What Do You Hate in the MTB Industry?

Words Cam McRae
Date Sep 15, 2016

Hate is a strong word. Especially when there is so much to like. I’m pretty fond of looking on the bright side, but digging into dark corners often reveals the gold, the truthful detritus. And since we work in a business that is overrun with marketing, it’s refreshing to hear the unvarnished truth. As a journalist I spend a lot of time listening to why company X’s thing is vastly superior to company Y’s thing, immediately after hearing the opposite story from company Y, so it’s refreshing to cut through the bullshit and fling some of it around.

I asked some of my industry friends (crusty vets I called them) about the parts of this business that bug them. The elements that make them red in the face. The stuff that makes them spit at their computer screen. And, as expected, they delivered.

I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s actually pretty damned sweet. When compared to a group of humans selected at random, I’ll take a group of mountain bikers every time, and most of the people in this business actually ride bikes on dirt. In fact most of them ride much more than I do and much better, and there are very few poseurs. There are some former riders and some closet roadies, but even they are usually pretty cool.

But there is some crap as well. One of my piss-offs is companies that actively hate each other. Like the LAPD, this hatred is institutionalized. The animus is so ingrained in the unspoken codes of these companies that, like Crips and Bloods, new employees learn it quickly and thoroughly. And it’s pretty childish.

Another thing I hate is sites that steal content. An example would be a video we produced that another company uploads to their Facebook page, often without even bothering to give credit. That’s theft.

But there’s not much more from me, so let’s see how some others feel. I’ll release more of these in the coming days. It turns out many this business are long winded!


Mark Fitzsimmons – Fox Factory Race Program Director

The biggest issue in this industry is the over marketing of every little new technology to the end consumer with jargon that doesn’t get communicated with articulated supporting data. We spend loads of time confusing the consumer, bike shop and heck, our own employees. Over ninety percent of bikes sold are completes and we market new products as if everyone is building up a frame only.

Fitz

Mark “Fitz” Fitzsimmons may live near Fox Racing Shox headquarters in Scotts Valley California, but he’s right at home in B.C.

If I am buying a new bike, do I give a crap what the axle width is of that new bike, not really. I want to know that it is wider than last year’s bike and why from the bike manufacturer, nothing more.

A recent media questionnaire was released to us and the highest percentage answer was “undecided” on almost every question. Buying a new bike is kind of like going to Best Buy to purchase a new TV and staring at the 200 flat screens on the wall. Pure paralysis.  We have presented so many new “standards” and options to the consumer, they don’t know which one is for them personally.


Chris Gagan – Industry Veteran – Race Face 5 years. Fox Head 8 years. Sugoi 3 years. Out of the biz 3 years. Crusty for at least 16 years. 

Funny, I feel like I’ve been out of the bike business for long enough given my new role in retail that part of me misses the bike industry. But what I don’t miss is the constant drive to figuratively (and in some cases literally) ‘reinvent the wheel’. I understand the necessity of new product roll outs, but it gets tiring hearing the same old sh!t all the time. As a former marketing/brand guy, it’s pretty easy to cut through all the BS and figure out the truth. I’d love a bike company to just come out one year and say ‘This bike is perfect as it is so we didn’t change a thing but god damn check out the new paint job!’. On the flip side of that, you’re always trying (as a brand) to put the best spin on your product to get your message out. That can mean kissing a lot of media ass (not that I ever took that approach with you), even if it’s just a random blogger with a podcast that has a reach of 20. And it can feel like groundhog day, especially if you’re tasked with trying to put a spin on a product that the market might not necessarily need.

We're not exactly sure what Chris Gagan is up to now. This screenshot from surveillance footage may hold some clues.

We’re not exactly sure what Chris Gagan is up to now. This screenshot from surveillance footage may hold some clues.

One thing that bothers me is people complaining that they don’t have enough time to ride because they are too busy. Welcome to this thing called life. I can’t stand it when people say ‘Want to stop riding your bike? Get a job in the bike industry!’ What a load of crap. It comes down to putting the big rocks in the jar first and letting the sand fill in around it-  a concept that I learned from a wise industry respected sage who lived a block from me in North Van and runs a mountain bike website… Most of the hammer heads I know are associated with the bike biz in some way, shape, or form- they all find time to ride. Of course I hate that the aforementioned are all faster and thinner than me, but that’s no one’s fault but mine!

