Shh. Don’t say nimble
A desperate search for adjectives and context

Stop Trying To Make Fetch Happen

Reading time

The mean girls were known as the Plastics because they were predictable. As mountain bike reviewers, I feel like we’re slowly morphing into a society of Plastics.

In my imagination, all the reviews go through some sort of silly little flow chart and the vast majority of those flows somehow always lead to two things: the bike is longer, lower, and slacker (LLS for the purpose of this piece), and somehow every bike is now “nimble.” As much as I want to barf all over the verbiage that is LLS, my editing overlord* reminded me that most bikes these days are all longer, lower, and slacker, so I better have more to my story than complaining about the truth.

*My editing overlord has the lexicon of AESOP Rock and I consider his reviews to be wildly creative

This got me thinking about why I find myself so frustrated with the status quo of bike reviews. I’ve read dozens for the purpose of this writing and the vast majority talk about these extended geo numbers but fail to mention why LLS should matter, or how that translates while riding. I know most people regularly reading these reviews understand the context, but if someone who is newer to the sport or coming from a different sector of cycling reads the posts, do they grasp the concept of LLS? Without context, it probably feels like reading a foreign language. On top of that is my wildly unpopular opinion that I don’t think longer is always better. I’m built like a T-Rex so when that reach gets too far away, I’m basically dragging belly and boobs just to reach my grips. At what point are bikes being made to be too long?


Imagine this: a room full of mountain bike journalist nerds. We're all wearing black tee shirts with our favorite bike brand logo, or something we got from a media camp seven years ago because we can’t afford real clothes.

Why aren’t more people stepping outside of the Plastic narrative that LLS is better?**

Imagine this: a room full of mountain bike journalist nerds. We're all wearing black tee shirts with our favorite bike brand logo, or something we got from a media camp seven years ago because we can’t afford real clothes. We’re wearing shorts in various shades of gray and of course, black socks-probably wool, with a different bike company logo on them. Or, maybe they’re swag from a race we covered or tried to pretend that were fit enough to enter. Complete the look with Vans or Five Tens. Now we’re cooking with gas. Does this sound like every bike nerd you know? Ok fine; add in the flannel and the IPA or coffee (or both).

**As I was in the middle of writing this, another mountain cycling website did a piece on the sizing of bikes and tackled this very issue. I feel validated.

Screen Shot 2023-03-22 at 10.16.07 AM

This is an old photo where Dave Smith caught Cam and me wearing the bike industry uniform, but we pretended it was cold outside to differentiate ourselves from the crowd.

We all sit excitedly chatting about the latest new mountain bikes.

“They’re longer!” One guy yells in joy.

“They’re nimble!” Another squeals in delight.

“They’re so playful” Someone adds from the back of the room.

“It’s even slacker!” The guy to my right says.

We all nod in agreement. Yep, these bikes are longer, lower, and slacker. They’re nimble and playful and at that moment my head nearly explodes.

“ENOUGH!” I scream to the sea of mustached faces and black tee-clad group. It’s time for my Goonies moment. I stand up on a chair channeling my inner Mikey Walsh like I’m yelling from the bottom of a well because, apparently, short people need to really tap into the available props to get their point across.

Mikey Walsh

The real hero: Mikey Walsh

“Don’t you realize? The next time we ride a new bike it’ll still be longer, lower, and slacker. The next time we descend on that bike we’ll all call it “nimble.” Our readers, they want the best reviews from us but we’re stuck in a word vortex that’s anything but nimble. Right now they gotta do what’s best for them because it’s their time! Their time...to buy. In these reviews, it’s our time! It’s our time, to inspire. And that’s all over the second we give in to conventional word salad.”

The Goonies is one of my favorite movies of all time, and the hero is Mikey Walsh—the nerdy runt of the group who leads his friends on the greatest treasure hunt of all time. For those of you reading this, I’d like to lead a similar charge. To my fellow journalists and to you, our dear readers: let’s be more imaginative in our wording when writing and commenting about bikes, and if we must say LLS, let’s try breathing a little color into why that geometry matters.

Reviewing bikes is hard because in all honesty, most bikes are pretty damn good these days. We end up having to really look for things that set bike X apart from bike Y, even if they’re remarkably similar on paper. I’m a big believer in word-of-mouth marketing, so if the reviewer tells me that these two bikes are extremely similar on paper but bike Y climbs better, provides more trustworthy traction, and really felt like an overall more confident ride in sections of trail that tend to be technical and intimidating, I’m probably going to go with bike Y because those are sentiments I can relate to. I don’t relate to wanting something because it’s longer. Context Rules Everything Around Me. Dolla Dolla Bills, yall.

