The Pinkbike Podcast: Episode 5 - Can You Trust Bike Reviews?

Apr 29, 2020
by Mike Levy  
Art by Taj Mihelich

Can you trust bike reviews? The short answer: Yes. But also no. It depends.

The fifth episode of the Pinkcast is a meaty one, with a simple question that, in 2020, has a not-so-simple answer. After all, you'll find product recommendations from the media, from consumers, and from influencers (or are they ambassadors?) all mixing together on the internet. It's a bit confusing. We look at the different types of reviews out there, talk about how we like to do our reviews, and some of their shortcomings. And we can't do any of that without getting into biases (we've all got 'em), embargos (review tomorrow!), and some tips on making sense of it all.

Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever else you get your podcasts.

April 29th, 2020

If you're thinking about a new ride, who the hell should you listen to? Levy, Kaz, & Brian talk about reviewing bikes.

Hosted by Mike Levy and featuring a rotating cast of the editorial team and other guests, the Pinkbike Podcast is a weekly update on all the latest stories from around the world of mountain biking, as well as some frank discussion about tech, racing, and everything in between.

Previous Pinkbike Podcasts
Episode 1 - Why Are Bikes So Expensive?
Episode 2 - Where the Hell is the Grim Donut?
Episode 3 - Pond Beaver Tech
Episode 4 - Why is Every Bike a Trail Bike?

Hit us in the comments with your suggestions: What do you want to hear us talk about? Would you be into watching a video version, or are our dulcet voices enough for you?

Author Info:
mikelevy avatar

Member since Oct 18, 2005
2,032 articles

  • 97 7
 Cynical bunch, you lot. When have any of the reviews covered anything up? If an ENVE rim cracks, or a Yeti rear triangle cracks, or a Pole rear triangle buckles, or a Rocky Mountain snaps, have they not reported what happened? And have they not been fair and allowed these companies to respond to the situation?

Beyond any catastrophic failures, what are you left with? It all just boils down to subjective opinions on how the bike climbs, descends and handles over the period of testing. They have even started comparing bikes/products to similar bikes/products they tested recently. I'm not sure what else you all want.

If a lot of the reviews sound the same, maybe it's a testament to the quality of bikes out there.
  • 38 18
 When's the last time you remember seeing a Yeti ad on PB? or Pole? Somehow tons of people have issues with SRAM products yet we've never seen a bad review of those...and coincidentally we see tons of SRAM homepage takeovers.

Don't just examine a bad review as proof of unbiased opinions. Question what brands never get them.
  • 10 1
 Came here to say something similar to this. The bikes really are so much better today, by leaps and bounds.
I can't imagine taking someone out to the shore on those weird ass bikes we used to ride. My last park bike had a steeper head angle than my current trail bike(s) and approximately 390mm reach. Tall, short and steep. But that's the way it was. It was a great bike at the time but nothing in terms of today's stability/plow factor. Climbing ability in comparison is also light years ahead because of actual engineering.

I had no qualms about buying a bike sight unseen online because they really are just that much better now (coming back to in house engineering from people that actually ride/get input from pro's). My suspension bike is a couple seasons old and in spite of it not having 2m of reach it is still the best riding bike I've ever owned. The seat tube is a little longer than I'd like, but whatever. As you mentioned objectivity in reviews of things like bikes is nearly impossible. That is my number one reason for making any bike related purchase solely based on experience and understanding of why things are better the way they are.
  • 43 7
 @insidetheswamp: Yes, many people have problem with SRAM products, thats cause pretty much everybody has them on their bikes. Like sayin ton of people have problem with iPhone..yes, cause its milions of them around. Nobody has problem with BOX components in Czech Republic, know why? Nobody has component from them around here... if you bend your derailleur hanger, that garbage shifting is not fault of SRAM you know?
  • 23 2
 Capitalism requires cynicism. If you don't question motives when money is involved, you won't be left with any.
  • 8 2
 @insidetheswamp: No ads from Yeti or Pole... and yet they still continue to review their products, yes?

@endlessblockades: I guess it all depends on what you're basing your cynicism on. I'm not seeing anything solid here. It's just people with trust issues.
  • 1 1
 @mtb1201: Indeed the rider helps (see Wade Simmons), but the bikes certainly didn't make it easier back then. I can only assume you were there and riding said bikes, otherwise your comment might be viewed as ignorant.
  • 2 2
 @mtb1201: I agree that the rider helps, but tricks/stunts/speeds better every year. Just sayin
  • 11 3
 @ssteve: people say this, but my buddies high end 2019 trek fuel ex is a total turd. Pedals worse than my 2017 Reign. The guys that reviewed it here seem to really like it. It’s obviously an isolated example, but it’s what I can go by. Not to mention yesterday’s sentinel v2 review made no mention of the obviously still terrible paint quality (chips).
  • 8 1
 @mtb1201: No, really, sometimes it's the bike. I'm a better rider than I was in 2000, but if I go back and ride my bike from then, it barely feels safe.
  • 8 6
 @mtb1201: This is the part that pisses me off about SRAM. They undercut Shimano at the OEM level and then they bitch and moan when retailers undercut each other on their crap so they put a stop to it.
  • 3 3
 @mtb1201: to some people buying drivetrain for 2000bucks doesn´t come as normal behaviour you know.. I´m not denying that Shimano makes some absolute bangers of products, but if you then catch your beloved rear derailleur into spokes after 200km from new, you are going to jump off cliff, not with NX.. I would describe SRAM products as: "enough of performance for most people" yes, they don´t have the sophistication or crispness of Shimano, but 95% of us (including me) wont notice anyway. A piece of advice from guy (me) who dreams about Shimano, but could afford SRAM only, just don´t be snob and learn to service your bike yourself, with the money you saved riding SRAM buy season ticket for local park and learn to shred properly, cause the rider is in 99% the thing that is holding the bike back, not the other way around. We can agree on that one Smile
  • 3 4
 @DHhack: But here's the thing -- there is no objective standard in terms of saying something pedals like a turd. What feels like a turd to you might feel completely adequate to the guys doing the testing. Nothing you can do about that. It's just the nature of the beast.
  • 3 0
 @TheR: pedal strikes are a damn good / obvious indicator. Especially when it happens more than a 160 travel bike on the same section of trail, same rider and on the same day.
  • 19 2
 @TheR: the reason Top Gear got popular is because Clarkson realized that practical car reviews are boring as hell, especially reviews of cars that majority of public can afford. But he went further, he noticed that most people watching this boring stuff is not doing it to inform themselves, they do it out of entertainment. So he made an entertaining car show.

