YOUR BIKE SNOBBERY SUCKS.
By Matt George
"I'd never buy a Trek".
Man, you must be super cool, that's how we recognize the best riders right, by what sticker is on their bike! I knew it!
Actually, every time I see someone say something like that (mostly on social media or the web), I imagine you in a top hat, with a cane and ocular looking like a tan tire wall riding Mr. Peanut. Cool...
Mountain bike brand snobbery seems to be at an all time high. The economy must be in good shape when people purchase bikes based on brand, possibly disregarding performance. A quick example of this would be an Evil Wreckoning vs a Specialized Enduro 29; yes, yes, there are differences but, the minutia is almost getting into what statisticians would call noise. It's almost like, gasp, one was created as a like for like competitor to the other. Now this is quite normal and forges innovation, that's not the rub. The rub is that one, being vastly more expensive than the other, is seen by a lot of people as being so much cooler and/or more capable. For the record, if I was sitting on piles of cash, I'd have the Wreckoning. This once again, isn't the rub.
The issue lies in the snobbery. The idea that you'd not buy a Specialized, a Trek or a Giant because it isn't cool. Since when did mountain bikers get cool anyway? Let alone, when did we start saying things like "if it just didn't say Trek or Specialized on it" to other riders. I'm surely not the only one who's noticed this.
This isn't to say that we shouldn't have our boutique brands. Variety is the spice of life, no doubt. What I'm saying is that if a manufacturer makes a truly extraordinary bike, why would a percentage of us feel that we couldn't own it because of the name on the top tube? Also maybe, just maybe, that great bike comes from a volume manufacturer that can give a single mother or some guy struggling to make ends meet, a much better bike than they'd get from a boutique builder, for less money. We want to celebrate brand diversity here and in particular Colorado brands but, shaming someone from getting the best value from a big brand (keep in mind the big three were influential in building our whole sport) is the type of useless negativity that doesn't belong.
Have your pimped out Santa Cruz, Evil, Yeti or Pivot. We love those bikes. We support that decision fully. Keep the smug at bay though please. Chances are, due to massive R&D budgets, the big three can build an equally shredable machine and sell it for half, at least with the base build. See the Slash, Enduro, Reign or Mission for examples in the all mountain category. These bigger brands are often US based and while a vast majority of builders have frames welded overseas, for example, Trek and Specialized keep profits in the US. Can you say that about Santa Cuz? Not without caveats. We love Santa Cruz and Pivot (for example) but, let's not pretend that they're boutique or even rare, ok.
Just to be clear, I want a sexy name on my top tube. That bike might still be aluminum though and that name might buck the latest fad. Remember when all the cool kids had Ellsworth on their top tubes?
I will however, be sure to keep my smug happiness to myself unless I'm bragging in a way that doesn't put someone else down, due to a sticker.
There are many fine, humble people riding boutique and high line bikes, including many friends of mine. I'm not talking to them. If you think, "Hey! I ride Pivot (or whatever) and I'm not a dick about it.", then you aren't in the crosshairs here but, there are a lot of d-bags out there defending their bikes, be they amazing or mediocre, just to reinforce their expensive purchase or to justify buyers remorse as they're blown away by some random person on a discounted Diamondback.
I'm talking to you, Mr. Peanut. Your brand snobbery sucks.
Editors Note; Yes, yes, I'm making a note on my own article. After some feedback on the FRMB Facebook Page, I'd like to note that this is a bit of a self critique. The knife certainly cuts both ways, I wrote this from my own view point, knowing full well that many in the mtb community know me well enough to call me out and say that I am also a bit of a brand loyalist. Just the opposite of the people this article is aimed at. This is no mistake. I'm facing my own demons with bike bias and no doubt this article is a bit of an exercise is turning my own critical voice back on myself but using a different experience to do so. Enjoy and remember that self reflection can come in many forms and being critical should come with some amount of self critique. Ride on.