Opinion: The Painless Tattoo

Jul 31, 2015 at 15:32
by Richard Cunningham  

just sayin RC header pic


We called him Straight-A McKay, and it came as no surprise to us, the neighborhood ne'er do wells he hung out with, that Warren McKay would grow up to do great things. We were thirty-something when he mentioned in passing that he (now, "Doctor Straight-A McKay") had developed a special needle and delivery system which allowed anesthesiologists to isolate areas of the body by targeting a centralized nerve plexus - rather than using general anesthesia to knock out the patient. Warren, who prefers to speak in uncomplicated sentences, said that it was foolish to poison the entire body if one drop in the right place could do a better job.

I was in the zone, so to speak - the meditative state that occurs sometime after one passes the two-hundred-mile mark on a road trip, when the physical sensation of being attached to a body that is operating a machine is dissolved by the hum of the engine, the growl of radial tires, and the white noise produced by one and a half tons of steel as it barges through the atmosphere at 79 miles per hour.

I thought I saw a storefront sign that read: "Painless Tattoo," but I must have imagined that. In the zone, tangible objects drift past the windscreen like ghost figures - undefined pastel shapes that are recognized only by the subconscious. Paradoxically, with driving chores delegated to basal brain functions, the mind becomes sharp and imaginative. I recalled Warren's invention and I visualized how the creative use of anesthetics could be commercialized to create an upscale chain of pain-free tattoo parlors. I laughed out loud.

The concept burst forth in its entirety. Artists would be harvested from recognized fine arts institutions and then professionally trained for the needle to ensure that customers left with the highest quality images. With names like Humanarts and Dermascape, studios would be staffed by certified medical professionals, and attended by attractive, youthful assistants. Interiors would be poshly appointed, providing a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere where clients would consult and interview artists, then shortly after, enjoy a pain free interactive tattoo experience.

Freed from the anxiety and time constraints imposed by the once-painful tattoo process, client and artist could converse during their session and make alterations as the graphic takes shape. Sessions could be as long as necessary and the finished product would be sure to please. Best of all, the use of anesthetics would remove the barrier of entry for throngs of people who would love to flash some ink, but have aversions to pain.

A constellation of brake lights shattered my pipe dream, but my story would have ended as quickly as I brought the Volvo to a stop. Suffering is the sacrament of tattoo culture. Use an anesthetic and you cross the line. You wouldn’t have a real tattoo. Being a cyclist, I should have known that.

Cycling is also a pain culture and as a whole, we seem to like it that way. No race story would be complete without the contorted face of a rider near exhaustion or the image of a brave soul shirking off a crash. We are supposed to earn our turns. We aren’t going fast if we aren’t falling. We demand that newbies bounce around on hardtails until they learn to ride properly. We act as if we must bleed to fully appreciate the experience. And, we initially attack almost any new technology that makes it easier or more comfortable to ride a bike.

Cycling is a self-powered activity which presupposes that there will be times when we may be throwing down efforts that only masochists could describe as pleasant moments. That said, I believe that most of us were drawn into cycling because no other form of locomotion can convert muscle power into such an intoxicating brew of speed, flow and freedom. But, somewhere along the line, as we worked our way towards its more elite levels, our conceptualization of the sport transformed into a celebration of suffering, with its ultimate expression being the Tour de BDSM in France.

Exclusive clubs can’t exist without a barrier to entry. Once, mountain bikers faced a tough learning curve to join up, and perhaps the hard core cyclist inside us enjoys that exclusivity. Presently, however, mechanical improvements have all but eliminated any barriers to newbie mountain bikers. Beginning with 29-inch wheels, a chain of technical improvements has made it a heck of a lot easier to join up. Big wheels; lightweight, long-travel suspension bikes; electric shifting; dropper posts; one-by drivetrains, tubeless tires, and lightweight carbon frames have transformed the basic mountain bike from the badge of an adventurer, into a user-friendly off road appliance. One must wonder, especially old-school riders, if the contemporary all-mountain trailbike has become the sport’s painless tattoo?

Enduro bikes have become so capable that trail riders are crowding big bikes off of popular DH lines, and now, the dawn of trail bikes designed specifically for low-pressure plus-sized tires may make it possible for just about anyone to ride the punchy climbs on famous trails that that were once the exclusive domain of bike-handling heroes. Plus is still in its infant stages, but after riding a few bikes based upon 27.5-plus wheels, I can say for certain that they will allow a new rider to roll around on terrain and trails that require an evolved skillset to negotiate on a conventional trailbike. With low enough gearing, plus bike riders may be regular sights, plying their way up dedicated gravity trails (I imagine that’s going to spark some ire). And, plus is just the beginning.

I have recently been privileged to pre-test a handful of innovations in the areas of suspension kinematics and electronic controls (some of which must remain in strict confidence) that promise to dramatically reduce the skills necessary to ride a mountain bike and nearly eliminate the volume of technical knowledge that have been the sport’s barrier to entry since its inception. All of which begs the question: “What constitutes a true mountain biker when bikes become so easy to operate that any Joe or Jane can buy one and enjoy the sport without earning a substantial degree of proficiency?”

We could make trails harder, climbs steeper, jumps higher, and races longer, in an effort to force newcomers to pay similar dues to gain entrance to our community of suffering (a suggestion which has many supporters). Or, we could embrace the possibility that future mountain bikers will not have to endure the challenges that we faced in order to fully enjoy the wonders of our sport. I’ve witnessed first timers on borrowed long-travel trail bikes who were keeping up with seasoned riders and boosting doubles on day one. It’s a testament to cycling technology that today, anyone with a measure of fitness and a modicum of athletic skills can hop on a mountain bike and start smashing the blue trails. That would have seemed like pedaling into a fantasy novel when I first started riding mountain bikes.

Revel in the pain if that is what you need to embrace the sport, but there is no good reason to poison future members of the mountain bike community with ritual suffering now that bike designers have made off-road cycling so easy to enjoy. I never asked him, but I am sure that Straight A McKay, a man who has spent most of his life making difficult lives seem easy, would probably shrug his shoulders and say: “If you ride a mountain bike, then you are a mountain biker.”







176 Comments

  • + 414
 People will always seek challenge. If you give a rider -- a real rider -- a more capable bike, one that lets him do things he otherwise couldn't, he'll just go and find something more challenging to ride than whatever he was doing before. You can't take that attitude away from someone who has it, and you can't give it to someone who doesn't, no matter what technology you invent.
  • + 38
 well spoken mate
  • + 11
 Well put
  • + 26
 Correct. Fun comes at the limit of control, so if equipment makes things too easy you simply have to go faster or find more challenging terrain. This shouldn't be a problem anyway, as hardtails and rigids are still being produced and you can even set them up as singlespeeds. Add a pair of skinny XC tyres you've got all the challenge you need. If that's not enough, try riding trails on a fixed gear, brakeless, on flip flops.
  • + 4
 Agree, people will take it to the next level. At the same time, I remember having a similar feeling when skis became fatter. All of a sudden there were way more people competing for powder and getting into the backcountry. I had and still have mixed feelings about it. I'm happy others are enjoying something I love so much, but a little upset that powder days don't last anywhere near as long. Now even the backcountry is getting crowded.
  • + 52
 I think overall its the dumbing down of the trails that's frustrating, if industry keeps making bikes more capable of riding harder trails easier for beginers and experienced riders alike, why the hell do the trails need turning into pavements as well. when I did my first mountain bike ride on a borrowed hard tail that was way to big for me that my feet were 2 inches off the ground, I rode in jeans, trainers and old sweat shirt no helmet or gloves in the middle of winter, got cold and wet, struggled my balls off all the way around the trail for 2 hrs plus cause I didn't have a clue how to ride, got caked in sloppy mud, kept falling off. and from that day on that's why I fell in love with mountain biking, because it was a CHALLENGE, if it was easy I wouldn't be doing it as it would be boring
  • + 10
 In my experience it completely depends on where you live, which dictates your local terrain?