If someone comes to PB to read a review of a bike they are about to buy and PB review makes it or brakes it, then this person has more to worry about. PB tries to be informative but for big portion of people it’s infotainment. Why would someone not planning to buy a bike get deeply interested in reading about it? And this is about most readers here.

Also, we all should know by now that Geometron is the best bike in the world so why bother reading about anything else?
  • 13 0
 @modryorangutan: GX is basically the same price as XT yet Shimano works tons better.
  • 6 1
 @WAKIdesigns: I agree 100%. At best, I think these reviews only serve to confirm our own biases. If I'm leaning toward buying a certain bike, and I see a review here, I can pretty much find the final rationalization I need to buy it.

If I'm not in the market for buying anything, I'm just looking for bike porn. Or if I'm in the "I Hate Specialized Because they Sue" crowd, I can hope and pray the Enduro was the bike that snapped during the field test. It's just entertainment. No one is making any real decisions on which bike to buy here with these reviews -- that's best done on a test ride, word of mouth from your friends, etc.
  • 4 2
 @WAKIdesigns: In the vein of the reviews just being entertainment, I think what people really want to see are expensive bikes snapping and failing, and for the most part, it's just rare, so I think there's some disappointment in that.
  • 3 1
 Or in the vein of confirming biases, they're hoping these expensive bike fall short of glory in the reviews so they can say, "See. My aluminum, NX spec bikes hold up better than that! Who would spend all that money on that!" They're not getting that, so I think there's a bit of disappointment in that, too.
  • 2 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Pinkbike would do well to follow Top Gear's formula a bit more in their infotainment. They've got the two Mikes. Just pick a third personality who completes the team and they're gold.
  • 2 0
 @mtb1201: there is no such thing as a head start in product inovation, its called inovation becuase it was created. The correct way of phrasing that is 'sram pushed the boundies and actually made innovative stuff and shimano took years to catch up and now shimano lovers are sad and left out.' Also sram is more expensive so dont know where you got that from.
  • 8 2
 @FinnCable123: Let's round it up. Sram brought Narrow Wide chainrings - check. Bravo, fantastic. First to make really big cassettes Check. great. First to make even bigger cassettes check. Sram brought direct mounts chainrings (took shimano 8years) - check.

We are in 2020 - Shimano perfected the system in every single way and offers it at lower cost and higher quality. We are thankful to Sram for paving the way and now we encourage them to catch up. Their cassettes are light but mega expensive and shift like crap under power. Derailleurs are snappy, are still gigantic and sticking out like hell (waiting for Sram shadow) - although sram now wants to introduce direct mount which will increase the likelyhood of wrecking derailleurs even more. Shimano made 15x100 and 142 standard - nowhere close to wrecking as much chaos as Boost. I expect Shimano to ditch cup and cone or bring hubs with replaceable bearings.
  • 3 0
 @WAKIdesigns: 100%.

How many of us that already have great bikes (and know that the Geometron G1 is the best bike that is currently in production) but still read every damn review posted on Pinkbike.

I know I do and it is for entertainment.
  • 2 2
 @fartymarty: there’s nothing worse than a dry informative review. Even if they now reviewd Geometron or Starling, I’d read it expecting some flamboyant language and silly analogies. Comment section is filled with rational folks as soon as Geometron, Pole or Starling pops up. Although I do find Starling most interesting of them all because of how bloody simple it is, it’s like a genuine “Fk you” to the big part of the industry, and Joe makes good comments without big statements. For some bloody reasons we never clicked with each other in comments while I agree with pretty much everything he says (it suits my opinions) which I cannot say about Chris Porter with a much more vibrant personality and as much as I respect him, it overflows making him go (in my opinion) into whacky places like “heavier bike is faster”. But hey, that’s interesting talking. It is entertaining. Unlike some rare opinions from other makers which are straight forward BS making me wonder how did they manage to build a huge company? Like the engineer from YT. Zero correlation with simplicity of company idea and their bike design,
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Bring on the glamboyant language and sillogies.... As Mr Cobain once said "here we are, entertain us".

The problem is as bikes get more similar then the differences are subtle at best therefore reviewers need more skill (both riding and writing) to communicate the differences.

I like CP because of his single minded approach to make the fastest (by the clock) mountainbike and that he isnt't afraid to go on tangents to prove / disprove his theorys - at least he is throwing it out there and it's entertaining.

