The Pinkbike Podcast: Episode 45 - What Makes a Good Riding Buddy?

Feb 2, 2021
by Mike Levy  
Art by Taj Mihelich.


We ran a poll last year that asked: ‘’Do you consider yourself a social rider or an anti-social rider?” And of the more than 20,000 replies, well over 15,000 of you said that you either have just a couple of riding buddies or usually get after it solo. Not only that, but another 1,300 of you clicked on “I was raised by wolves and what are doing in my forest?” In other words, ya’ll keep a pretty tight circle of riding buddies, which got us thinking about what we look for in a singletrack companion.

For some of us, it's all about the conversation, while others enjoy riding with someone who's pedaling too hard to eke out more than a few grunts on the way up. And who doesn't like riding with a buddy who always brings the best snacks? I mean, just as long as they show up on time and usually have their shit together. What are the traits you look for in a riding buddy?





THE PINKBIKE PODCAST // EPISODE 45 - WHAT MAKES A GOOD RIDING BUDDY
February 2nd, 2021

"Hey, can I put my jacket in your backpack? What about three water bottles and this crescent wrench?"


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
Episode 39 - Predicting the Future of Mountain Biking
Episode 41 - The Pinkbike Awards!
Episode 42 - Racing Rumours and Team Changes
Episode 43 - Dangerholm's Wildest Custom Mountain Bikes
Episode 44 - Mountain Bike Suspension Decoded


140 Comments

  • 56 0
 As someone who is always late, the most valuable piece of a riding buddy for me is someone who is even more late than I am, so I'm no longer the weakest link in the chain.
  • 3 0
 THIS!!! Big Grin
  • 3 8
flag me2menow (Feb 2, 2021 at 11:53) (Below Threshold)
 This, and carries a pack so you dont have to
  • 8 2
 @me2menow: Being a mooch is never ok.
  • 2 1
 @fullfacemike: unless your close friends are cool with it and you take care of them in other ways
  • 10 0
 @me2menow: how many handies for a plug and a co2 canister?
  • 6 0
 @Mntneer: market sets the price
  • 45 1
 Doesn't take him/herself too seriously. I'd rather be with a kind and welcoming person who's out to have fun than someone who's standoffish and aggro and trying too hard to be cool. Basically someone who's fun to be around and is within 10-20% of my fitness/descending level.
  • 12 0
 Yeah this. Too many people who try too hard. Just have fun and be nice
  • 28 0
 @melonhead1145: The goal is to try too hard but also not to take anything seriously Smile
  • 25 0
 One of my favorite riding buddies ever was a standoffish aggro tryhard. I really didn't like him all that much as a person but he went about the same pace as me, chatted a little but focused on riding, hooped and hollered on the fun stuff, and was always down for another lap. He was punctual, had his shit together, could change his own flats, and was a complete tool that I could only truly stand while we were riding.
  • 6 0
 @fullfacemike: sometimes you have riding buddy's that you would never be friends with off the bike, the power of the bikes. So true. Hi to all my bike only friends!
  • 5 0
 People I want to ride with; all my mates
People my mates don’t want to ride with; me
  • 1 0
 @Lagr1980: So true!
  • 27 0
 Faster, but will wait at the junctions. Will always encourage you to send it, even blind. Always thirsty for and deserving of a beer.
  • 9 1
 slightly faster so as to push your own abilities to keep up and progress. Always down for a rainy ride. Doesnt show the secret trails to the community. Keeps you motivated to ride everyday.
  • 5 2
 @newbermuda: I actually prefer buddies who I don't feel peer pressure from. Everyone has their own limits, and I don't like feeling like someone's pushing me into something I'm not comfortable with.
  • 2 0
 This X 1000. Having this riding buddy has helped with my re-introduction of mountain biking after a long break. Encouraged me to try lines i would never have gone for if on my own.
  • 1 0
 @rickybobby18: totally agree, but I prefer if my riding partners are better/faster than me. Trying to keep up with them is so much fun and definitely makes me a better rider.
  • 23 1
 Nothing better than riding with your kids! It is a great way to maintain a good relationship with them when they become teenagers and young adults. Having a common passion helps keep the close ties together.
  • 1 0
 My daughter goes absolutely bananas when I strap on the Mac Ride and take her out for a few miles! Cant wait until shes old enough to pedal herself!
  • 23 0
 I just need someone to yell at me tbh
  • 3 0
 Or someone who promises Monster energy drinks and Timmy Ho's donuts at the end??
  • 7 0
 That's too much harshing the mellow for me. We also don't yell down here unless something is wrong. It's alarming.
  • 4 0
 Shut up Levy get back to work!!
  • 26 1
 This isn't Tinder Mike.
  • 10 0
 For the record, Levy yells a LOT on every ride.
  • 6 0
 @brianpark: even solo ones?
  • 3 0
 @islandforlife: Underrated comment
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: its probably because it makes him feel good. have you tried yelling? as a father of very young children without sleep sometimes, i scream on a ride here and there. feels awesome.
  • 14 0
 Definitely the dude who makes everything a life-or-death competition. Gotta beat you up the climb, and down the descents. No stopping and enjoying the views. No sessioning any features. No time for photos or videos. Gotta keep moving! Gotta pound! Don’t forget your Lycra!
  • 14 0
 God damn I hate riding with people like that.
  • 9 0
 @MikeyMT: I agree...but the polar opposite can be true as well. Do we have to stop every 5 seconds to take a photo or video...more often than not they don't turn out that great...and I just want to ride.
  • 2 0
 @MTBCO719: Def enjoy a happy medium here. Have felt both ways and it’s just not fun...
  • 1 0
 @MTBCO719: Yeah, I get you. And I agree. You definitely want flow in your ride.
  • 14 0
 The best ones are what I call "Ride Whatever' buds.