I've been to B.C. in Canada on 3 different vacations, and would not have dreamed of taking anything but a DH or FR bike to really enjoy the terrain to its full potential

Here in the South-East of England, UK - my 29'er hardtail is all I need to enjoy the terrain to its full potential; anything more is just extra baggage which flattens the trails to the point where they become boring, and I am going slower

Before getting my 29'er hardtail bikes, I had a very capable 150mm Devinci Dixon but it just made the riding boring!
  • + 4
 Amen to that. It's never about the bike, but the rider.
  • + 4
 I'd also add that making trails less technical and bikes better sometimes just changes the challenge and, as has always been the case, you will still need the skills to go quickly.

As an example they've just rebuilt one of my favourite trails at my trail centre. It is now a high speed highway with very little technical challenge in the traditional sense of rocks/roots/etc. However I now go faster down it and the challenge is more about cornering technique and balls at speed. It's different and I don't know if I really like it. Maybe time will change my opinion? But the point stands that any rider with less experience trying to follow a good rider down will not be as quick and can challenge themselves to improve or suffer some of the aforementioned painful consequences.

What I would say is that DH trails should be relatively exempt. People choose to ride them for the speed and technical challenge so they should pose difficulties. While I don't have the dedicated bike, I always notice an improvement in my abilities after spending a few hours seasoning the local dh tracks.
  • + 4
 ^Agreed a 29 hardtail is pretty damn fun in the South East.

That's just reminded me I need to charge my lights for a ride in the Surrey Hills tonight.
  • + 8
 Hardtails 4 life Smile
  • + 18
 I certainly agree with mark3 and dumbing down the trails - rocks are plucked out, every corner is a berm, tech sections are avoided. - "forget skill , we just want to peddle fast!" seems to be the mentality. Even the ski resorts are letting their more tech trails just go - they say "people like to ride the easier stuff", paved compacted jump trails are pretty boring after a few runs., but everyone can ride them. Why bring a DH bike now when you can just have an XC, let alone a true AM bike? Speed is fun you say - yes, but speed with tech is a lot more fun.
  • + 2
 @mark3 Completely agree with you mate. I have two bikes (a hardtail and a nomad) currently and one very local trail centre...Whilst everyone is riding their enduro bikes there...I stick to my hardtail because the trail is piss easy otherwise. In fact..its starting to get dull even for my hardtail. I save the Nomad for the secret stuff.
  • + 8
 The thing is, a lot of people are well put off the first time they fall off..... and we all know, at some point, we WILL fall off....

A mate of mine was WELL into borrowing a bike of mine, until he watched Greg Minaar come off at the World Champs, last week, and then saw Gwin go headfirst into a bush, both champions, both top of their games, both riding top spec, $10,000+ bikes.....

So yeah, better bikes will get more people into the sport, which can only be a good thing, but lets see how many stay when theyre picking gravel out of their knees / arms etc when they come a cropper.... Wink
  • + 5
 I have a hardtail, it's light and has a 2x XT gear system, it has XT brakes, it has a simple coil spring fork, I can ride everywhere, up or down, steep (25%) or flat, hardpack or loam, switchbacks or straight, smooth or rocky/rooty, all day or all of an hour, I ride it in XC races and I ride it all over a 1200 meter mountain range, I ride on natural trails (goats and farmers made them originally) and never ever in a "bike park" - I have no idea what a bike park looks like, I've never had the need to go find one, I just ride out the garden and out onto the trail; why would I want a bike with rear suspension? I'm not against progress within technology, I mean witness that I have a suspension fork on my bike, and gears that work flawlessly and brakes that are highly effective. But, when enough is enough I don't seek unecessary complexity. But that's me, you go ahead and ride what makes you happy. Jeez, I can't believe this comment ended up being so long....
  • + 7
 @davidsimons Well you don't clearly...

I think in some cases, you are spot on.
Just because you can, doesnt mean you should...

however, just because you dont also doesn't mean you shouldn't.. Wink

If that makes sense........ (come off nightshift, so am bit tired lool)
  • + 11
 Thank God we have people to let us all know what fun is. Better let all those noobs on the flow trails know they'd have more fun if they followed the rules of progression.
  • + 3
 maybe, like a UK driving license, you should have to learn on a hardtail, and only be allowed a full sus when you get the basics down lol.....

(not a diss against your post btw @davidsimons... )
  • + 8
 Good luck with making the trails harder in the U.S. Here, we build everything new for the lowest common denominator. The trails must be 'sustainable' and in many places must be multi-use, creating boring four foot wide trails where people can strava their new fancy bikes on. Land managers are supremely concerned about liability and environmental standards. I miss the punk-rock-renegade-fuck you ethos of mountain biking. In my circle, riding where you want and how you want will always be paramount.
  • + 4
 the real barrier to entry is cost. bikes are only getting more expensive, the easier they are to ride the more expensive they get.
  • + 3
 yes indeed. bikes don't ride trails, people do....
  • + 9
 , and there is still a guy out there that will go bigger than you on a hardtail
  • + 1
 You still have to admit though that after riding a 140mm trail bike for a while you can get a bit soft. Going back to a hardtail or an old school rigid fork really toughens you up! I agree that as technology gets better, riding improves as well. But sometimes it is nice to give yourself a challenge and go old school
  • + 4
 My ass hurts too much to go back to a hardtail. As I age, it becomes more clear that I'm a full-susser 4 life. Body feels less beat up after a ride. And I do regularly ride trails that test the limits of my 5 inch travel bike.
  • + 3
 From 2000 to 2010 I feel a lot of riders were "over-biking", buying longer travel and burlier machines than their riding and trails necessitated. Freeride bikes were pushed pretty hard for a while. I think we trickled back down to reality and now with the explosion of more and more super capable 160mm rigs we're trending back to the over-bike thing. Everyone "needs" a 160mm bike and they're being marketed heavily. My trails would be too damn easy on a 160mm rig. Anyway, to each his/her own. If you get a burly bike, ride burly terrain. I'm surprised at how capable 140mm bikes are these days. I do see the merit in having a hardtail and trail bike though.
  • + 6
 @ShreddieMercury - really? Trails are all being dumbed down? It's no more fun because the f*ck you attitude is missing? Where I live (Pacific Northwest) there's a lot of trail building, of all sorts. It gets more people out there. There are easy trails to get people into the sport. There are flow trails for those who like that. There are tech trails, even new ones. Land managers are becoming more comfortable with man-made obstacles and single-use (and single-direction-of-travel) trails. As a result, we can now ride in lots of places, legally. I would say we have a better shot of getting more awesome riding by just getting involved with our local trails association, than by going the punk rock f*ck you route and going all renegade on the riding.