At heart i'm a skeptic therefore reading BS makes me laugh.
  • 1 1
 @fartymarty: I'd just love to see someone deeply involved with kinematics, to point out the best bike and put it against Starling when Joe says: most manufacturers are rtying to make their suspensions as linear as possible, because good shock is plenty capable to take care of most of that (save brake jack, if it is really a big issue anyways)
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: sign me up for that one. It would be sightly amusing if linear suspension was the best.
  • 2 1
 @fartymarty: and vice versa I'd love to sign up for timed laps, Geometron vs something typical like Trek Slash.
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Geometron vs Enduro.
  • 1 2
 @fartymarty: nah Enduro is already a bit edgy with how much they claim it's been made into a DH beast. As if previous one wasn't already a baby head eater with fantatsic straight lining capacity. We need Geometron vs something typical.
  • 1 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Yeti, Trek, SC (select appropriate Dentist Enduro Rig).
  • 1 1
 For years reviews have said all the same shit to the point its become a joke, even for the reviewers doing the review. Only recently have the reviews been honest to the point of mentioning actual problems, not just highlighting the good things. Yeah of course they would mention catastrophic failures, but aside from that it was all read between the lines. Whatever wasn't mentioned was the problematic aspects of the bike. I understand the advertising dollars are a revenue stream for the websites, but in a way these "rose tinted" reviews are keeping bike evolution at a slower pace than it needs to be.
Just my opinion
  • 1 0
 @insidetheswamp: Thumbs up !!
  • 1 0
 @endlessblockades: very well said, it's a simple and logical requirement in the modern era. cynical and critical thinking or become a sheep to be fleeced all day.
  • 1 0
 @modryorangutan: um, so Shimano doesnt offer entry level drivetrains? Who is making those Deore and SLX parts? Aliens perhaps?
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: The Geometron is not the best bike in the world at everything. I spent countless emails with Chris porter back and forth and his ego and disregard for other bikes alone is enough to put anyone off. Gearbox bikes like the Zerode and Deviate have better suspension action than the Geometron. Nowadays some of the more progressive bikes out there are so close to the Geometron in geometry that a simple angleset is enough to get them 99% on the same page. The reason the Geometron has had the appeal it's had is because when it was released most very tall riders couldn't find a bike that fit them properly, your average or shorter riders can suffer with front wheel washout and hand fatigue on the Geometron. Some love them but thete is a lot that don't, they are Marmite of the bike world.
  • 1 0
 @suspended-flesh: In essence agree with your thrust but it is skepticism, not cynicism that achieves corrective actions and positive outcomes.
  • 74 0
 The thing that gets my goat is reading a 27.5 review and half of the copy being directed toward the fact it’s not a 29er. No shit.
  • 22 1
  • 14 1
 100%!!...and the reason I take reviews with a grain of salt. We all have our biases to start with and the 29er lovers can't seem to set that aside sometimes. The reviews I read about the new Ibis HD5 came to mind. The worst one was from Enduro Magazine that was so blatantly anti 27.5 I don't know if I could trust their reviews on anything else. It didn't stop me from demo'ing the HD5 along with several other 27.5 bikes and I ended up buying one. It seems the people writing reviews forget that 99% of the population doesn't race competitively.
  • 16 7
 @k2rider1964: to be fair, they're called Enduro Magazine, and the HD5 would be better for racing enduro if it had bigger wheels.
  • 7 0

Sam Hill wins Enduro’s on both wheels
  • 6 0
 There is a variant : testing a 120mm trail bike and most of the text speaks about how it's not an enduro bike.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: They're called "enduro" for the lifestyle Wink
  • 4 0
 @brianpark: " if it had bigger wheels"...There you go again.
  • 1 0
 @k2rider1964: It seems the people writing reviews forget that 99% of the population doesn't race competitively.

--- Lets turn it, People forgot they dont live racing and are buying and spending grands for what? For promises and PRs

What only matters is go out and ride, thats it...
And those reviews are only for entertainment.... 38,6% stronger, faster, bigger, tougher lighter each year... etc.
  • 3 0
 You don't think those poor reviewers WANT to be riding 27.5 bikes, do you? Have a bit of sympathy pal.
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: you can ride enduro tracks without timing them, but instead measure how much fun you have. Not saying 29'ers aren't fun, but them being faster doesn't necessarily make them better.
  • 38 0
 i can't trust Mike Levy anymore...
  • 115 0
 Me neither
  • 9 8
 Friends don't let friends ride in pants.
  • 14 0
 @mikelevy: maybe one day i can forgive you about the grim donut review, on the 1. of April.
  • 3 2
 That's what she said
  • 3 0
 @Hamburgi: we shouldn't even be considering forgivness at the point. All efforts should be on glazing and feathering him.
  • 2 0
 Almost upvoted you but you sit at 69 votes so I couldn’t @mikelevy:
  • 2 0
 @Larkey1: I think you mean glazing and sprinkling him, no?
  • 36 0
 Can we trust bike review reviews?
  • 16 3
 I give this review of reviews 3.5/5 donuts.
  • 23 0
 @brianpark: That's a bit of a grim rating.
  • 2 0
 The next Christopher Nolan movie.
  • 2 0
 Can we trust anyone who doesn't like hardtails @brianpark
  • 1 0
 Sometimes I scroll to the bottom of the comment section to see if there is a comment section for the comment section...
  • 27 0
 Reviews are so much better than they used to be (adding in kinematics, graphs, action vids, comparisons, etc). Yes, you have to do your own research and take it with a grain of salt as to reviewer bias/preference. But if you can't test ride it yourself, I've found them to be very useful. They are a great tool to have in the toolbox. People just need to remember it's not the only tool.
  • 11 0
 Agreed, PB reviews are among the best and their writers tend to make observations which answer the questions us bike geeks want answered. As a hack myself I am naturally sceptical of my fellow journos, but - for example - PB rarely give bikes to hangers on to review. It's frustrating when you see a review of a bike you're interested in and it's written by someone who's clearly quite inexperienced or just a poor writer.
  • 21 1
 Hey, you PB editors have super thick skin! I think I do too but I know I'd have trouble dealing with so many people saying they don't trust me. Thanks for doing your jobs so well. I really appreciate your efforts and this site!
  • 8 0
 The point of this podcast is for people to think critically about their sources, including us.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: this one was really good! I think Kaz, Levy & you are the perfect match for podcasts without making it boring. Thanks for the cool content!!!