They will ride single/double blacks down but be perfectly happy with blue, jump, tech and be able to climb without making it miserable for everyone else.

They wont ONLY turn up on an ebike and have no shame in saying, thats too much for me.

They also wont look down on someone that cant do the 1 thing they are good at.
  • 4 0
 I feel like I try to be that guy to my riding friends... just riding with my enduro race buddy - fast push your limits double blacks all day it is. Brought your wife and kids, cool, I know some super fun blue flow with some little jumps everyone will love... and everything in-between..
  • 16 1
 I really hope it's NOT a trail dog.
- 98% of everyone
  • 11 0
 Anybody who’s not a total dick. But I also have a good time riding with the right type of a*shole. Only thing I can’t do is the ultra negative dudes who seem to not even enjoy biking. If the trail sucks, your bike sucks, other trail users suck, then why are you even here?
  • 9 0
 Match.com - Guys who can have fun, joke around and their skills match mine or better. Good fitness to go the distance. Adventuresome. Like to go to different places. Love technical. Looks not important.
  • 7 0
 Someone who shows up to ride, regardless of the weather or conditions, doesn't flake at the last second, follows as well as initiates rides, willing to meet for a meal or coffee before or after riding.

When I ride, I tend to focus on the riding, whether it's XC or tech, I pretty much stay in the zone, so I ride solo most of the time; zone riding is not social riding.

I don't really have any local buddies who like to go big or get super techy, most of my riding buddies are social riders, one is a super XC rider (ie fastasf*ck).

I ride with my dogs a fair bit, so my buddies gotta' be okay with dogs being in the way on occasion; fortunately most of my buddies like dogs.

Truthfully, I haven't ridden with many people who needed be first to the top, most of my riding buddies stop and chill, we wait for each other, it's social riding when you ride with a group.

Need to get after it? Ride solo, easy enough.

My thing: Don't tell me we're gonna ride, then not stick to the plan. If this is you, then you need to learn how to commit. With folks like that, over time I just ignore them unless they stay in contact and follow up on the ride plans the day before.

