The Pinkbike Podcast: Episode 110 - Trying (and Failing) to Reinvent the Mountain Bike

Mar 17, 2022
by Mike Levy  
Pinkbike Podcast
Art by Taj Mihelich

What do e-bikes, dropper posts, one-piece wheels, and air-powered shifting all have in common? They're all reinventions of an existing product, and while the first two have had a massive impact on our sport, today's episode is all about those interesting but fatally flawed components. Mike Kazimer, Ryan Palmer, and I chat about why Shimano's Airlines drivetrain is so great, the Spin wheels we all wanted, linkage forks, and other questionable products.

March 17th, 2022

Where's my hover bike?

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.

Podcast presented by RXR

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?
Episode 5 - Can You Trust Bike Reviews?
Episode 6 - Over Biked Or Under Biked?
Episode 7 - Wild Project Bikes
Episode 8 - Do We Need an Even Larger Wheel Size?
Episode 9 - Why Are We Doing a Cross-Country Field Test?
Episode 10 - Getting Nerdy About Bike Setup
Episode 11 - Are We Going Racing This Year?
Episode 12 - What's the Future of Bike Shops?
Episode 13 - Are Bikes Too Regular Now?
Episode 14 - What Bikes Would Pinkbike Editors Buy?
Episode 15 - What's Holding Mountain Biking Back?
Episode 16 - Who's Your Mountain Biking Hero?
Episode 17 - XC Field Test Insider
Episode 18 - Electronics on your Mountain Bike: Good or Bad?
Episode 19 - The Hardtail Episode
Episode 20 - MTB Conspiracy Theories
Episode 21 - Stuff We Were Wrong About
Episode 22 - Does Your Riding Style Match Your Personality?
Episode 23 - Grim Donut 2 is Live!
Episode 24 - Why Even Buy a DH Bike?
Episode 25 - Fall Field Test Preview
Episode 26 - The Three Most Important Mountain Bikes
Episode 27 - The World Champs Special
Episode 28 - All About Women's Bikes
Episode 29 - Freeride or Die
Episode 30 - Would You Rather?
Episode 31 - Wet Weather Riding Tips & Tricks
Episode 32 - What Needs to Change in the Bike Industry?
Episode 33 - Behind the Scenes at Pinkbike Academy
Episode 34 - Grilling Levy About Field Test Trail Bikes (and His Bonspiel)
Episode 35 - Story Time - Stranger Than Fiction
Episode 36 - Grilling Kazimer about Field Test Enduro Bikes
Episode 37 - The 2020 Privateer Season with Ben Cathro
Episode 38 - Editors Defend Their 2020 Best-Of Picks
Episode 39 - Predicting the Future of Mountain Biking
Episode 40 - The Pinkbike Awards!
Episode 41 - Racing Rumours and Team Changes
Episode 42 - Mountain Biking's Guilty Pleasures
Episode 43 - Dangerholm's Wildest Custom Mountain Bikes
Episode 44 - Mountain Bike Suspension Decoded
Episode 45 - What Makes a Good Riding Buddy
Episode 46 - The RockShox Zeb vs Fox 38 Deep Dive
Episode 47 - High Pivot Bikes: The Good, The Bad, and The Why?
Episode 48 - Rides That Went Horribly Wrong... & Why That Made Them So Good
Episode 49 - What's the Best DH Bike?
Episode 50 - Are Bikes Actually Getting Less Expensive? (Value Bike Field Test Preview)
Episode 51 - Should MTB Media Post Spy Shots?
Episode 52 - Our Most Embarrassing MTB Moments
Episode 53 - Should Climbers Still Have the Right of Way?
Episode 54 - Best and Worst MTB Product Marketing
Episode 55 - Big Dumb Rides & Staying Motivated