Ride where you want and how you want is great - up until the point where you do so in a way that then gets access shut down for everyone else. Mountain biking is finally getting to the point where we're getting good riding the legal way. Sure, ride with attitude, ride where you want - but remember that you don't have a divine right to do so on lands you don't own. For that sort of thing, there's a process that's proven to work (the trails association way), and there's a process that's proven not to work (the renegade trail building way - which usually leads to bans, shutdowns, and bad blood all around).
  • + 2
 The original comment in this thread made me think of Lars Klunkin in that Whip Off contest at Crankworx and how it may be just as true that as bikes evolve and allow less experienced riders to achieve greater comforts on more technical trails, highly experienced riders may achieve greater challenge on the same trails by utilizing wonderfully made "lower tech" machines.
  • + 2
 Lars' Klunker is "lower tech" but the geometry are bang on the money.

Geometry must be one of the biggest advancements since the birth of MTB.

This is why hardtails are still popular and fast.
  • + 71
 We all ride for a lot of different reasons, and we all have different rides... The only 2 rules of mountain biking that matter to me are:

1. Respect/courtesy/friendliness to the other trail users.
2. Respect for the trails being ridden.

Who gives a crap what kind of bike you ride.
  • + 39
 Don't forget the n+1 rule.
  • + 5
 ^^Exactly,

As long as you are happy on your ride does it really matter what it is?

Technology has given us options. If we take up those options it is up to us as individuals.

For me mountain biking has been more about attitude than what you ride.
  • + 1
 exactly.
  • + 21
 Try shredding your local ski resort terrain park with the same snowboard or skiis that you first learned with, that probably won't work either... Watch some groms do things you never imagined you would do at their age, or ever, and enjoy it. Get over yourself.
  • + 9
 I was waiting for someone to mention this! Growing up skiing on 62mm wide straight skis was super fun. I learned to carve at any speed, rip bumps, trees and deep powder. Things are lightyears better now on modern "27.5+" skis.

Yeah, there's people skiing their second week runs that took me years to build up to. Would I wish them all back to skinny sticks? Not a chance!

If you can't appreciate other people's happiness and points of view -- even if it means they progressed faster than you did 20 years ago -- then you're destined to be a crotchetty old muthafuka.
  • + 4
 @bishopsmike - amen, brother. And when you learned properly, on your 62mm straight boards, you were royally pissing off the old dudes on the hill at the time - after all, you had plastic boots, fixed heel safety bindings, and metal edges. Real skiers had to learn on wooden planks, in leather boots and freeheel cable bindings. And so it goes.

I'm a middling mountain biker. I grew up in northern German (super flat) in the 70s, where riding a bike wasn't a sport, it was transportation (stil is). Moved to the US, ended up in Austin, got into mountain biking for a couple years in the mid-90s. Front suspension was a revelation - full suspension seemed like a disaster, both for enabling the poseurs, and for being very expensive to buy (and to then constantly replace the frames that kept snapping like twigs in those days), so I never got into that. Didn't touch a MTB for something like 15 years; got an entry level hard tail, rode a little, then discovered (a) Galbraith and (b) full suspension bikes. And am now properly hooked. I ride a 29er mid-travel trail bike - definitely appropriate to my status as a mid-40s punter. I'm having a lot of fun. Am I a candidate for 27.5+? Probably not, as the ease will kill some of the playfulenss - but I won't mind going a little wider on my rims and a little bigger on my tires on the next bike a buy. Basically, I'll be looking for the biking equivalent of my skis - a somewhat fat hybrid (cambered underfoot, rockered at the tips) with Randonne bindings (so I can rip around the resort, rip around the side country with a little skinning, and generally maximize my fun in the limited time I have to play, all with a one ski quiver). Those skis, incidentally, have made previously marginal days really good.

I'm not for change for its own sake. But if progress can make riding more fun for more people, great. Some people will work on their skills and get better; others will coast. That's the same in all aspects of life. And there'll always be the dude on the front porch, yelling at those damn kids to get of his damn lawn.
  • + 19
 I would say this...
Anyone could walk into a car dealer with alot of cash and buy a Ferrari. They can then blast it up the motorway and promptly crash it on the first A road they get to.
Anyone could walk into a car dealer with a lot less cash and buy a used Subaru Impreza. They can blast it up the motorway and promptly crash it on the first A road they get to.
Not many people can by a £750 12 year old used VW Passat and drive it like a pro.
My point is this. Its the age old mountain bike phrase of "all the gear and no idea". Yes the bike makes a differance. The enjoyment however comes from knowing what to do with it. I have a very nice and very capable 160mm bike. Two days ago I worked a night shift, slept until 1100 then went for a ride. The bike did the work. I just held on. It was most displeasant.
You get out of riding what you put into riding.
  • + 8
 or have a Lambo or Ferrari and drive around Knightsbridge (London) at 7mph looking like a twat...

"The worst you are at something the better the equipment you need"
  • + 6
 Off topic, but I'm always amused when I find myself beside an AMG Merc or a Porsche, and we're both stuck in traffic going nowhere. It must be frustrating having the world's most powerful natty V8 just sitting there at idle 90% of the time....
  • + 5
 I fail to see the point of super car apart from the obvious "penis extension".

If youve got that much money buy a race car and thrash it around a track.
  • + 3
 or just thrash the penis extension round the track?

(theres a euphemism in there somewhere... Wink )
  • + 2
 If you love down town or in a congested area, cars are nothing but a status symbol. Like where I live, a 30 minute drive from EVERYTHING then a fast car makes a long commute just a bit more enjoyable.
  • + 3
 The point of that super car is the pure joy of the experience of a super car. Being thrown back into the seat with the beautiful sound of a hand built, finely tuned v8 screaming is the super car experience. There is just a different experience of a super car then a normal car. Just the same as the experience between a department store bike and a full carbon pro level bike is different.
  • + 2
 @mnorris122: sold my sport bike and bought a mtn bike for this exact reason. Got sick of being stuck behind RVs, sweating my balls off, with sore knees, being scared of getting pulled over when tripling the speed limit, getting caught in the rain, or hitting a deer, when I just wanted to have fun!
  • + 4
 @ilovedust , in Mexico a 12 year old Passat is actually a pretty cool car.
  • + 19
 "All of which begs the question: “What constitutes a true mountain biker when bikes become so easy to operate that any Joe or Jane can buy one and enjoy the sport without earning a substantial degree pf proficiency?”"

