Ask Uncle Dave
Why do you Jerks get to Ride such Expensive Bikes?
Dear Uncle Dave,
I was recently scrolling through the trail bike reviews of various popular MTB online publications, where as is the long running trend a vast majority of review bikes were in the top build kit. And I was wondering what the real reason for the press fleet to be binged out. Is it to get people drooling at the new superbike, or is it to remove as many variables as possible to make what the frame the standout kit vs the other bikes tested. It also made me wonder the effect on the average reader, does hearing the $10,000 dollar dream machine is a great bike seem kinda obvious because of the price tag alone, and all that performance won't trickle down to the $4,000 dollar price bracket? Well now I'm just sitting here confrizzled.
lost the plot
I’ve really been enjoying these answers lately where I make other people do all of the work. That was my plan this time around, but when I reached out to the one industry person that I knew would relish the opportunity to anonymously tear apart some bike reviewers, they didn’t seem all that interested.
If you send a $3K bike to a reviewer who is used to riding $10K bikes, they criticize the bike for the reasons that make it cost less (its heavier, it doesn't have carbon wheels and aluminum rims are flexier, the brakes aren't as good, the dropper post lever isn't great, the dampers are lower quality, etc etc etc).
Which, is an answer, sure. But not the no-holds-barred, rip-out-the-stomach-through-the-asshole, shit-kicking that I was hoping for, and leaves us gasping for a few hundred more words.
Looking at my personal situation, I tend to not have to worry about things like that. Cam and Pete keep all the $10,000 bikes for themselves and it’s only the bargain shit that trickles down to my level. So I’m pretty used to testing bikes with terrible brakes, suspect droppers and weak tires. But, between your question and our industry response, I have a few thoughts.
1 – It’s a pretty crappy reviewer that can’t judge to a price point.
There are a few parts that don’t belong on any bicycle (Shimano resin only discs, perhaps?) but most things have a place somewhere, at a certain price/performance level. If a reviewer doesn’t seem to be getting this, I would probably give most of what they have to say a pass
2- If I was one of these companies I wouldn’t trust the reviewers either
So, you’ve just spent 2-3 years developing your new suspension platform. You’ve forked out for your carbon molds. You’ve fondled the right balls and wined the right people…and then all some jackass reviewer has to say is that they're disappointed that the wheels aren't carbon? I’d be pissed too.
3 – Profit is a strange beast
I think we’ve all been curious as to why McDonald’s charges $1.50 for a small pop, yet you get twice as much pop for an extra 20 cents. It doesn’t make any sense. They probably make a full buck of profit off that small pop, yet only squeeze an extra 10 cents or so out of you on that large. The math seems a bit off to me, but the people who actually make money on business insist that this is the way to do things, even if they have to give you diabetes in the process. I would imagine the profit calculations on these top spec bikes are a lot simpler than that, and I'm pretty sure normalizing high dollar specs helps them move a few extra high dollar/profit units. There seemed to be a point in here somewhere...but maybe not.
4 - Some companies really suck to deal with
Sometimes it feels like a lot of these people really believe their own marketing materials. That each and every new bike they've ever made is revolutionary. That there can't possibly be a valid piece of criticism against their wonderful new product. And you obviously don't know what you're talking about when you point it out. It's probably a lot harder to feel that way if you've sent out some low dollar, price point special.
So, there you go. Yes, yes and yes. And yes. It seems like you had all of the answers, all along, and didn’t really need me to tell you anything.
Uncle Dave's Music Club
I'm not going to talk about music this week. I'm going to talk about something else. We're in a heating standoff with our landlords, so for the last few weeks or so I've been climbing in to a nice, hot bath before heading off to bed. I feel like I'm creating the template for my retirement years.
After one or two of these evening, I got tired of staring at my feet so I started watching the Epicly Later'd series from Vice on Youtube. You should do the same.
Start with the Spike Jonze episode. It's nearly impossible to listen to this guys story and not come away impressed. I love his laid back path to success. There's something to be said for having so much talent that no matter what you do or how you do it, you find your way to the top.
Next, the Spanky and Andrew Reynolds episodes have a fair amount of overlap, with a nice arc of redemption. It feels immensely gratifying to watch potentially squandered youth find a direction.
Lastly. Muska. I don't know why, but I love the jackassery that is Muska. It's really, really strange to see him old and trimmed back.
I think my favourite part of all of these is the soothing interviews with Atiba scattered throughout. Maybe Harookz can play that part when mountain biking eventually gets around to making a series like this?
Oh fine. One song. We've talked Kevin Morby before, but he put another album out a few months ago. "Crybaby" deserves a listen or two.
Lopes - sadly we aren't giving you a top of the line bike, (and we have a Huffy lined up for Uncle Dave next) but we are going to hook you up a cool prize. We continue to raise money for the Stevie Smith Legacy fund and selling these stickers and mudders is how we do it. We’ll make the donation for you and you just get to keep the free stuff. Send us an email (with your address and phone number) to claim your prize. If any of the rest of you are keen to get your full fingers on some sweet prizing, you'd best tap out a question or two for Uncle Dave.