Screenshot 2024-03-23 at 3.41.56 PM

Now, let’s talk about “nimble.” It’s such a cute word.*** A happy little frog is nimble. A gymnast is nimble. A kitten is nimble. A 34lb hunk of plastic and metal? Not nimble. That long-travel enduro sled that really is LLS and sports 170 or 180mm of travel and has a reach of 520mm probably isn’t actually nimble. I don’t care who you are. Maybe you feel like your movements are nimble, but the majority of us look like cows trying to jump tiny fences when we ride mountain bikes. There are exceptions, of course, but most of us aren’t going to do anything that resembles “nimble” in its proper meaning.

***I feel remiss in failing to point out that I, too, am guilty of this fallacy. I’ll see myself out.

When describing what I think we’re all after with “nimble,” I’d be more apt to say, “This bike makes me feel like Maverick navigating an F18 through a canyon! It moves in ways that I’ve never experienced. It’s controlled chaos, light and fast, and holy shit it makes me giggle.” Ultimately we’re trying to get at the  excitement and movement that comes from a bike. Our friend Thesaurus has a bunch of synonyms for “nimble,” such as “swift,” “agile” “lithe” “adept,” “lively,” and my favorite of the suggestions—”deft.” Please someone make a bike called Deft Punk. Please.

Distilling the way a bike feels down to single adjectives leaves a lot to be desired. Other words that get a lot of airtime and can convey an idea but don’t give the full picture that we frequently see: planted, playful, stable, capable. Capable of what? Cooking me eggs?

Then there are the bike categories that try to pigeon-hole our beloved machines into various disciplines. It used to be downhill bikes, XC bikes, and all-mountain bikes. But we had to make it more complicated and add in trail bikes and enduro bikes. I unscientifically polled a large group of people on this very topic, and it turns out, none of us have a clue how to accurately differentiate between these categories. This confusion has resulted in the amalgamation of all the different kinds of bikes and now we’re being treated to Frankenbike categories like “downcountry,” “slopeduro,” “parkduro,” and “downduro.” Sweet.

In the words of our least favorite Mean Girl, stop trying to make Fetch happen!

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Comments

Fasta_Pasta
+12 Harris HughJass Vincent Edwards Pete Roggeman taprider Andy Eunson Sandy James Oates Lynx . Gage Wright Todd Hellinga Curveball Raymond Epstein GuyKesTV vunugu rolly lennskii

This is why I adore Ferrentino's reviews. They are more about his personal experience, how sore his old bones felt (sorry Mike!) on that particular trail on that particular bike. Last week, I rode a DH bike for the first time in a while. Let me tell you, it ain't nimble! If a review starts with geo numbers or leverage curves, I'm immediately out. Show me a man who can feel 2.47% more linear anti-rise in the first 22.78% of travel, and I'll show you a Liar. It drives me crazy. And bikes that have multiple geometry settings? "Oh it's LLS! But do you want it MORE LLS? Flip my chip bro!" NO! I'M NOT FLIPPING YOUR CHIP! Get it right the first time! I miss the old Dirt Magazine 104 track. Steve Jones could at least tell you WHY a certain bike was faster down a "standardised" test track. How the bikes felt different in the same tech section. 

In conclusion: Give me Stig or give me Ferrentino. But don't give me LLS numbers!

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lacykemp
+3 Mammal GuyKesTV Grant Blankenship

Jonesy is a true legend. I miss the Dirt Mag days too. Those guys gave me my start and I am forever grateful for their support and guidance.

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GuyKesTV
+1 vunugu

Hey Lacy, thanks so much for this article and pulling my head out of my reviewing arse in the same way as Uncle Ferrentino has done many times before. I always start with good intentions but those cliche ruts are so damn deep and being able to write much longer, lower standard, slacker work ethic pieces for the internet than I'd ever have got away with in space crushed magazine pieces hasn't helped either.

But no more excuses, just a determination to do better and be more deft with my words. Not Nimble though, definitely not nimble anymore.....

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bryce-borlick
+3 Mammal Lee Lau AJ Barlas

Steve Jones’ writing was awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever had to reread any other writer’s sentence as much as his. That was a fantastic magazine for many reasons.

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FlipSide
+3 Mammal Allen Lloyd Timer

I loved DIRT too. I was a subscriber for many years.

To be fair however, the bikes were more all over the place in those days and there were bikes that were significantly better/worse than the others.  Now the bikes are all pretty good, the reviewer's job consists in pointing out the standards used that may influence the buyer's decision, such as thru-headset cable routing or SuperBoost 157, and describe what the bike is good at, "who" should buy it and for what type of trails. Attempting to plug the common and cliché adjectives ad nauseam in bike reviews is indeed tiresome.

