Mountain Bikers, Open Your Minds

Mountain bikers have become the most close-minded people I have ever met! What happened to trying something before forming a negative opinion? I realize there has been a lot of change recently, 29r, 27.5, plus size tires, fat bikes, enduro racing, gravel grinders (is that mountain biking?), the rise of carbon fiber frames, ebikes, longer reach measurements, shorter stems, wider bars, slacker head angles, steeper seat tube angles carbon fiber rims, wider rims, oval chainrings, boost spacing and super boost spacing.

Yes, there has been enough change to make your head spin! However, most of those changes do add to your enjoyment of riding and many greatly affect your control and safety while riding.

Where does all the hate come from? As humans, we are wired to leery of change as back in our hunter-gatherer days change often meant death! It’s 2018 and though change might be harmful to your wallet it isn’t life-threatening. 

I have heard that the only thing permanent in life is change. Since that seems to be the case, why don’t we embrace change and experiment to see if the latest change is good for us? Have you tried any of the innovations I listed above? Have you formed an opinion based on emotion on any of the above? Take the emotion out and test things objectively! 

For years the industry has fought change for some reason (probably because it is expensive and risky for them) but finally, they are embracing things that I have pushed for years (I didn’t invent them, just stumbled upon them then embraced them). Since 2001 I have been pushing for longer reach measurements and slacker head angles (thank you Yeti and Mert Lawwill (designers of my Yeti/Lawwill dh bikes which were so long and slack my friends and competitors would joke, “how to do your turn that aircraft carrier of a bike).

Since I turned pro in 1995 I have been preaching the control of shorter stems (thank you, Zach White). The pushback I got against dropper posts (thank Wayne from Gravity Dropper) from 2002 until just a few years ago was massive. Now, finally, even World Cup Cross Country racers are using them.

Everyone laughed at my slow rolling 3” wide Gazzaloddi tires, even as I earn a bronze medal in the 1999 World Masters Championships (and the winner, Pistol Pete Loncarevich was running them too!). Now they are back 20 years later in the form of plus-sized tires!

When I got my first set of 32” (812mm) handlebars (thank you Chris Van Dine) the whole crew at All Mountain Cyclery at Boulder laughed at me. Don’t they feel weird they asked? And they did but every ride they felt a little bit better but it took a week before I decided I wasn’t going to cut them down a bit.

Even Greg Minnaar was closed minded when I suggested 32″ wide bars in one of my camps with him in 2011? He said, “nobody needs bars wider than 30″, now his signature bars are 31.8”!

Riders also laughed at forward I push my saddle on its rails and now the early adopters love steeper seat tube angled bikes (thank you Canfield brothers) as they climb better (because you are more centered and don’t have to slide as for forward on the saddle when climbing).

Before saying, that bike won’t climb, those tires roll slow, that stem is too short, I don’t need a dropper post, plus sizes tires are dumb,  experiment! And no, one ride is not an experiment, change will always feel weird! Experiment for a few days, one pound of pressure too little or too much makes plus sized tires ride weird, riding with a dropper post for the first time feels really odd, as do wider handlebars. Give a change six to seven rides then form your opinion!

Quick edit the day after I wrote this. Wow, “the I am looking to find something that offends me” crowd has their undies in a bunch over this article. I never said, “all mountain bikers are closed minded” and I never said, “all change is good”. This article was just encouraging riders with closed minds to open their minds and try something (thoroughly!) before forming an opinion. If you already do that sweet! This article wasn’t written for you, you are already experimenting. Please point out where I attacked someone for being closed minded.

Edit two: We all tend to be closed minded on somethings, World Champ Loic Bruni laughed at 29er downhill bikes and openly made fun of them, now he is racing one. I wrote an article titled 29ers just aren’t as much fun, and at the point for me, they weren’t as much fun (after spending two years on 29rs and then returning to 27.5. Now, thanks to better geometry I think 29ers are more fun! Greg Minnaar, said a 435mm reach was fine for him and now he rides a 500mm reach bike.

 

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