The other thing that always p’d me off- people that would complain about Interbike being in Las Vegas. Get over yourselves, you entitled pricks. Yeah, would it be cool in Portland or Denver or SLC? Sure, but it’s not. So don’t complain. Your company sent you to Las Fu@king Vegas for 4 days to check cool bike stuff out, so take advantage of the free beer, endless buffets, and make the most of it. Just don’t walk around the trade show floor talking about how lit you were the night before. If you’re going to party with the boys you need to get up with the men.

I hate that I’m so crusty and old that I had to google what a shredit was. And I hate neon framed wayfarers with flat brims and wifebeaters, which seems to be the uniform of choice for fanboys at Crankworx.

Outside of that, I’d say the bike industry is a pretty amazing place to take your career if you get the chance.


Dave Tolnai – Professional Uncle

The thing that bugs me the most about the mountain bike industry is the overall lack of follow-through – the e-mails that go unanswered, the promises that get broken.  It’s like we’ve all decided that because we’re working with bikes we don’t need to bother with effort and accountability.  But maybe that’s just because everybody hates journalists and doesn’t want to talk to them?

2017 Kona Launch Squamish

I thought Uncle Dave would have more to complain about. Photo – Caleb Smith

Please feel free to send me an email if you’d like to contribute your closet grievances – anonymously or otherwise.


If you work in this business, what gets your ire up? If not what pisses you off at work?

Trending on NSMB

Comments

andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - Sept. 18, 2016, 7:01 p.m.

One thing I temper my judgement (hate) is that I know a number of people in the industry and they were or are all bike riders. Most of them still have the same fire that we have for riding. They might be marketing to us to get us to buy their bikes, their cranks, their freemastrats but I do think bike companies do love the sport and truly want to make it better. I have the perspective of a man who has ridden off road for over 30 years. I rode with the guys that started Kona, Rocky Mountain, Syncros and others. They hated crap parts as much as we do.

I don't like how it seems at times that we get fed stuff manufacturers think we want, like 15 mm axles. 20 by 110 was there already and now boost is 110. To me 15 mm while better than a qr was just a thing to differentiate it from DH.

Or the part that is 40% stiffer than the one I presently have that I cannot detect any flex in. Or Marzocchi selling me forks because tits. I am not that stupid nor are most of us.

Reply

walleater
0
walleater  - Sept. 17, 2016, 7:50 p.m.

Frame / component design with importance being put on the 'scale shot' rather than real world conditions. We've got to the point where 'enduro' bikes can't even go on the back of a trailgate with a pad without the downtube being wrecked, and I've lost count of how many fork CSUs I've come across this year. Would it really be the end of the world if bikes were just a bit heavier?

Reply

0
mevp  - Sept. 17, 2016, 7:14 p.m.

Man, I think s*** in the MTB industry is really, really, really good right now. Like insanely good.

Bikes: They're freaking amazing. They're only expensive because you bought expensive. Cheap-ish bikes right now are damn good. Look how hard we flog them, and how light they are, and they really don't break that often, and how they pedal as good as an xc bike from 10 years ago and descend better than a DH bike from 10 years ago. It's freaking amazing.

Trails: Holy crap, look around. Whistler, Squamish, Seattle. Things are on fire, amazing trails are being built by an army of pro builders. Kids by the ton are shredding the skills parks and starting to venture into the mountains. Yeah, maybe I'm biased because I've been involved for 15 years in trail building, but it's bloody well working. We're winning. Things are getting great.

Things are damn good in our world. Now carry on with your complaining.

Reply

wig
0
Wig  - Sept. 16, 2016, 10:37 p.m.

I see it the other way around. I think the Bike industry is so confused that they have not evolved at all and experiment on customers year to year. It is crazy. Other industies push the technology and they just take from them (carbon fiber, improved suspension…everything). Bike companies try to claim game changers with 6mm more axle space or a slightly taller or wider tire. Ok maybe they get credit for 1x.