Answer: the one that's deriving inner satisfaction.
  • + 1
 That's deep. I'd have to agree. To each their own.
  • + 6
 Right?! It's a personal thing; easy trails and modern bikes are getting my whole family out riding and loving it.
  • + 1
 + 1 million
  • + 1
 +1millionandone!
  • + 3
 It helps introduce people to the sport, which gets more money in the system, which allows companies to develop new product and tech, which allows some to be more creative, which leads to Boost 148. SHIT IT LOOKED SO GOOD hahaha. Jk. It is a good thing, it also spreads awareness of trails and helps us keep our land and shit
  • + 2
 Another Answer: $8k for that new electronic suspension that dials your shocks for you
  • + 15
 New bikes, 27.5, 29, tubeless, carbon, goggles on a half shell. Who gives. If a guy on a carbon 27.5 scott genius can't keep up with a guy on a 2009-2013 26 all mountain bike, it just goes to show that your steed doesn't have to be brand new or 27.5 and running tubeless for you to be A FRIKIN' BOSS!!! All the time I see people on new rigs being put to shame by dudes on older bikes with log slicer set ups and bomber forks and I smile. And when someone is absolutely pinned on a new bike I still smile cos they're a boss. You don't become pro over night or because of technology. Just ride your Bike.
  • + 2
 +1
  • + 14
 its sad, everything becomes dumbed down to be easier, instead of put in the time and training, we just buy lighter more capable bikes. where does it end? will e-bikes be the real future of mountain biking as humans become more lazy? for sustainability in the sport we need the youngsters to keep pushing the envelope, not just folding it because its easier. the proof is in the paved flow tracks found at all bike parks, technology is better than ever before and were making smoother trails/tracks than ever before. done ranting.
  • + 8
 @whitebullit i must apologize for replying to the copy of your comment. Anyway, here is my reply. "dont worry mate, i am a youngster and will try as hard as i can to stay on my 26 inch, non-boost, 2.5 inch tyre mountain bike and keep a bit of tradition in this awesome sport. And as for the envelope, f*ck it, we need a whole post office for the level of determination that can be seen in today's new generation."
  • + 8
 Unfortunately I think e-bikes, plus, and plus e-bikes are in the very near future based on what you said, people are lazy and getting lazier. And people want to have the most fun with the least amount of effort/pain. But as far as I can see in my future, there are no such bikes, because I choose to not ride them. I think as "mountain bikers" we are going to be forced to watch the sport get so jacked up, so dummied down (just like the rest of the world) and have no voice to speak because $$$$$ will rule the industry as its starting to now, in my incredibly naive opinion. The only thing we can do is individually choose to stay the course and ride "real" bicycles while everyone 20 years from now will be on 60mph e-bikes that weight 30 pounds and last 3-4 hours. I know if I ever have kids they will not be on any yuppie bikes but instead I'll teach the true beauty of riding a bike. All we can do it pass it on!
  • + 30
 Yeah man e-bikes are literally aids. Now excuse me while I shuttle up the DH track on the back of a hilux
  • + 0
 Man, here comes the devil
m.youtube.com/watch?v=FEGdnQUAt4U
  • + 17
 There's more than one way to skin a cat. The way I see it with e-bikes is you will have different demographics riding these things.

The first demographic is your Joe who rode bikes in the park here and there but saw these new e-bikes and thought it would be fun for him and the wife. Possibly Joe continues on and heads out alone once a week but is always shunned and never gets to join the pioneer types on their antique 11 speeds. Joe rides alone all the time and never has anyone to push him, or has any friends in the sport, so never learns new or secret trails, so he stays on the gravel fire roads and maybe ventures off the beaten path here and there. Joe never becomes an avid cyclist.

The second demographic is Billy. Billy who has an idea of what mountain biking is, wants to get involved, and the parents help Billy out by getting him his new e-bike. He rides around and maybe his buddies have one as well, they venture off and get lost, run out of battery, get home some how and have big smiles on their faces, all without the use of any methamphetamine. Maybe these kids continue on and find all the local spots, destroy all the berms, and never know what its like to struggle like the rest of us up a 2 mile climb. Whatever, they are still outdoors having fun, and supporting cycling in a sense. Billy has found joy in riding his bike (e-bike whatever) and grows up to appreciate the outdoors and ends up being a constructive part of society and now has 5 bikes for every discipline.

The third demographic is one of us, we'll call him Hans. Hans knows he'll be burned at the stake for buying into the kryptonite that is assisted pedaling, so he builds a secret layer to store his e-bike, and always rides with a full face. Hans is always planning his next expedition carefully so he isn't spotted, traveling from one trail center to the next. With Hans' 4 hour battery life, he can ride in 1 day what he used to ride in a week so he has less of a chance of being seen on the trail. Not only that, but now he can ride his bike to the trail center without even loading his bike into the car so no one can recognize his maroon Subaru Outback with what as well may be an unborn fetus attached to his bumber. Hans now takes day long rides deeper into the woods then he could have ever imagined. If only Hans had like minded friends that would realize that even though his pedal assisted bike made it a little easier for him to get up the hill, he still works just as hard because he his climbing 10x the elevation!

Maybe one day everyone will understand that its okay for Joe, Billy, and Hans to ride an e-bike. Just because they do it differently doesn't make it wrong. Swallow your ego, no one is forcing you to buy anything.
  • + 0
 Glad you said this, put it better than I can
  • + 2
 There are different ways to look at it. I see it as an opportunity to make days longer, hit up 5 trails instead of 2. Go and explore into the unknown. Sure you could still do that today like Matt Hunter, but I don't really have that kind of time or funding. The other side is getting lazy people off the couch and on the trail, they wont really be a cyclist, but at least they are doing something (and also putting money into cycling + our economy). I like blue, you like red, he likes yellow, whatever I'm still having fun on blue and I respect your red and yellow, hope you guys are having fun too.
  • + 4
 why does it matter what everyone else does?

As long as you are happy on your bike and can ride the trails you want to does it matter?
  • + 12
 E-bikes are probably going to be photographers/filmers best friend if you are carrying 20-30kg of gear on your back. That's the fourth demographic.
  • + 11
 Its not sad that things get better, its good!! Its human nature to try and make the world better for ourselves, so in this particular case:

Bikes get better so more of the wilderness becomes rideable. No one designed a 200mm full suspension bike for riding a fireroad, that would be stupid.

Humans aren't becoming more lazy, humans want to do more. 50 years ago, riding a bicycle off-road for fun would be a pretty unpopular idea because of the effort and difficulty. Is it sad that its now feasible? Are we all more lazy because of it? No!
  • + 5
 @Ruffletron. Can I get an amen?!

You said it exactly: all technological development and design improvement up until the time I started to ride were nothing, just time passing. All changes since I learned to ride are rubbish learning aids for the masses.
  • + 2
 As better bikes make trails easier to ride, more people will ride trails more often. It's likely we'll see increased trail wear and congestion, but at the same time there should be more rider advocacy and more trailbuilding support (hopefully) to balance the demand and preserve the environment. E-bikes can accelerate all this for good and bad, while making some previously unrideable trails rideable due to better range and better capability. While e-bike mtb's are the botox of mountain biking, they're as inevitable as automatic transmissions in cars.
  • + 1
 Don't think they'll be quite as ubiquitous...
  • + 2
 buying an e-bike, much like buying a £6000+ "Factory / Works" edition of a bike, ISNT going to turn you into a Bryceland / Schurter / Carpenter....

Motorcycles didnt spell the end of pedalling, so i doubt e-bikes will......

also...... +1 on what @Ruffletron said!
  • - 4
flag zede (Sep 10, 2015 at 7:07) (Below Threshold)
 3 weeks ago, in a uphill, I overtook a guy. He was like : shaved, in lycra, without backpack, and he was on a carbon 29er xc hardtail.
I was on a alloy 26 full sus bike, with a camelbak, kneeguard, flat pedals, 2,35 tire with low pressure.

Money can't buy skills, fitness and/or love of mountainbiking, and I will never buy a carbon bike with all the latest stuff, just to do this again.
  • + 9
 @zede Who cares? Was he having an awesome time? Was he playing Bob Marley from his handlebar-mounted speakers with a joint dangling from one lip? Maybe he's a professional roadie, his bike was a sponsor freebie, and he was having a chill Saturday ride. Maybe he was going slow because he was listening to the birds.

Passing someone ≠ love of mountain biking
  • + 0
 having an awesome time ? lol, these kind of guys of like are like "no grin, cuz i must look serious like if I was yellow jersey in tour de France", and then they complain about smthg wrong on their bike that make them slow...tire pressure, weight, disease, etc.