Great article, thank you!

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rolly
+1 GuyKesTV

I love Ferrentino's articles, but I'm also all down (pun?) for flip-chips, geo settings, and how stats translate into ride feel. I can't really explain why, nor can I explain why I can watch a 30 min video of someone putting a bike together that I'll never ride [insert shrug here].

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monsieurgage
+1 taprider

More Stig please.

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Curveball
+2 Lee Lau jrouellet

Emma Lee Rosignol. She details the riding experience of the bike in a truly extraordinary way. In a recent review that she did, I felt like I was there, riding the bike too and noticing all of its subtleties. The sensations of riding a bike are a very difficult thing to convey and she did it with amazing clarity.

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vincentaedwards
+10 93EXCivic Geof Harries taprider Andy Eunson Lynx . Timer LWK Mammal Curveball Kristian Øvrum

To quote one of my favorite movies, ‘in the parlance of our times’ LLS means almost nothing. Over the past ten years we’ve seen a mass ‘LLS-ening’ from XC to DH… but look at new models now and this trend is less ubiquitous. (Or at least slowing way down and being replaced by storage hatches, multiple batteries, and dubious cable management.)  

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the ‘fattening’ of the average, middle of the bell-curve MTB. Take a Hightower for example. In 2016 the HT1 was under 30lbs for most builds. Now the same model is several pounds heavier with the same tire spec. There are some outliers, but I’ll go out on a limb and call this a trend. 

A 28lb Ibis Ripley and a 35lb Ripmo AF. Yep, they’re both ‘trail’ bikes. 

And yes, we are experiencing maturing design approaches congealing around a popular consensus of what a good bike should ride like… But I can read a whole ‘field test’ worth of bike reviews and feel like I came away with nothing helpful beyond a few pointers about value and component spec. 

Put enough buzz words together, you got a stew going!

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Kenny
+8 CaMKii Cr4w Lynx . shenzhe Allen Lloyd DancingWithMyself bishopsmike lennskii

The tough thing is, what modern bike are you gonna compare that HT1 to?

If you just compare it to the current Hightower, because the name happens to be the same, in my opinion it's not apples to apples.

Let me explain.

A large HT1 had a 67 degree head angle and an 1187mm wheelbase. 

Geometry wise that's very similar to the current Blur TR. The blur tr has less travel so it may not be quite as capable, but it's probably not miles off, and it's actually lighter!

If comparing that HT1 to the next step "bigger" bike in SC's lineup, the tallboy, I'm pretty confident that the current tallboy would eat an HT1's lunch in nearly every scenario, and it's probably in the same ballpark weight wise. 

So I guess what I'm saying is, if you compare older bikes to newer bikes, especially if doing weight comparisons, you need to somewhat recalibrate because bikes have gotten so much more capable. 

Especially comparing SC pre-lower-link to lower link VPP bikes in general  is tricky because it was a step change that increased weight but also increased capability across the board. 

But the opposite is also true. If the average consumer just kept buying a new Hightower whenever a new one was released, they're now on a very different bike, so it's a little confusing.

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vincentaedwards
+1 Kenny

Very true. I rode the HT1 a few times, and owned a TB4 for over a year. My TB4 was around 30lbs and outperformed that HT1 in every way that mattered to me. 

I have an Epic Evo (similar to the Blur TR) and it's a very different bike. The low weight means it's dramatically less tiring on long days and tough climbs... but it doesn't come close to the composure of a TB4 when pointed down at higher speeds. (nor do I expect it to... but it blows a 2016 XC bike away and only weights a few lbs more) 

So I agree- there's a lot more to the trends once you dig into the details. And the needle is moving pretty far from where it was 8 years ago for most models, even hardtails.

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rigidjunkie
0

HT1 owner here, you are correct.  You are also explaining why LLS is so popular, with the newer geo you can make a bike with less travel be more capable.  The lower link also sucked all the joy out of SC bikes.  The reason is they became LLS'er and heavier and more capable but critically for this they became less nimble.  

I just bought an enduro bike (Cannondale Jekyll, love it so far) and I have noticed that it is much easier to go much faster.  One result of this is hitting jumps I am going higher and further in the air.  This is great, or it will be once I figure out how to stop flying over landings.  BUT while I am in the air my bike is no where near as flickable.  This is mainly due to length, I don't know the physics behind it but being longer requires more effort to induce direction changes.