If I don't hear from you the day before or at the minimum, first thing the day of, I'm going riding and you can go fish.
  • 7 0
 Something I’ve come across a few times is a riding buddy who invites other people for the ride without mentioning it in advance. I’m up for a group ride from time to time, but showing up to a ride expecting one person, and then realizing there is a group isn’t my favorite.
  • 6 0
 there is literally nothing that will get you cut out of my life faster than tardiness. I do not mean an occasional 5-10min. I mean that fuckwit that's perpetually 30-45min late, never texts to give you a heads up, and plays it off like it's no big deal. fuck you. there's a giant conceit in being the late person. It's making a statement that your time is more valuable than anyone elses. you are putting other's on your time frame. again...fuck. you.
  • 3 0
 Agreed. Being chronically late is one of the most inconsiderate things you can do.
  • 10 0
 30 minutes late? Eeesh, wheels rolling after the 10 minute grace period is up Smile
  • 2 0
 I have a few friends that do this but I still like them and ride with them. I just know what I'm in for when we agree to ride haha.
  • 1 0
 personally most of my buddies are like this, and I don't care. I understand some people do care though, and so I try to be on time myself. But when I know I'm going to be sitting at the trailhead for half an hour because I'm riding with "the late guys" it's kind of nice to be able to take my sweet time getting my stuff together at home.
  • 8 0
 Someone who occasionally refuses to hold my beer when I say, "watch this."
  • 6 1
 My buddy asks me whether "danger Ben" or "safety Ben" is with us today Wink
  • 8 2
 one that keeps a cooler of cold, non IPA beer, and a bottle of scotch in the back of his truck.
  • 3 0
 We'd get along.
  • 3 0
 I have a fully stocked cooler in my van, is that why folks ride with me ...
  • 1 0
 Can we be friends?
  • 1 0
 @nskerb: absolutely! Umm, I live in Nevada, wanna ride this weekend Wink
  • 3 0
 Someone who is self-sufficient. They bring water and enough of it so they're not asking you for water halfway through. They bring their own shock pump. They maintain their bike so you're not having to lend (give) them a tube because they got a flat mid-ride due to their sealant drying out...and you don't have to listen to their chain squeak the entire ride because they clean and lube it like they're supposed to. You don't always have to take your car because you're not the only one who bought a bike rack.
  • 3 0
 Sounds like you ride with real winners!
  • 2 0
 you ride with a shock pump?
  • 1 1
 @huckschwinn:I'm one of those 'winners' that borrowed one this year. I like to think that I maintain my bike so well that I don't need to bring tools... good thing I have friends who at least bring them in their vehicle.
  • 4 0
 Someone who carries their own supplies, is around my fitness level, preferably a little fitter than I and is better than me on at least one thing. Climbing, jumps, decents Etc. And is always up for a ride.
  • 2 0
 People who put in the time to build and maintain the trails we ride on same as me. They are also the worst because we all will spend time catching what could be fixed or improved on a trail when we should just enjoy it. It's like stopping a a bar with friends on the way to an AA meeting.
  • 5 0
 Someone who has a fun time with you regardless of capabilities.
  • 3 1
 For me it's someone who is down to ride more than just the ultra gnarly and manky trails. Riding blue trails fast is more fun than riding hard trails slow IMHO. Hence my username Smile
  • 5 0
 Love me some flow trails that don't have berms - flat corner love!
  • 1 0
 I love LH! It's pretty steep and tech but gnarl level is not that bad, no really big features or anything. Long climbs for short trails gets old though, needs a chairlift...
  • 1 0
 @davec113: The name is mostly a joke. I just don't think that the trails are actually any good is all.
  • 4 0
 'I don't need to hear you whining about seeing your tibia' Pure gold @mikelevy
  • 1 0
 what about laughing ?
streamable.com/2sx1d
  • 4 0
 Somebody that is faster than me and willing to ride behind and harass me to go faster. It’s pretty fun.
  • 3 0
 I'm into the same thing.
  • 1 0
 Faster on the climbs as well? AKA, someone from the eCommunity ?
I’ll be honest, I’m a slow climber at the best of times and my mates always wait for me at the top, but if I had pedal assist, they probably wouldn’t want to ride with me.
  • 2 0
 Had a riding buddy in college who had meltdowns. Best was the ride when he was hucking rocks off of a cliff and then ate the page from the guidebook once we got back to his truck at the end.
  • 1 0
 I've been most at one point or another - newb, to that late arsehole, to bringing others in and serving up free stoke at whatever pace you wanna role. Humble pie to the face is the essence of my mtbeing,.. loveya all braholes
  • 1 0
 That unspoken thing Levy was talking about is when your ride fantasy overlaps with your buddy’s ride fantasy, refer to Path podcast episode 112, just kidding I don’t actually have the episodes memorized, love the bike you ride
  • 3 0
 Unpopular opinion:

No drugs/alcohol. If you need to drink/light up/vape/whatever before, during, or after the ride, I am not interested.
  • 2 0
 I didn't even realize that was a thing? lol

I hardly need any further impairment when riding.
  • 1 0
 Free idea for anybody with coding skills: Tinder but it uses your Strava data to match you with other riders. You can have sliders for tech/bike talk and politics talk, etc. You can score people poorly if they show up half dressed with a whacked out derailleur.
  • 1 0
 I have a question for you on the show. Could there be any adverse handling effects from running a setup with a vastly different weight on the rear wheel and the front? I know bikes are probably designed to handle optimally with their stock setups, but is it a huge issue to run cushcore and doubledown in the rear and a naked exo+ in the front? I know cushcore claims that it is best to run on both front and rear which I am sure is totally unrelated to the fact that the second for the front costs another $75, but I wonder what the show's take on the matter is.
  • 1 0
 My buddy got a dog at the beginning of the pandemic and he takes her every time we go. I love dogs and have a pupper myself but good god... she is constantly trying to start in front of you but she's slower and stops randomly causing you to jam the breaks to not hit her. Then literally every time we have gone out the past 4 months she takes off into the woods randomly or after a deer and we spend ~45 min calling her and walking through the forest trying to find her while worrying and freezing our asses off... I finally told him I didn't want to go if she was coming since we spend so much time tracking her down every time and the rest of the time worrying she's going to run off any second or cause me to go OTB. Am I the a*shole?
  • 1 0
 Went out for a ride with a buddy one fall night. 20% chance of showers noted on the forecast. It started raining 15 minutes into the ride, poured the whole time, stopped on the fireroad out. No one said anything the whole ride, smiled when it stopped, and drank a couple beers after. One of my favorite rides in a long time!
  • 1 0
 I didn't hear "too slow" as a negative for riding buddy. I've only ridden once with someone 20yrs younger and far faster, and haven't heard back from him yet. lol

But usually ride by myself 80% of the time, as it's too hard to sync with other folks.
  • 4 0
 The three S’s. Social. Shyt talker. Sessions stuff.
  • 4 1
 fourth s: STRAAAVVVVAAAAAAAAAAA
  • 4 0
 Someone who shreds as hard as they are chill
  • 1 0
 So an icecube? Haha
  • 2 0
 I only ride alone. I ride when most people are working, and there aren’t a ton of people in my town who are available to ride during the day.
  • 4 0
 It’s over rated I’d rather ride alone
  • 3 0
 The people you choose to have your adventures with dictate the quality of your adventures.
  • 3 0
 100%
  • 4 0
 Really like Dan's perspective on the podcast as of late.
  • 3 0
 I like hearing his nicknames for all his riding buddies. So good.
  • 1 0
 my favorite riding buddies are the ones that are faster than me but will wait a bit and give me tips.
my second favorite is the one that comes prepared and doesn't need to borrow tools/ pump/ tyres mid ride!
  • 1 0
 My ideal, is the person, like the Bud Light tag "Is Down for Whatever", can fix their own stuff (I don't mind sharing tools, food, etc.), that will push me by being a little faster, go a little bigger and has an opinion!
  • 1 1
 Be the guy that offers to shuttle on the first lap.

