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  1. #1
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    Has mountain biking lost its soul?

    With all of the new and changing standards, new geometry, multitudes of genres and racing formats, and lack of a true community, has the mountain bike industry sold its soul? An overriding thirst for adventure and fun has been replaced by a need for speed and numbing of the offroad experience. Strava and action cameras are encouraging riders to ignore the treasures on the trails and end the ride as quickly as possible. Bigger wheels, more suspension, and geometry on cross-country bikes more suited to downhill than the gravity bikes of previous decades increase speeds while minimizing the challenges that make mountain biking so exciting. Has it become more about the bike and less about the ride? I'm not against better and safer bikes, but have we misplaced the heart and soul of our beloved sport?

  2. #2
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    MTB "Soul" isn't derived from a parts collection.
    Quote Originally Posted by Defuser View Post
    It's fine. Don't try to categorize everything. Except e-bikes, those fall firmly into the "suck" category.

  3. #3
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    I went just as fast in the early 90s on my Schwinn Moab fully-rigid 26er. Hit 40+ mph in the woods and over 50mph several times on dirt.

    And...it's about damn time XC bikes have aggressive geometry. 70+ degree head angles are useless; I can climb anything with a much more relaxed HA.

    Anyway, going fast has always been part of the sport for many, and it has never meant that we're not enjoying the heck out of the experience and communing with nature and all that. The two approaches are not mutually exclusive.

    As for action cams, I'm kinda on the fence on those. Generally, if I record something, it's interesting to watch. One time. It's nice to have something to preserve the stoke though when you're on your 7th straight month of winter.
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    IMHO mountain bikings soul has little to do with technology. It's the places you visit, the stories you'll tell for years to come, the people you meet, the laughs you share, the pain and pleasure of riding, etc.

    But since you wanna talk about the industry side of things. There are many companies fully in tune with the story, history, and soul of mtbing. Small North American bike manufacturers, custom frame builders, small parts companies, etc. They are out there if you look.

    I ride a steel hard tail because it's cheap, reliable, and does damn near everything I could ever want. I love the simplicity of it and the connection I feel to the trail but I'd be lying if I said I don't want a modern FS trail bike to park next to it.

  5. #5
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    Only on the internet.

  6. #6
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    Bike brands keep trying to destroy the soul with stuff like boost hubs and a gazillion BB standards.

    For most of us, the soul is within us and gets happy when we rip that corner.

  7. #7
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    Whats wrong with making a ride easier? When I have worked enough to afford one of these all mountain dream machines I will be ready for a little extra help around the track. Not that my clunker has kept me from KOM's

  8. #8
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    Mountain bikes finally have some soul, if anything. Instead of being half assed assemblies using road bike and beach cruiser standards, we finally have a unique bicycle specifically for riding on dirt. And they're fun! In many ways, more fun now. I don't miss 69htas being edgy.

  9. #9
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    The bike (and every other bit of equipment) is just a tool. What you decide to do with it is what gives "soul" to the activity/sport. For me mtb'ing is about exporing new trails and moving from point A to point B using my own power, enjoying the view at the top.

    Things like Strava, fluo clothing, "shred" edits etc are all parts of the scene, but they are not the essence of it. Just remember what used to draw you to your bike as a kid - the ability to explore beyond the boundaries of your neighbourhood, sharing experiences with your friends, pushing your skills, etc. We are out on the woods (desert/urban trails/whatever) to play, that's the important part.

    In this age of technology and ultra polished product it's easy to focus too much on equipment. I find bikes fascinating myself, but they are more fun when they are being ridden. Good times consist of adventures (big or small), not cool logos and kashima coatings.

    It's up to us to focus on the good stuff.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by justwan naride View Post
    ...

    Things like Strava, fluo clothing, "shred" edits etc are all parts of the scene, but they are not the essence of it. ....
    ^^^Yes, this stuff amounts to noise for me, but I do understand that people want to share the experience through vids and Strava. It might even have a positive influence on my own riding experience, but the ride/experience, ultimately, is what I make it. It has little to do with any of that other stuff.

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  11. #11
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    Having grown up mountain biking when changing elastomer stacks to tune your fork was a thing, my definition of singletrack is wildly different than what is being "built" these days. Flow trails, or most anything done by IMBA, has no soul. They're fun, but in the same way hookers can be fun, its not quite the real thing.

    As far as tech goes, I love it (sans motors and servo's). When you can grind out mile after mile on all sorts of terrain and never, ever think about your bike, then it is truly more about the ride than the bike. Somehow, for me, electric shifting and to a further extent, computer controlled suspension, removes part of the soul of mountain biking. Part of my angst against ebikes claiming to be mountain bikes stems from this ethos. Modern, purely mechanical bikes, are an engineering marvel, and the pursuit to refine them to their ultimate capability has always fascinated and intrigued me. Once a motor or servo is added to the mix to gain performance, then the whole thing has been sullied, and it just "feels" wrong. To me.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    Bigger wheels, more suspension, and geometry on cross-country bikes more suited to downhill than the gravity bikes of previous decades increase speeds while minimizing the challenges that make mountain biking so exciting.
    Interesting thoughts. What do you see as the heart and soul of mountain biking? Was it the hippie dirtbag thing?

    Back circa 1987 I started out on a rigid bike with 2.1" tires and "NORBA" geometry and now have a 150mm travel trail bike. I don't see that the change in equipment has minimized the challenges at all. It's done the opposite. We're riding more challenging lines and hitting bigger terrain. People are exploring more and figuring out new ways to enjoy biking (bikepacking, fat bike snow riding, etc.).

    XC racing remains silly though.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    With all of the new and changing standards, new geometry, multitudes of genres and racing formats, and lack of a true community, has the mountain bike industry sold its soul? An overriding thirst for adventure and fun has been replaced by a need for speed and numbing of the offroad experience. Strava and action cameras are encouraging riders to ignore the treasures on the trails and end the ride as quickly as possible. Bigger wheels, more suspension, and geometry on cross-country bikes more suited to downhill than the gravity bikes of previous decades increase speeds while minimizing the challenges that make mountain biking so exciting. Has it become more about the bike and less about the ride? I'm not against better and safer bikes, but have we misplaced the heart and soul of our beloved sport?
    You want to separate the industry making a buck to the riders and such. The challenges are still there. Still riding your rigid 26er with 2.0 tires and canti brakes? Good luck with that. I like to do 2-4 hr rides and be able to get up off the couch the next day. Love those 29" wheels and 6 " of travel. Try e bikes, talk about soulless.

