Andrew Waltworks Deniz NSMB.jpg

The Best Bit About Being A Bike Reviewer

Words Andrew Major
Photos As Noted
Date Aug 16, 2021
Reading time

Astounding Aesthetics

I should be asleep but I'm too giddy. Instead I'm writing this in my head so that future-Andrew can type it up at a time when it won't be "très ennuyant" to his family. That's living in a small multi-purpose space for you. What has me so excited is my next series of bike reviews. And, surprising as it may be, it has nothing to do with being a giant gear nerd.

We can talk more about the specifics on August 19th, but it's not really the bike I'm losing shuteye over. I'm certain there will be lots of interesting meat to carve off over the course of testing the machine and the bike is cool in a not-my-usual-cup-of-tea sort of way, but the reason that I'm so very stoked is I had the opportunity to hang out and see the first-look photos being created, in the pitch black of night, and they look f***ing amazing.

I've always had an artistic bent but with extremely limited artistic talent. So little talent in fact that folks with actual aesthetic sensibilities are innately wary of my presence lest I siphon off some of their spark. I'm fairly certain that,in elementary school, kids like Deniz tried to bribe our teachers to be sure they wouldn't have to collaborate with me. They were probably told something like "it's important to learn to work with all sorts of people because when you grow up you won't always get to choose who you work with on projects." Ha! Pass the glue friends - it's collaging time.


The most inspirational cover shot ever featuring the least inspiring bicycle Kona has ever made. Photo: Dave Smith


I know that The Shore always looks good when it's raining, but actual artists take it to another level. Photo: Dave Smith

As someone who loved glossy print bicycle magazines, like bike or Dirt Rag, for the stories, I'd still start every single one by going cover-to-cover perusing the images. I've never really been into mountain bike videos, having always felt the sport is best captured and distilled in photographs. And to have my, at best, mediocre bicycle riding talents captured by artists like Dave Smith & Deniz Merdano has been an absolute joy. Both seeing the final products and experiencing the process one-more-time over and over again.

It's certainly not a matter of my making magnificent shapes on a mountain bike, boosting big into brutal bottom outs, or burying my bar as I'm carving through corners. There's no need to hold back or hide from it; taking my photograph is a job.

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Capturing the essence of single speeding on the North Shore. Photo: Deniz Merdano

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Just mountain biking. Any place. Any era. Photo: Deniz Merdano

Aside from the awesomeness of getting to see myself in professional photos looking like I genuinely know how to operate a mountain bicycle, my favourite aspect of working with actual artists is that I never finish a shoot without a few pieces of writing percolating. It's regularly protein for my process.

After Deniz captured my terrified facial expression on the upper part of Digger, I wrote Scare Yourself. After Mr. Smith captured me looking extra-rotund layering for interminate dank Dave experience, I wrote Fatness Goals and Survival Of The Fattest and even eventually If You Can't Ride From Home, Ride From Somewhere. And apart from the directly correlatable content, there are untold numbers of other little inspirations.

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Even the best in the business have a challenge making me look good next to a bike sometimes. This beauty inspired my piece Fatness Goals. Photo: Dave Smith

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I'll have you know that Digger is a hard trail! Really! To think Deniz offered to retake this shot. I had written Scare Yourself in my head before our ride was over. Photo: Deniz Merdano.

As I browse back through the three hundred and seventy-odd pieces I've written for, it's astounding the percent that directly owe their existence to the talented folks who've taken my photograph. It could be chewing through first looks at a new bike, where images create the interest while I'm rattling off specs and nit-picking about things I'm going to change, or being the sole inspiration for a piece of editorial, but there's something about the experience of working with a photographer that makes my juices flow.

As someone who'd usually rather be riding my own bicycle this is one of several reasons being in the photographs is the best bit about being a bike reviewer.

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+2 Cam McRae Andrew Major
Karl Fitzpatrick  - Aug. 16, 2021, 1:44 a.m.

The exact same ridiculously vain reason I go to races. Not many other chances to see myself (no matter how gammy I look) actually riding my bike.


+1 Karl Fitzpatrick
Andrew Major  - Aug. 16, 2021, 5:13 p.m.

It's funny. I carry a camera with me regularly to take photos of gear, or friends riding (sadly they don't get the professional treatment) but it's rare that I get photos of myself. My friends Jac and Mr. Lungtastic and my brother Crash Test Kevin have all been called in to get riding shots for articles (and I love and appreciate them all) but I don't think they'd be offended for me to say it's a different process than working with Dave or Deniz. 

I know for a while at least you could hire Dave out to do professional shoots on the Shore (in the rain of course - you want to the photos to be Shoretastic) and it's certainly a gift I'd recommend to any rider who'd like to have a framed photo of them looking awesome for their non-riding friends to be impressed with!


+12 Cr4w taprider Deniz Merdano Mammal fartymarty Pete Roggeman Zero-cool Velocipedestrian goose8 DMVancouver Niels Karin Grubb
Vik Banerjee  - Aug. 16, 2021, 6:41 a.m.

I appreciate your writing...which is an art form that you have a lot of talent for.


+2 goose8 Vik Banerjee
Andrew Major  - Aug. 16, 2021, 5:14 p.m.

Thank you, Vik. I really appreciate it.


+4 Mammal Pete Roggeman Andrew Major goose8
Dave Smith  - Aug. 16, 2021, 8:20 a.m.

Thanks for the good words, Andrew. 

The copious amounts of gin and vodka definitely helped with that Kona shoot


Andrew Major  - Aug. 16, 2021, 5:15 p.m.

Cheers, Dave! 

I had a bunch of beauty bike shots to choose from but that one is special.


Mammal  - Aug. 18, 2021, 2:04 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

+4 Mammal Pete Roggeman Dave Smith Andrew Major
Deniz Merdano  - Aug. 16, 2021, 10:42 a.m.

What a nice one to wake up to...

Thanks, Andrew..


+1 Deniz Merdano
Andrew Major  - Aug. 16, 2021, 5:17 p.m.

Thank you, Deniz! 

I love being in The Dentizt's chair. Working on my first look piece now and I'm adding a poll at the bottom to see if I picked the right title shot.


+1 Andrew Major
Deniz Merdano  - Aug. 16, 2021, 7:29 p.m.

While all I can think of is all the mistakes i did with the photos.  I need to play with this method a bit more...


Andrew Major  - Aug. 17, 2021, 8:19 a.m.

Artists! Hahahaha. Are we going to do riding shots at night too? My track standing is decently good!


+4 Pete Roggeman Dave Smith Andrew Major Mammal
Perry Schebel  - Aug. 16, 2021, 11:43 a.m.

the opportunity to play pseudo-pro & appear as subject matter in some really cool shots is rad indeed - despite having to endure the dankest of conditions ("too sunny, can't shoot today"), having to push up sections countless times ("one more time") & of course enduring the constant badgering ("KNEES") - all worth it.


+1 Perry Schebel
Andrew Major  - Aug. 16, 2021, 5:18 p.m.

Indeed rad is right!

But, you've got the Santa-beard, bicycle skills, and the model-tastic good looks Perry!


+1 Andrew Major
Tim Coleman  - Aug. 18, 2021, 4:09 p.m.

Well there's no question which photographer you shoot with most!


+1 Andrew Major
Tim Coleman  - Aug. 18, 2021, 4:18 p.m.

Great article, love it, and totally agree! I love the process of trying to get interesting imagery to accompany a review, and working with the talented photographers we've had contribute to NSMB. Almost all of my favourite riding shots have come through getting images for articles.


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