Reply

poo-stance
0
Poo Stance  - Sept. 16, 2016, 8:07 p.m.

Not beta testing production model products.

And sites that get all apologetic in reviews with product failures. "Oh, so and so said it was a preproduction part"

Reply

slimshady76
0
Luix  - Sept. 17, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

Blame Microsoft for planting the beachead on the "user is the beta tester" production paradigm, back in the 90s. I've learned the hard way to wait at least a generation before buying component X, since all the first-gen ones tend to not have all the bugs ironed out. Plus you avoid the "impuesto al boludo" as we call it down here ("jerk tax" would be my best translation), by not buying the overpriced latest and greatest.

Reply

Vikb
0
Vik Banerjee  - Sept. 16, 2016, 12:16 p.m.

My saddest LBS moments this last year.

1. My GF needed new brake pads on a 2yr old bike. I am too busy to help her so I tell her to go to the LBS and take the old pads with her to show them so she gets the right ones. She comes back with pads for different model of brake. 🙁

2. I go down to the same LBS with the old pads to return the incorrect pads and ask for new pads. I'm told by the sales guy that Avid no longer makes pads for these 2yr old brakes. I say that's not possible. I am told yes that's how it is. I walk out, drive home and order those pads online [takes 5mins to find and order them] and they show up 2 days later for 60% of the cost I'd pay at the LBS. 🙁

I wish I could say these are the only experiences like this I have had, but they are not. I do try and spend money locally although I stick with service items mostly that I don't want to buy the tools for or are messy to do at home. I don't mind paying more to grab something locally, but my time in precious and the more I waste getting jacked around and then having to end up ordering stuff online anyways the less interest I have in supporting a LBS. 🙁

When I do find something in stock or bring my bike in for service I don't haggle for price. People have to eat. Stocking something locally costs more than selling it to me online. I get that. Just make the mark up reasonable and give me professional service.

Reply

poo-stance
0
Poo Stance  - Sept. 16, 2016, 8:02 p.m.

Sounds like the $22 10M roll of Stan's tape I bought from the LBS that taped 1.5 rims… Nice of the shop to tape a few rims then place the box back on the shelf.

I could go back, and they'd likely give a refund, but why would I want to support that shop again in the future.

Reply

Faction
0
Derp  - Sept. 16, 2016, 8:07 p.m.

Tessa tape.

Reply

poo-stance
0
Poo Stance  - Sept. 16, 2016, 8:13 p.m.

I read that entire mtbr thread on tubeless tape. Needed tape in a pinch. Also needed more tape than just one rim. Needed to do four rims.

Which Tessa tape is it again?

Reply

wig
0
Wig  - Sept. 17, 2016, 7:16 p.m.

I used gorilla tape, lots of LBSs do to

Reply

poo-stance
0
Poo Stance  - Sept. 17, 2016, 9:04 p.m.

No! Just no.

Reply

0
49%  - Dec. 30, 2016, 5:55 p.m.

I'm the poster who brought up Tessa tape on the forum, and…I use Gorilla Tape.
It's so easy to use and I am stupendously lazy.

Reply

poo-stance
0
Poo Stance  - Jan. 12, 2017, 10:21 p.m.

I'm so over gorilla tape. It's not waterproof for one and it's single use at best. Nothing like having to clean all the sticky residue and goo off your rims for a simple tire change.

Reply

0
49%  - Jan. 12, 2017, 10:34 p.m.

Very true. But we all have it laying around it's fool proof to apply. I just built up a couple of carbon wheels, and for that I got off my lazy ass and put down some proper Tesa tape.

Reply

0
Lacy Kemp  - Sept. 16, 2016, 10:29 a.m.

Hate's a pretty strong word… but I can think of a list of things I strongly dislike or disagree with…

Reply

peterk
0
peterk  - Sept. 16, 2016, 10:12 a.m.

crap rims and spokes on stock builds. What's the difference between a cheap set of rims and top of the line aluminum rims? $200 at most. Add $100 to the MSRP, take off that up-spec'd rear derailleur and put some proper rims with butted spokes on ALL bikes.