Episode 56 - What Were the Most Important Inventions in Mountain Biking?
Episode 57 - What Were the Best (and Worst) Trends in Mountain Biking?
Episode 58 - Debunking Mountain Biking's Biggest Myths
Episode 59 - Value Bike Field Trip Surprises & Spoilers
Episode 60 - What Kind of Mountain Biker Do You Want to Be?
Episode 61 - Athlete Pay, Lycra, Equality and More from the State of the Sport Survey
Episode 62 - Editor Preferences and Why They Matter
Episode 63 - Our Best (And Worst) Bike Buying Advice
Episode 64 - Who's On Your MTB Mount Rushmore?
Episode 65 - The Hardtail Episode
Episode 66 - The Best and Worst of Repairing Bikes
Episode 67 - The Story of Mountain Biking's Most Interesting Man: Richard Cunningham
Episode 68 - Who Are Mountain Biking's Unsung Heroes?
Episode 69 - The Good, Bad, and Strange Bikes We've Owned - Part 1
Episode 70 - The Good, Bad, and Strange Bikes We've Owned - Part 2
Episode 71 - The Story of Mountain Biking's Most Interesting Man: Richard Cunningham - A Pinkbike Podcast Special, Part 2
Episode 72 - Hey Outers!
Episode 73 - The Details That Matter... and Some That Shouldn't
Episode 74 - The Best Trails We've Ridden and What Makes Them So Special
Episode 75 - Things MTB Brands Waste Money On
Episode 76 - MTB Originals and Copycats
Episode 77 - Interview with Outside CEO, Robin Thurston
Episode 78 - Modern Geometry Explained
Episode 79 - What's the Future of eMTBs?
Episode 80 - The Best Vehicles for Mountain Bikers
Episode 81 - You've Got Questions, We've (Maybe) Got Answers
Episode 82 - Behind the Scenes at Field Test
Episode 83 - Does Carbon Fiber Belong On Your Mountain Bike?
Episode 84 - Explaining RockShox's Computer Controlled Suspension
Episode 85 - Is the Red Bull Rampage Too Slopestyle?
Episode 86 - Greg Minnaar on the Honda DH Bike, World Cup Racing, and Staying Fast Forever
Episode 87 - How to Love Riding When it's Cold and Wet
Episode 88 - Mountain Biking on a Budget
Episode 89 - The Derailleur Pickle
Episode 90 - Is Supre the Future of Trouble-Free Drivetrains? (with Cedric Eveleigh of Lal Bikes)
Episode 91 - Riding Every Double Black in the Whistler Bike Park with Christina Chappetta
Episode 92 - Does Bike Weight Really Matter?
Episode 93 - Staying Motivated and Overcoming Burnout
Episode 94 - PBA Contestant Tori Wood on Her First Race and Finding the Right Mindset
Episode 95 - Field Test Down-Country Bike Debrief
Episode 96 - PBA Contestant Israel Carrillo on Riding in Mexico and Why It's Not Always About Speed
Episode 97 - Can We Predict the Future of Mountain Biking?
Episode 98 - Field Test Trail Bike Debrief
Episode 99 - New Year, New You?
Episode 100 - Q&A with the PB Editors
Episode 101 - MTB Tradeshows Explained
Episode 102 - Should MTB Media Be Going to Press Camps?
Episode 103 - Secrets from the World Cup Pits with Henry Quinney
Episode 104 - Lachlan Morton on How to be a Happy Bike Racer and the World's Longest Climb
Episode 105 - The 3 Bike Budget Challenge
Episode 106 - What's Your Ideal Ride Look Like?
Episode 107 - How (And Why) Did You Start Mountain Biking?
Episode 108 - Behind the Scenes at the Value Bike Field Test
Episode 109 - Berm Peak's Seth Alvo on Making Videos 24/7, Soul Rides, and Building a Bike Park