I love mountain biking, and I love trolling these guys obsessed by their performance and by having the latest carbon stuff whereas they actually don't even like mtbiking.
  • + 1
 Not weighing in on the sentiment, but flow tracks are often paved for maintenance/future cost concerns and not to dumb it down.
  • + 12
 This must be the bike equivalent to people complaining about powder skis. Some say they made it too easy. Most say they make it more fun. In most cases, having fun wins out.
  • + 1
 Or buttering a rocker board.
  • + 2
 Agreed, but I still like to ride full camber/narrow waisted skis every now and then to make sure I'm not getting lazy in my skiing technique. Just like I like to ride my hard tail every now and then for the same reason.
  • + 1
 This was mentioned above in the comments haha
  • + 2
 very good point i never rode hardtails and had a medioker technique, then my frame cracked and i got a hartail frame for the time beeing. first rides i sucked puncturing all the time but i got smoother. only when my fully returend i noticed how much faster i got.
that experience taught me never to forget the basics. for the same reason i now own a cross bike and dam that thing can be funn Big Grin
  • + 8
 Well written article... in the end I think it, and most things in life, come down to worrying less about what the other guy is doing and more about what you're doing. Enjoy your ride, and let those just starting down their own path enjoy theirs.
  • + 2
 Agreed, see too many people talking shit
  • + 2
 @badbadleroybrown - that about nails it. There's probably a bunch of rather deep seated insecurity in a lot of people. That, in my experience, seems to be the root of all that ego-driven concern about whether others are truly core or whatever. I tend to get seriously stoked when I see people having fun. As long as they're not killing anyone else's fun (through poor behavior that gets trails closed, damages trails, gets people hurt), hey, let them do their thing the way they like it. If for some reason that sort of thing offends, I usually try to change the channel and instead look at what's going on with myself - there's usually some room for improvement there.
  • + 3
 Meh. It's click bait. Tomorrow he'll be writing an article lauding all the stuff he's complaining about here, or remarking on the weight of a new bike, or blasting a bike company for not spec'ing a dropper. It's all bullshit, really. And the next time a newb on a carbon bling bike keeps up with me down any real trail will be the first. If that happens, it is because the experienced rider didn't invest in progression, not because of equipment.
  • + 6
 It's the same thing with journalism and writing! Website development tools have become so easy to use and the barrier to entry so low that online professional writers today can take eight paragraphs before they even make their first point. Back in our day, a magazine editor would have sliced 90% of the fat out of that shit!
  • + 7
 Rubberelli ^^^ Yep. Did print. I have slashed and been slashed, but when print magazines were in their prime, average readers could be expected to get through a thousand words. On line, we can hope for 300 before we lose sixty-percent of our audience. Anyone who reads this column to the end is a hero in my book.
  • + 1
 What I took from this article is that entry barriers for anything are going to become less challenging as time goes on and technology develops because that's what progress means. So, let's stop being luddite curmudgeons with irrelevant axes to grind when it comes to developing the next generation of talent. They said the same thing about typewriters vs apple 2E so letting history repeat itself is ad nauseum and so not #kewlhipster. It's what some of us are thinking at least.
  • + 6
 This is exactly why I suggest every first time mountain biker starts out on a hardtail to learn basic bike handling skills. Once you get on a full suspension, your are such a better rider than if you skipped the hardtail and went straight to full suspension. I still keep my DJ/Trail bike around just for this purpose. Whenever I start to feel lazy on my bike, I go ride my hardtail and when then get back on my FS bike I feel like I can ride better every time.
  • + 2
 Indeed, you have to ride so much cleaner on a hardtail, let alone a fully rigid...then again if you like plowing trough the rough instead of looking for lines, then that's your choice. It might have something to do with finesse and refinement. I love my trail bike, but every time I come down from an awesome run on the fully rigid it gives me so much more YEAH!
  • + 2
 even if you like ploghing you should still know how to choose lines, simply because plowing is not always an option. and i sadly have to say i started out on a fully and sometimes think i regret it. now i own a hardtail and a cross bike, just to work on certain skill sets. But when it comes to bikepark time, hello fully here i plow
  • + 5
 All sports change - we just happen to be in one that has been limited by the technology available for a long time. Improvements and advancements in bike tech will come and go, trail design will come and go with it (after all - not everyone is riding the Rampage course just yet). Some riders will embrace the latest and greatest technology and push riding to it's limit in one way, while others will go build themselves a rigid singlespeed 26'er (none of this "boost hub" garbage) and push riding in a different direction. There is no right answer for how to ride a bike or how to build a trail - and as long as there is a place for everyone to ride I think we can all be happy. The only problem I see is making our wonderful sport a little more affordable for a decent bike (aka not Walmart).
  • + 1
 Seems like readers on pinkbike get biking more sometimes.
  • + 1
 @ratedgg13 - yes, affordability would be nice. But think about it this way - you can get a decent single-pivot FS trail bike for well under 2 grand these days. Those bikes are already so much more capable that high end bikes from ten years ago. I'm usually not a fan of trickle-down economics - but it seems to work in mountain biking. More of that would be great, but it seems to be starting.
  • + 5
 I gives a Fuk if other people learn easier. I spent 20+ years crashing steel hardtails, playing superman OTB, etc to earn my stripes. They may be able to ride the same trails as I am but they will never develope style cause that requires crashing.
Well written RC, it was a delight to read.
  • + 12
 just because new bikes have more travel doesn't mean noob riders won't go OTB.
  • + 11
 Yes they will still go OTB, but thanks to the new geo just not as often as on a 90's HT.
  • + 5
 New rider's will always crash, it's part of the sport. But crashing in the name of looking tough and developing "style" is totally unnecessary and the only people who would support that are the ones who went through the same thing, trying to stroke their ego

Have a look at some young riders these days, who shred as hard as people 10 years their senior, on their sacrilegious modern trail bikes.

I hope one day you can get overtaken by a 14 year old on a boost plus bike, leaving you in the dust before he boosts and whips a jump you could never imagine doing yourself
  • + 4
 When I was a kid, Harleys had kickstarters, and riding one meant that you were either a big badass, or a mechanical genius, but either way, it said that you were no one to mess with. Then came electric starters. Now, riding a Harley just means that you have either money or good credit. What used to be the bike of rebellious badasses became the bike of bankers, lawyers, and insurance salesmen. Mountainbiking is heading in the same direction. It used to be about riding skill. Now it's all about purchasing power. Oh well. The more expensive and complicated mountainbikes get, the less these people are able to work on them and the more I make doing it for them. Personally, I don't see the attraction of having all that crap, but it makes my job secure. Once Google gets the self driving car figured out they will no doubt turn their attention towards a self riding mountainbike.
  • + 4
 @richardcunningham

Love this article and it's superbly written and the creativity you use to communicate your ideas is really awe-inspiring.

I personally don't feel that the 'skill' element of riding a mountain bike will ever disappear, regardless of what technology we use - a great example are the bikes we use today; never before have we had it so good but one thing is abundantly clear - we need skill to ride our bikes to the level they were designed for ... plus bikes are no different.

Yes, we may be joined by a new rider segment that's new to the spot and endowed with less ability - this isn't something on the horizon, this is what we have today, passionate newbies riding incredibly capable bikes. What separates the riders ultimately is skill and fitness, a plus bike will not teach you how to pump the trail, nor will it teach you how to corner a bike - yes, it will help you get away with more much like a long travel bike will, but the same elements remain.

I also think theintroduction of wide rims on 'conventional bikes' is a really significant development that actually brings us closer to our plus cousins, so for me, I don't think the gap is going to be that big, I'm more interested to see if riders on plus bikes develop their technique in spite of the advantages their huge tyres offer.