  14. #14
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    To me the soul of mountain biking is the places you ride in, the people you ride with, the stories you share, things you experience during the ride, etc.

    Soul is not about the equipment, is about the experience even thou the equipment helps to make it more enjoyable.

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    I find the MTB community pretty robust and welcoming. I meet some of the nicest, most chill people on the trail, friends-of-friends, new friends, occasional riding buddies....all much more so than road riding, for sure.

    Enthusiastic roadie from 2000-2013, if I rode in the dirt I rode a rigid 80's bike (Ritchey Ascent) until picking up a 2012 29er HT. This OPENED MY EYES to a wonderful world of cycling in the woods with no cars, flying cigarettes, etc.

    Now, very happy to have my first FS (EX8) and yeah it's Boost and it's 27.5plus and it has a dropper, and all it does is MAKE ME SMILE MORE.

    I watched motocross and road racing change over many decades and I've questioned the "soul" thing too, but as I age I guess I just accept that you can't put the genie back in the bottle, and when you start feeling like things are losing their meaning, then it's probably something about you and not the external event or activity. Be at peace, and ride good equipment because not only because it's fun, but because it opens up possibilities for covering more miles and more trails with this wonderful sport.

  16. #16
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    I don't see the "lack of a true community."

    I'm undeniably fortunate in living somewhere that has a strong MTB culture, and I'm sure that it doesn't exist everywhere. But what exactly is a true mountain biking community supposed to look like?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by RS VR6 View Post
    Only on the internet.
    This^^^

    And/or "only if you let it, brah"

  18. #18
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    I see it exactly the opposite. I think mountain biking is in its adolescence and only getting better. If you don't like a new axle standard, you don't have to buy it. The mountain biking "community" is as strong as i have ever seen it in 20+ years of riding.
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  19. #19
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    I blame Al Gore.

  20. #20
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    It is funny, in the places with good MTBing, I find the community is more loose and people are more dis-connected. They almost take it for granted. In a place with worse trails, the MTB people come together for the love of the sport and the whole things seems tighter.

    But I hear you and agree to some degree. Speed and tricks have replaced the joy of the woods. With that said, new bikes rock. Riding my old steel HT in rocky terrain was something I could do in my youth and was happy about. Now, it takes me a day to recover!
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  21. #21
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    I think the issue is that mountain biking is becoming more popular and more mainstream. There are a lot of strangers on bikes in the woods. Lots of people who ride more casually are out there and not really plugged into the the local IMBA affiliate.

    I see it as a good thing - it means more trails, more access, and more competition in suppliers. But it does sometimes make it feel more watered-down when the sport gets flooded with amatures. I think the antidote is to just get out there and ride.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by kpdemello View Post
    But it does sometimes make it feel more watered-down when the sport gets flooded with amatures.
    Yikes... I still haven't been able to turn pro. I'm the problem!

  23. #23
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    Times change. Technology changes quicker than we do. You look back to when you were younger and something was new and fresh and you think that now, somehow, it's different, it's lost its soul. I think what you have is a case of nostalgia.
    Use it, use it, use it while you still have it.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nat View Post
    Interesting thoughts. What do you see as the heart and soul of mountain biking? Was it the hippie dirtbag thing?

    Back circa 1987 I started out on a rigid bike with 2.1" tires and "NORBA" geometry and now have a 150mm travel trail bike. I don't see that the change in equipment has minimized the challenges at all. It's done the opposite. We're riding more challenging lines and hitting bigger terrain. People are exploring more and figuring out new ways to enjoy biking (bikepacking, fat bike snow riding, etc.).

    XC racing remains silly though.
    Agreed on all points. And if you feel the need to go back to old school, you can get a circa 1997 stumpjumper on craigslist right now for like $300. Get one and have at it. I still have my old stumpjumper, converted to single speed, and every once an a while I break it out. It's still fun.

  25. #25
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    this again?

    mountain biking is what you make it. I think it's awesome that I have the opportunity to do so many different things on my bike. I can go ride a flow trail and get rowdy on some jumps in the morning and then go do an exploration ride afterwards and disappear into the woods for the rest of the weekend. And I can do those things on the same bike and have a blast, because a lot of the modern components permit huge versatility that just didn't exist in the infancy of mtb.

    As for community, you just have to plug yourself in. Live somewhere with lots of riders, and there are probably lots of sub-communities and you'll have to pick and choose. I can probably visit any trailhead within 100mi, though, and run into SOMEONE I know at some point during my ride. It's even to the point that I'll occasionally do a mtb trip halfway across the country and run into someone who has a mutual mtb friend. Or maybe someone who recognizes my bike from here or from reading my website. It can be kinda creepy at times, but I actually love that connectedness. I was in Pisgah last weekend and ran into a number of different people that I have different mutual friends with (3 separate occasions, 2 while having a beer post-ride). And Pisgah is about 500mi away. I'd say that's a pretty tight community in any sense. I was in Sedona in the spring, and someone from mtbr recognized my bike and we chatted a bit. And a year ago I was in Vegas where one day I rode with a couple on a mtb tandem who were from Sacramento, and it turned out that we had a mutual mtb friend.

    If you only ever ride during off times and intentionally seek solitary experiences, your feeling of the mtb community is going to be one of disconnectedness, because that's what you've made it. But if you make it a point to do group rides, races, bike festivals, charity events, or whatever, and you make it a point to stick around after the ride and have a beer or grab dinner with people, then you just might find that the community is a whole lot tighter and more welcoming than you're giving it credit for. And if you do those things for different types of rides, you might even learn that we're all just one big community, anyway.

    Frankly, I think mountain biking is finally FINDING a soul, and it has only a little to do with the equipment or the trails themselves. It's about the sport being more accessible to beginners, about many places offering a variety of trails in the same place, to appeal to different tastes, about people gathering and sharing their experiences. MTBR and most publications have never been a good gauge of this. They've always biased towards the stuff aspect of it.