Author Info:
mikelevy avatar

Member since Oct 18, 2005
2,032 articles

  • 24 0
 As a home mechanic and former amateur racer, here's what failing looks like:
1. Weird internal routing and stem integration that makes stem swaps a 2-3hr including a brake bleed. Transition got it right with an external brake hose running along the NDS.
2. Anything that negatively impacts serviceability and resale value, particularly unnecessary electronic shifting and electronic suspension. Nobody wants to buy your v1 Live Valve/Flight Attendant/AXS dropper.
  • 6 0
 I don't really get why everybody goes crazy for the brake hose being external. Why not make everything external? Do people change their brakes more than their drivetrain? What's special about the brake specifically?
  • 10 0
 @Will762: changing a derailleur cable is a lot less messy and involved than with an hydraulic brake cable. Also, internal routing is great if there are internal guides/tubes incorporated. However, most manufacturers keep it at 'drilling a couple of holes in the frame and let the customer figure out that rest'.
  • 7 6
 @Will762: I think the external brake routing is a bit of a niche complaint. Most of us just run whatever brakes come on the bike and if they change them, the shop is doing it anyways.

Its a valid complaint but I dont know if it should be dictating the bike design.
  • 6 0
 The stem integration thing may legitimately keep me from purchasing the newest version of the Scott Spark. I I’ve swapped bars & stem on every MTB I’ve had, and that looks like way too big of a pain.
  • 2 1
 The cable has full internal routing on my trail bike and I am certain it does for the brake too. But I am still running the same brakes that came with the bike 4 years ago.

I bought my XC bike as bare frame. That one I know has full internal routing (including the dropper cable). Installing the brake hose, dropper cable, and shift cable probably took 30 seconds. It was stupid easy and I would have that no other way.
  • 3 1
 @mtmc99: Umm, no.

I build all my bikes from scratch, so internal brake routing sucks, esp. if I'm swapping frames and using the same brakes. Imagine having to cut and bleed you line every time you swap out and if your line is short then it's a new brake line.

Internal; routing is a PITA no matter how you slice it, not only is it unnecessary, but it makes your work harder for no benefit other than aesthetics AND it opens up some lovely holes for moisture to enter your frame.

Internal is and will always be STOPPID.
  • 3 0
 @Will762: For people who maintain or fix bikes, internal cabling makes jobs that are 2-10 minutes into complex tasks taking potentially 2-3 hours with lots of things to potentially go wrong. Additionally you sometimes need expensive special tools to re-thread cables and hoses and brakes will need a bleed.
Theses are all downsides of internal cabling. The only upside is asthetics in some peoples opinion.
  • 2 0
 @icthus13: You can install any stem you like if you get a new headset top cap for 10 bucks:
  • 1 0

Good to know!
  • 12 1
 If people don't stand up for their right to repair simple, mechanical bikes, those designs will go extinct in favor of expensive, electronic crap that will be obsolete, impossible to repair, and worthless in less than three years. The private equity firms that aquire MTB companies are interested I growing high margin sales to dentists, not talented young groms with less than $2k to spend.
  • 9 0
 @mikelevy IIRC, GT actually built the Airlines air cannister into the down tube of their prototype DH bikes. (LTS or LOBO pre-thermoplastic, can't remember exactly) Pretty cool technology being played with back then.
  • 10 0
 Oh wow, that sounds amazing. Going into the Google hole to find it now, I’ll be back in a few days.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: love Palmer - get him back!
  • 7 0
 Questions for Q&A podcast (for all podcast hosts):

1) One bike you're looking forward to, one bike you're happy with now, and one bike you wish you could forget.

2) Best bike park in BC (can't say Whistler)