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syncro
0

@Allen LLoyd

I'll hazard a guess that it has to do with the gyroscope effect of the spinning wheels, and with newer bikes having bigger wheels and longer wheel bases that effect is probably amplified quite a bit compared to 26" wheeled bikes.

https://www.exploratorium.edu/snacks/bicycle-wheel-gyro

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rigidjunkie
0

Agree.  Both bikes are 29'ers so it is definitely the length of the bike making the impact.  Thinking about it the Enduro bike has lighter tires and wheels so the impact could get worse when I move my park wheelset onto it this summer.

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Timer
+1 Curveball

Quite a bit of that weight increase is down to component spec. Several factors are at play there. One is ofc. an emphasis on toughness over lightness, to keep warranty claims down. 

But there is also a slew of heavy "house brand" parts  showing up on very expensive builds nowadays. 

Not to forget that brands like to sneak in pig iron parts like NX cassettes on multi thousand dollar bikes. And then there is stuff like Transmission, which is high end but a total boat anchor in all of it's incarnations.

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retrokona
+8 taprider Andy Eunson Todd Hellinga shenzhe Pete Roggeman Curveball Timer Timinger

I came for the Mean Girls reference, stayed for the brilliant reimagining of the Wu-Tang acronym and now I’m reading words like assuage in the comments section. That’s why I keep coming back to this site!

Re: context rules everything around me I think you absolutely nailed it. When I still pretended I could race CX I favoured a bike with old school, Euro style geometry (High BB, steep HTA etc.). Folks would ask “isn’t that really twitchy?” I just saw it as responsive. Similarly, when folks complain about how poorly a 180mm travel bike with a slack HTA might climb, one has to ask “is that what it’s really made for though? Do you get mad at your toaster for not frying eggs well?”

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lacykemp
+8 Lynx . Cr4w Gage Wright Curveball Kristian Øvrum Timer AJ Barlas Pete Roggeman

So just for fun I typed Geometron and Nimble into my Google search query.

Second thing that popped up took me here: "The G1 is fun, efficient, comfortable, exciting, relaxing, grippy, nimble, planted, capable, reassuring, predictable and pretty much amazing. And most significantly, unique. Mainstream mountain bikes are going to be sooo good in 2032. You’re essentially paying for a time machine here."

Sigh.

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Lynx
0

Bahahahahahaha that is so damn funny, especially after a previous comment was posted.

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cam@nsmb.com
+1 Bryce Borlick

That is unbelievable. Like Google is pulling April Fool’s on you! And yet so perfect. 

Also, is nimble preferable to lively? Asking for a bike reviewer I know, who might have used “spritely” recently.

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g-42
+2 lennskii xtcphil

I think the key here is under what use case it's nimble - which speaks to your point of context being front and center. The Geometron was an early example of a prototypical enduro sled. For someone like me, at the speeds I ride, and with my middling skill set, that's an incredibly not nimble experience. For someone like my son, who goes mach chicken with solid technique and an age-appropriate lack of frontal lobe, a bike like that can be nimble. And then the question is, at those speeds, is it more or less nimble than its direct competitors.

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craw
0

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GuyKesTV
+2 lennskii xtcphil

Andreas, just this description alone makes me want to read any other bike reviews you ever write.  "age-appropriate lack of frontal lobe" is just stellar

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Kenny
+1 Mammal

That is amazing. It's both exciting and relaxing. 

It's almost like they're taking the piss. Literally contradictory adjectives all strung together.

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taprider
+2 Curveball Timer

did AI write that?

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Timer
0

My bike-review-buzzword-bingo chart just exploded.

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monsieurgage
+6 Geof Harries Andy Eunson mnihiser LWK Konrad lennskii

I'll leave it to the media types to endlessly debate the need for a lexicon of succinct but communicative and translatable words for sensations that may or mat not translate to the readership. Buuuut....

Maybe we can take some notes from the ski industry a la turn radius.  Take the classic shrinking cone drill for turning on a uniform but flat surface aka the parking lot.  Let's have a test where the reviewer(s) state their smallest turn radius and perceived effort to achieve it.  You can add this to the distance and effort to manual, height and effort to bunny hope etc. etc.

So we have the geo, we have a turn radius and usually we have a feeling in technical descents.  Plenty of information for the imaginative and demo lacking to contemplate.  Lacy, I feel yah, it's hard.  Readers are essentially asking for a reviewer to give us a statistical regression while journalling their feelings on a bike all in a 5 minute article to assuage modern attention spans.   Repetition may occur and is understandable given the ask.  

What do you think about using a boring old turn radius in lieu of "nimble"?

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lacykemp
+4 Geof Harries taprider lennskii xtcphil

I just love that you used "assuage." It's one of my favorite words.

I guess this is where the "nimble" convo can go- what IS nimble? According to my friend named Dictionary it's "quick and light in movement; moving with ease; agile; active; rapid," so, yes a turn radius test would be one important facet of this. But also poppiness? Throwability? Did I just make up a word? Damn me to Downcountry!