Also seeing first timers boost doubles? Sounds like an anomaly.
  • + 4
 While a bike of a certain build can certainly make a ride easier, it still takes time on a bike to learn how to choose your line. Sure, you can make that climb, but can you make the switchbacks without putting a foot down? How about climbing those gnarly rocky sections? While a bike makes it easier, it still takes skill, and that comes from experience, which takes time.
  • + 4
 I got my first mountain bike in 1984, so I am literally OLD school. I haven't been on a hard tail in years. For me, two things stand out about today's FS bikes. 1) They are COMFORTABLE. 2) They are CAPABLE.

Age and injuries have eroded my courage, but my Tallboy LT enables me to ride terrain even more technical than I used to back in my salad days.
  • + 3
 The idea of new tech making riding "too easy" seems to be very focused on downhill, speed, jumping, gnarly tech, The newer bikes help on the way up of course, but unless you're talking e-bikes, you will always have to pay your dues climbing up gnarly trail it seems. I guess those kind of dues are different from the dh induced injury dues though.
  • + 3
 Richard, that was really nice Big Grin I like how you started writing in a style going together with perception modifying drugs. True mountain biking is a bullcrap though. I've just been to Garda Lake in northern Italy where few distinctive types of "elitism" are in the air, you can sense it in the way cyclists are checking out each other, with way of looking and body language demystifying the need to quickly sew up self confident personas as if they tried to express how many vertical meters they are going to climb today, how many kilometers they rode or how steep was the descent. And most stick their nose up in their team jerseys as if they all were affiliated with some racing team. So where you find elitism you find hard edged definitions of what is the genre about. So now if you find yourself on the boulevard of Riva Del Garda or one of the fire road accessible peaks, you better have your legs shaved, semi slick tyres and dropped cockpit. Stand there in lycra kit, sunglasses and shoes that cost more than a decent hardtail, and have some sort of GPS tracking device attached to your handlebars, because your level of staying true to MTB values in fire road endurance. If you get into shuttling van, you should still show that you can climb a lot, but you better be prepared to show style on the way down. And then came this incredible, ubelievable thing... a camper with two ENVE kitted carbon Nomads, towing a trailer with... Lotus Elise. So yes, since around 2008 we can observe a surge of Joey's into the trails, but there will always be places in physical world and collective minds where trail bike technology simply doesn't go through, and those have "elite" written on their door. Riva Del Garda is such place. Judging solely by numbers, enduro cannot push through since many years, and Downhill seems to never be able to, even though one of the greatest DH courses that impresses even industry insiders, that is: Commezzadura/ Val Di Sole, is just one hour drive away.
  • + 1
 Waki it is a drama to behold how you write insightful comments that seem to escape the grasp of the average pb audience, be it due to sophistication, intellectual capacity, time constraints or simply coming here for a quick fix of escapism rather than reflection. Maybe people feel alienated or simply threatened by something they can't or don't want to understand - no blame, you have to allocate your energy wisely in life. Like Sisyphus you push the boulder up with every comment only to get down-voted almost ritually every time. +1 from me XD
  • + 3
 Maybe try adding in some paragraph breaks? Or is that not sophisticated?
  • - 2
 I am so sophiaticated that I wanted Loic to crash. Minnaar deserved the gold.
  • + 2
 @LuvAZ Mystery how it comes across i was insinuating to be sophisticated myself nor blaming anyone. Rather there seems to be miscommunication at play between Wakin and PB comments.

Waki always writes little essays which are probably just too long, poorly edited or convoluted so he gets down-voted every time. Still he does it again and again and the ideas that he tries to get across are interesting. That strikes me as a drama I enjoy witnessing, thus my demonstration of appreciation.
  • + 3
 The smoother trails and better bikes make it easier for people to take up mountain biking. This makes the trail centres viable as they need people to support them. From some of the comments on here you'd think some people would like to make it as hard as possible to get into the sport. To me ebikes will get people out on bikes either on the road or trails that would usually sit and watch TV. More people buying more bikes is a good thing. People who truly want to progress and be challenged will find the trails that do this and develope their skills. I have a high end bike with electronic suspension, but I spend money on coaching, seek out more natural technical trails and keep trying to improve and push my limits, but I also like to ride Glentress now and again for straightforward smooth flowing trails, just for the fun of it. I have a hard tail and started riding on rigid bikes with cantilever brakes, so appreciate the skills learned on these bikes, but not everyone is in it for that. I'd also add that I did a lot of climbing yesterday to earn my downhill, but if you asked me at the time if I'd like a wee motor to help me up so that I could have more energy left for the downhill or get more runs in, I might have taken it.
  • + 3
 I think this article is written through the lens of an experienced rider who forgets what it's like to be a newby. Yes the recent changes in mountain bikes have made them better than ever, but there is still a price to be paid in flesh for newcomers to the sport. There is still a steep learning curve to negotiate.
  • + 4
 I don't think there would be many people competing at Red Bull rampage if we were all still riding fully rigid bikes with cantilever brakes.Personally I love watching our sport evolve.
  • + 0
 I was thinking the same thing. This debate has a bit of an anti-technology aspect in that technology has made things easier. I'm sure that people 20 years ago would argue that suspension forks, disc brakes, etc all make trails too easy and accessible and that people should be using skill rather than fancy gadgets. However, watching the World Champs the other day is there anyone arguing that today's riders aren't skilled? Or, for arguments sake, that a top level motocross rider isn't skilled because he hasn't been pedalling (e-bikes seem to be annoying everyone after all!). Technology makes everything easier and the issue is that tracks should reflect what that by becoming harder. Whatever technology comes in tomorrow's riders will still find challenge and push themselves to develop their skills of they want. This could lead to more riders becoming builders, because they want more challenge than the one they get from the local groomed trail? Is that not a great idea? The fact that future skills may be focused on slightly different aspects of riding should not scare us.

Also, on the issue of e-bikes being a pedalling aid, how is that different from any of you guys who use a shuttle or a chairlift to reach your trails? Shouldn't you be riding to the top first? And when you are old and your body is knackered don't you want an option to continue to participate in a sport you love? I know I don't want or need that option now, but in 20 years or if I have a bad accident or whatever, maybe I'll be very appreciative of the option?
  • + 0
 @metaam The difficulty is relative. The Rampage exist, but with smaller drops in line with Hardtails.
  • + 1
 I can't believe you got negged man! You're dead right on all counts, of course. I assume given your stance on e-bikes you must now be negged to death because it just isn't cool to like those, or anything else new it seems. I just hate electricity, it's just going to allow people to light their homes better, why don't they just make their own candles all day every day like me...because they're lazy that's why. Lazy gapers.
  • + 3
 I live in the Salt Lake City area and have 2 mtb's. Some of the trails I prefer my hardtail, especially the one's with a lot of uphill grinding. For others that are super techy raw forest roots, drops, and bike park big hits I ride my 6in travel bike. It's fun to have more than 1 bike to give yourself the contrast while keeping things challenging and fun Smile
  • + 2
 @richardcunningham, I may be wrong but I seem to recall an editorial from you in MBAction quite few years ago that went along the same lines, wondering if mountain biking had became a littlee too easy. It must have been 2004 or so. Probably it was from Jimmy Mac...
Thing is I agree. I declare myself guilty of it despite having learned with full ridgids and side pull brakes. But bikes nowadays are easy to ride, let you do more for less effort and mtb's have been like that for a few years now.
  • + 2
 As usual, a great read Richard.

