Welcome to Henry's Waffle House. Here, we serve only absolute waffle, each and every one doused in a hubristic sauce and washed down by an accompanying pint of inane babble. Bon appetite.
Lighter, faster, more efficient, and more comfortable. These are just some of the terms that may well be the top of your wish list, even if you're looking at a bike with over 150mm of travel and with capabilities not too far off a downhill bike. In 2022, it's potentially a very real prospect to desire a bike that has electronic gears, tyre valves that saves you the oh-so laborious drudgery of using a pressure gauge to check the pressure. If it's not within a decimal place of pumped-up-perfection you can then connect it to your gazillion-dollar wall-mounted electronic pump that will inflate it just so, as you drink your expensive coffee and look wistfully into the distance and think to yourself that you do indeed look like a f*cking movie star. All this convenience and luxury and that's not even mentioning the e-bike question
E-bikes bring up two main problems in mountain biking. The first, and most significant, is the rise of the term "analog bike" to describe a normal bike. Can somebody stop the world from spinning? Because quite frankly I want to get off. I actually said it once in a video and, much like a teenager who wants to distance themselves from the pre-teen cheeriness they were once known for, I live in fear that one day I will have the video presented for me and I too will have to answer for my past life as a cringe-inducing criminal.
The second question, I suppose, might just mean a lot to you but to some have no doubt it will be absolutely inconsequential. Are we trying to make mountain biking too easy?
The joy of riding bikes is to feel so many different things. Is trying to isolate any one particular value from the full bandwidth of feeling to the experience's overall detriment? Is there such a thing as too much sweet? Too much sugar? Do we not need some savory now and then too?
Of course, I would never contend the days where you're soaked to the bone up a long climb and are genuinely considering pissing yourself just to feel a brief reprieve from the cold are anything but shit - but those shit days sure do distill over time to become something like satisfaction. That being said, you're very welcome to piss yourself on an e-bike. Whatever works for you and, save from the risk of electrical fires I can't see anything fundamentally wrong with it. We live such cosseted lives, and I'm not saying we should arbitrarily make them worse
but it is an interesting thought. Why do we need to have everything our own way? Why are we all so precious? A little misery never hurt anyone.
I suppose the idea of trying to make something easier is something that often plays on my mind and, to be transparent, is one of the reasons I will never be sold on e-bikes. With all that said though, I still ride my 170mm travel bike that can get me up and down things with ease
. So really, who am I to say?
I might look at somebody on an e-bike and think why must you try and make the climbs easier? That's the point!
. They're probably looking at my carbon fiber 29er with a 62.5-degree head angle thinking the exact same thing. "Why do you need all that travel?"
If we look at road cycling, I personally subscribe to the belief that it's a lazy person's sport. It's about going as fast as possible for as minimal effort as possible, and that's kind of respected as the sensible way to go about things. It's out there and, assuming you're not a bearded influencer riding some god-awful bike on badly maintained roads in the name of "freedom", all whilst subscribing to a very limited aesthetic, as a road biker you probably wouldn't totally disagree with it.
To call it lazy isn't to question somebody's motivation to get out the door but rather the sport itself. No road cyclist in their right mind would turn down a 10-watt saving but, conversely, they're also out there to push themselves hard and often focus on mastering their own body. Is that not counterintuitive? Shouldn't they all be on 25-kilo beach cruisers? Well, no. Just because they want to be lazy doesn't mean they want it to be easy.
I suppose the reasons we ride mountain bikes are far more varied. Many are shared with road cycling - the outdoors, the smell of fresh air, the blank cheque to eat 15,000 Oreos without so much as a flicker of guilt, but there are differences too. Road cyclists could well boil down the desire to ride their bikes to two or three main reasons whereas we ride mountain bikes for a whole myriad.
Maybe we want easy living on the climbs, maybe we want to keep up with our friends, or maybe we just want to have more control and safety. Truthfully, that's just scratching the surface of the plethora of different intentions and each individual's motivation to ride a bike is both rich and varied. To look at somebody is not to know them.
As I work my early morning shift keeping the gate, I often have to remind myself that to assume really does make an ass of you and me. After all, better and easier are just concepts that we leverage to fit our own ideas when it suits us.