I have one thing to say though....pros aren't necessarily conservative....they ride their bikes ALL the time. This means it has to always have a feeling of fun... or else they will burn out. (like any other job lol) (short wheelbase, narrower bars...27.5...) Often times your confidence is built up by feeling "in tune" with your bike, everything feels crisp and reactive and you feel light on the bike. This doesn't mean fast, but it unlocks the desire and capability to go fast. Also, racing is done on the absolute limit, these riders need something that can allow them to do last minute line corrections to save the day (including their health and paycheck). THis is why smaller bikes sometimes suit them more. Obviously there are some riders that make it look really smooth even when they're pushing it...but those are the best riders on the planet.

Some people just try too hard.
  • 22 2
 I found this commentary laterally stiff but vertically compliant. Nice work. Smile
  • 12 1
 Was it playful enough?
  • 7 0
 @brianpark: no, but very flickable
  • 4 0
 @brianpark: yes, and climbed like a scared mountain goat.
  • 10 0
 There's definitely something to back 20 years ago when we kinda perused bike shops, talked to friends, and read manufacturer websites rather than listening to dozens of youtubers recite geometry numbers and say things like "planted, poppy, confidence inspiring, gets the job done, seat tube, head tube, tire swap, more reach, climbs like..., brawler, stiff, flexy, better on the downs" etc. But youtube has essentially inspired reviews of EVERYTHING to no end. You can probably find a review on that $10 phone protector you've been eyeing. Way of the turning back.
  • 10 0
 The reason we can’t trust bike reviews is because reviewers or review-organizations don’t want to bite the hand that feeds. When your content, moreover business is reliant upon getting access to product, it’s not wise to be negative -even if it’s honest and accurate- because every company is in business to sell things to people, so they don’t want to give their product to someone who may negatively affect their sales.
  • 9 1
 PB has always been pretty straight about it, and I’m sure Rocky Mountain, Enve, and Pole (to think of some examples) wish their reviews had gone differently.
  • 2 1
 @cwatt When a company is seen as picking favorites with regards to who they allow ride and review their bikes it can be much more damaging in the long run to brand image. People should realise that a company punishing a bad review, is a company that should not be supported and trusted. If they are willing to ignore a massive media publication, imagine what they will say to you, a nobody, when you make a warranty claim they dont agree with. It goes both ways, Pinkbike should be transparent over any issues they find but they should also call out companies that are possibly hiding something
  • 9 0
 Great episode. A lot of insights into the how's & why's of product reviews.

But one thing they touched on that I personally always have to take into account is RIDER WEIGHT. It makes a HUGE difference when I'm 50 lbs heavier than Kazimer/Levy. I certainly don't expect either of them to gain weight or for Pinkbike to hire someone heavier to test bikes. But it seemed to me they down-played the effects of weight a little bit (maybe that's just my perception, I could be wrong). I know on my home trails I simply cannot ride all the same stuff my lighter weight weenie friends ride. This is especially true for forks & wheels.

The other bias I always take into account is PNW trails. That's where they live/work and ride, so I get it. Nothing wrong with that... but my east coast rocks and trails are just different, it's just important to keep in mind.
  • 6 0
 Yeah, the lack of a major east coast publication just kills me. The super long wheelbases and slack angles just don't work as well here, but you never hear about that because...well, because all the big boys are based in BC, Washington and Cali.
  • 2 0
 @roma258: Dirt Rag was a major loss. I’m no longer on the East Coast, but I had a lifetime subscription and was always nice keeping in touch with my east coast roots.
  • 7 0
 depends on what bike you're used to...
when I was finally about to hang up my "freeride/DH only" bikes...I got a Rocky Mtn Flow (yeah i know it's a dj bike) but after riding it for a month it was my new favorite bike...even though the reviews kind of panned it.
All that to say...any bike that is more useful than your current bike probably will be an improvement.
  • 5 0
 This is my new favorite MTB podcast! Great episode with candid commentary. Would love it if you guys could take some time to speak to the "marketing jargon" and what design features in the last 7-10 years regarding frame construction and design have really delivered the goods. Bikes have become so good, but to my untrained eye, it seems like everybody has a similar geo offerings and a variation of roughly 4 rear suspension designs. Keep up the great work!
  • 1 0
 Glad you're enjoying! Definitely we should do one to highlight the design changes that actually lived up to the hype (and probably some that didn't). A few come to mind for sure.