The excellent $2-3000 bikes aren't marketed well enough. People get it in their heads that they need XTR, XX1, S-Works, etc. No problem for people that appreciate the finer things in life and are fine with paying $10K, but now we've got people shopping online, asking for prodeals, buying chinese knock offs. Shop loses all their margin for just a marginally better bike.

Frustrating that we can intelligently debate the merits of new standards, the reputations of certain companies (cough Crank bros), but we are outnumbered 100 to one by buddy who walks into the bike shop because he needs a new bike, and the salesman just wants to get bikes out the door.

Reply

david-marshall
0
David Marshall  - Sept. 16, 2016, 9:28 a.m.

Trying to get parts warrantied really grinds my gears. I bought a new complete bike this year and after 5 months, with maybe 30 hours max on it, the fork blew a fork seal because the internal cartridge leaked. I brought it to my local bike shop to get warrantied because, its a new fork, and they told me the "suspension" company will be sending parts out of good will but will not cover labor because I should have serviced my fork earlier. This is unacceptable and is the biggest thing that bothers me about the bike industry. The companies and bike shops always try to say it's the riders fault and they try to fight every warranty claim. I understand that a 2 year old fork might fail and not be covered. But after 5 months, a fork shouldn't fail and it should be considered a defect. They try and play games and say, well you hosed your bike off with water, you rode in the mud, you rode too hard…etc. Werent these bikes designed for extreme conditions? I understand this is a hard call to make for both the bike shop and manufacturer but I have never had good luck getting things warrantied and it's always a fight.

Reply

qduffy
0
qduffy  - Sept. 16, 2016, 10:14 a.m.

Amen. I break my Ford, I go to Ford. I break my bike, I'm on the emails with the LBS, the part supplier, the local warranty repair location, the bike manufacturer. One of them has always stepped up, but it's a bit of work. And it only gets harder because then you have to get on the internet and seek some solace through commiserating about my fate and exchanging shared experiences with other affected riders, getting subtle and frequently passive aggressive digs in at the manufacturer while trying to maintain their anonymity so you're not bombarded by all those 'I heard that bike is crap, 'cos my buddy broke his too' comments that make you feel like an idiot for your multi-thousand dollar purchase. Case in point;

I recently spent over $500 on a warranty replacement for my bike's rear end because the manufacturer had no 142 rear ends left. Yay! [<-sarcasm] New boost rear end! Which necessitated a new hub, and a wheel rebuild on a pretty darn new set of Nobls. BTW, I now have a really nice 142 DT350 XD hub for sale - comes with 36t ratchet!! 🙂

I didn't care about standards or boost or any of that crap until it cost me. And that's a thing I hate.

Reply

christian-samuelsen
0
Christian Samuelsen  - Sept. 16, 2016, 10:23 a.m.

The problem we have is that there is no way to prove what amount of activity has been placed on the bike / component. (for a simple example) and therefore cannot rule out that it may have as much as 200 hours without service. I, personally, wouldn't make that call until I physically had the fork in front of me, having assessed its condition, taken it apart, re-assessed it condition after looking at the internals and made a judgement. That's my job. I, as a service person, don't know you as a rider, ( that would be the shop's fault for not providing any useful information) and so can't assume anything. I don't know whether the shop is telling the truth ( often not as businesses are like that). So I have to operate on the information that I have in front of me…. which is the broken component.

Reply

david-marshall
0
David Marshall  - Sept. 16, 2016, 11:13 a.m.

Yes, I agree that it is very difficult for a manufacturer to make this determination. It is up to the bike shop to tell them 1 of 2 things. 1. Hey this kid just bought this bike 5 months ago and I know he takes very good care of his equipment, and dont think the fork should fail like it did in that time frame, please send parts and credit the labor. Or 2. Hey this kid just bought the bike, but it looks pretty beat up and he doesnt take care of his bike. You can send parts, but dont think labor should be covered. In my case, the bike shop didnt tell them the correct information, and the manufacturer used the incorrect information to make their determination. The bike shop didnt take the time to take the fork apart to figure out what was actually wrong with it either. I am a Mechanical Engineer and I have worked in bike shops on and off for 6 years. I have been on both sides of these battles and it isnt fun.

