however it seems more geared towards those with shorter attention spans of late. Thank you NSMB for all of the hard work, I thoroughly enjoy the written pieces and would love to see more of them.

      • Thanks to both of you. We like producing the content that we do, and it’s always nice to hear it when people appreciate it.

    • Luis Hernán Otegui

      This. I said it once on a previous piece by Cam, and I’ll say it again here: I come back every day to NSMB because I actually enjoy both reading and having to think about what I just read. It’s not pre-masticated mumbo-jumbo with a lot of “shreddding”, “gnar” and “loam” scattered all over the text. These are well thought pieces that often move me to rethink my position to the matter of the articles. And one other thing I really appreciate about the website is that you guys don’t just put things out to keep the pace. I’d rather spend a day without a new article before having the same semi-automated crap featured in the front page.

      For those reasons (and many others) I really thank you guys for keeping the bar high.

    • disqus_Hbf4dqGs7y

      What pudding said….

  • DrewM

    I very much enjoyed this format. A variety of interesting thoughts/ideas and I think Cam & Seb tied them together very well with their comments/editorial.

    I would enjoy reading more of these panel-style-articles (panticles?).

  • nomdeplume

    And if no one is careful enough in the publishing world to produce meaningful, quality content… then it will be left to the companies to do so.

    Another thing to consider is the audience. Of the flashy, cheap “digest me now” content, it would be interesting to know the psychographics of its audience. I’ll go out on a limb and guess <$80k household income (if they have moved out of their parents house); male; 14-30; maybe some post-secondary education.. Depending on the company, is this an appropriate target market to which to advertise – the one with smallest disposable income? Considering that bikes average $5500 these days… yikes.

    Lastly, instant gratification content provides its quick fix and cheap thrills…. but after a while you're left feeling as empty as a 40 year old bachelor who just spent $400 on 2 lap dances at a strip club in Reno at 3 in the afternoon.

    Slow it down. Make it count.

    • Seb

      “Slow it down. Make it count.”

      This should be the mantra.

    • Amanda

      Well said. Brilliantly said, actually. As a rider, writer, reader and watcher, I want to connect. Just like the strip club scenario presented above, a connection doesn’t happen instantly. MTB media: stop selling us the rom-com version of mountain biking. It doesn’t happen. We want to be immersed in feeling. Engage us. The false byproduct of a flashy video is just that: false. I’m left feeling empty and connectionless. Bike media should be of a sort that fulfills the viewer when we can’t get out and ride, or leave and adventure, or experience the World Cup for ourselves. We want to experience the sounds, the colors, the smells and the excitement; we are mountainbikers because of what we feel when we ride.

      nomdeplume hit it right on the head: “Slow it down. Make it count.”

  • ottoride

    You know I’m tired of all the glitz. if I see one more framed sunset silhouette shot, or an over staged over flashed professional photo shoot I’ll puke. It just seems to contrived, to much of the lifestyle sell. I want to see a greater depth of articles and pictures. I want to see/read about the geeky side, the barneys, the freaks, the dirt baggers and ordinary people… well you get the picture. The current marketing formula has no flavor…

    • M_Irwin

      I like the ‘soul’ pieces and the tech pieces, but it’s those soul pieces that inspire me. As for photos, I just like the trail through the forest, slightly blurred ones. No 720 barspin at Crankworx needed (as impressive as they are), because I relate to the feeling of pinning it along a trail, being in the zone, everything falling into place… at least for a few seconds.

  • Thank you for this awesome post NSMB. While there will always be a place for stupid click bait and easy to digest quick media we need to balance things out a bit and give our readers better content as described by the panel above.

    Let’s stay away from buzzfeed like content and bring our readers original content that will get our readers stoked to ride. That’s what it’s all about. Be honest, tell good stories and have fun!

    Keep up the good work NSMB, I have enjoyed coming here for many, many years now and look forward to what you bring us in the future.