As for bikes getting more and more similar, I'm not sure I agree. That said, I think that SOME design convergence wouldn't be the worst thing. I might be wishful thinking here, but if brands had less differentiation and "features" to sell on they'd put more effort into their business models (less middlemen, lower prices) and their brands (more money for athletes and creators).
  • 4 0
 followed richie and shawn for about 4 berms and they left me so fast. they just found speed off every little feature, amazing to see in person. it changed my riding for sure.
  • 6 3
 Reviews are really like any other opinion based feedback... there's not really any objective measure by which you can review a bike so it becomes a subjective list of qualities. Watch a few reviews and you'll get a really solid idea of what qualities a bike objectively possesses; if 8/10 reviews say a bike climbs well it probably climbs well... if 1/10 reviews say a bike feels unstable on downhills it's probably not the bike feeling unstable.

I don't know when people became so eager to be told what to think by others but reviews aren't meant to be a definitive, trusted source as to what a bike is or isn't... they're meant to give you an idea of what a bike does well and what it doesn't and the degree to which each of those things is a factor so that you can decide based on your own preferences if it might be a good fit. Take in some reviews, read some specs, get some opinions and decide how what you learn lines up with what you're looking for.
  • 3 0
 There are bike reviews and ownership reviews.

If one wants to really see what a bike or brand is like, just head to an owner's forum and you'll see generally how they go.

There are bikes which review well but have horrible ownership experiences for all sorts of reasons and they don't show up when the magazine / site shreds on it for their review.

What I also find with bike reviews is that the new shiny model seems to address issues with the previous shiny model which never really came up in that earlier review. Happens all the time and it's why I can't trust them.
They're entertaining though.
And plus one for everyone who commented on the bike videos. They look the same and whenever I see one I think, that could be just about any brand of bike.
Just put a talented rider on it and send them down the hill.
  • 3 0
 Should you trust reviews from a guy who thinks that every bike should be a 29er and who calls compression adjustment cheating? Hell no! >D
Reviews are like opinions everybody has one. Compare several reviews and test the bike out for how it suites you, not some dude from other side of the world, with different fitness and skill level, riding different terrains than you and having different demands than you.
Review are providing good base information to start with, but they are nothing to be blindly trusted and followed...
  • 5 1
 Great podcast guys.

Content on pinkbike these days, is A++. I even learnt a new word today, “Astroturfing” which apparently has been around for almost 10years. I was aware of the practice, but not the word.. cool.
  • 2 0
 At the end of the day, all we have to go on are reviews. There are one or two I trust more than others, based on years of bike geekery and reading a lot of reviews. Suggesting a test ride is all well and good, but I've been looking at that for my wife (I have a better idea of what I want for a bike than here), but you're basically reduced to renting bikes at $60-100 a go. Of you've got a few shortlisted, then you're halfway to a used frame anyway. And that's if you can find the bikes you want.
  • 5 0
 A welder is a great purchase @mikelevy

You can weld the HT back on the Grim Donut when it tear off.
  • 2 0
 There's only one recipe to trust reviews.

Find a reviewer that has the same taste and feels close to the same has you. If you like bike A but reviewer doesn't, find one that does and then try 2-3 other bikes at demo that he likes and see if your own review is similar. If so, you found your reviewer.