Reply

rvoi
0
rvoi  - Sept. 17, 2016, 12:18 p.m.

I had the same thing happen and happily paid my LBS $60 to put $5 worth of warranty parts into my fork. They also cleaned it and put fresh oil into it. I was happy and my fork was like new again 🙂

Reply

801rideordie
0
801RideOrDie  - Sept. 16, 2016, 10:49 a.m.

Hey at least they offered to pay for the parts that blew! Unfortunately bikes are machines that need maintenance if you want that silky smooth ride. I've heard that forks on new bikes don't always come with the correct amount of oil in them, so maybe that contributed to the issue? It seems like five or six months of hard riding would be just about the right time to get a rebuild if you've really put 30+ hours on the fork. I've got about 6 months on my new Kona and have had to warranty the shock + rear linkage (cracked) so I understand your pain!

Reply

david-marshall
0
David Marshall  - Sept. 16, 2016, 11:17 a.m.

Hey, I never said I wasnt grateful that they were going to send the parts, they could have said f-off and not sent anything, which wouldnt be in their benefit in the long run. But to send parts but not cover labor is also a kick in the face for something this new. I've owned forks from both companies and one of the companies that uses gold fork legs, i've never had issues with, even after serious neglect.

What if your transmission blew on your new car after 10K miles, and the dealer says: "Hey, VW will be sending you a new transmission, but they wont cover labor. Do you want to install it yourself or have us do it? We will give you a sick discount if you have us do it."

Reply

andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - Sept. 19, 2016, 9:50 a.m.

Not only that, but they want you to pay to ship the fork out and back. If it is not a warranted defect fine, but if it is, that is a manufacturers fault and think it would be good marketing for them to pay. I have had a number of fork defects corrected at no cost because the fork was only a week or two old. One had loose bushings which were termed "ridiculous" by the rep. Creaking CSU usually takes me to the pay for shipping age. I understand that a warranty is a form of a contract and is worded such that I pay shipping. I don't know who pays to have a car towed to a dealer if it becomes undrivable as a result of a warranted defect? When I handle new construction warranty work, we gave the warranty holder the benefit of the doubt and hired an engineer to investigate. We paid for that whether the defect was warranted or not.

Reply

dave-evad
0
Dave Evad  - Sept. 16, 2016, 9:18 a.m.

You article is pointless because every activity is overrun with marketing. Every company wants to sell their product and become top product. The only way to get the information out there is through marketing. There is nothing special about the marketing that goes in to mountain biking that doesn't go in to every other activity. Hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, fishing… it doesn't matter, they all hype up the products to be the end all be all needed product.

The real issue is with the mountain bikers themselves. You claim that mountain bikers are the best people ever, but you are lying out your ass considering you are a journalist and shouldn't be new to the internet forum scene. The amount of hate spewed by mountain bikers is on par with any other activity. 26er/29er arguments…. hardtail/squishy arguments…. trail arguments….. brand arguments…. racing/riding arguments,,, the list is endless. It's these confrontations that generate competition among riders. There are plenty of riders who put down others for not having the latest tech or gear also. I get tired of it all and it pisses me off with every activity I participate in. I deal with it by ignoring it the best I can and focusing on my own goals.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Sept. 16, 2016, 9:39 a.m.

You must be fun at parties!

Reply

dave-evad
0
Dave Evad  - Sept. 16, 2016, 9:44 a.m.

Yeah, how dare anyone disagree with the article, huh?

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Sept. 16, 2016, 10:05 a.m.

I love it when people have valid well stated challenges to articles without taking baseless cheap shots like 'your article is pointless' and stating 'you are lying out your ass.' If I had said 'mountain bikers are the best people ever' that would have been an opinion so it wouldn't have been a lie. But I didn't say that. So you wrote something I didn't say and then called me a liar for saying what I didn't say. Sounds like a Trump strategy.