  26. #26
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    For me it's all about the feel of tire rubber on dirt, and keeping that feeling going all the way to the top/bottom/end of the trail/somewhere new/somewhere wild. What lies between the tire rubber and me is only important if it ain't working well.

    For me it is not usually about the people I am with but rather the sense of adventure this 60-something year old still gets when he rides out the door to go anywhere wilder than my street
    It's all Here. Now.

  27. #27
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    Amateur here, and always will be. I have not been riding for 20yrs like most of you, but I'm having a blast and enjoy all 3 of my bikes. I ride what I can, when I can. It is what you make of it. I've said this before, THIS community, has giving me knowledge, passion, and the desire to stick to it as long as I can.

    I see very few sports/hobby that have this much passion.

    I've also gotten a few English lessons for missing a coma or two. 😀😀
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  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcd46 View Post
    I've also gotten a few English lessons for missing a coma or two. 😀😀
    Was that purposeful bait?

  29. #29
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    It hasn't lost its soul, or its rock 'n roll.


    Except for e-bikes. They're born without a soul.
    Less isn't MOAR

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nat View Post
    Was that purposeful bait?
    I was expecting Finch to yell at me. Lol
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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcd46 View Post
    I was expecting Finch to yell at me. Lol
    Ha! Finchbait.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcd46 View Post
    I've also gotten a few English lessons for missing a coma or two. 😀😀
    I don't miss my coma for a fraction of a second.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot View Post
    Mountain bikes finally have some soul, if anything. Instead of being half assed assemblies using road bike and beach cruiser standards, we finally have a unique bicycle specifically for riding on dirt. And they're fun! In many ways, more fun now. I don't miss 69htas being edgy.
    This.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nat View Post
    Yikes... I still haven't been able to turn pro. I'm the problem!
    Yeah, Nat....step it up Brah!

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    It is funny, in the places with good MTBing, I find the community is more loose and people are more dis-connected. They almost take it for granted. In a place with worse trails, the MTB people come together for the love of the sport and the whole things seems tighter.

    But I hear you and agree to some degree. Speed and tricks have replaced the joy of the woods. With that said, new bikes rock. Riding my old steel HT in rocky terrain was something I could do in my youth and was happy about. Now, it takes me a day to recover!
    That's part of it... Many riders take trails, flow, suspension, brakes, etc for granted. There is no compromise or struggle with the essence of mountain biking. A mountain bike has become a specialized tool made to order, with trails much the same. There are few intricacies to learn or quirks to bond with. It's too generic, despite the wide variety of standards. Where are the steel hardtails? Roots on the trails? Yes, I still ride a rigid steel singlespeed with v-brakes, but I do put an old Marzocchi Z2 on it every now and then. I also ride a nice 650b full-suspension bike, which is welcome on many trails. There is just something about riding a simple, quirky, and uncategorized bike that the big wheeled, fat tired, over-suspended bikes don't have. It's not more fun, but it feels more personal.

  36. #36
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    +1 for mountain biking is what you make it.

    Two of my 29er's are ~10 years old, three bikes in my stable run 3x9.

    Sure, quite a number of folks have invested in the latest ridiculously light & slacked out carbon bikes (some even 650b) with 6" or more travel, 1x12 and all the trimmings. I can hang with them on rides just fine thanks (and still have fewer mechanicals).

    Not sure that a coma would do any good
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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gasp4Air View Post
    I think what you have is a case of nostalgia.
    To an extent, yes. However, just because I remember and appreciate the way things were doesn't make my statements less valid. On the contrary, experiencing the old and the new offers a more comprehensive perspective on the future. Mountain biking is what you make of it, like everybody has repeatedly posted, but that doesn't mean sh!t if the industry is back/stabbing trail access and the average rider can't adjust a derailleur out on the congested local flow trail.

    What I'm referring to is not how people choose to ride their bike. I'm talking about the feel of the community and the appreciation for the priviledge of riding a bicycle in the woods. Mountain bikers were much more connected back in the early days. These days, everybody has their group and/or local shop that they ride with and call that a strong cycling community. Where are the crowded fields at the local races? Where are the local shops that support skill clinics and get kids out on the trails? Yes, I know there are a few out there, but it's nowhere near the involvement that we used to enjoy. Internet shopping to save a few bucks, crappy customer service, poor trail ettiquette, Stravatards, etc. are all killing the spirit of the sport.

    I might be nostalgic, but what happens when trail access is lost because nobody is teaching trail manners? What will happen when local shops close because tires are $5 cheaper online and owners can't afford to stock parts for 50 different standards? What will happen when advances in technology actually take the challenges out of the trails and extinguish the joys of overcoming them? Think about how much faster you have to ride or how much more technical trails have to be these days to feel a sense of accomplishment. When was the last time you had an "Oh sh!t!" moment without a real fear of dying? I mean, you have to damn near kill yourself to get a thrill on modern trail bikes! It is what it is. I'm just willing to acknowledge that things aren't getting better in the industry, and the original spirit is fading. For better or for worse, I guess.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    With all of the new and changing standards, new geometry, multitudes of genres and racing formats, and lack of a true community, has the mountain bike industry sold its soul? An overriding thirst for adventure and fun has been replaced by a need for speed and numbing of the offroad experience. Strava and action cameras are encouraging riders to ignore the treasures on the trails and end the ride as quickly as possible. Bigger wheels, more suspension, and geometry on cross-country bikes more suited to downhill than the gravity bikes of previous decades increase speeds while minimizing the challenges that make mountain biking so exciting. Has it become more about the bike and less about the ride? I'm not against better and safer bikes, but have we misplaced the heart and soul of our beloved sport?
    For me, I think of mtn biking as what the individual makes of it. Sport, family recreation, fitness, adventure, competition etc... If the industry, friends or marketing defines it for you, you might be doing it wrong.
    In the Middle Ages, the biggest mistake was not putting on your armor because you were 'just going down to the corner.'