I used to work in the car industry doing photos and videos for test drive (5 years). Many "journalist" would not talk bad about a product because they wanted to have the all access and paid trip to Germany to go test the latest car on the autobahn....or have a trip to Italy to test out another car. This killed my view of car reviews.
  • 1 0
 Nice podcast, thanks! But I struggle horribly with your suggestion for demo bikes. Am I the only one? When I sit on a new bike I need >3 runs to get the suspension halfway correct, can`t tell whether the bike climbs horrible or its just the tire I never had before, and struggle with the brakes I am not used to.
  • 4 0
 I ride my hardtail all the time and I love it, it's a cool shift from my enduro sled.
  • 1 0
 Ditto my rigid bike. Change is good and it makes you go faster on the big bike.
  • 1 0
 I usually take a sprinkling of info from a bike review. If I find another review of the same bike, if the 2 have the same opinion, it sticks. Most reviews are straight forward. What sometimes happens though, the reviewer rides something that works for them! My brother bought Iron Horse in 1992 when we first started riding. A 16.5 inch frame with a 24.5" top tube. 3" commuter riser bars, DJ and riser bars were hard to find back then. Raved about it over and over. I rode it and felt like I was driving a plow truck on a race track. With super short chainstays, you couldn't weight the front end in every corner or situation. But it worked for him. Also had bike shop employees talk highly of bikes, but after riding them a few times, I don't feel what they do. It's still nice to have the impressions of bikes out there, if I buy it or not.
  • 3 0
 Out of all the bike reviews you guys have over the years which bike comes to mind as the most fun bike? Answer from both mikes and brian???
  • 13 1
 Off the top of my head, the 2015 Trek Fuel EX stands out. It was crazy light and fast, and I did some silly things on that bike.
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer: nice! Interesting choice
  • 1 0
 Happy you mentioned the Bronson Right after agreeing that 29ers stole your hearts @mikekazimer:
  • 1 0
 I can see how questionable incidents can happen, but from my experience it's quite rare. Sometimes the business is so intimate that it's truly difficult to separate the product from the people behind it. It's a very fine line between writing your opinion and ranting too much on trivial stuff and burying an otherwise decent product. I think pinkbike's reviews usually walk that line very well. I've been on the writing side of the of the coin for many years. Usually for little to no payment, even under successful publications. People always assume there's so many conspiracies behind the scenes, it's absurd. I have a hard time convincing even my best friends, who ride alongside me during my review, that the truth is much, much more innocent. I can count on one hand the incidents where I've had editors embellish my review, and hardly any incidents where a review was untrue. I did experience cases where products that completely sucked didn't even finish the full review, for various reasons.
  • 5 3
 Biggest con is that all the reviewer are mostly carbon. When are you going to hire some metal tech editors? Steel would be great but even alloy would be better than this all carbon lifeform all the time bullshit.
  • 11 0
 I do have a fair bit of titanium that's been installed in my body over the years - does that count?
  • 1 1
 @mikekazimer: Some kind of Atherton Bikes additive process? That's cool tech but you're still mostly carbon tubes. Probably custom built too, my geo is waaay different to yours.
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer: I love my titanium too! I play with the screws in the plates all the time, it's neat.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: one of my Ti road bikes is is the Ti in my right leg :-)
  • 1 0
 I always check out a handful of reviews and look for similarities. It seems that on budget bikes they have lower end parts that maybe don’t have great QC. So, if one person hates the brakes etc, you take note, but look for more of the same.
  • 1 0
 your Radek comments were the best, i was his mechanic at CC when this page was in its inception, that guy would break a bike frame or wheel or any type of component on a daily basis. it was trying and i sure learned to build wheels fast. its a good thing he got into moto. but he was good for the industry...
  • 1 0
 I accept you don't have too much brand bias, but what about personal biases and perceptions? I always read reviews with comments like fork "X" has very strong compression damping, or wheel "Y" has excellent vertical compliance, yet they have not measured these things they are making quite definite claims about. Have you ever considered proper blind testing, combined with incorporating actual data logging or dyno testing to verify those kinds of comments?
  • 1 0
 To answer the question posed by @mikelevy at the end of this podcast episode, I would answer...that it depends on the publication that does the reviewing on whether I trust the review or not. You bring up a lot of great points here as well including user reviewer’s confirmation bias which is why I’m always sceptical of them. As far as legit publishers, there are some mags that are clearly just advertising the product and offer little criticism. Bikeradar’s Seb Scott - who I believe you reference in this podcast - reviewed the exact same ‘17 Fuel EX 9 that I own and was bang on in his assessment. He didn’t sugar-coat his dislike for certain aspects of the bike either, which was how you should review products for your consumers. You also reviewed the 2020 model Fuel EX and again, were bang on about the RE:aktiv shock and overall character of the bike. (The numbers and components being close enough to my model to use them for a comparison) If someone has owned or demoed the product that has been reviewed and it matches with the review description, that’s a good sign that they can usually be trusted. Keep these podcasts rolling!
  • 1 0
 I stopped really scouring bike reviews after reading the Zerode Taniwha review on PB. I was riding one at the time, and had similar negative thoughts on the shifter for about 5 seconds until I got over myself, learned something new, and starting smashing laps faster than I ever had before because of the rear wheel's constant traction. It's all subjective bollocksy hair splitting, and the only real way to know is to ride the bike yourself and see what works for you. I've got my dream bike...0 fucks given about anything else because of they way it rides for me.
  • 1 0
 Perception beats reality for pretty much all individual reviews. I have friends who work in science, yet because their new enduro bike climbs better than their 1998 XC bike, it must climb better than all bikes. You can show them wattage over elevation calculations and they don't care...the bike was $6000 and they are a better climber than me so 170 enduro bikes are the best climbers and any further discussion will result in anger and bad feelings. I've experienced this with close friends and tons of strangers on the internet. It's so insanely non-objective that I just don't talk about comparing bikes with anyone anymore.
  • 1 0
 I trust bike reviews, just not one individual review. I just bought a new bike and I read several reviews. One review was middling while the rest were pretty consistent with their positive points. The one middling review was due to the extraordinary size of the reviewer pointing out issues due solely to his size. I take the consensus of a bunch of reviews. By the way, my new bike was a hardtail and it has been fantastic so far and a blast to ride. I did spend my last 15 years on a FS bike. I only own the one bike and i am not sure why there was so much hate in this podcast for hardtails? The new modern hardtail is very capable, fun and joy to ride or that has been my experience.
  • 2 2
 Never, in the history of the world, have two people entirely agreed on anything.

Back in the day, before electronic media, we perused the gear reviews from Outside Magazine; yes, they used to be more content oriented. Then, like now, you didn't buy something simply because someone else said it was "cool".

So yeah, like all advertising and any opinion, bike reviews are biased.

Don't get butt hurt if you don't agree with an opinion ... unless it's your opinion, in which case therapy may be on order Wink

Not to mention, it's fun to read what other people think, even if they wrong.
  • 7 7
 But trump?
  • 3 0
 "Then, like now, you didn't buy something simply because someone else said it was "cool"."

Um... I'd say like 80% of consumer behavior is based on someone else saying it's "cool" and that is then directly related to HOW COOL the person is whose saying the product is COOL...
  • 1 1
 @endlessblockades: Unfortunately what came to mind was "Yeezy", but yeah same thing... Smile
  • 2 1
 @Compositepro: I have a feeling I agree with you entirely.
  • 1 1
 I think pb and other websites do a great job (ex endurotribe or vojomag in french).

The only thing I can complain is the frequent testing of very high end bikes you cant pay (for most of us) or even order if you have money (limite quantities).