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monsieurgage
+6 Lynx . Kenny taprider LAT Dude@ jrouellet

I like the above reference to the Stig, it connotes the use of a test track and maybe that's what we need.  Find a track, any track.  Put up times.  

E.g. Deniz and his Knolly.  Deniz put a 2:05 on John Deer (North Vancouver), best time over 6 attempts.  Starting at Upper Severed, the mixed XC start was fatiguing as the 150/160mm suspension wallowed in the tight climb and rhythm section.  Deniz went 20s slower than the neutral comparison bike on Upper Severed.  He missed the rider left entrance on the Deer John roll entering wide consistently and was unable to confidently pop into the rock roll.  The S-turns on the bottom quarter felt hung up by the 15000cm wheel base which correlates to the Chilcotin's 28m turn radius.  The mid point climb was again taxing as inertia against 35lbs of deeply seated in its travel machine resisted the wattage of our brave Stig. The new Chilcotin made up to speed in the straight aways (add section here).  In general the 580cm reach on a size large, although trendy, felt like an inversion table. It's a stretch man.  

You get the idea.  Don't say nimble say the thing it did.  

This idea suffers when there are a fair few readers who have never ridden the NV trails most of the reviewers ride but Trailforks has the stats on terrain, pics say 1000 words and strava/timing tech captures data on specific segments e.g. cornering section v. straight aways v. rhythm and sprints.

This longer form would however add many words and maybe go past the word limit and cap on time for NSMB articles.

Sorry to keyboard warrior out suggestions, on record I have never reviewed any bike what so ever.  I am here just riffing.

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monsieurgage
0

If not for winter shut downs, I would use Jersey Shore to Meat Sweats as a test track.

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Kenny
0

Like you say. Not sure if it's practical but that was a very cool post!

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monsieurgage
0

It would be different and maybe different is good.  Worth a try wouldn't ya say Roggy and Cam? Summer test times with NSMB.  Be the Stig.  Coming 2024(ish)...

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pete@nsmb.com
+3 DancingWithMyself jrouellet AJ Barlas

I don't see turn radius being helpful as far as bikes go. On skis it makes a certain amount of sense because turning is the biggest part of what skis do and turn radius can be measured on the terrain on which they're used. Turns on trails have far more variables including the presence of berms, camber, obstacles, etc. 

On the timing front, it only matters to people for whom speed is the top priority and that's certainly not everyone. I do think some component of time can be useful but again there are so many variables that you have to be careful when equating speed on one bike to another. 

It's not easy, this bike reviewing thing...

JVP
+6 Cam McRae Lynx . DancingWithMyself GB Spencer Nelson Pete Roggeman

@Roggy - yep, going faster isn't the goal for many. That locked in feeling, feeling one with the forest and trail, being in the zone, is what I strive for on every ride. It's a meditative state, where one ceases to think and just reacts.

This is why some of us like slower tech instead of speed trails. Pushing ourselves near the limit without the consequences of crashing at blur-inducing speeds.

Lynx
0

JVP, you're absolutely right and it's something I just can't grasp that for most it's just how fast can I get down there, doesn't matter at how you do it, if you basically buy a 170mm Enduro sled when you actually would be better served with a nice 120-140mm trail bike, and picking lines, that's silly, just plow right over everything with your 150mm+ of travel and big 2.6" tyres.

This is why I love my Phantom, little 105mm of rear travel, 140-150 fork, HTA sits just around 66.5-66.7, so while it ain't steep, it ain't slack either, so getting it down the steep and tech is very much based on pilot skills. Also why I have my rigid Kona Unit and love it, bit modified with an external lower cup and 650Bx2.8" rear/29x3.0" front which changes the HTA to about the same as the Phantom and again, slower and definite pilot skill needed to get it down, but for me the reward of that, while not as fast, is what fuels me.

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CaMKii
0

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Jotegir
+6 tashi Mike Ferrentino Pete Roggeman FlipSide Kristian Øvrum Lee Lau

This article has big TEAM ROBOT energy from back in the day and I am here for it.

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mikeferrentino
+5 Curveball Lu Kz Mammal Morgan Heater DancingWithMyself

Only without all the frustrated rage and just a shadow of the condescension...

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lacykemp
+3 Lu Kz Kristian Øvrum Lee Lau

Dang that's awesome to hear. I'm a big big fan Charlie.

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syncro
+5 Lynx . Mike Ferrentino Mammal jrouellet lennskii

It's the curse of believing in one bike that does it all. There are always going to be compromises, we just need to choose the ones that we're willing to live with. 