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Frankly, I think mountain biking is finally FINDING a soul, and it has only a little to do with the equipment or the trails themselves. It's about the sport being more accessible to beginners, about many places offering a variety of trails in the same place, to appeal to different tastes, about people gathering and sharing their experiences. MTBR and most publications have never been a good gauge of this. They've always biased towards the stuff aspect of it.
    My experiences show the opposite. There are less places that take the time to get a new rider properly set up and teach them the basics. Shops offered clinics, bike swaps, and club sponsorships for free. They're still out there, but they're not prevalent. Trails are all becoming the same. This variety you speak of is gradually eroding into a rut of wide, smooth, and "accessible" dirt paths. As for riders gathering and calling that community, well, that's not what I'm talking about. Knowing people that ride and drink beer is different than the collective working together and respecting our common priviledge. I don't see as many people yielding to other users, offering to help a rider in distress, or respecting other peoples' right to appreciate the trails. Call it entitlement if you want, but too many riders take these blessings for granted.

    Perhaps it's like a band that was just popular enough that most people have heard of them, but not too popular to sign autographs, hand out some free albums, and shoot the breeze with fans on the street. Then the get some MTV time, sell out to a major recording company that wants them to be a little more mainstream, and forget what made them so popular in the first place.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by bachman1961 View Post
    For me, I think of mtn biking as what the individual makes of it. Sport, family recreation, fitness, adventure, competition etc... If the industry, friends or marketing defines it for you, you might be doing it wrong.
    You might be missing the point. I'm not saying the individual rider has lost their spirit. I'm saying the industry has.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    My experiences show the opposite. There are less places that take the time to get a new rider properly set up and teach them the basics. Shops offered clinics, bike swaps, and club sponsorships for free. They're still out there, but they're not prevalent. Trails are all becoming the same. This variety you speak of is gradually eroding into a rut of wide, smooth, and "accessible" dirt paths. As for riders gathering and calling that community, well, that's not what I'm talking about. Knowing people that ride and drink beer is different than the collective working together and respecting our common priviledge. I don't see as many people yielding to other users, offering to help a rider in distress, or respecting other peoples' right to appreciate the trails. Call it entitlement if you want, but too many riders take these blessings for granted.

    Perhaps it's like a band that was just popular enough that most people have heard of them, but not too popular to sign autographs, hand out some free albums, and shoot the breeze with fans on the street. Then the get some MTV time, sell out to a major recording company that wants them to be a little more mainstream, and forget what made them so popular in the first place.
    I see all of those things plus what I mentioned before. Where I live, we have both groomed trails and narrow, chunky, backcountry trails going in. Even the more groomed stuff built over a decade ago has aged to the point that it's rougher.

    Offering help to riders never stopped. Different shops offer all sorts of free clinics. None of those things went away. And I see them when I travel, too.

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  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    I see all of those things plus what I mentioned before. Where I live, we have both groomed trails and narrow, chunky, backcountry trails going in. Even the more groomed stuff built over a decade ago has aged to the point that it's rougher.

    Offering help to riders never stopped. Different shops offer all sorts of free clinics. None of those things went away. And I see them when I travel, too.

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    We must travel to different places. Handbuilt trails have all but vanished, as machines are much cheaper and faster. True, smooth trails erode and become rougher, but they don't usually get narrower or technical. I just don't see the free clinics, sponsorships, and fittings I used to, either. I do see more and more bike shops with breweries in them, which is the opposite of kid-friendly in my opinion. Maybe I'm wrong, which would be awesome!

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    To an extent, yes. However, just because I remember and appreciate the way things were doesn't make my statements less valid. On the contrary, experiencing the old and the new offers a more comprehensive perspective on the future. Mountain biking is what you make of it, like everybody has repeatedly posted, but that doesn't mean sh!t if the industry is back/stabbing trail access and the average rider can't adjust a derailleur out on the congested local flow trail.

    What I'm referring to is not how people choose to ride their bike. I'm talking about the feel of the community and the appreciation for the priviledge of riding a bicycle in the woods. Mountain bikers were much more connected back in the early days. These days, everybody has their group and/or local shop that they ride with and call that a strong cycling community. Where are the crowded fields at the local races? Where are the local shops that support skill clinics and get kids out on the trails? Yes, I know there are a few out there, but it's nowhere near the involvement that we used to enjoy. Internet shopping to save a few bucks, crappy customer service, poor trail ettiquette, Stravatards, etc. are all killing the spirit of the sport.

    I might be nostalgic, but what happens when trail access is lost because nobody is teaching trail manners? What will happen when local shops close because tires are $5 cheaper online and owners can't afford to stock parts for 50 different standards? What will happen when advances in technology actually take the challenges out of the trails and extinguish the joys of overcoming them? Think about how much faster you have to ride or how much more technical trails have to be these days to feel a sense of accomplishment. When was the last time you had an "Oh sh!t!" moment without a real fear of dying? I mean, you have to damn near kill yourself to get a thrill on modern trail bikes! It is what it is. I'm just willing to acknowledge that things aren't getting better in the industry, and the original spirit is fading. For better or for worse, I guess.
    Were you shaking a rake the whole time you were typing this. Because that's what I envision when I read this.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Raleighguy29 View Post
    Were you shaking a rake the whole time you were typing this. Because that's what I envision when I read this.


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    Just thinking in typed format, I guess. Thinking is something else our society is extinguishing. If I'm just yelling at the clouds, then I must be wasting my time here.

  45. #45
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    Where is my shovel? My experience is the exact opposite here on Vancouver Island. We have a popular after school mtb program, and it is common to see kids on the trail. We talked to a 6 year old last week who is too young to join the school program, and he wasn't on a beginner trail. A new LBS just opened last summer, and seems to be doing ok in-spite of a plethora of great shops in the area. I've been riding here for almost 4 years and have never encountered a rude or discourteous rider or hiker. The only problem I had was when someone's dog ran in front of me on a teeter totter.

    I have been through every advance in technology, and 2 current FS bikes and my riding experience has never been better. Bikes have always been improving, and will continue to do so. That doesn't mean that I can't find a steel hard tail if I wanted one. Everything from rigid single-speeds to carbon everything EWS bikes can be had now, something for everyone.

    If you don't like your local trails, get involved in building. Here our local builders have the say in what they make, and we have everything, except these wide flow trails I keep hearing about. I love flow, what's the fun if you are constantly stopping?