I don't ride with people who constantly jam their phone in my face to tell the internet "I have friends and do stuff"

People who are down to dig more often than ride

I will never ride with anyone who says they need to earn their turns. Shovels earn turns, not pedals.
  • 1 0
 One of the biggest obstacles I'll have (since getting my first modern 29" bike Dec 2020) is the ability to keep up. I'm a bit slow, and it's not always fun to have to wait for folks like myself.
  • 1 0
 Some one that always wants to ride. It's the worst when you set a date and then your mate cancels. Or they just don't return your call.
  • 3 0
 @mikelevy pronounces 'About' weirdly. really enjoying the podcasts guys!
  • 2 0
 You think that's weird? Ask him what the legs of your fork are called...
  • 5 0
 A boot?
  • 5 0
 Stank-tions??
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: the technically correct pronunciation is : Stanky-Shuns-Kneeies
  • 3 0
 Someone who is just a tiny fraction slower that me. Still searching...
  • 1 0
 can't believe i had to scroll this far to find this. seems everyone else here loves riding with fast people for some reason
  • 3 0
 My favorite biking buddy is kimiko tan, my Japanese body pillow.
  • 2 0
 Objects are created by man, and used for many purposes. But we do not, love, objects.
  • 3 0
 Somebody who brings good beer.
  • 2 0
 Someone who helps dig when building new trails and doesn't watch you do all the work and complain if they have to dig.
  • 2 0
 Someone tolerant, rapid and in possession of 1st aid equipment and a spare 9sp derailleur.
  • 3 0
 Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler
  • 2 0
 I have a group I ride with occasionally, but most riding is solo. That's how I prefer it.
  • 2 0
 gotta listen to other people yap for most of the day...love riding solo!
  • 2 0
 Someone who introduces you to their ride group, and doesn't get pissy if you tag along without them.
  • 3 0
 As soon as the border opens I'm coming for @mikelevy
  • 2 0
 My dog is my best(only) riding buddy now. Never complains, never makes me wait, never lets me down.
  • 3 1
 A dog that doesn't chew your tires while riding
  • 2 0
 Somebody who knows first aid and carries some essentials.
  • 3 0
 totally. i think first aid should be a more common thing to train in for everyone - biking and life in general, we should all know proper CPR at the least.
  • 1 0
 100%!

I do a lot of backcountry riding so first aid knowledge and trailside repair ingenuity are required. After ripping a three inch (that's about 8 cm) hole in my shin last summer, I was stoked to have friends with both the knowledge and supplies to get my wound cleaned and dressed.
  • 3 0
 Zero bike talk.
  • 2 0
 Seriously. Fuck bike talk.
  • 1 0
 Someone who crashes a lot, so you can all hear me say "are you good?" on Friday Fails.
  • 2 0
 Group rides start on time. People will only ever turn up late once.
  • 1 0
 Indeed.
  • 1 0
 When a riding buddy constantly wants to influence route towards a suboptimal route, not cool
  • 1 0
 Speaking of tibia, get yourself a riding buddy like this (GORE)
streamable.com/2sx1d
  • 4 2
 no Gatekeeping
  • 4 0
 At least at the public trail network. Don't expect to be invited to secret spots and then tell everyone there that they're "gatekeeping"
  • 1 0
 @luckynugget: it is a difficult topic, in my experience some secret spots get overgrown by flora in less than a year, just because not that many people ride them. Then the secret trail turns into a maintenance nightmare, rather than focusing on a new line/trail and riding.
But I guess it goes case by case.
  • 2 1
 One that carries tools so I don't have to Razz
  • 1 0
 happy @danielsapp will follow me into the GNAR!
  • 1 0
 LOL!!! Loosen up, mooks – it’s ok to do yer wife on a ride.
  • 1 0
 No whiners
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