  • disqus_Hbf4dqGs7y

    I’d have to agree with most of what was shared by your contributors. And Seb’s question/comments at the end may ring loudest for me. Im 45 next month and have been a chronic magazine buyer/reader since I was sitting on drug store floors memorizing everything I could from the BMX Plus, BMX Action or Motocross Action or Dirt Wheels or…..mags while my mother did the purchases. Now….what was once (only a few years ago) a 20 dollar a week periodical habit has shrunk to zero dollars. My internet connection is vital to my income earning, so my monthly service provider bill feels free of charge to me. I imagine you media folk are under a great deal of pressure to keep pumping out material for your websites with no natural time frame to work in like back in the monthly publication days. Regurgitating the same press releases amongst you can’t help your integrity rating from us olds, but I am sure it helps keep the site visitations numbers up. NSMB enjoys a level of authenticity and maturity (sorry if that last one is a bad word) in my MTB world of riding and reading as it has almost always provided an original and or inside perspective for me to enjoy between work and rides.—-and back in the day, you closed the forum for a bit to stop the hating….if I remember correctly….so in my mind you have also been a responsible social force. Please continue asking the questions of your industry and yourselves, cuz that is what is separating you from the temporaries thriving in the, “infancy or honeymoon” phase of our online experience.

  • Vineet

    You guys in west are still lucky that you get first hand info on the new stuff that gets out in the market and even before it becomes a rage. I have been “trying” to run a mountain bike magazine since last 5 years in a country where mountain biking is still in developing stage… just like what most of you must have seen or experienced sometimes in early 90’s. We are in somewhat similar stage. Its exciting at the same time (all thanks to the internet) when we also get to see what all stuff is happening in the west. Riders throwing double back flips, a $9000 mountain bike and reviews done by other websites. It really inspires me and people helping with this magazine project.

    To some extent i do agree on the above mentioned article. Same articles/press releases floating around websites etc. At the same time I admire the way how readers follow whatever a famed magazine or website writes about a particular product (me being one of them). Having said this… I also feel that our sport has been commercialized so much that the Industry might not be faithful to the riders out there. The amount of stuff sold with help of MBA gimmicks is just mind blowing. Show a bike with new wheel size and claim it better than the other stuff. “The story is FORCED TO GO VIRAL” on social media = success.

    It is very sad to see that now many companies rely on these numbers / social media followers only in order to support a project, event, or even a magazine! What really pisses me off is that these scripted questions are put by MBA’s who does not even own a bike – does not ride but still works in the bicycle industry and is made incharge to deal with riders! (Atleast this is what is happening in my country).

    Common questions I have faced by MBA people running the bicycle industry in India:
    1: How many followers your project has?
    2: Lets talk numbers and then we will decide.
    3: What do i get in return? (Well this is still acceptable)
    4: Push the sales… Push the sales! Meet your sales target Or leave the job. ( I actually experienced this when I used to manage a bicycle store for a company which claims “Sport for all, All for sport”.
    5: Is it a mountain biking race in the mountains?? Well we prefer something in urban area. Sorry we cannot sponsor your event.

    …. It only gets worse.
    Oh.. did I mention that the Cycling Federation of India discourages riders to participate in private races which are not affiliated with Cycling Federation of India.

    However, we’re still here and doing what we really love and with lot of hopes. Hope the dedicated people can lend some support here? I reckon my statements are becoming futile now… so maybe you can check the scene yourself.
    Positive or Negative honest feedbacks are welcome at:

  • gerard777

    “Our species is great at complaining but pretty pathetic about praise”… That statement truly hit home for me. For years, I’ve been coming to NSMB first on my daily interweb visit. It is content like this article that keeps me coming back; insightful, opinionated and pertinent pieces that don’t rely on the 3 Minute Awesome Edit to be mentally stimulating and engaging.
    Thanks Cam. Thanks Seb. Thanks to all the NSMB contibutors that make it what it is…

    • Jamie Hamilton

      You’ve hit the nail on the head! I live in New Zealand and I’m a daily regular reader of NSMB. I haven’t even been to the real North Shore yet! ( It’s a family holiday in the making though ). It’s editors & contributors of such high calibre as Cam & Seb that not only understand mountain biking, but being a real human being, is in my eyes a breath of fresh air. I agree that sincerity & honesty will always give birth to quality. Best article I’ve read today 🙂

