JUMPING THE GAP TO BETTER MOUNTAIN BIKE MOVIES
By Matt George
It seems that everyday there's a new mountain bike "edit" coming out. You don't have to look hard to find a guy, whipping off of a massive, sculpted lip. Antics involving brief nudity and sheep (not necessarily together), van driven bro time and high level freeriding abound in the mountain bike film genre.
"Finding quality single track being artfully ridden on video seems to be the exception, not the rule."
The cinematic quality has increased exponentially in the last 10-15 years due to technological advances and the world of mountain bike photography and cinematography being taken far more seriously. Looking back, we see that films like The Collective (2004) and Roam (2006) helped push mountain bike films into an art form vs a simple hobby genre. The progression towards high quality cinematography truly was a massive step forward that's changed the documentation of our sport. A brief glimpse at the Yeti Cycles Vimeo page confirms this.
The early, high quality mountain bike films were a bit of a blessing and a curse. They showcased our sport in such a way that even people who'd never thought about mountain biking could be easily mesmerized. Big bold riding, amazing free ride feats, beautiful single track, wood features and tasteful soundtracks; matched with impressive cinematography was something anyone could enjoy. It really was amazing! There are a few negatives that came along for the ride though.
Being that the freeride, rampage and jump segments seem to be the most impactful, the ones you want to show kids or your neighbor who doesn't ride, they seem to have had the most lasting impact. Based upon what you might see in the newer films and shorter edits, one might be prone to say that those segments and only those segments had impact. Finding quality single track being artfully ridden on video seems to be the exception, not the rule.
"A rider, equipped with the right gear and a wealth of talent can create something beautiful."
We've seen a renewed interest in single track to some extent. A grass roots movement if you'll allow the cliche. With improvements in action sports cameras, stabilizing devices and improved editing software, we've seen riders creating wonderful videos that showcase world class single track with a riding style that most of us can relate to. A rider, equipped with the right gear and a wealth of talent can create something beautiful. We see riders like Nate Hills, a Front Range rider with talent in spades, putting out videos that many in the mountain biking community find far more fulfilling than anything with a long list of sponsors being scrolled over the ending as a Black Sabbath or booming house song is played.
We've seen some amazing single track ridden in movies like UnRe@l but, for people like me that crave the fantasy of an epic ribbon, ridden with equal parts; finesse, grace and brutality, there's a void.
With the crop of superbikes that line the floors of the best mountain bike shops and enduro, all-mountain and trail bikes being the vast majority of sales, one could assume that single track is where the majority of us linger. Should our videos and movies reflect this reality or is the world of dual crown forks and huge, sculpted lips where our lust truly lies? Does the thought that there are plenty of locations with amazing single track with plenty of equally amazing riders to fill full length films make me an outlier? Should we add a freeride video section on this site? It's possible that these thoughts do miss the mass market, I've been content with being slightly astray from the mainstream and could be off base.
On that point, take a minute to view our videos sections. If you're like me, they'll help sooth your single track obsession until the next great single track film drops, if it ever does. Even if you love the newer crop of mountain bike films and "edits", take a moment to support the single track warriors out there, amateur and pro. Those Gimbals aren't cheap! Also, let us know if you've seen any great female riders putting out single track videos, we'd love to feature them!