Ask Uncle Dave

Dear Uncle Dave: How do you Keep a Secret Bike, Secret?

Words Dave Tolnai
Date Oct 28, 2020
Reading time

Dear Uncle Dave:

I just read your preview of the new Shore. Looks like it will be fun! How long have you been riding that thing prior to the publication embargo being lifted? And what do you say to people who ask you questions out on the trail before you’re allowed to talk about it? I’ve often wondered these things about secret new model launches where press bikes go out prior to launch day.


Shore Curious

Dear Shorca:

Recently, I find myself offering up what I think are relatively fresh takes on the world, only to discover that I'm just regurgitating some podcast that I half listened to a year ago. This one came from a Radiolab from a little while back, and you can now read most of the same information in several suspiciously similar articles scattered across the Internet.

As the legend goes, William Gladstone was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom for 12 years in the late 1800's. Since all Prime Ministers need wacky hobbies to show their bona fides as men of the people, he was also really into studying Homer. One of the things that he discovered was that Homer seemed to have a sort of acid trip induced grasp of colour, most famously on display through his description of a "wine dark" sea. Since then, numerous people have dug into this subject and by studying historical art and literature, have figured out that there is a sort of "discovery of colour" that civilizations go through, and oddly enough, blue is often the last one to be found. Other research has shown that language actually has an impact on our ability to see colour. Those with more words for certain colours are better able to spot differing shades of said colour, if you can believe. The implication here is that, apparently, we are not able to see what we have not been shown.

My experience with testing "secret" bikes confirms this phenomenon. I received the Norco Shore 2-3 weeks before the launch date and I managed to ride it around 10-12 times. I made some efforts to conceal it while driving, but didn't put much energy into hiding anything while on the trail or at the trailhead. Over that period I had a grand total of 3 interactions over the bike:

1 - A set of point-and-gawkers at the bottom of Seymour.

2 - A couple of old dudes at the top of Ladies Only that thought it looked kind of neat.

3 - A couple of kids at the top of Boogieman that knew it was something different.

That's it. Let's say I encountered 10-15 people each ride, which adds up to more than 100 human/bicycle interactions. A really, really small percentage of that number took any notice of this bike. And it's not like that bike is one to fly under the radar. This thing is different.

But, what is really interesting is what has happened once the preview was posted. I've only ridden the bike once (two days after launch), but literally the first fucking guy that I saw as I unloaded at the bottom of Fromme came over to talk to me about the bike! "Is that the new Shore!?" Then, at the top of the ride I got another handful of gawkers. It was a rainy day and there weren't many people on the trail so this probably accounted for 25% of the people that I saw that day. Once the bike is out in the open, the switch flips.

This mirrors my experience with other freshly launched bikes. Be it a Yeti, an Ibis or something else, I find that people are most interested in a bike right after it has been launched and shows up on the internet, but before it starts showing up in shops. The bike is fresh in people's minds and they want to know more about the thing that they have only seen in pictures and can't get their hands on. Under these circumstances, It's not unusual to be approached one or two times per ride by people interested in the bike.

What do I say to these people when this happens? Well, I'm socially awkward with strangers at the best of times, so not much. The worst is when they start asking questions that you don't have an answer for. Which shop sells that here? How much is it? Why do you have that? That sort of thing.

Pre launch, you just try to be a bit vague without being a total dick. Say something like "Oh, it's a new Norco". You know, empty, but truthful. It helps that the Shore has a sticker on it with all the specs. One of the old guys at the top of Ladies just walked over and read the specs off the sticker and shouted them back at his friend. "It's a Norco Shore! It has 180mm front and rear!"

Post launch, I'll try to carry on a conversation about the bike, but I always get super awkward when it gets to the "where did you get it" portion of the conversation. I hate to lie to people, but I also hate to offer up even the barest of personal information, and these two things are often contradictory to one another. Nobody actually cares where I got the bike so it would be really easy to just say something like "I'm demo'ing it" (sort of true) or "it's my friends" (also sort of true). Instead, I'll stammer out something like "test bike!" and they'll usually pretty quickly lose interest in talking to the guy who has now started to avoid eye contact and murmur quietly to himself.

There's also a reverse scenario to this, if I'm running a test bike and I happen to see somebody else with one on the trail, especially if I'm having an issue with something. I've chased a few people up Fromme to ask them what their shock settings are, or to enquire if they've blown a shock yet.

The other side of the story is to wonder why there are so many semi-secret bikes out there on the trail right now. The answer to that is, of course, COVID. Where traditionally the bike would have been kept under wraps until sprung free for a bunch of doughy journalists to tumble down a European mountain on, now, they're just being sent out for those same doughy journalists to enjoy on their home trails. I'm often surprised that more bikes don't break cover during these events.