3) Favourite trail network outside of the sea 2 sky
  • 9 2
 More Palmer on the podcast please. In fact can we pleeeaaaase have a weekly Palmer’s Peeves?
  • 4 0
 Not a terrible idea. We could use a new segment or three.
  • 4 0
 Kooka cranks we’re my lust part in middle school. Few years later in high school I found out my best friend’s dad was the machinist contracted to make them. He had a bunch of half-machined cranks laying around his shop. Coolest guy in the world after that. Dad passed but my friend still has a few sets laying around.
  • 5 0
 I thought an "acoustic" bike was the one that a friend rides where they NEVER lube their chain, their brakes pads are contaminated and their press fit bottom bracket has more sand than grease in it...
  • 3 0
 There was a bow ti on my riding group. I remember riding behind my friend and I would laugh as I could see how the rear wasn’t tracking with the front end. He crashed more on that bike then at any point in our years of riding. Was pretty though.
  • 3 0
 I once set up ZAP mechtronic rear derailleur and the head unit mounted upside down(under bar) as a wireless DH shifter and rear derailleur on an 2009 Banshee Legend just to see if it would work and it did but i couldn't use a cell phone. HAHAHA it was next level with Vintage parts!
  • 2 0
 Mike and Mike never miss having a shot at gearbox bikes!
Grip-shift + Pinion gearbox are superb for Enduro /Trail (Zerode Katipo 29er). Matched up with Ergon GA3 grips. Maybe not for Darkfest type stuff but haven’t had issues anywhere else.
And if you must have ebikes then an ebike with a gearbox is the ideal combination, especially with a carbon belt drive. The whole system can cope with the electric motor’s torque and maintenance is minimal. Plus, the electronics can synchronize a tiny gap in power delivery during gear changes for all those too uncoordinated to manage this simple skill on a non-electric Pinion bike.
  • 2 0
 I have a small bit of feedback/plea to fix something for the podcast: There is someone (pretty sure it's @mikekazimer ) who seems like they are constantly tapping the microphone when they talk. Or possibly just thumping their hand against a table as they gesture while speaking and maybe their mic is sensitive enough to pick it up. But basically there's a low-frequency "whump" constantly when they are talking that gets super-distracting, especially when wearing good headphones that bring out the bass. I've noticed it on most of the recordings now. I know, first-world problems and a minor nit but getting rid of that would make one of my favorite podcasts even better.
  • 2 0
 Definitely not me. I blame @mikelevy and his twitchy legs.
  • 1 0
 Huh, maybe he just gets really excited when you talk! Wink
  • 1 0
 It may be the microphone being mounted on the table that's getting pounded is the cause of this. If the microphone can be suspended without being attached to the table, this might help. Maybe there's a way to do this with a bike stand, if nothing else!
  • 1 0
 Hey Pinkbike I have a question for one of your podcasts, more of some relationship advice. What should I do if there is someone who I like but we are going to different colleges next year? also she doesn't ride bikes. Whats my next move?
  • 1 0
 Question for PB staffers
How would you suggest training for enduro racing when no terrain suitable for enduro nearby. I live central Canada and will be driving 6-8hrs for these enduro races. XC trails are around but no elevation greater then 50m. Moving closer is in the future but not the present. Any suggestions?
  • 5 0
 Shit, we forgot to talk about the damn Shockster! Anyone use one?
  • 1 0
 I know I am not typical, but I have used power with flat pedals for a few years now (thought the PM just broke). I rarely ride my XC bike, though I love racing XC. I can use the trail bike with flat pedals for intervals (I have a flat, boring service road next to my regular trails) and then once I am done take the same bike and send it off anything I want (170mm coil bike).

It is my do everything, except actually race, bike.

Though, I have a Race Face Cinch PM which is in the crank spindle out of harms way. I would not use pedal power, as often as I have broken pedals on that bike. I need to fix the PM so I can use it for proper training again.
  • 5 0
 I feel like RC would have been great to have on this podcast.
  • 1 0
 Spengle very kindly gave me a set of their wheels to run a few years ago after I said how frikkin' cool I thought they (still waiting for that full review by the way PB...!). I really enjoyed them and I never went a ride without someone wanting to chat with me about them - there's a very definite vintage or rider (which I fit into) who remembers mag wheels and tri-spokes and loves finally getting a set now they are grown up and have some cash! Spengle were also awesome when I had an issue with my first (prototype) set.
  • 5 0
 When's the long awaited return of Mike vs Mike?
  • 3 0
 I'm ready.
  • 3 0
 @mikekazimer: I need a few days tho haha
  • 6 1
 turn off your damn iphone notifications when your mic is on!
  • 4 0
  • 1 0
 Suggestion for a podcast segment or even better a short video - Bushing Play. It's seems to be a problem you are always coming up against during tests. I'm not 100% sure what it is. I'm sure many of us have shocks with it but are unaware.
  • 3 2
 Wait a your new guy doesn't like ACTUAL bicycles (refusing to ride a hard tail and calling road bikes stupid), but thinks ebikes are "game changers"?

