The Pinkbike Podcast: Episode 39 - Predicting the Future of Mountain Biking

Jan 6, 2021
by Mike Levy  
Art by Taj Mihelich

The end of the year means that it's time for us to make a bunch of predictions about what 2021 holds for mountain biking, from racing to sales to new gear and more. Will bikes continue to fly off showroom floors? Will Greg Minnaar win his 23rd World Cup and morph into an actual goat? Are we going to see new drivetrains at opposite price-points from SRAM and Shimano? Check out those and the rest of our lukewarm predictions here, then listen to Kazimer, Brian, James, and I defend them in episode 39.

January 6th, 2021

Call 1-800-Pinkbike for your free physic reading.

Hosted by Mike Levy (usually) 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?
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

Author Info:
mikelevy avatar

Member since Oct 18, 2005
2,032 articles

  • 49 3
 In the future the Grim Donut 100 is a cybernetic organism that becomes self aware and so slack that it makes the rider obsolete. The bikes literally do all the work. An aging Levy regretting his mad creation sends back a G-100 to kill the first Grim Donut and stop the what is known as the Grim Awakening.
  • 2 0
 This is literally the movie "Upgrade" on Netflix which is awesome btw
  • 8 0
 That’s why part 2 took so long to come out.

COVID was created by the g-100 in hopes of the donut never getting exposed, but all it done was delay the inevitable
  • 1 0
 Downhill is the future.
  • 36 2
 The e-bike arms race will continue until we’re all riding through mountains of discarded batteries and obsolete motors.
  • 12 11
 As people and companies move to purchasing and developing e-bikes, less resources are going to be put towards normal mountain bikes and one day, you may not be able to buy a modern geo normal mountain bike or parts at a reasonable price. If you don't see this coming, you must be blind.

See: 26 in wheels, 27.5 in wheels
  • 2 0
 @retswen: It doesn't necessarily have to be a zero-sum game. It's possible the growing ebike market makes trail access and advocacy a bigger group, hence creating more trails for people to get on. We could see a large market of people make the "people-powered jump" from an ebike to a regular MTB, and grow the market that way.

The way it seems to be is that a lot of the people getting on ebikes were people who weren't going to ever get on a regular MTB to start. I think a there's stlil a lot of strong support for human powered MTB still.
  • 2 0
 @Kyleponga: I hope you are correct.