At the Croatian launch of the Turbo Levo we stopped trailside to hug a baby goat. There were 4-5 of us handing the goat around when the goat's owner came over and asked if she could snap some photos as well (we think that's what she said. It could very well have been "I would like to snap your photos for the police report"). After we left we started joking about how funny it would be if that lady managed to break cover on that bike when she shared the photo of the crazy bicycling idiots with her other goat-owning friends on Facebook. We laughed. The marketing folks didn't find it as funny.


Uncle Dave


Somewhere, I have a photo of Hannah Barnes cuddling this goat, with a new Specialized Turbo Levo in the background, but I can't find it. So you get this gem from Harookz instead.

Is it safe to give prizes in the age of COVID-19? Probably. If we used your question and you'd like something from our online store, send us an email. And congrats! If you'd like to maybe win a prize as well, send Uncle Dave a question...

Uncle Dave's Music Club

Have you noticed a change in yourself through COVID, and in your response to it? Fear moves to acceptance moves to "we're all in this together!" moves to optimism for a solution moves to...well, wherever the hell we are now. I've noticed that a number of people have recently released their "COVID Lockdown" albums and it's interesting to see that most of them are boring as shit. Like they're still trapped in wherever we were 3 months ago. Their quiet introspection just doesn't mesh with what we're feeling right now. I don't want quiet, lonely singer/songwriter stuff where I think about humanity. I want tear down the walls and yell at stuff. So, you should listen to this, instead.

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danimaniac  - Oct. 28, 2020, 1:38 a.m.

response to the music club: Even meaningful music has been published since march.

And if you just want to shout out some anger and frustration you could try Salem from Nothing More (not sooo meaningful maybe, but just shout "BURN THE WITCH" a couple of times and think about all the stupid people ruling over countries while doing so maybe :D

Gojira's "Another World" could actually be meaningful, and the video is awesome, but you should like metal ;-)

Babylon Circus have released a new album, but understanding of the french language helps a lot to understand what they want to say, too.


+1 danimaniac
Dave Tolnai  - Oct. 28, 2020, 7:33 a.m.

Oh, for sure.  This was totally flippant on my part.  I was searching for something new and exciting that I've been listening to and I realized that most of the things that have recently been released haven't struck a chord.  Yet.  We'll see how I feel once we're deeper into the second wave.


Garrett Thibault  - Oct. 28, 2020, 8:52 a.m.

Also sort of on the topic, I found it strange that Machine Gun Kelly, with an album that sounds like a lot of the old Blink 182 hits, started topping the charts recently. 

It was just after my girlfriend and I started listening to old blink 182 and sum 41 and fall out boy when we were cooking, tired of mellow stuff we usually played in the background.

It seems you’re not alone in wanting to hear nostalgic, energetic music.


+2 mrbrett Nologo
Mammal  - Oct. 28, 2020, 11:28 a.m.

Machine gun kelly starts a rap beef with Eminem, then starts making formula pop-punk. I find that absolutely hilarious.


+2 goose8 cedrico
Lu Kz  - Oct. 28, 2020, 7:44 a.m.

This is an interesting article and I know exactly what you're talking about even though I don't test bikes. When I got my Aurum HSP, it was fresh, it was hype, and people asked me questions about it all the time.

But I've also owned a one of a kind steel 160mm or so 29er with fairly modern geo since 2017. No one gives a shit about it. I almost never get asked what I'm riding, what that is, etc. I've spent days at bike parks, long pedals in busy areas, and nothing. When I take it to the shop, I certainly get some questions there (and a suitable amount of ribbing from my colleagues), but in the field? Almost nothing.

For whatever reason, this past Thanksgiving set a new record of people asking me about the bike in a single day. We were pedaling the Whistler valley because bike park lines have been way too long these days. Not one, but two people asked me about it! Both asked if it was a Starling though so maybe I should just applaud that UK company for gaining some North American notoriety (for the record - my bike is a Daambuilt Horst like bike, not single pivot).

I suppose it all comes down to what matters to most riders. It takes a serious bike nerd to even look at what someone else is riding, let alone recognize it as something fresh or new. I think a lot of riders go through a phase where they do this for a season or two, but then burn out on all the info and just ride. In the age of all these new DTC companies (many European) that you've never heard of, it isn't weird to see stuff you don't recognize too often. I usually notice, but people who follow all the online bike releases, read reviews when they aren't shopping, and generally keep up with this stuff are I suspect a tiny minority of the overall population of riders. Especially in the Sea to Sky.