Those last reviews with value bikes were really cool. I like to see hardtails too. Please more tests like these !
  • 1 1
 I think you guys have mentioned it in previous pods as a possibility but would love to hear a pod on the size (as in travel size) of bikes people ride and that why, as a generalisation, do people buy bigger bikes than what they need
  • 1 0
 All of this is funny to me. I just bought an aluminum Tallboy 4 to defile it with a 150mm coil fork, 27.5 wheels, and no dropper. Oh, and I bought a small even though I am 5’10”

See you all in hell! :-)
  • 1 0
 Another great podcast! Well done guys! It was interesting to hear that you also think the pros are a conservative bunch and shouldn't be used as a reference by the average rider.
  • 1 0
 What would be great is a bit of critical thinking when an "innovation" like knock block, Superboost 157 or Dub is released instead of just being nice PR rep selling the 0.5% increase in stiffness.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark - Buy a Norco Torrent (or whatever you can access) and it will become your most fun bike! So fun and makes us all better riders (line choice and can't be lazy)! It also makes the "boring" trails fun again!
  • 2 1
 Can Pinkbike feature a head to head review off- Pinkbike staffer vs athlete? I'd love to go toe to toe against either @mikekazimer or @mikelevy.
  • 1 0
 Shout out to pinkbike for encouraging us to look at other reviews and name checking other top journalists. As a result I've been reading a lot of Al Muldoon's reviews.
  • 4 5
 I’d have to say I don’t really believe ANYONE, but I do look at every review, forum post, etc before making a big spend. What I don’t think most people realize is that bike magazines and bike websites like Pinkbike and MTBR,, etc. are just another arm of marketing, like others have noted these “editors” get paid to go to product launches and trained about the “benefits” products provide the consumer. While many “editors may attempt to be in-biased it’s obvious they know who butters their bread: advertising.
  • 1 0
 Some guys have made pretty good efforts to make some of their reviews more standardized. Comparing the budget bike on the impossible climb was good content.
  • 3 0
 Good podcast mates! Well done!
  • 2 0
 So much hardtail hate! Can't we have full suss and hardtail bikes and enjoy them all? Either way these podcasts are great.
  • 2 1
 I only trust the facts like the spec, bike geo and other technical info. Never the ride impression of the tester.
  • 2 0
 Just refer to it as "TGDD-20" from now on (the grim donut debacle 2020)
  • 2 1
 Actually, the right question is: Can you trust a bike reviewer who asks you if you trust bike reviews?
  • 2 0
 I bought a hardtail as well.
  • 2 0
 I don't know how buying a hardtail is "irresponsible" ...
  • 1 0
 @BenReohr: I thought I was being responsible
  • 1 0
 So do I!

2019 Chameleon R+ that’s already modded hahahaha

Code R brakes
Marzocchi Z1 coil 160mm
GX shifter
Nuke proof stem
Race face pedals and grips
Michelin wild enduro tires
  • 1 0
 Also pink bikes reviews have helped me find my next new bike an sb165 and I’m stoked gets here may 15th
  • 1 1
 Talking about things breaking: What about the Rocky Mountain Slayer? Any info on what happened to the bike that broke during the field test? Any specifics?
  • 5 6
 Can I trust a subject review or any review that is paid for or sponsored by a corporation? Judge for yourself - you know the answer...
  • 10 1
 You know, if you listened to the pod, you would know that they discuss that. Pinkbike isn't paid for reviews..
  • 2 2
 @goldencycle: I get that, but a lot of reviews are just that - a subjective, personal ride review of a bike or a few bikes based on how it feels after a few rides. A lot of the reviews - even the written ones, tell you how good this one bike is but the reviews falls short on really slamming a product when it really sucks. As much as I want to hear good news about a product, I want to know the sucky parts of it in detail. I want to compare apples to apples and then apples to oranges and vice versa so that you know the product and their weaknesses inside out. But again, a lot of these tests that goes on are based on personal preferences and you can't just base it all on reviews until you actually do your own personal reviews on the bikes you want to try out. Sure, Pinkbike might not take bribes and try to be objective as possible, but a lot of other reviews are supplied with products sent in by companies. So, a lot of times, the negatives are kind of shortened to highlight more of the positives.

I would almost say that I'd trust a more negative review than I would trust a more favorable review. With a person writing in a bad review, you'd know the person found out the issues and what the dislikes are as opposed to a false positive that gets reported as a personal preference. Just like I always do when I read reviews on places like Amazon, I always look at the ones that are rated the lowest and work my way up to the best ratings to see what are the bad and what are the best things about the product.
  • 8 1
 @CSharp: Listen to the pod, they don't release reviews based on just a couple rides. And they discuss the shortfalls of first ride reviews. And they always discuss the cons they find when riding the bikes. But you can't expect them to experience every possible negative aspect of a bike in the time they have it.
  • 2 1
 @goldencycle: That's true and you have to take the reviews for a grain of salt. Bikes nowadays are like fashion. They come and go within a span of a year or so and then the next season, it's the same brand and model, but the wheelsize or some other "standard" might replace what was there the previous year. So, long term reviews for a bike might not be valid if you're looking for a bike now. This is where the person looking for a bike will read a bunch of reviews and then that person would have to demo the bikes for himself/herself. Without doing that, all that info are based solely on personal preferences on the reviews. So, without testing the bike yourself, you may hate it after a couple of rides. It's like buying a car, without knowing the reliability record since there is no long-term study - such as JD Powers/Edwards or Consumer Reports Ratings (the later is actually paid by manufactures on some of the brands).

Other stuff like components may have a longer shelf life and the write-ups on those can be seen from numerous sources. Those are probably better since you can compare between different models and different brands on how things function as compared to one another. Since the shelf life is longer, you have long term reviews even if they're fixed in later versions of the same model.
  • 1 1
 @CSharp: Again, listen to the pod. Media reviews, long term reviews, component reviews, whatever review is just a piece of the puzzle. I think anyone would encourage a buyer to try to ride the bike they want before buying it! No reviewer is going to be able to ride like you ride, in your conditions, and put the wear on the components to simulate 3-5 years of riding when stuff breaks.