From a kid who started on a bicycle ( blue Schwinn Stingray) learning to ride on two wheels. On to the venerable BMX bike in my pre teens. Then on to riding dirt bikes and racing some moto. I've come full circle and am now riding mountain bikes (13 years) in my late 40's. And now own a full squish 29er! Technology and evolution, my back and knees thank you!
  • + 2
 My dad is 67. Rides a steel Breezer hardtail 26er and shreds. Picks his way through the boniest minefields New England has to offer (and the occasional rip in Utah). I have been encouraging him lately to get on a short travel 27.5 FS as I think it wil lenable him to be in the saddle longer. He's resistant for the exact reasons sited in this article -- which all make sense. He's simply a purest. I respect it. Of course it's an age-old question about technology that applies to nearly everything. But--really-- what does it matter what someone else rides?
  • + 2
 I don't know... You have an excellent point @richardcunningham, but is pain culture really the whole story? The line that best compromises between smoothness and flow is the fastest line, even on 200mm of travel, but a new rider has a stronger incentive to learn that when he or she has a narrower margin of error - i.e.; a 26" hardtail. I'm sure it's about elitism for some, but when I have kids, I'll start them on hardtails, not to haze them but for the sake of practical training. And you can be sure I'll be out there on a hardtail with them, until the day when they're ready for full squish 29ers of their own.
  • + 2
 I have been riding since fully rigid steel bikes were all you could buy and v-brakes were the next big thing. Every time I've upgraded my bike I have very quickly an easily found ways to scare the living sh*t out of myself. The double-diamond trails that I ride now in my 40s would have been impossible for me to even consider on my unsuspended steel bike when I was in my 20s.

Almost everyone I know has gone down hard because they're pushing their own personal limits. As bike technology improves the trails and riders will improve to match. That's the beauty of this sport. Even the very very top riders in the sport have challenges on their bucket list. May it always be so.
  • + 2
 I think that there is one demographic that most people are not thinking about- the less able bodied people out there. Not everyone is physically capable as the rest..disabilities, chronic illness, injuries can make mountain biking less accessible. These new technologies will open up mtb for everyone. Our society could sure use more people who take better care of their health (physically and mentally), care about the environment and people who are engaged in their community. I am sure thankful for my awesome bike that lets me participate- I have several chronic illnesses (Ankylosing spondylitis and Interstitial Cystitis) and without the newer technology I doubt that I would be riding and experiencing these benefits. As I age and my mobility and strength wanes I will definitely purchase an ebike. Not everyone is in the same game as finding the extreme limit and pushing them, some people have completely different definitions of success.
  • + 2
 I've only been riding mountain bikes a couple of months, my background is mx, bmx and skateboarding and to be honest the modest bike I have (26" orange Alpine) is so flattering those of you who have been doing this a while have probably lost site of how easy your bike is already making it. I can hit jumps at my age (44) on my Orange that I haven't hit on a BMX for nearly 20 years and just float / bounce over them, big wheels, boingy suspension it all makes you think your a god. then I watch what some kid in skinny jeans and raggedy t shirt is doing on a bmx with no suspension or gore tex riding gear or £5000+ bike and I'm reminded how much my bike is helping an old man along, and so be it, i'm enjoying two wheels again and loving it, and its a f*cking site cheaper than motocross and more sociable. So bring on the new bikes where's my credit card.
  • + 2
 The best part of the "progression" to me is the non-riders buying $5000 shred sleds. They give it one season, just a handful of rides, and decide to bail. Price them to sell and then I can afford one! Retail is for suckers!
  • + 2
 "We could make trails harder, climbs steeper, jumps higher, and races longer". Sounds good to me.

I personally had a fully rigid 1991 Stumpjumper S-works. It was a great machine, but I can do a hell of a lot more (and have a lot more fun in the process) on the bike(s) I have now.
  • + 2
 If you sell your circa 1991 hardtail and but the newest Boost+ wonder bike, are you less hardcore now? Are the greats any less great because they get to ride bikes with tech and price tags that most of us can't afford? Does digging gravel out of your skin hurt less because your race bike is under 20lbs? Lots of people have said it already, mountain biking is in your head and in your heart. The bike just helps you express it.
  • + 3
 Bullshit, it doesn't matter what kind of bike they put out. You might be able to go down a gnarlier trail with shit skills but you will not do so with flow.
  • + 1
 In other sports if a technology makes the sport too easy it gets banned for competition use (all motorsports, certain suits in swimming, ridiculously light bikes in road racing, and so on). Recreational users can have whatever they want, though. Maybe off road cycling has to go that way.
  • + 1
 I recently had a similar discussion with some people at work. They see I have a newer bike, I say it has more travel, etc.. etc... everyone assumes I can go so much faster. I 've always felt like I could go a little faster now, more control but it really comes down to how the feel is. It just 'feels' better and not as brutal bombing down rocky, rooty trails. I always say, get a pro on a bike from walmart and they'd still kick my butt! hahaha.
  • + 1
 The real culprit of anyone being able to ride a trail isn't current advancements in bikes, as I see it. It's people dumbing down trails and building easy, shallow, boring trails without a single challenging feature. I don't care if you put a beginner on the best dh bike you can buy, there are still lines out there (goats gully @ whistler, ginger @ bootleg canyon, King Kong @ Virgil etc) that ain't nobody getting down without experience. Same goes for big jump lines (if style is involved and not just dead sailing and hoping you survive the landing). With bikes getting better, experienced riders will always seek trails that challenge them on whatever bike they're riding to improve their skills. If the baseline mtb trail gets harder, so will the lines for experienced riders.
  • + 1
 This is the same thing that is happening in the photography game. Good relatively inexpensive cameras are making photographer out of everyone, who in the era of film, would never have bothered to go down there because it was such a mystery. The price of progress and pushing the boundaries of science i guess.

A big enough gap jump will always deter those with little courage...I should know because the scare the c***p out of me!
  • + 1
 new riders will crash. They'll just crash a lot faster and a lot harder because its easier to go faster. Tis all. For the rest of us, game on. just wish the prices would drop a little with all this new fancy technology to manufacture plastic bikes.
  • + 1
 Great read RC. Love the analogy. Consequence is the defining difference. Is it mere coincidence that resulting death is on the rise, are we becoming so comfortable that we have all surpassed limitation and are riding on a razor's edge? Paying the trail tax is inevitable; everyone suffers at some point.
  • + 1
 Good call Brad, as bikes make it easier to go faster, the consequences of crashing rises exponentially. Of course, you know that beast better than most mortal riders.
  • + 1
 Painless tattoos don't exist. Not real ones. The tech for newbies help create temporary tattoos. If they become passionate about riding they earn real ones, memorable meaningful ones that are drawn by gravity using trees, rock gardens, roots...etc
  • + 1
 NOT YET! There's now laser "syringes" that inject vaccines without physical contact; no/less chance of infection/contagion and in fact painless. Bet it will be just a matter of time until that trickles down (up?) to tattooing machines.