    Before online shopping, there was mail order. Sure retail is changing, but it isn't just bikes, but everything. If anything new tech like droppers and advanced suspension is making LBS's more relevant. I don't know anyone willing to spend several thousand on a new bike, and then be on there own for warranty and specialized servicing. I could order a rigid bike online and look after everything myself, but add shocks, forks, and droppers that will at least need servicing, and a good chance of warranty, and that LBS looks pretty good.

    Finally, Strava is fun. It connects me to my friends, and tracks my riding. News flash, riders have always gone as fast as possible sometimes, now they are tracking it. Before I had Strava, I was chasing my faster friends down hill, same as I do now. The only thing that has changed is that now there is a record of it. What is my roadie friend doing 5 provinces over, Strava tells me. Before Strava it wasn't all flowers and scenery.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

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    Meh, I don't see so much of the negative stuff. Sure, some is there because some people are jerks. But on the whole, everybody is great in the bike community. I see people inviting riders they just met to their house to borrow tools. Earlier this year, I met about a dozen locals from Indiana at the Sedona mtb fest. I have done other mtb trips with other locals to ride somewhere cool and share the experience. I have seen shop mechanics meet new riders on the trail for suspension setup lessons.

    It really is not doom and gloom. Maybe if you aren't seeing the great things happening in your community, it's you, not the community.

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    I guess I am wrong. My experiences over the last 26 years are different than everybody elses.

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    I still pedal and have fun on a couple of bikes that are much easier to navigate with than my first steal hard tail. I go fast some time, but I also stop and look around, because you cannot really look around on a MTB no matter what speed you are doing.

    And most of the time I make sure that I am not accomplishing anything but just being on a bike. It is like hiking for me, a mean to get away from cars and noise, and be in nature with the occasional thrill of going a bit faster than you should.

    So no, if that is the soul of MTB, it has not changed but only got easier.

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiRt DeViL View Post
    To me the soul of mountain biking is the places you ride in, the people you ride with, the stories you share, things you experience during the ride, etc.

    Soul is not about the equipment, is about the experience even thou the equipment helps to make it more enjoyable.
    Exactly!
    Enjoy nature.

  50. #50
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    Things vary a lot. Where one lives and rides, the local culture. One's own outlook and how that fits into the local scene. But the OP says it's the industry he's concerned about. As I said before, things sure do change. The bike industry has "matured", the internet puts pressure on local retailers. But for every big established company, there's dozens of smaller ones. Tons of money drives this industry - money - lot's of it - that we spend on ever more sophisticated and capable bikes. Forget the missteps, they're inevitable. There's more choice and better products to choose from, and I just don't see a conspiracy or a general sense of loss. But we all experience things differently, and the OPs viewpoint is valid for the OP. But it seems he's in the minority.
    Use it, use it, use it while you still have it.

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    I guess I am wrong. My experiences over the last 26 years are different than everybody elses.
    I dont think you are wrong, it sounds like you just live in an area without much mtb culture.
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  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    You might be missing the point. I'm not saying the individual rider has lost their spirit. I'm saying the industry has.
    I don't think the soul of mountain biking has ever been dependent on the industry. A bike is only a machine, the stoke is between the ears.

    Trails I rode over 30 years ago aren't much different then they are today and my carbon hardtail is pretty much a refined version of the rigid steel bike I started out with. The thrills and smiles are still as good as they ever were so for me mtb soul is alive and well.
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  53. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    I do see more and more bike shops with breweries in them, which is the opposite of kid-friendly in my opinion.
    This is brilliant. Get the customers well-lubed to do some serious buying and then have the kids drive them home.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  54. #54
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    In my opinion, emtb is killing the soul of mountain biking.

    I remember the days when you secretly train by yourself so you can keep up with the faster guys on whole day epics.

    With emtbs, you can buy your way to be able to keep up with faster folks.

    With emtbs, you can end up declining to random rides because you forgot to charge your batteries.


    I hope emtb isn't the future.

  55. #55
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    Sorry but it is the future thanks to things like smart phones. They desire instant gratification handed to them. That's also why you see so few kids riding bicycles anymore or things like that. Why put in the effort for things handed out with nothing more than a swipe of a credit card.

    Ever seen the movie WALL-E? Ya it's a kids movie but watch it. Very hard lesson of where society is headed, authors were poking fun at the world with that movie.

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  56. #56
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    For me, it's the Strava crowd cutting corners on trails for a better lap time. Dumbed down flow trails when trail bikes are more capable than ever. Sanitation.

    There was a cartoon in a mid 90's issue of Dirt Rag showing mountain bikers of the future riding on a rail system. Two grizzled old mountain bikers are on a park bench. One mutters to the other something like "What if we told them we used to ride on dirt?"

    Idiocracy seems to be approaching.
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  57. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    You might be missing the point. I'm not saying the individual rider has lost their spirit. I'm saying the industry has.
    Sales and growth in the industry may have driven the effort trying to be something for everyone creating overkill and confusion with many choices, but "too many" and the market may correct things some by thinning the variations over the long term. Still, I think market share and customers wag the dog so spirit and soul come back to how much we let the industry dictate what and how we ride. From some perspective, I suppose mtn biking has some form of purist roots that are by now, little more than vague obscurity to many that enter mtn biking now or enjoy the modern bikes available these days.

    If a current steel plus tire bike with modern geometry is a nod to changes and lost soul than I'm guilty as charged and one who admits to voting in bikes with benefits.
    Last edited by bachman1961; 05-18-2017 at 06:25 PM.
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  58. #58
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    troll thread....there I said it suckas, all y'all pouring your hearts out lol.
    Keep trying to do the awesomest thing you've ever done.

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    As someone who started riding in the 80s, got my first real mountain bike in 1991 (Trek 950 ~ still have), mountain biking today is so much nicer now. I'm sure in the 80s/90s mountain biking was much better say in California, but in the midwest it was non-existent except for riding in the woods behind your house really. I remember in college (90s) my friends and I loading up bikes and heading out west to Moab and california during summer break to mountain bike trails that we would read in magazines as there were no official trails in the area, just what we made or riding hiking trails in local parks.