So you're not wrong, but you can't blame pinkbike, or any media outlet, for the inherent flaws in reviews. Especially if pinkbike reviewing staff are talking on a podcast (which you still clearly haven't listened to) about the good and bad parts of bike reviews.
  • 1 1
 I allow myself to be herded like sheep by the media and fans. I’m ok with that.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer this reminds me of the MadDecent Free Gucci Shirts from 08
  • 1 0
 Love these podcasts levy keep them coming please
  • 1 0
 “Kamloops shuttle guys wearing jean shorts”. I feel attacked.
  • 1 0
 Sick bro
  • 1 0
 So yes and no then
  • 8 9
 No, I don't trust the "reviews" here or other sites.
  • 1 3
 Anyone else notice the microphone in the podcast graphic is very phallic looking?
  • 5 0
 I think you are just getting very “thirsty”.
  • 1 0
 Only five episodes ago
  • 5 7
 well if you pay for bike review , i doubt they will make it look bad ;-)
  • 15 1
 I'd recommend listening to this episode - we go over that very topic. For the record, none of the reviews on Pinkbike are paid for - we're open to checking out any relevant and interesting products, no matter if they're made in a garage or by a massive company.
  • 2 3
 @mikekazimer: OK I see . I imagined you were paid for it to be honest... So my apologies .
My eastern European mentality striked again Wink
  • 3 2
 @mikekazimer: pb may not be directly paid for reviews, but there does seem to be a correlation between frequency of reviews and the size and frequency of the brand's banners on the site. For example Santacruz bikes seem to get more review space than almost any other brand, and their ads are always front and center on the site (which I'm assuming is not free).
  • 6 1
 @mgrantorser: Why do you think Santa Cruz gets more review space? it seems to me that when a brand releases a bike, it gets reviewed. Yes, last year Santa Cruz replaced almost all their bikes with new models, so each model had its day of fame on the front page, but I don't think it is imbalanced at all...

can you give an example of a bike that didn't get mentioned? Or a bike that got mentioned when I shouldn't have?
  • 3 5
 @mikekazimer: similarly, I've never heard a direct criticism of a sram product in a review despite the fact that forums all agree they put out some garbage (sx). They also seem to be one of the site's biggest advertisers.

Every review of a bike with a reverb doesn't include a comment about the myriad of know issues with that POS, and yet every review of a bike with shimano brakes mentions the wandering bite point. I may be making an assumption, but I bet sram spends more on advertising then shimano.
  • 4 1
 @mgrantorser: From Brian Park, above:

"Isn't as reliable as some other options."

"Slow rebound speeds in cold weather."

"Not as easy to work on as a cable operated post."

"I'm still not convinced that actuating a dropper via hydraulic hose is the way forward. Fully hydraulic systems are still harder to fix trailside and more daunting to service at home."

-Pinkbike on the Reverb over the years
  • 3 2
 @goldencycle: Bronson got a first look, review, and included in the field test. Tall boy got a review and included in the field test. Conversely ibis was conspicuously left out of the cheap field test, I would argue because it would have decimated the santacruz.
  • 5 1
 @mgrantorser: I have no idea whether Shimano or SRAM spend more with Pinkbike. We have a separate advertising department.

We were critical of Shimano while Sram took the lead on 1x, and now we've been critical of Sram in comparison to Shimano's new offerings (XT is so good, we picked it over the much more expensive X01).

We don't hate SX like some do. We address why that might be in the podcast: media doesn't spend as long on bikes as consumers. I also think that there have been some running changes with that group, and it's better now than when it launched.
  • 5 1
 @mgrantorser, Ibis wasn't included in the Value Bike Field Trip because we'd already featured the Ripmo AF last year. There are only so many bikes we can review, and yes, sometimes someone's favorite doesn't get included, but we're trying.

As @goldencycle said, sometimes you'll see a brand featured more heavily because that year they have a bunch of new bikes rolling out.
  • 2 2
 @mikekazimer: all this isn't to say you guys aren't trustworthy, your reviews in particular seem to fit with my perspectives on the bikes, so I tend to seek them out. That said, I do think the site has biases people should think about. For example, why has no one outright said that xt12 destroys anything sram makes with the possible exception of AXS? If you guys did think that (which I expect you do as it's pretty self evident) would you be allowed to publish it?
  • 7 3
 Santa Cruz gets more review space than other brands because readers are interested in them, and we enjoy riding them. They got more coverage in Field Tests the last year because of logistics, not because we were trying to exclude anyone.
  • 2 5
 @goldencycle and @brianpark: yes, pb on occasion alludes to issues with SRAM, but even this is done carefully, and imo with clear bias. Where is the statement that they have a fundamental design flaw (which the reverb has) in every review of every bike with a reverb (which is the treatment shimano brakes get).
  • 5 0
 @mgrantorser: Shimano brakes' design flaws (servo-wave and bite point) are apparent immediately, while Reverb issues tend to be long-term reliability issues. We discuss why that's a problem with all media reviews in the podcast. Smile
  • 2 7
flag RoadStain (Apr 29, 2020 at 14:58) (Below Threshold)
 @brianpark: Whatever, you're on the payroll ;-P
  • 6 8
 I don’t
  • 5 7
 F no
  • 4 7
 Hard no.
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