Get the f*ck out. His opinion to me is about as valuable to me as a Kardashian.
  • 1 0
 A few things to add:

-K2 (or Proflex) Smartshock
-Gervin (or Proflex) linkage fork with elastomers
-Paul’s (or Rhino, or there were a few others) CNC Machined rear derailleurs (yeah, I know, they didn’t work that good, but they looked pretty!)
-Michelin Wild Gripper tires in green. I think the green was some special compound that was better or something.
-Rotor cranks that eliminated the “dead spot”
-Maverick stuff. Their inverted forks were awesome! 24mm thru axle was ahead of its time, and their full suss bikes rode great! I believe their DUC32 (32mm inverted double triple clamp) fork was the same weight as a current Fox 36. I know weight isn’t everything, but that DUC32 was a great performing fork.

Also, the Hammerschmidt was amazing. Worked perfectly every time. As for weight, it was not too bad when you factor in the weight of a front derailleur, 2 extra chainrings, and if they really wanted to run with it, they could have easily made those crankarms out of carbon.

For carbon “spoked” wheels, they keep popping up. There are currently 6 spokes out from BikeAhead, and a China knockoff of them on EBay. The BikeAhead wheels are awesome. The China knockoffs, they are heavy, and at $1000, not super cheap, but they look cool.
  • 1 0
 I was going to mention the k2 proflex shock. My neighbor had one new and swore it made him fly
  • 1 0
 Question for the podcast:
Which brand does the best videos? You've discussed the riders' media requirements, but having watched a lot of the videos from Commencal recently and Iove the style (very Craig Stecyk feel to the shots) and the fact it's not all massive jumps and tricks, and they even throw in the odd crash as well (in the case of B Side of My War make that a lot), does anyone else do better? Or even come close? Any strong output from competent or clothing brands? Are the videos proven to actually sell anything? And if you were in control, what type of film would it be, huge jumps or sending it through the trees?

Aside: caught Accomplice on Netflix the other day, second time round I let it run to the end, goddamnit Pinkbike pops up in the credits, sticky fingers in all the pies! (great film)
  • 1 0
 On the subject of "words and phrases I personally can't stand" I'm no outdoor sports' slang etymologist BUT seems like a lot of MTB slang is adopted from other, older sports such as surfing and skiing. "Schralp" and "kook" Wink quiver is probably a crossover from those, too? Which is too bad because there's SO many good words for a collection of bikes... Stable? Herd? Pack?

All this to say I can't stand MTBers saying "earn your turns" leave that one to the backcountry skiers!!! Unless you actually built the trail by hand, with no mechanical assistance, then say whatever you like. Wink
  • 1 0
 Can we talk about the rebirth of failed game changers? How about oval rings, constant drive train (for lack of a better phrase) a drive train that continues to rotate while not pedaling by use of rear hub gear. Both of these I’ve seen in 40 year old Shimano powered Schwinn bikes. How do you feel about tire inserts?
  • 1 1
 I have heard @brianpark brag about having a 24lb steel hardtail. I finally weighed my bikes and my rigid single speed came in at 26lb.

It has an aluminum frame, chromo fork and tubeless XC tires. On the heavy side, I have steel BMX cranks.

Please explain how your steel HT weighs less.
  • 2 1
 24lbs is still pretty chunky. Lots of full-sus XC race bikes with 12 speeds weigh less than that nowadays.

Carbon cranks. XC wheels with XC rubber... XC wheels are around 1500g, enduro wheels often come in above 2200g, that's 2lbs right there. XC rubber is generally 750g, carbon bar, alloy stem, carbon seat post, and a lightweight fork can easily get that weight down.

