Opinion: New Gear

Mar 24, 2015 at 13:36
by Peak Leaders  
Like any hobby that involves complicated machines, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to new gear. However, could you argue this is a bad thing? Peak Leaders Graduate John Inman shares his thoughts on the pros and cons.

As mountain bikers, we are constantly bombarded by companies offering their latest innovative technology guaranteed to make you go faster, longer or lighter. Things like wheel sizes, carbon frames and new geometry, all shown off by the pros and available to you for a suitable (but quite often extortionate) price. With this constant barrage of new tech all claiming to make you go faster, it inevitably can draw you in and make you spend all your hard earnt $ on that new carbon handlebar that is going to shave that extra second off at your local trail. But is there endless chase for the latest trend drawing us away from why we first chose to start riding in the first place?

That new bike feeling..

Now there is no doubt that the modern mountain bike is a phenomenal piece of technology. With the latest entry point models all coming with tech you could only dream about having 10 years ago, and mail order companies getting you incredible value for money, we are really spoilt for choice. Anyone who says they don't get excited about buying new bike related gear is clearly lying. In fact, that can often be one of the highlights of the sport. Being there to unbox your fresh new steed ready to get out and shred on. But with all this choice and tech at our fingertips, have we become a bit blinkered and drawn into modern consumer culture, always seeking the next best thing?

One thing I think most riders can agree upon that makes mountain biking so great, is the freedom you get out riding. The buzz of tyres on fresh dirt, all your mind focused on the next corner, the rush from 'going that little bit too fast' through a section and almost (but importantly not) crashing. Some things like this just can't be replicated. But what it can sometimes feel like is even when we get this feeling from riding, and we finish truly satisfied with our two wheeled steed, you only have to look up in the latest mag all the tech you're missing out on which could make your ride that extra 1% 'faster, enjoyable and/or rad'.

Photo Credit Lukas Hartung
Bikes mean you can enjoy this..

images for Peak Leaders Coaches Camp
..and this

But can it really? One thing I think is a drawback to modern MTB culture, which I myself an guilty of, is the desire to want the 'next big thing' whatever that may be. Whether it be a new wheel size, a carbon frame or a new damper cartridge for my forks, I've gone out and spent my precious dollars on new stuff for my bike when my skills were lacking. There is no arguing that often this has benefited my riding and made it more enjoyable, dropper seatposts being a prime example. But sometimes it feels like a superficial improvement in the ride quality.

Some of the best rides I have ever had were on cheap rental bikes that didn't fit properly and had been ragged all season long. Even stopping at the top of a climb before the descent to lower your septets before the descent, giving you that extra few seconds to appreciate the view or chat to your mates about the line choice down the trail. You don't always need to go out and get the next big thing, forgetting all the hype about wheel size and just getting out there and enjoying what you've got is more often than not infinitely more satisfying. Buying a new frame isn't going to make you go faster, but going on a riding holiday with some mates or getting some coaching lessons might well leave you with experiences that far outweigh the monetary value of doing so and also go some way to helping you feel more accomplished as a rider.

Our Whistler Bike Park Instructor Academy in May 2013

I will continue to spend money on the latest gear, because who doesn't like spending money on bikes? However, I will probably not spend so much time agonising over whether to purchase the next new frame and just get out there and ride the 650b wheeled bike that suits me perfectly.

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