PS - the Shore ended up way cooler looking than I originally thought it would be. It's been in the back of my head as something I want since the release date. I know it's not though (as something else coming is way more up my alley) but damn does it look like a nifty bike.


+2 Lu Kz goose8
Mammal  - Oct. 28, 2020, 11:31 a.m.

If I ran into you on the trail, I probably would have, not only chased you down to grill you on the steel dually, but also could have probably guessed it was a DAAM because Canada/Steel/Horst.


+2 Cam McRae Andy Eunson
IslandLife  - Oct. 28, 2020, 8:50 a.m.

This is basically the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is it not?  Also know as frequency illusion.  Same thing happens when you buy a new car.  Before you bought it or were interested in it... you'd swear you only saw maybe two of them on the road.  Afterwards... "wtf.. did everyone just buy the same car!"


Kieran  - Oct. 28, 2020, 8:57 a.m.

I rode with a guy from Norco on Cypress who I just bumped into back in the deep Covid days. He was basically riding the Norco Shore as he was testing. I asked him what bike it was as it was blacked out. He told me, then I asked no more.


+1 Jonas Dodd
Andy Eunson  - Oct. 28, 2020, 9:41 a.m.

It’s amazing how oblivious many people are. I’ve been cat skiing with a group who didn’t notice that I was telemark skiing for a couple days. It’s people like us who geek out on bike reviews even though we aren’t looking to replace anytime soon who will notice. Almost like dog owners who will ask all about other dogs, favourite toy, how old, which breeder, fixed or not, who’s a good dog, what do you feed him. But it’s taboo to ask the owners name or offer your own.


+1 IslandLife
Jonas Dodd  - Oct. 28, 2020, 9:51 a.m.

Funny that I've heard zero discussion of the new Range other than a couple of rumors...


+1 Jonas Dodd
Mammal  - Oct. 28, 2020, 11:34 a.m.

Probably because it doesn't look drastically different than the last Range (or drastically different than another Horst enduro bike. The Shore definitely sticks out.


+3 Jerry Willows DMVancouver Lu Kz
Cooper Quinn  - Oct. 28, 2020, 1:50 p.m.

Wanna bet?


IslandLife  - Oct. 29, 2020, 8:39 a.m.

Doesn't matter... I've heard they're sold out before they've even been released.


+12 Cr4w dave_f danimaniac Mammal jaydubmah Jonas Dodd Velocipedestrian Lu Kz goose8 Mikey Bikey Poz Nologo
jdt  - Oct. 28, 2020, 10:31 a.m.

Dang, I thought this article was going to tell me how to keep my new bike a secret from my wife.


+1 jaydubmah
dave_f  - Oct. 28, 2020, 11:25 a.m.

Yeah, that's what I thought as well. "This bike? Oh, I've had this bike for ages, it's not new. Don't you remember?"

On another subject, try getting on a lift this winter with an old asym snowboard. All the kids too young to know what it is will be in awe.


+7 Dave Tolnai Velocipedestrian jdt Cam McRae bumVSmtn Poz Andy Eunson
Cooper Quinn  - Oct. 28, 2020, 1:42 p.m.

Business idea: RideWrap like other bikes. 

ie, a 2015 SC Nomad wrap that you could put on your 2020 RM Altitude.

However, I would note that if this is something you'd consider, perhaps the time and money would be better spent on re-connecting with your significant other.


+1 Poz
Pete Roggeman  - Oct. 28, 2020, 12:21 p.m.

We could write something about that!


+1 Poz
Dave Smith  - Oct. 28, 2020, 5 p.m.

Back in the day, a friend of mine who shall remain nameless bought the same colour ( trans blue) on 4 consecutive Santa Cruz bikes to hide his bike purchases. To this day she thinks he was the model of restraint and judicial spending.


Andy Eunson  - Oct. 30, 2020, 5:03 p.m.

Yep. I know a guy that bought a new black Chameleon annually and she never knew. They are divorced now.


Poz  - Oct. 28, 2020, 8:01 p.m.

ha so did I.

Mine is on to me, I just had a series of boxes arrive over the last couple months (frame, shock, fork) so she knows.


lexusmils  - Nov. 2, 2020, 1:09 a.m.

There seems to be a bit of a misunderstanding here. People keep on recommending better locks under the assumption that they are harder to break. Any lock can be broken, but if the thief has the time to take a car jack out and spend the ten minutes prying it open, its your fault for leaving your bike there.


Raymond Epstein  - Oct. 29, 2020, 5:59 a.m.

The Wipers is always the correct answer. Here are some recent killer pandemic releases to delight your ear holes. USA Nails, ILS, The Archaeas, Exhalants.


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