  • Tom

    I fully agree with the no comments remark from Joe Graney. I have thought about this before and comments don’t help anyone really. People are just to quick to put there views across on the internet. Comments just act as that quick shock value to get attraction and interest. A bit of titillation for what could be boring content. On some sites they are just seen as a joke, somewhere the trolls can play. I used to ride with someone, until I found out he put comments on PB just to wind people up and ever since then I have just lost all respect for him.
    I am not saying that all reads should be dictated to. In fact useful views should be encouraged. But the reader would have to make an effort. I would see it that at the end of each piece of content there would be a link to send an email to the site. Then any useful e mails could be published at the end of the week.
    The good thing about print is that there are no comments, it just a shame that we are all to impatient to wait for print. There is some really good content on the bike Internet, but I am just not one for staring at a screen and the good stuff seems to get lost.

    • NatBrown

      And I disagree with it, as well as your assertion that comments don’t help anyone. I don’t disagree with you that a lot of comments are crap though, but I find it easy to skim over those and with reasonable regularity find comments that help me shape my own view, even on that most notorious MTB website. I can see why Joe said that though. He must have had to deal with so much dumb shit about things he’s poured a lot of time and effort into.

      Here’s one thing that I think is really important and would like you to consider: As a reader you should ALWAYS make an effort. Critical thinking is one of the most important traits us humans ever developed. Blind indoctrination is the root of some of our biggest problems, as well as some of the smallest, such as having to wade through mindless comments on a website.

      I also think your idea of an edited comments section would not work because of the extra work for people running the site, and opens up the possibility of censorship.

      • Tom

        Yes I agree with you that there are some useful comments made and some sites (like this one) seem to attract a more useful/reader friendly comment selection. My thoughts were that a end of week review of peoples thoughts would actually give more exposure to the useful comments that could have got lost in the trash with all the others. I would hope that a respected website would not cherry pick the good comments but show what was reliving to the content and people’s views.
        I wouldn’t see it as extra work either. One of the biggest problems for most bike web sites is getting unique content onto their sites. This would be a self generated article that would be unique to the site.
        Perhaps both could work together?

      • NatBrown

        I didn’t get that from your initial comment, but now that I’m on the same page I think it’s a good idea. And I think that both could work together.

  • NatBrown

    I feel I’m guilty of primarily commenting negatively, and not really ever figuratively high five-ing authors of articles on NSMB. So, as a one off I will state that I really enjoy NSMB articles, essentially without reservation, almost all the time. Good work and thanks. I do value NSMB and think it holds an important place in the culture of MTB. In particular I like the work of Seb, Morgan and Pete, but almost all are good.

    I think Matt Robertson’s and Mark Jordan’s answers are spot on. I find the point made by Mike Ferrentino quite interesting. I think there’s about as much good writing out there as there was before the internet allowed people to publish their views for free, but I do concede that, superficially, that might not seem to be the case since the average quality has decreased with so much shit being available now. It just means that you can’t blindly read (or watch) things of a decent quality with a reasonable success rate anymore, but put a little effort in and the rewards are there. I’d also say that journalism standards on the whole were slipping for a long time before the internet (the mainstream media in the US is a major contributor to that; there’s a lot of good material to read about it too), but the internet has provided a new angle on bad journalism (really blogging) that has brought this into sharper relief. Anyway, I think MTB media fits in with this trend of lower quality because it is thematically inconsequential- almost no one cares about it and therefore the pool of talented and passionate authors is relatively small, and I presume there isn’t enough money in it to attract those with talent but lacking passion.

    Oh yeah, I’d rather not see a change to focus on the kind of riding that 90% of us do. I could start keeping a riding journal and/or buy a gopro if I was interested in mediocre MTB.