E-bikes are rad and I understand why people opt to get them. A lot of people can only reasonably own one bike and an e-bike makes the most sense to them so they can get in more distance on a normal ride. However, this shrinks the market for traditional human powered mountain bikes, and bike companies are going to go where the money is.
  • 1 0
 @Kyleponga: Yeah I hope ebikers and bikers stay reasonable and stay on the same side. Several years ago a motorcycle advocacy group sued the forest service because mountain bikers were using trails that used to be open to motorcycles. North Fork outside of bellingham, some truly great trails. Anyways The forest service's solution was to ban mountain biking too. It was a mega bummer. I really hope that ebike groups don't try to use similar tactics which might result in similar outcomes for normal bikers.
  • 1 0
 @retswen: And I thought I was a pessimist...
  • 1 0
 @retswen: No I dont see this coming dude and im not blind, your wheel comparison is miles off the mark also lol. Wise words...
  • 1 0
 @retswen: look at the handlebars, front suspension and rake angle over time. Duplicating motocross and setting up for more >> motors
  • 37 14
 I predict Mtn biking to continue feeling less and less like a community as more people get into Mtn biking.
  • 19 0
 All of my mtb buddies still mtb, and a few non-mtb buddies got mtb’s and are now mtb buddies too. And my city is building more trails and protected bike infrastructure to keep up with demand. Soooo I disagree.
  • 6 0
 It's the community you make it! Find great riding buddies and help your local trailbuilders. Ignore the rest.
  • 5 7
 @Adamrideshisbike: I miss the days when it was exciting to just see another Mtn biker on the trail, and you immediately set up rides together, now if you even say hi to another rider at the trailhead you’re treated like a psycho. Maybe it’s because so many city people are getting into riding???
  • 7 1
 @unrooted - It's what you make it Smile
  • 9 0
 @mikelevy: I wish Mtn bikers were still all a bunch of immature misfits with poor social I could feel like I fit in.
  • 6 0
 @unrooted: you need to join my weekly hardtail alcohol ride.
  • 6 0
 @unrooted: That's me
  • 8 0
 Haven’t listened yet but predicting mountain biking will be more and more important at ski resorts if they’re to survive. This may actually spur a resurgence of popularity in freestyle and downhill bikes as people want more gravity-focused bikes and realize that they don’t need to chase weight or have 180mm single crown forks. Resorts may offer “uphill passes” which allow sadists and e-bikes to take service roads to the summit. Dirt jump areas and pump tracks will also become more common in suburban and urban areas.
  • 1 0
 This is an interesting theory. I like it.
  • 10 1
 My prediction is that a World Cup downhill racer will get a flat on a race run.
  • 4 0
 And someone will win something at some point?
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: Just not the guys who are still flatting in 2021
  • 1 0
 Lets make Michelin Tweels and UPTIS tires a thing...
  • 6 1
 is this podcast even necessary i feel like the answer is pretty obvious. Everyone will be riding grim donuts and other pastry themed ridiculous bikes like the skinny eclair (skiiny and trials bike) or the jump munchkin (dj bike).
  • 2 0
 I am holding out for the Cranky Cruller which is rumored to have identical performance as the Grim Donut on downhill sections, but climbs "like a goat" (quotes as hand signaled by a highly respected industry insider).
  • 7 0
 bikes will be ridden in interesting ways in interesting locations. we'll continue to find joy in this
  • 2 0
  • 10 1
 Hello, Pinkers
  • 13 0
  • 8 0
 Rearward axle path everything. Idler pulleys everywhere.
  • 4 3
 Hopefully not!
  • 3 1
 This is the way.
  • 4 0
 It would be really interesting to see what you guys would choose as your ideal geo after a big year like 2020. Is this something you guys could do an update article on or talk about on the podcast? I know I’ve changed my preferences on geo since this article came out
  • 3 0
 Yup, for sure! We'll definitely be doing a podcast about geometry in the near future.
  • 1 0
 This would be interesting for sure.
  • 4 1
 Regarding slopestyle, I think it's going to suffer a similar fate to other sports like bmx, skateboarding, etc. BMX in the 90's had Mat Hoffman getting pulled behind a motorcycle and competitions were about pulling out some crazy trick no one had seen before. Now BMX is all street edits of technical grinds to bar outs. As these sports progress they tend to get safer and more technical...and less exciting. This is especially true for competitions. People want to be wowed. Seeing an opposite 720 for the first time is much less exciting than seeing a 720 for the first time.
  • 3 0
 Ah yes. Sitting in the basement listen to a podcast about the future of bikes while drilling out cable guides so they accept full length housings, pressing in a lower race so I can run a tapered fork and dremeling my seat tube to accept an internally routed dropper because when I said I want a full sus my wife said sure! You can have a thousand bucks. Life is good!
  • 1 0
 Sounds like a solid evening tinkering with bikes!
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: I do love a good project! 2008 Giant trance X2 into 2008 giant trance XDC! ha
  • 4 0
 Bikes will continue to climb in price, hight pivots everywhere, nothing is in stock, no new sanctioned trails on the shore. Biking will continue to be fun.
  • 7 1
 Bikes will continue to get even more expensive... if you want to spend that much money. But you're also getting SO MUCH MORE bike for your money than ever before. So yeah, you can spend more, but you should compare a modern $2,500 bike to one from five years ago.
  • 6 0
 My 2021 prediction: I will spend too much money
  • 1 0
 Question for the next podcast: Did you guys consider the new Vitus Escarpe when discussing the Value category? Comparing the lowest tier Escarpe to the Mythique (the eventual winner), it seems to have it beat or matched in every way. I read the selection criteria that Kaz posted, and it seems that the only rule the Escarpe doesn't meet is that it wasn't yet fully reviewed. Was this why it wasn't considered?
  • 1 0
 The "budget" brands have just about perfected single pivot and horst linkage suspension, so they'll begin to eat the premium brands' lunch in a big way as they push into the higher end with their build kits (e.g. Vitus's "CRX" level specs). As long as they can keep up with demand.
  • 1 0
 Something I talk about with my local shop regarding modern geo and covid is this:

Imagine covid hits in 2016 (I got back into MTB in 2017 so don't know exactly when geo started to change) and every manufacturer overbuilds and shops over order. Then the market tanks in 2017 as everyone who wanted a bike has one or sports open back up and everyone goes back to chasing balls or pucks (or watching others do it from the couch). Then you have a glut of antiquated frames that people won't even buy when discounted below cost. I guess the angle headset companies would make a killing.

At least if that happens now the manufacturers can just repaint the frames and sell them next year!
  • 1 0
 I kind of like the idea of supply chains slowing things down. We don’t need new, marginally better standards for example. I’m one of those dentist guys and I’m looking forward to enjoying the bikes I have and not feeling compelled to get the latest thing. It’s nice to appreciate the gear you already have. I’m in SoCal which is such a fantasyland for new bikes, but now we are a bit more limited because of limited supply and I kind of dig it.
  • 4 0
 Just have to say, these Podcasts are the best. Thanks again for another laugh guys and Sarah!
  • 2 0
 Glad you like 'em!
  • 3 0
 In Oprah voice: "You get a grim donut; and YOU get a grim donut; and YOU get a grim donut! Grim donuts for everyone!"
  • 1 0
 Get the Master's on talking about their experience coming up in DH racing, and then another interview with the Atherton's to see their side of it. The privateers compared to the dynasty, that would be cool.
  • 1 0
 The problem with social media isn't it's ubiquity. It's that basically every last rider with half a name tries to be an influencer these days. Selling out this hard has ruined them all.
  • 6 4
 Climate will be again warmer then 2020, and MTBikers will notice the disaster in the forests.
  • 4 0
 And landlords/states/cities will blame us for that disaster
  • 1 0
This will be the decade of The Canadians in DH
DH will be an Olympic Sport this Decade
Dharco Will be the big clothing brand if the decade.
  • 1 0
 Olympic xco prediction... If Sagan uses some kind of flat protection, he's going to get the gold. VdP and Shurter just can't match up with Sagan.
  • 1 0
 I’m going to be wasting a ton of time this spring fixing bad rogue trail work. Gonna be a sweet summer though if we can actually start organizing trail days
  • 2 0
 Funny that you guys danced around Kazimer's "DH bikes are dead" prediction...
  • 1 0
 Nah, we didn't - I've been saying that for ages Wink
  • 3 2