I had a ti hardtail and that thing weighed about 23lbs with a 100mm fork, 1600g wheels, XC tires, and a carbon cockpit/seat post.
  • 1 0
 I have a Dinglespeed NS Surge Commuter bike with steel frame, aluminum everything else, 26" Marathon Supremes. 26lbs for hardly any money.
  • 1 0
 My XC HT was 19 pounds. That would give me 4-5 pounds to play with on the frame to make it 24. But that was a high end build XC HT.
  • 1 0
 @JSTootell: I am assuming he will say it is carbon everything except the XS steel frame and using the lightest SID available.
  • 1 0
 @Muckal: I'm referring to every 1 speed bike I see as a "dinglespeed" from now on. Their riders will be known as "dingleberries"
  • 4 0
 @sjma: Except a "dinglespeed" refers to people running a 2x1 system. So not a 1 speed bike.
  • 2 0
 @JSTootell: true! Actually it's five speed, seated or standing on both chainrings and pushing, obviously.
  • 1 0
 I'm waiting for one of the major main line component companies to come out with power assisted hydraulic disc brakes (like automobiles) that will allow me to use "one pinkie" (or pinky) braking.
  • 3 0
 Robin can I put forth my support for @mikelevy blowing all the budget on airlines for the Brodie!
  • 2 0
 So who gets credit for the first usable dropper? I know about hite rite , I think the original Gravity Dropper should get a nod.
  • 2 0
 Might be a boring question but, would you rather ride 4 piston brakes with smaller rotors or 2 piston with bigger rotors? Pros and cons of each? Thanks.
  • 2 0
 Another boring question - same rotor size but more power (eg Code front/Guide rear) in the front then back maybe? Might cater for heat dissipation on the back with enough power up front when you really need it...
  • 2 0
 In my experience, 1 size Bigger rotor will give you more braking power than more pistons with smaller rotor.
more pistons = bigger pad. So possibly greater resistance to fade down long descents.
  • 1 0
 Definitely larger rotors over more pistons.
  • 1 0
 @melonhead1145: do you think? Rotor rub drives me mad.
  • 2 0
 With reference to the riding protection with the airbags, RXR was it? Well get Jason to test it in a feature called....wait for it!!!....HUCK TO SPLAT!!!!!
  • 1 0
 E throttle makes sense in a modern car, mapping, idle control etc, but I don’t think it’s a straight comparison to shifting. I’m happy with mechanical and do still enjoy the 1-2-3 long click on XT.
  • 1 0
 How about the Browning Automatic Transmission crankset? If that had caught on, we would probably still be using front derailleurs.
  • 4 1

Another PB podcast: thx guys
  • 1 0
 Can we get a recommendation for sock s that don't feel like and garbage and make your feet stink within 20 minutes of taking them out of the package?
  • 1 0
 I ride a Grip Shift 1x12 on my Hardtail XC-Bike, because somebody has too… Smile
  • 2 0
 Seeing a fresh pod cast and post from Levy makes my heart happy.
  • 3 0
 Where's Quinney?
  • 10 0
 He's with Cathro in Europe for the World Cups.
  • 2 0
 Sorry guys, it is pronounced, die-yuh-NAY-say or die-ih-nay-zay.
  • 3 0
 Nah, we prefer to pronounce it four different ways haha
  • 1 0
 I've always said Dayn-ess
  • 2 0
 That's the one PB should buy right now.
  • 1 0
 Shimano Airlines: having a charged air canister on your bike... very effective way to kill yourself no?
  • 1 0
 Nah man. Modern version could be one co2 canister per shifter. Can shift or fill up a flat?
  • 1 0
 What's more important; dialled kinematics or dialled shock tune? Assuming the alternative is meh/average
  • 1 0
 Instead of "hybrid" I use "Mountain bike shaped object"
  • 1 0
 Let’s add “game changer” to the banned word list
  • 1 0
 I had my Harley painted turquoise
  • 2 1
 I really enjoyed Palmer on the show. Please bring him back regularly.
  • 2 1
 He'll be on tons of episodes moving forward.
  • 1 0
 Guys, you mentioned hydraulic derailleurs. Rotor sells them now.
  • 2 1
 Ryan fits in

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