/lifeadvice

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maximum-radness
+5 Sandy James Oates JVP Mike Ferrentino Spencer Nelson Pete Roggeman

I would like to say thank you,

Thank you to nsmb for bringing Lacy on. 

And thank you lacy, your writing is a good compliment to the others’ here. It fits nicely. 

But really tho: Lacy brings the in reading LINK game to the next level! 

I got Wu, mean girls (never knew) , TOP FRIGGIN GUN? And Goonies and cargo bike photos????? 

This is next level off road bicycling culture shit here, industry connections be damned!!!

I’m not even mad, I’m impressed! 

You ate the whole wheel of cheese Lacy friggin kemp. Slam dunk! 

https://youtu.be/HQeMhYJe5JA?si=IbF4G6wigpOWZ7_j

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lacykemp
0

RAINMAN 4 EVER!

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Friday
+4 Lynx . Cr4w Mammal GuyKesTV

Bike reviews are a funny thing, and these days they all seem to land in the same spot; "this bike is nice". It seems like most bikes are quite iterative of one another at this point, to the point that it seems difficult for reviewers to have a strong take one way or the other. Sometimes I feel like what's most important is reviewing the compromises a bike makes. Given that mountain bike design seems to be a compromise of efficiency while pedaling vs suspension performance vs handling characteristics, we all kind of have to figure out what ratios of each we want, and then figure out which bikes hit those ratios. 

Also, as all bikes become "good" (they aren't), reviewers need to get a lot more picky about what bikes get good reviews. The tide has risen, but bike reviews haven't really changed. Also I know the bike press isn't exactly getting paid well, so asking them to work even harder feels bad. 

Also post purchase support is probably something that should be weighted heavily, but consistently reviewing that is basically impossible.

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g-42
+1 Lynx .

Post purchase support - yep, that's a big one. Most riders don't ever touch their suspension after the initial setup at their shop (or past what their DTC vendor set up for them based on weight/height numbers they input when ordering). I keep thinking a great way for a crafty LBS to win over customers would be to sell trailhead service. Put yourself at a place where people can take quick laps on trails well known to them (think Fromme, or Duthie, or Family Man), and provide a tuning service to do a solid initial setup and do a bit of basic bracketing. People will freak out as to how much "better" their ride feels after only a few iterations, and the ones curious to learn why can walk away from that with the knowledge needed to get more improvements by playing with stuff themselves later on.

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Lynx
0

@ Andreas, I keep trying to get this point across to everyone who's bike I service, that I can provide what I consider a balanced, baseline setup so the bike feels "good" front to rear in terms of balance, pressure/rebound wise, but that it's just a starting point, doing what you said and lapping a short, familiar trail and trying some bracketing would lead to such a better setup for most. 

Then again though, most of the bikes that comes to me that people have just gotten and ridden stock aren't even remotely setup suspension wise to have a balanced ride and are normally well fvcked in terms of rebound/pressure speed F>R or vice versa, mainly because people don't understand or want to take the time to understand what the little twisty things do, so instead they just turn them and the bike rides like shite, so when I'm done with my baseline setup the bike rides so much better they just are happy with that.

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craw
+3 BarryW Bryce Borlick Gage Wright

Why aren’t more people stepping outside of the Plastic narrative that LLS is better?**

Because every single bike I owned between 1990 and 2018 fit like absolute dogshit. It wasn't until the Geometron era (for me, that's 2018+) that manufacturers were shamed into finally building bikes that actually fit the different sizes they were producing (and it took another 5+ years for most companies to actually get it rightish). Taller riders have been the biggest beneficiaries of LLS. 

But admittedly it feels like a massive overcorrection. Even I've pulled back a bit. My XL G1 had a 62' head angle and 1350mm wheelbase which actually fit great from a center of gravity balance perspective and the steep seat angle was a revelation but it was impractical to ride. Now I'm on a bike with 63.5 and 1330 and it's just right. Doubtless a lot of the LLS bikes are way overkill for the average rider for whom, until now, virtually everything was designed with them in mind to the exclusion of all else. 

For the record, a 1350 WB was never ever nimble (nor do I think Geometron every presented it that way). At first it felt good to be stable versus my COG and not flipping over backwards while climbing. But nimble it was not. But it taught me to corner better, if I could get the thing around the apex. Now I'm on a shorter bike with better skills and it is actually quite nimble by comparison. Nimble enough for this rider in this place.

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Lynx
+3 Cr4w taprider DancingWithMyself

Cr4w, but you're an outlier and you know that, heck I even suffered at only 6'2.25" with limbs of a 6'4" person, so the early years of this frame geo growth was nice, but for me it's gone way too far now, way too far - as the saying goes, "To far East is West".