    Now I think my area alone has over 60 miles of trails in our city alone and another several hundred within an hour or two drive. Everything from groomed flow trails to old school single track, it's lovely and great. The community, thanks a lot to the internet and local IMBA chapters, means you can always find trails, group rides, and trail status quickly and easily.

    As to the industry, it's great now. In the early 90s you basically had rigids and some hardtails with really crappy forks to choose from on basically burly built road bikes. In the mids 90s we say full suspension bikes start, and well, they just weren't that great. Now you can literally choose any style/discipline bike to meet your local trails and your style and you have 5-10 choices minimum and it's not like we are seeing things disappear with the appearance of new tire and wheel sizes (plus, fat, etc...), well except 26ers... Back in the 90s it was more of a choose a bike company, component and the color you want as bikes weren't that much different and geometries were dismal at best.

    Has mountain biking lost it's soul, that is up to each individual. I don't believe in ghosts so I'll just say mountain biking is what you make of it. I had a smile on my face when I first started riding, I still smile ear to ear today in my 40s...

  60. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by bamwa View Post
    troll thread....there I said it suckas, all y'all pouring your hearts out lol.
    LOL, that was just what I needed to hear after skimming all of the TLDR posts on here.

    I don't think it was trolling though, just somebody who is projecting/assuming what motivates others. People bike for their own reasons.

    I didn't get into it (back in 1985) to be part of a community or to feel any sort of "soul" (whatever that even means). I got into it because if felt fun to ride a bike through the woods. It still does.

    Don't overthink playtime.

  61. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deep Thought View Post
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    Damn, that's me sometimes.

    It's a good thing I live where clouds are sporadic.
    Quote Originally Posted by NDD View Post
    Dude, I'm in Illinois. The only place anyone would come from that would say this area is hilly is Kansas.

  63. #63
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    I've seen entire neighborhoods taken over by offensive-looking clouds.

    Just letting them drift by without a few solid rants or expletives is just plain lazy.
    In the Middle Ages, the biggest mistake was not putting on your armor because you were 'just going down to the corner.'

  64. #64
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    I'd (almost) sell my soul for a Mach 5.5 :drool:

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  65. #65
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    Not trolling at all. I just get different vibes than I used to get from things like races, shops, riders, and trails. Things have changed for the better, as far as bikes and trail options go, but it just feels like something is missing. I'll admit, maybe it's just me that doesn't get what I used to from mountain biking. Maybe I'm projecting my cynical views of society on what has often been my escape. Hell, maybe that's it. Mountain biking isn't really an escape for me anymore. With Strava, e-bikes, constantly changing standards, and an increasing lack of trail ettiquette, the innocence of a young sport has been replaced by the entitlement of an industry becoming too big for its britches. If I'm trolling or just yelling at the clouds, so be it. I thought it would be an interesting discussion.

  66. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_joe View Post
    I dont think you are wrong, it sounds like you just live in an area without much mtb culture.
    I have to say that there is a ton of mtb culture here in Western NC. It's just not a good fit for me, I guess. Actually, maybe the culture here is too prominant... I don't care much for the "bro's" or widened trails I frequently encounter. Just signs of the times and the growth of a sport. Maybe I am just getting old and resisting change.

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    There are all sorts of different pastimes that people enjoy/love to do.

    If you apply the 80/20 rule 80% of the people you meet who MTB are going to be friendly, passionate, cool individuals.

    Then there's the 20%

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  68. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    Maybe I am just getting old....
    Happens to the best of us. Things change, not always for the better i everyone's eyes. When you start yelling "Get off my lawn you rotten kids!", you'll officially be an old crank. :-0
    Use it, use it, use it while you still have it.

  69. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    I have to say that there is a ton of mtb culture here in Western NC. It's just not a good fit for me, I guess. Actually, maybe the culture here is too prominant... I don't care much for the "bro's" or widened trails I frequently encounter. Just signs of the times and the growth of a sport. Maybe I am just getting old and resisting change.
    It's possible you may have become a curmudgeon.

  70. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nat View Post
    It's possible you may have become a curmudgeon.
    Not that there's anything wrong with that.

  71. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    I have to say that there is a ton of mtb culture here in Western NC. It's just not a good fit for me, I guess. Actually, maybe the culture here is too prominant... I don't care much for the "bro's" or widened trails I frequently encounter. Just signs of the times and the growth of a sport. Maybe I am just getting old and resisting change.



    You sound like a Bikepacker who doesn't know it yet.
    Quote Originally Posted by Defuser View Post
    It's fine. Don't try to categorize everything. Except e-bikes, those fall firmly into the "suck" category.

  72. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by targnik View Post
    I'd (almost) sell my soul for a Mach 5.5 :drool:

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    Quote Originally Posted by NDD View Post
    Dude, I'm in Illinois. The only place anyone would come from that would say this area is hilly is Kansas.

  73. #73
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    There are still a few people who ride with soul. But mountain biking in general has definitively lost it's soul.

    Mountain biking used to be hard. Trails were rough. Bikes were shit. You had to know how to read a map. No one did it. You had to be tough and adventurous.

    Mountain biking is so easy now. Trails are buttery smooth. Bikes are incredible. Your smartphone tells you exactly where you are. Everyone has a trail in their back yard. The sport is mainstream. Anyone can do it.

    Mountain bikers these days only seem to be interested in beer (which is fine), strava times, removing obstacles, and upgrading parts. There seems to be a minority of people who care about getting into the wild and riding gnar terrain.

    I think mountain biking should be hard.

  74. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    With all of the new and changing standards, new geometry, multitudes of genres and racing formats, and lack of a true community, has the mountain bike industry sold its soul? An overriding thirst for adventure and fun has been replaced by a need for speed and numbing of the offroad experience. Strava and action cameras are encouraging riders to ignore the treasures on the trails and end the ride as quickly as possible. Bigger wheels, more suspension, and geometry on cross-country bikes more suited to downhill than the gravity bikes of previous decades increase speeds while minimizing the challenges that make mountain biking so exciting. Has it become more about the bike and less about the ride? I'm not against better and safer bikes, but have we misplaced the heart and soul of our beloved sport?
    As someone who doesn't race and has been slow for 24 years of MTBing, I would not agree with this. Last year, I would have given this up, because I hated the MTB vibe in the Bay Area. Ultracompetitive, everyone has to have the latest and greatest, crowded, no escape, meh. It wasn't for me.