  • David Simons

    Well, I don’t expect much from the media, rightly or wrongly. Like the news in general, I just want a large volume of reports and articles availble to go through quickly as and when it suits me, and then read more deeply those that catch my interest. We can be quite selfish, us readers… Oh, and all those “we went up this mountain bro, poignant music in the background, look how cool I am yet I’m so rad!, I get paid for this but why is it so little ‘cos I’m a star” type videos bore me stupid; living the dream means riding your bike around the same old trails as always, not web surfing endless videos of other people riding bikes. And, as for the comments that readers/watchers ‘contribute’, well jeez…I mean, just look at this one for example: I’m writing, but I know I’m just wasting everyone’s time, particularly my own.

  • Kevin Johnstone

    I’ve come to this website nearly every day for 12 years. One of the best things about is the local content. As a local resident, I love that every review article ranks products on how they perform on the trails that I ride every week.

    I also look forward to any content put out by Cam, Seb, or Matt. I enjoy the written word more than most and appreciate the extra effort made to make articles flow well and pepper them with interesting vocabulary. And you can always count on NSMB for an honest opinion. Matt’s viral videos are always original and shared with many of my friends.

    I also come for the forum. Although the forum has changed a bit in the last few years, there are still some post-worthy threads and most of the conversation is both civil and thought provoking. The level of moderation has increased quite a bit in the last few years, but I feel it is warranted and not overbearing. I put more thought into my online presence on NSMB than most other forums.

    My advice for NSMB is to stay the course. You’ve carved a niche, stick with it and don’t change your formula too much. Just the fact that you are worried about journalistic integrity puts you miles ahead of many other sites. And remember, most praise is silent.

    • Bruce Mackay

      What he said. Also purchased mags for years, like “anon” above. Still subscribe to Bike and Powder. The internets immediacy is a boon and a hindrance, but you have nailed it. Well written words are always appreciated, well produced content (not talking feature film quality necessarily) is always appreciated. (Hold your f€¥%ng phone sideways, thanks IFHT for that PSA). But what do you do best? You write (and produce “media content”) like you’re riders, real riders, who want to engage other riders. It shows. Articles like this show it.

  • Steve Storey

    Fantastic work Cam and Seb. I agree with so many of the sentiments in here.

    Seems like a lot of websites these days are quick to post anything to their front page and quite often I find myself wondering why it was there in the first place. Not to say it was a bad video or anything but I feel front page should be reserved for news, interviews, stories, and videos that stand out. Videos definitely have their place up there but not unless they’re newsworthy or at least have some sort of back story to them along with a few photos and words.

    What Mark Jordan and Shawn Spomer said really hit home with me. I’m not a professional writer by any means but I have done a few features in the last couple of years for print publications as well as photo blogs with video on trips I’ve done. The amount of work it’s taken to organize trips, shoot photos and video, write articles and blogs, and then present it for viewing is quite intense. Compare that to POV footage of a gnarly crash or some other click bait and it makes me wonder why bother putting so much time into packaging well thought out words, images, and video when it probably won’t equal the same views or virality. I always come to the same conclusion though and realize that those things don’t necessarily indicate success as Bagheera so eloquently pointed out. As long as I can make an impact and connect with the viewer in a quality way, I call that a success.

    I’m currently working on finishing up a project with a few people about a 6 week bike trip that we did to Central America last Spring. We’ll be presenting a slide show with some words as well as a 13 minute video at the VIMFF next month. Once that’s shown I’d be glad to write up some new words presented alongside some photos and the video for NSMB if you guys are interested in posting it.

    Cheers guys and keep up the good work!

    • Lee Lau


      I always read your stuff wherever it is. Just like I read Seb Kemp’s stuff wherever it is. Sharon and I track our travel writeups stats and they’re searched and read again and again for years after they’re written which validates the view that quality and effort last longer; a view which I’d imagine you and Just a share. I would also imagine your travel write-ups also are read a lot longer than the ephemeral razzle dazzle pieces.

      Keep up with the good work

      • Steve Storey

        Cheers, Lee Lau.

        I’ve enjoyed and referred to quite a few of the pieces you guys have done too. It’s helped my list of places to ride grow quite rapidly. It’s also starting to get to an almost unattainable level haha.