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craw
+6 Lynx . taprider Gage Wright Curveball AJ Barlas Spencer Nelson

If this LLS stuff has gone too far for an extreme outlier in an extreme place then how crazy is it for someone 5'8" in Flatbuttistan? I guess it's the typical mountain bike thing of selling the same solution to all people in all places. And many of us are just dumb or delusional enough to go along with it.

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Lynx
0

Exactly, can't recall which manufacturer it is that just released a bike, the Reach on the size SM was 440mm WTF man, tell me in what day should a <5'4" person be on a Reach even over 400mm :out:

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lacykemp
+1 Lynx .

Simple: never.

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Lynx
0

Hey Lacy, not sure if you browse the other site or participate, but I think it'd be interesting for you to share your views on sizing in the discussion. This absolutely blows my mind on how Noel thinks that a 440 Reach for a size SM is perfectly fine, granted nothing really surprises me from him, still remember vividly when he basically accosted me when I suggested on a forum that he make a 29er back in the early days of 29ers, said flat out he'd never build a 29er, they were crap - glad he's a man of his word :rolleyes:

https://www.pinkbike.com/news/review-knolly-chilcotin-170.html

lacykemp
+2 Lynx . taprider

I'm trying to reply to your comment about the Knolly but it seems to want to put this in the wrong place. Anyway, I Just left a little WTF over there for them because that's just ridiculous. Call it a medium and don't SmallWash my world. Look, there I go making new words again. Someone put me out of my misery!

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Lynx
0

Yup, sorry, the reply system is broken or at least isn't working right, I've made mention of it before, can make threads very confusing.

bryce-borlick
+1 Lee Lau

It’d be sick to build your own geometry. Sell the triangle, swingarm, linkage, and headset separately. Personally I think I’d try a longer higher steeper bike.

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andy-eunson
+2 taprider Endurimil

Love it. I dislike the overuse of words like "playful" when describing play things like bikes or skis. They are all playful if you think about it. Just different kinds of playful. It’s fun to go too fast on skis or bikes. It’s fun to do tricks. It’s fun to ride tricky janky trials like trails, or flow trails at speed or steep trails. I know what they are getting at. A bike that does little jumpy jumpy things. But aren’t all play things playful by definition?

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cam@nsmb.com
+3 BarryW tashi GuyKesTV

One thing that’s important to remember is that while these terms are useless in isolation may have some value as a comparison. 

I think we can all agree that some bikes are more “playful” than others within their micro-category. Some bikes encourage you to find side hits and trail gaps while others are more (forgive me) glued to the ground.

So while I agree that playful (and nimble and lively) are useless without context, they describe an important element of bike feel that can help someone decide if a bike is for them. Which of course might lead a reviewer to describe a bike as less (insert adjective to describe the opposite of a 2003 Santa Cruz VPFree here) than another. Sometimes a rider is looking for a bike that’s had the nimbleness beaten out of it. Current Norco Range riders come to mind.

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Kenny
+3 Cr4w Lynx . Cam McRae

Yeah context is everything. I find comparables in reviews helpful, sometimes it's splitting hairs and bike setup/component choice, and riding style could still skew a comparison between two similar bikes in the opposite direction, but it's still context at least. 

As an example I recently got a tallboy 4, a bike I know you have put some miles on, on the shore. 

I was surprised at how many reviews describe it as a sluggish climber, but I think it's because people in other parts of the world with milder terrain riding smaller bikes have a different comparative sense of  what the climbing manners should be, given it's a 120mm bike. 

On the shore, climbing stuff I've been climbing mostly on 150-170mm travel bikes, it feels like a rocket ship.

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lacykemp
0

Now that is proper context. It doesn't take much to make these things make sense. A little effort goes a long way.

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andy-eunson
+2 BarryW Endurimil

To me "playful" describes a riding style or person not a bike. Jackson Goldstone riding a V10 doing massive whips is playful. People will say telemark skiing is soulful but again, a turn has no soul but people do.

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Kenny
+2 BarryW tashi

I think it's both. 

Someone from 50-to-1 can make a megatower look more playful than I could make a dirt jumper look. But I also think one bike can be more evocative of a certain type of riding than another.

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fartymarty
+2 Andy Eunson danimaniac

Maybe what we need is bikes that are not LLS.... maybe more Stoogesque...

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kos
+2 taprider Dogl0rd

Spot on. Here's one: "poppy" = stiction-riddled sus components and/or pivots.

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Fat_Tony_NJ
+2 fartymarty GB

I'm just here to say that Lacy and her editor get a big thumbs up for the Aesop Rock mention.