    After leaving the Bay, I found that the vibe is much more friendly in Colorado and the PNW. More what I like.

    Also, I've found that watching the second generation of mountain bikers as they go bigger and faster, is really inspiring. This is with the same stoke I had when I was learning to MTB and discovering new trails you only found out about through your friends. Time are different now. We don't have that as more people are on the trails.

    Riding wasn't as segmented back then either: you had a mountain bike or a road bike. No Enduro, AM, Trail, XC, DH, FR, etc. Just a mountain bike.

    That said, things do change, and I find the industry annoying AF. Constantly changing standards aren't standards at all. It's impossible to keep up. I feel bad for noobies who come in and are ovewhelmed with the choices that don't make any sense to them. I don't enjoy the drones that almost hit on the trail, and I don't like what Strava has done.

    That said, I found my soul migrating more towards DJ and DH and less trail, but I still plan to do some. DJ is back to the basics in its simplest form, but differently. I also would love to do some urban riding too.

    Find your stoke. If not on the trail, it's somewhere else.

  75. #75
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    I have to say that there appears to be a continued interest in the sport based on the turnout at a local weekly racing series.

    I've been at it for a long time now, and about half or more of the current riders that turn out are strangers to me. That indicates a newer generation who have an interest in our sport. The majority seem passionate, and therefore, have soul.
    Stick around if you're housebroken...

  76. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankout View Post
    The majority seem passionate, and therefore, have soul.
    Quote Originally Posted by Defuser View Post
    It's fine. Don't try to categorize everything. Except e-bikes, those fall firmly into the "suck" category.

  77. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    I don't care much for the "bro's" or widened trails I frequently encounter. Just signs of the times and the growth of a sport. Maybe I am just getting old and resisting change.
    Like the OP I've been riding MTB for decades, bought my first 'real' bike in '87, a Fisher. Full rigid because that's how they came. TBack then there was debate and attitude when suspension forks began to show up.
    I was racing local XC when brakes switched to disk, and I wondered why would I want to add weight to my bike! The OPs recent emotional funk is a phase most of us will encounter eventually.
    As for the state of the industry I find it amazing the rich variety we have. I'm on a 2yr old 140mm bike that has me in better shape than I've ever been, just so I can pedal it fast enough to satisfy my jaded self and a need for speed. Oh those corners! not to mention the joy of whips.
    All you need is money for some awesome sh*t. It is also true anyone can get on the trail for very little money there is so much used stuff for sale. Thank whatever for MTB!
    oops I wasn't clipped in

  78. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by tealy View Post
    There are still a few people who ride with soul. But mountain biking in general has definitively lost it's soul.

    Mountain biking used to be hard. Trails were rough. Bikes were shit. You had to know how to read a map. No one did it. You had to be tough and adventurous.

    Mountain biking is so easy now. Trails are buttery smooth. Bikes are incredible. Your smartphone tells you exactly where you are. Everyone has a trail in their back yard. The sport is mainstream. Anyone can do it.

    Mountain bikers these days only seem to be interested in beer (which is fine), strava times, removing obstacles, and upgrading parts. There seems to be a minority of people who care about getting into the wild and riding gnar terrain.

    I think mountain biking should be hard.
    Not everyone does bro shred flow trails. MA rider here. More trails are good, and no, not everyone can do it. Smooth? Umm, not so much. Chunky rock chunk in lots of places here. Don't do strava, race or make wimpy trails. Ever. I love bikepacking, gets me out there. In the wild. Way nice.

  79. #79
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    Like many things that were once innocent and pure, mountain bike has indeed lost it's soul. Similar to the music business. And prostitution.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    Not trolling at all. I just get different vibes than I used to get from things like races, shops, riders, and trails. Things have changed for the better, as far as bikes and trail options go, but it just feels like something is missing. I'll admit, maybe it's just me that doesn't get what I used to from mountain biking. Maybe I'm projecting my cynical views of society on what has often been my escape. Hell, maybe that's it. Mountain biking isn't really an escape for me anymore. With Strava, e-bikes, constantly changing standards, and an increasing lack of trail ettiquette, the innocence of a young sport has been replaced by the entitlement of an industry becoming too big for its britches. If I'm trolling or just yelling at the clouds, so be it. I thought it would be an interesting discussion.
    Quote Originally Posted by tealy View Post
    There are still a few people who ride with soul. But mountain biking in general has definitively lost it's soul.

    Mountain biking used to be hard. Trails were rough. Bikes were shit. You had to know how to read a map. No one did it. You had to be tough and adventurous.

    Mountain biking is so easy now. Trails are buttery smooth. Bikes are incredible. Your smartphone tells you exactly where you are. Everyone has a trail in their back yard. The sport is mainstream. Anyone can do it.

    Mountain bikers these days only seem to be interested in beer (which is fine), strava times, removing obstacles, and upgrading parts. There seems to be a minority of people who care about getting into the wild and riding gnar terrain.

    I think mountain biking should be hard.
    Quote Originally Posted by stripes View Post
    As someone who doesn't race and has been slow for 24 years of MTBing, I would not agree with this. Last year, I would have given this up, because I hated the MTB vibe in the Bay Area. Ultracompetitive, everyone has to have the latest and greatest, crowded, no escape, meh. It wasn't for me.

    After leaving the Bay, I found that the vibe is much more friendly in Colorado and the PNW. More what I like.

    Also, I've found that watching the second generation of mountain bikers as they go bigger and faster, is really inspiring. This is with the same stoke I had when I was learning to MTB and discovering new trails you only found out about through your friends. Time are different now. We don't have that as more people are on the trails.

    Riding wasn't as segmented back then either: you had a mountain bike or a road bike. No Enduro, AM, Trail, XC, DH, FR, etc. Just a mountain bike.

    That said, things do change, and I find the industry annoying AF. Constantly changing standards aren't standards at all. It's impossible to keep up. I feel bad for noobies who come in and are ovewhelmed with the choices that don't make any sense to them. I don't enjoy the drones that almost hit on the trail, and I don't like what Strava has done.

    That said, I found my soul migrating more towards DJ and DH and less trail, but I still plan to do some. DJ is back to the basics in its simplest form, but differently. I also would love to do some urban riding too.