Come to Nelson, ride for a few days, and see if you can say that again.
  • 5 2
 @skimtb1: No one is saying they ain't a blast to ride, especially in Nelson. I think we mentioned that as well, just like we've also said previously that they'll always be plenty of downhill bikes to buy. I also enjoy shuttling, monster trucks, and pallet fires.
  • 3 5
 @mikelevy: So DH bikes and tech are on the way out & unnecessary due to how capable enduro bikes currently are? Or is DH being usurped by e-bikes? Or maybe DH hanging in there for the long term? perhaps they are fun but unnecessary? PB is are sending out mixed messages here...

Shit maybe DH is on the cusp of greatness, due to climate change and winter resorts being forced to develop new revenue streams? Or maybe if PB editors graduate to the big boy & big girl trails, you'll all be singing a different tune?

The problem is that PB has a huge amount of clout in shaping the industry, dictating market trends, and has a pretty good dialogue directly with consumers. Every time you guys pump out a "Why buy a DH bike?" drivel piece, you're actively doing harm to the DH market: PB perpetuates that idea that DH bikes aren't important for consumers, more people buy enduro bikes, trails get toned down to accommodate their inferior bikes, and DH bikes therefore become less relevant... Obviously PB isn't the sole industry player hawking this message, but you do provide the primary platform to disseminate this information. Let's do what we can to stop this feedback loop and minimize the "softening" of mountain biking.

Also, it's somewhat strange how you've correlated DH riding with redneck stuff? Perhaps some sort of inherent squamptonian bias?
  • 7 1
 @skimtb1: Yes, you've nailed it - we just need to ride big boy trails. Or maybe you're just wildly over-biked and you'd develop into a much more skilled and well-rounded rider if you spent all your time on a hardtail with a 70-degree head angle and the seat post 7ft high? Stop riding your DH bike on all those Nelson flow trails and I'll believe you.
  • 1 1
 @mikelevy: Thanks but I'll pass on that... Cut my teeth 20+ years ago doing that.

Open invite to the PB editorial team for a guided tour on our trails. Come broaden your horizons & see how other folks roll outside of your S2S fiefdom! Bring whatever bike you want, but for your personal safety, I would highly suggest 4 piston brakes, aggro tires, a slack (AF) HTA, and as much suspension as you can get your hands on.
  • 3 0
 @skimtb1: Ok, I'll bring my DH bike then?
  • 1 1
 @mikelevy: Now you're talking my f*cking language!
  • 2 0
 I'm not going to jump into this stupid debate. But to quote James May, he once said "you can have just as much fun drifting a 80hp car with tiny wheels as drifting a super car......"

You could ride Nelson in a wheelbarrow if you were stupid enough. What does it matter what bike someone brings to the steeps?
  • 1 1

and I quote, "Bring whatever bike you want, but for your personal safety,..."
  • 2 0
 @skimtb1: I rode Nelson about 11 years ago, and it was on a Cove Shocker. But I’m pretty sure I could ride everything I originally rode on my HTLT. Sure, it’s gnarly and steep, but my Hightower has far more progressive geometry, more powerful brakes and far better suspension.
  • 1 1

Not sure what an HTLT is? But ya that was 11 years ago, lots of new trails on the wild side of the spectrum since then... Sure, if I was on a modern aggressive trail bike I could ride all the gnarly stuff, probably half-decently for that matter. But you sure aren't as optimized you would be on a full DH. You can either limp a trail bike around with shit in your shorts, or you can unleash the beast and shred a DH sled

I only own one mountain bike and it is a DH. I have never felt the need for something else here.
  • 1 0
 A dropper post that auto drops and rises based on the trail, your geo location and AXS data of other riders....... it will happen and when it does it will be glorious!
  • 3 1
 My prediction is that mountain biking will take place in 2021 and beyond
  • 1 0
 JAMES, READ SACRED COW BY DIANA RODGERS, Brian manufacture a miniature grim donut
  • 3 0
 miniature grim donut....a GROM donut?
  • 2 0
 Would recommend the name "Grim Timbit" to play at @mikelevy 's love for Timmie's
  • 2 0
 Haha - Call 1-800-Pinkbike for your free physic reading.
  • 1 0
 Working at a trek dealer and trying to get into dh racing, I am really excited to see a new session.
  • 1 0
 Steve from hardtail party
  • 1 0
 A future with self dropping dropper posts.
  • 1 0
 Great episode, guys! Definitely one of the funniest.
  • 2 2
 Future is lOnGer maybe sTeEpeR
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