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fartymarty
+1 Fat_Tony_NJ

Aes keeps getting better as he gets older.  Love his work - I would go so far to say he's the best in the game atm.

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Fat_Tony_NJ
0

And the pace of his output puts others to shame.

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Roxtar
+1 Lu Kz

When I saw the cargo bike pic, I assumed you were showing us the ultimate LLS bike.

Oh, and as far as "Deft Punk" goes, contact Evil Bikes.

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tashi
+1 tmoore

I gotta assume that they talk about LLS because there are varying degrees of it now and the reviews I read (not many) generally talk about HOW LLS the bike is relative to others and, since geometry matters is one of the most important things you’re buying when you get a new bike, particularly if yours is getting old. 

Nimble comes up I’d assume because the first concern when one hears “LLS” is that it wouldn’t take tight corners well, which many of them do. Personally I like LLS and need my bike to get through tight jank so I look for this combo. 

Personally, for a technical review, I’m not looking for original writing, I’m looking for a good description of the bike. I could not care less if the words are overused. The consistency of vocabulary is probably helpful actually. For less technical “reviews” a la Ferrintinos articles, or many of the stuff on The Radavist, ya, word choice and writing style start to matter.  I’m sure as a writer the former is more interesting to produce, but as a reader I’m really not looking for interesting writing.

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xy9ine
+1 Pete Roggeman

finding adjectives & descriptive terms that aren't terribly cliched and/or clearly convey handling characteristics is certainly one of the most challenging aspects of bike reviewing. always spent way too much time wordsmithing in an effort to try to to convey thoughts (somewhat) accurately without resorting too much on tired verbiage.

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DaveSmith
+6 Mike Ferrentino Gage Wright Pete Roggeman Andy Eunson Lynx . Spencer Nelson

"Chunder Pig" being the best of them.

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xy9ine
+1 Dave Smith

haha, yeah. very evocative, that.

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GB
+1 BarryW

Cats are nimble . Not certain a machine can be nimble .

I'm off to smash some berms and get aggressive   on my modern geo whip. 

Or I could pedal my bicycle through the emerald hued forest.  Pontificating the exhilaration of negotiating natural single track .

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Ceecee
0

Pitter-patter of little anal assuagements

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Lynx
0

Another good one from the NSMB scribblers ;-) Know that it's not a youngster with the Goonies reference, wonder how many know the film or even what a VCR player is? LMAO

I'll say that what is missing is context, what to someone who is DH focused, i.e. only "suffers" the climbs for the downs is nimble, to me who likes to ride it all and climbing is as much of the game/fun, it feels like a damn tank and no matter what you ride, a 36lbs bike is not nimble, it may not handle like a total pig, but it sure as shit isn't nimble.

More/better descriptive words to describe what the reviewer is feeling, in context to the bike and trails they're riding, the as someone else said compromises it makes and where that puts the bias of handling/feeling would be good. Also agree, after sales support is a big thing and also bang for buck and thoughtful picking of components, not just "we got a great deal from SRAM if we use only their stuff, so it's all SRAM" like we see a lot these days - anything you need to spend on almost immediately after the purchase, should be factored into the actual cost of the bike, so if it comes with shit tyres that most would need to replace ASAP, then add another $150-200 to the true cost.

Oh and yeah, LLS isn't always "The Best", not everyone, in fact most, don't/aren't so lucky to live someplace with trails such as NSMB readers have, most have at most little hills or things that barely class as a mountain, if they're that lucky.

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DaveSmith
0

@Lacy that cargo bike shot needs to be updated at this years Sea Otter.

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lacykemp
0

I know, but right now I don't have any real reason to go and it all gets spendy :( I'm so bummed.

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ClydeRide
0

I’m all about durability. My test involves throwing each test bike off a 3-story building and going for a ride. It’s a pass/fail test.

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danimaniac
0

So I'm going to call my bike Deft Punk

I like that. Up until now it could have been Rude Force One with some ska themed stupidity... But I like the Deft Punk 

But will it get a PUNK sticker resembling Puky? Will it look like something out of Tron? I need a head badge!

Bike still needs to be welded though :-)

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lacykemp
+2 danimaniac Pete Roggeman

May I present to you your new headtube.

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danimaniac
0

I was thinking of two FullFace Helmets in the style of every photo ever taken of those frenchies and a bike with neon light blue pinstripes and deft punk written in Tronstyle on the Downtube. Maybe seatclamp, hubs, nipples, BB, headset and Stem-screws in turquoise anodized 

Maybe a pinstripe down the top tube?

Frame steel, nickeled and polished (shiny AF)

But now you got me thinking of that single helmet again.

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