  • Mark Karlstrand

    Interesting that there is no mention of Dirt Rag that I can see. They have been providing content for the common man for (I believe) longer than any other MTB publication (well I guess there is the Flyer of course). They don’t usually have the highest level of polish but I appreciate what they have done. That said, my main media addictions are BIKE and NSMB. The quality of writing and focus on riding over merchandising draws me back again and again. The only thing that I feel would improve both publication is more content by Mr. Kemp. You are brilliant my man!

    • Cam McRae

      Hey Mark. We didn’t want to wade into the murky waters of singling out specific publications, which is why we asked a general question. I have enjoyed Dirt Rag in the past and I agree that they bring a lot of soul. Thanks for your comments.

  • This is great guys and I dont want to say too many words. Actually I’d like to but I dont know how to put them into words 😉 Anyway what I really like to say is that I come here for the words, to read them, to dream them and to do it all over again. There is so much stuff out there that doesnt speak to me but you keep doing so. I love the fact that you guys seem to be so approachable, down to earth, having a beer with kinda dudes. I can relate to you and thats what I like about you. I also love the fact that I can be sure to never ever see an add for ebikes on here, some websites really seem to sell out. Oh yes and that comes down to being real whatever that is even supposed to mean but yes you guys are real to me and thats what counts. Anyway, I really do like words and I come here everday to get my fair share of them.

  • Victor Lucas

    Thankyou! It’s so refreshing to see there are people who understand that quality stories and images are the key. And in the state we’re in right now – with a constant stream of selfies, crash-vids, promos, troll-bait, ego-boosting, disposable, mind-numbing, digital fluff – it can be hard to drag people away from their smart-phone addictions to have a real life conversation. Sometimes I catch myself scrolling through pages of social media hoping to see something that catches my eye… then I realise I need to go outside and ride a bike.

    • NatBrown

      Please keep the faith Victor. I think your work is among the very best and I don’t think I’m alone.

  • Stumpy2

    Great article Seb and Cam.

  • Luis Hernán Otegui

    Just one small request: when you talk the bike companies into lending you a certain model to test, could you please do it with a mid-to-low end one? I’m sure a bike with ENVE carbon wheels, XX1, a Pike RCT and sub 13kg will perform almost perfectly. Let me know how does the workman version of that given model work. I understand the brands would like their top-tiers to be featured in every publication, but that leaves us with nothing more than copied&pasted brochures written by the P$R guys from those brands on most of the other sites I frequently read.

    • Cam McRae

      Have you seen the Kona we have on test right now Luis?

      • Luis Hernán Otegui

        That’s exactly what I was talking about Cam. If you keep ’em coming, I’ll keep coming back for more ;-).

  • kidwoo

    God damn, if spomer wasn’t married……I’d so tap that ass.

    It’s a bit of a navel gazing question as a premise because let’s be honest; riding bikes in the woods for fun doesn’t NEED a media. It was fun before the internet and magazines and still is if you completely ignore those outlets. The media component is just one grain in a mobius strip that gets known as the ‘industry’. People rode bikes before it, and in spite of it because the activity happens to strike a chord in part of what makes an enjoyable life. It’s already been said on this page but the closer content tends to brush that fact without patting its own back within its own little mtb universe, the better, more memorable and profound it becomes. It’s just a matter what an outlet’s goal is…..adverts or things people actually will care about. The fact that you’re even asking the question shows which side you want to fall towards. You guys do about the best job out there.

    Seriously. Keep it up, nsmb is an asset. And seb’s comment about the moto media is its own little cautionary tale.

  • Elliot Wilkinson-Ray

    Are the typo’s in this post supposed to be ironic?

  • Sven

    Great artical. Unfortunately no simple solve all solution. Magazines need ads to survive, websites need clicks to sell ads, to pay for the in depth quality unique original content that staff writers photographers or freelancers provide.

    It does kill an artists soul to see something you slaved over or are proud of bumped below the fold during the busy summer months. Highlighting featured content allowing it to remain above the fold for longer helps for sure. Sometimes unfortunately the balance is often lost in all the clutter. Some of the stuff on all sites as mentioned would be better off in the social feeds.

    Thanks for highlighting the plight and the fight we fight guys.