It's been quite a year for us at the good ship Pinkbike. As a sport we grappled with a lot of things, from issues of race to cancelled events, closed borders, and a rollercoaster of uncertainty through the whole industry. I wanted to take a moment to look at some of the things we did along the way.
First, a quick thank you to the whole Pinkbike editorial team. Even with all the upheaval, the crew wrote more original stories than ever before (including 24% more original tech stories), we finally got over 1M followers on Instagram, and we're closing in on 500K subs on YouTube as well. Thank you all for helping make it happen.
Of all the projects we did this year, I'm most proud of The Grim Donut
. Watching my dumb little joke spiral out of control into this wild project was a treat.
As a result, I've heard from several industry people that it's helped them push internally to be more progressive and experimental in their prototypes. We take a lot of pride in that and hope the conversation it started about geometry keeps unfolding.
And yes, you'll see some very exciting follow ups in 2021. I know this is the time of year where everyone says "big plans" but uhhhh, we've got big plans.
The Pinkbike Academy
may have been polarizing for the core mountain bike community, but it brought a ton of new eyeballs to the sport in a year when we have a ton of non-endemic interest. Anecdotally, each episode brought us an order of magnitude more subscribers than our videos normally do, and I'm excited to see what happens now that it's up on Amazon Prime
This was a rough year for riders on the bubble of industry support, so I'm happy for Evan's success and excited to see what he's going to do with this opportunity. I'm also very proud that every one of the contestants is in a better position for support within the industry than they were a year ago. It was a logistical nightmare to pull off this year, and I want to say a special thank you to everyone involved for finding ways to make the show work.
For next year I'm looking forward to making the series even better (yes, there will be more riding and racing), and fingers crossed we'll be able to bring in many of the incredibly talented international folks we wanted to this year.
The MTB media world loves to complain about trade shows, but we all secretly love them and we knew we'd have to do something when Sea Otter got cancelled this year. Pond Beaver
(and the Eurobike equivalent Across The Pond Beaver
) were hugely successful.
In fact, the stories we wrote for the two Pond Beaver 'virtual trade shows' were read 50% more
than Eurobike and Sea Otter stories were in 2019.
While we are excited to get back to Monterey and Friedrichshafen, we really do dislike the environmental impacts, jetlag, and shitty riding afforded by most press camps, so we're happy that this year has taught brands that we can exist without endless travel for Kool-Aid sessions.
Needless to say we hope those shows are back in 2021, but we're also thinking of doing another Pond Beaver at some point as well.
The Privateer Season 3: Walk The Talk
was another project that only happened through the pure grit and stubbornness of the team involved. Ben and co did an amazing job pulling back the curtain on the world cup race scene, and we're working to take the series to the next level in 2021. The ink's not dry on this project though (still waiting for a wealthy oligarch to hit me up), so stay tuned on that.
We started a podcast when things locked down this spring (like literally everyone else), but The Pinkbike Podcast
has grown into itself and we're really enjoying doing them. Weird.
Anyway, we're going to keep the podcast rolling in 2021 with the same crew (Levy, Kaz, me, James, and Sarah), as well as a rotating list of guests and characters. We've got all kinds of lukewarm takes and annoying questions to ask industry folks.
On the product review side, it's a hell of an accomplishment that the tech team published three Field Tests
this year. One is usually a big enough hassle, but they've gone really well so we'll do at least three again in 2021. Right now the plan is to do a value bike one in the spring, a DH bike and eMTB one in the summer (just to mess with everyone's emotions), and then a trail and enduro one again in the fall. If Levy blows it this year maybe I'll make him do a hardtail fat bike one next winter.
And on the topic of value, we're going to do more value-minded reviews
. The value Field Test this spring will be a part of that, but we'll be considering value more across everything we do. For example, we'll be setting a hard price limit even for our regular trail and enduro Field Test. As fun as checking out $14K superbikes is, we think there's more value to regular riders if we cap it at a level where the product managers have to make smart choices to deliver the best ride, rather than just throw the most expensive parts they can find at a frame and call it good. I haven't set that level yet, but it'll probably be around $6K USD—still very high end, just not obnoxiously so.
The tech team is growing
We're also going to launch Pinkbike Buyers' Guides
for key product categories in 2021. We spend a ton of time checking out new stuff, and that's not going away, but we hear the frustration when we check out 6 of the best new knee pads
without including the current product benchmarks. We want to provide a better resource to turn to when making purchasing decisions on everything from pedals to rims to multitools—especially for newcomers to the sport.
(more on that soon), and there will be at least one person tasked with doing the research and testing for these unpaid, independent buyers's guides full time. We've got a "best trail clip-in pedals" buyers guide coming shortly as a bit of a pilot, but let us know what product categories you'd like to see us focus on in the comments.
Finally, a big thanks to you Pinkers (ughhhh). You're all weird as hell and we appreciate you. Keep serving up that comment gold—we hope you never get flats, your trails never get dumbed down, and you don't ever have to change axle standards ever again. Here's to a great 2021!