Just because they used to pull teeth without anaesthetics doesn't mean it was a better learning experience (definitely more "memorable", though...).
  • + 1
 I'm still riding my old 26 inch Giant AC. I don't think any part or component on it is older than 2013, so its certainly built like a modern bike, but the geometry and design are not modern at all lol. I certainly plan on laying some cash down for a Canyon Strive or a Yeti SB6C in the near future, as the new technology and design in bikes these days is phenomenal. But, I mean, that's what the pros ride right? You certainly don't see Fabien Burel taking it easy (although he does make things look easy! lol), so while those bikes may make the average trail for an average rider seem much easier than on a conventional bike, the new bikes are being designed for riders like Fabien to push the envelope for the sport. I think we're lucky to have the same technology as the pros available to us (though it is pricey!). And hopefully for those of us who do like to earn our ways to the top and take joy in learning things the hard way on the way down sometimes, having these new bikes can simply be a catalyst for us to push ourselves even harder and become even better riders, just like the pros do!
  • + 1
 The ease of entry in mtb is all fine and dandy but the first time the newbie gets intimate with a tree going a nice steady 30mph they will learn the payment that we all make every now and then to enjoy the sport. No new gadgetry or latest release will stop us from eventually pushing our own boundaries and eating dirt every now and then. It is just part of it and most people see that and think "your crazy, why would you put yourself through that?!?!?"
  • + 1
 How about instead of various front wheel 29/back wheel 26 or so we had front wheel classic widtht 27.5/2.35 inch with plus sized width back wheel 26/3 inch? Diameters be kept same just wider back.
Plenty of traction and extra cushioning as well as can run fast low knobs on the back and sharp handling as we know and like it for technical terrain in the front? Should not compromise handling too much and allow for fine tech climbing. I'd try f i had a frame where it works. Probably today you would need a 27.5+ compatible frame and then run a 29er in the front and a 27.5+er in the back. Reminds me of motorcycles.
  • + 1
 I shred a 29er XC hardtail around my local trails and I love it. But you know what? It sucks ass being on the edge all the time and I'd just like a dually with a dropper so I can enjoy the trails more.

It sucks having to bitch out because it's hard as shit to go massive on a race HT and I'm sure as hell am no Jared Graves. Plus I hate having to true my wheels all the damn time and my skinny-ass tires and high seat leave little margin for error

Well written article RC, putting to rest all the MTB tough-guys around

But pick the right bike for the right trails, before your local trails become down-right boring
  • + 1
 being on the edge is what makes it fun, no matter what bike you buy you will try to find that.
  • + 4
 The worst thing about these "better bikes" is that it draws people to the sport who want to dumb down the trails.
  • + 2
 Hahaha, its easy to fool someone, making he feel he can ride as fast as a pro. What is beeing hidden from the potential new fastest rider, is that the only time they can equal the pro on, is the one for fixing broken bones .
  • + 2
 I'll take improved bikes over dumbed down trails, thank you. At least then you have the option to challenge yourself, if you opt not to ride the latest long travel plus sized ebike.
  • + 1
 People are free to buy old bikes from t'inters etc if they want a retro ride, just like buying a new bike if you want the latest tech. At least you have a choice. How other people ride, their skillset, experience, equipment should be if no concern to the individual. Just concentrate on your own game.
  • + 1
 I would agree that modern trail bikes, if not almost all modern bikes are a fair bit easier to manage on trails that used to require some skill. But just as newbies are in any sport, the vast majority of them start out with a lower end bike ride that for some time, and realize that once they like the sport end up with the latest and greatest if it is in their budget.

What is really sad is that most people dont hook their kids up with a better bike. If you ride a $10K carbon trail bike, and your kid is riding a POS bike, your to blame when your kid dosent want to ride with you. Hook the kids up, and watch what they can do with a bike and a little passion!
  • + 1
 No amount of tech will make a lousy bike handler in to a good one. Well this was true until now. Maybe this new stuff is really that good. It is, RC say's so, it must be true. Buy new stuff! And repeat.
  • + 1
 I've never met a beginner who said wow if only I had a newer bike I would go hit that 40ft double, there seems to be a confidence factor the the article left out, not just anyone will do anything cause their bike is nice.
  • + 2
 Any progression in this sport/lifestyle (gear, trails or bike) that would get more people into riding is all good. But I'm still unsure about E-bikes.
  • - 1
 Because you haven't seem them riding on your trails. Once your brain gets familiar with them, seeing they are relatively harmless it's going to feel ok. We all go through it, currently, half of post Soviet block has that problem with immigrants from Syria Razz
  • + 0
 Waki, you don't know what you're talking about.
  • + 3
 WAKIdesigns, I don't know why you automatically concluded that familiarity is my issue with E-bikes. I have an issue with the idea of putting any kind of motor on mountain bike. If I wanted to ride a motorized bike on the trails, I'd ride a dirt bike. But this is more a personal preference/opinion and not a criticism on people who choose to ride one.
  • - 3
 I did not criticize your approach for a tiniest bit, but I see why you may have read it that way, I'm sorry. I did indeed mean that it is a matter of being familiar with them. It does not mean though that you will need to approve them by any means, they will just be a bit less alien. I personally love the idea, even though I won't be buying one any soon.
  • + 2
 wtf dude, you just had to open up the topic of e-bikes. e-bikes today are "pedal assist" e-bikes of tomorrow are moto. shut em down!
thread over.
  • - 2
 As soon as you have a non pedal assisted engine you use lots of energy, that means you need a bigger batter, eventually a bigger engine, stronger rims and tyres, which will all easily put your bicycle above 30kgs and that is just hard to ride on downhills. May as well buy an electro moto. So sorry but E-MTbs will always stay what they are, and they are cool. Most pf all they are and always will be a minority and trails are ruined mostly by idiots on regular bikes. Go keep on searching for evil elsewhere, i can give you a hint though that it is closer than you may think
  • + 1
 We used to gear up with armor head to toe. Big travel bikes on double black trails. Im still doing the same double black trails. No armor Full on Dh bike replaced with Enduro bike. i live for challenge. Nice one RC.
  • + 1
 Except a painless tattoo shop would be really expensive, just like the exclusive technologies that you spoke about, some still instrict confidence, that is a huge barrier, the cost man!
  • + 4
 "It never gets easier, you just go faster"
- Greg LeMond
  • + 0
 was just about to post that
  • + 1
 I really like how you can hear his resentment of technology and easier-to-ride bikes, but he ends with "I know I'm wrong". Good writing. Thank you
  • + 2
 More willy-waving bollocks, it's all been said before. Ride what the fuck you like and enjoy it.
  • + 1
 Every time i see the term "e-bike" comes to mind a electric featherlight motorcycle.

Bicycle means to me "human force powered transport".
  • + 2
 I thought so - then I went to ride in the Alps and realized it was not all about the bike at all...
  • + 1
 Every kid deserves to start on a klunker just so that one day they can make the step up to full suspension. It's so much sweeter that way.
  • + 1
 i feel i earned my turns and i am glad i started out dh racing on a hardtail. Something these newer generations just wont get the wonder of.
  • + 2
 Still dreaming about the hot nurse giving me drugs so i won't feel the pain.
  • + 2
 steel hardtail boys and girls
  • + 2
 I knew RC drives a Volvo! I knew it!!!
  • + 1
 With 26 years of almost riding every day, I think you are completely right mister Cunningham.
  • + 1
 @slimboyjim Ha ha, salt and pepper on your DH trails, add in a couple of beers and then you'll have a sessionSmile
  • + 1
 Are we into the off season already?
  • + 1
 Did anybody remember it's HARDLINE this weekend? And Rampage soon?
  • + 1
 I think it's called progression !!!!!
  • + 1
 Spell Check?
  • + 1
 Such a shit stirrer RC!
  • + 0
 two words : Cam Zink!
  • - 3
 TL/DR: your mom is getting too easy to ride... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_burn_centers_in_the_United_States#California
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