Every company wants to sell their product? You don't say! I have no idea what point you are trying to make. What are you disagreeing with? Maybe you are having an argument with yourself?

Whatever floats your boat!

Reply

0
Lacy Kemp  - Sept. 16, 2016, 10:28 a.m.

I'll say it. Mountain bikers are the best people ever!

Reply

dave-evad
0
Dave Evad  - Sept. 16, 2016, 5:28 p.m.

The article is indeed pointless, that's not a cheap shot, it's a fact. Pointless because it accomplishes nothing. What was your goal? To hear people complain about the marketing industry isn't a goal. Does it really take an article for people to realize they hate marketing? NO!

You clearly said you would choose mountain bikers over any other people. What else does that mean other than you consider mountain bikers to be the better people? I'm just saying it's not always the case and you should easily know this. And if you know this…. well…

Are you wanting to change the way companies do their marketing? Unlikely to happen considering hype is a standard practice of all marketing strategies. The whole point is to create desire to want their product, be the bigger and better person, be the faster rider, be the best with their product. Their product is always better than any other product. You really expect companies to say "We're the same product or crappier, just more expensive". Unlikely.

So what is the ultimate point of your article since you believe it has one?

Reply

craw
0
Cr4w  - Sept. 16, 2016, 9:16 a.m.

It bothers me that companies don't seem to discuss these emerging standards at all with each other. Boost and SuperBoost? COME ON. Why didn't they all just agree to migrate to the original 150mm DH standard and leave us in peace? But then a smart change comes, like 34.9 seat tubes to accommodate more dropper guts and shorter seat tubes and few of them take it on.

Reply

poo-stance
0
Poo Stance  - Sept. 16, 2016, 7:41 p.m.

The terrible thing is the standard 150mm hub has a lot of real estate available to move the hub flange spacing and rotor mounts further outboard… 😐

Reply

poo-stance
0
Poo Stance  - Sept. 16, 2016, 8:15 p.m.

K maybe not the rotor mounts, but you know what I mean.

Reply

christian-samuelsen
0
Christian Samuelsen  - Sept. 16, 2016, 8:11 a.m.

Salesmen who parade through the shop as if they know what the difference between a 9spd and 11 spd derailleur is; these same who pretend to be an extension of an in-house department who is actually the anti-sales department and then the shtstorm that the anti-sales department gets when events turn sour for 1 btchy customer. But then…. every customer turns b*tchy when they've been told that what the did to their bike isn't covered under a "defect" policy. Everyone who has ever worked through the anti-sales department in the last 4 years is aware that the only way to keep sales up is to give away everything that isn't covered anyway, otherwise you get slagged, burnt and flamed on the internet ( fYou MTBR.. by the way)…. Yes, been at this for 20 years, yes I have raced, yes I am still broke, no I don't have a nice new bike or new parts, yes I drive a truck that is older then some of the people that I work with and yes I am grouchy because as much as things have changed they have not changed for the better.

Reply

0
Ted Roome  - Sept. 16, 2016, 7:41 a.m.

The lack of demo availability pisses me off, demo fleets all build up with light California built kits instead of proper NS gear and tires. Selling stock bikes with junk build kits just to get the frame out the door. If you've been riding for a few years you can work around all this, but when you're new to the sport you get screwed.

Reply

david-mills
0
David Mills  - Sept. 16, 2016, 7:09 a.m.

I respect companies that say, "No changes to this model", or that don't base their lines on model years. This year, I am buying a complete bike for the first time since 2004. I test rode a few bikes this summer to figure out what suspension designs I like, and digested all the EuroBike news I could find to see if there were any groundbreaking developments coming down the pipe for 2017. As stated above, so much jargon, so little info. There's nothing new coming, just some refinement.

Reply

lostlunchbox
0
person person  - Sept. 15, 2016, 10:53 p.m.

Might wanna proof read the title there 😉

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Sept. 16, 2016, 8:13 a.m.

Thanks!

Reply

Please log in to leave a comment.