    Find your stoke. If not on the trail, it's somewhere else.
    Quote Originally Posted by jim c View Post
    Like the OP I've been riding MTB for decades, bought my first 'real' bike in '87, a Fisher. Full rigid because that's how they came. TBack then there was debate and attitude when suspension forks began to show up.
    I was racing local XC when brakes switched to disk, and I wondered why would I want to add weight to my bike! The OPs recent emotional funk is a phase most of us will encounter eventually.
    As for the state of the industry I find it amazing the rich variety we have. I'm on a 2yr old 140mm bike that has me in better shape than I've ever been, just so I can pedal it fast enough to satisfy my jaded self and a need for speed. Oh those corners! not to mention the joy of whips.
    All you need is money for some awesome sh*t. It is also true anyone can get on the trail for very little money there is so much used stuff for sale. Thank whatever for MTB!
    MTB used to be a more "exclusive" sport. I really do think it was harder. Trails were not purpose-built, or mapped, or marked. Trails followed game tracks, power lines, gas lines, and fall lines. Bikes were basic. You learned by doing. You sometimes failed. You could blame your equipment, but your options weren't going to make much difference so you run what ya brung and you HAD to develop skills, lungs, and legs.
    The cynic in me thinks that everyone had to get a MTB participation award so we smoothed out the trails, adapted motocross technology to MTBs, and made it easier for everyone. That really is a good thing (and a bad thing, but mostly a good thing), but it makes the old curmudgeons, like myself, almost feel cheated. You developed these skills and fitness, you sought out trails and ride locations, maybe groomed a few, then when you finally got chased off the old trails and confined to the new trails you no longer needed your skills because everything was easier. The bike industry was an accomplice. I'm sure if I lived someplace with big geologic features I'd probably have a different perspective. Again, it's not really a bad thing. Change happens. Lots of things MTB are better.

    One ironic thing is that just recently our legal trail mileage just caught up with the "illegal" mileage we had back in the '90's. That didn't take as long as I thought. But I coulda been riding some awesome trails while they figured it all out if they'd let me have my way.

    I've said this before, but in anyone's MTB career, those early years can never be re-lived or re-experienced. The first time you had to drag your butt on your rear tire to negotiate that ridiculously steep descent, or the first time you learned how to rail a corner, or the first time you finished a huge climb and you weren't tired... that's all over and done. Enjoy the now. It is what you make it.

    -F
    It's never easier - you just go faster.

  81. #81
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    It often seems like mountain biking has lost its soul with rampant corporatization of the industry, never ending marketing hype over every little thing, riders spending more time obsessing over components than riding, proliferation of manicured flow trails, and the constant need for instant gratification through things like strava.

    There are still lots of riders and industry players who have not lost the soul though, and they are out there doing their thing.

    Have riders lost their soul? I think there are just a ton of riders who never had any soul to begin with. And by growing the sport and bringing new riders into a world of corporatization, marketing hype, obsession over components, soul-less flow trails, sanitization of everything hard, and social media glory we are left with a large population of mountain bikers that have never experienced the soul of the sport. Lots of these riders never get far beyond their after work and weekend warrior local loops. Maybe the adventurous of them will travel to an over-hyped MTB destination *cough* Cannell, *cough* Sedona...

    There is a whole world out there full of wonders, challenges, and great trails to explore. Unfortunately lots of these riders will never see much of that would because they're too busy riding the same mediocre trails over and over, or bickering with other MTBR members over 29er vs 27.5, what color of shifter cable will improve their strava time, or other useless nonsense. Go out and ride! Explore!

  82. #82
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    I'd trade my soul for a new plastic Scout... just sayin'...







    WTBS, I set a PR today on my rigid, skinny tire, steel Surly*



    *It would have been cooler if it was SS, but it's not.
    Life is too short to ride a bike you don't love.

  83. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fleas View Post
    It is what you make it.

    -F
    +

    That's the simple answer.

    I get what is being said by many about the terrain, bike designs-advancement, traffic on trails, the tribal gist or how it's been dumbed down for everyone to enjoy.

    Somehow, I still get the enjoyment I've been looking for even though I'm not immune to any of that stuff in my locale.

    I'm fortunate to have a work shedule that keeps me from what might be weekend traffic jams at parks or trails so there is some spoilage in my expectation of weekday freedoms but I just don't focus much on the 'everything / everybody else'. What they are wearing, what they ride, how capable they are .... it's all a great mystery to me because I've just picked out the area or trails to ride and hunker down. Hell, taking my eyes or attention off the trail for 1.5 sec can put me in dust cloud of hurt.

    I've had a few bumps to the head from 2 car versus car contests so I'm not very adept at multitasking and maybe it's serving me to be a bit more one-track minded, aloof or just plain oblivious but that's okay.

    Maybe even Better than okay.
    Last edited by bachman1961; 4 Weeks Ago at 01:08 PM.
    In the Middle Ages, the biggest mistake was not putting on your armor because you were 'just going down to the corner.'

  84. #84
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    Nothing lost and much gained here.

    Modern gear and trails have my wife back riding with about as much passion and obsession as can be. The state of the art has me riding well and a lot for grandpa age. The sport might be more sustainable than ever. I see that two ways. Our ski club has invested big time and will soon have more than 400 kids who've done the MTB lessons. Our IMBA chapter has grown and now we have new faces stepping up.

    Last night my wife and I rode all new school before sunset for a great time. In minutes we'll ride after breakfast to beat the rain. We're 28 years older than when we first did this but there's probably more soul than ever.
    ƃuoɹʍ llɐ ʇno əɯɐɔ ʇɐɥʇ

  85. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by evdog View Post
    It often seems like mountain biking has lost its soul with rampant corporatization of the industry, never ending marketing hype over every little thing, riders spending more time obsessing over components than riding, proliferation of manicured flow trails, and the constant need for instant gratification through things like strava.

    There are still lots of riders and industry players who have not lost the soul though, and they are out there doing their thing.

    Have riders lost their soul? I think there are just a ton of riders who never had any soul to begin with. And by growing the sport and bringing new riders into a world of corporatization, marketing hype, obsession over components, soul-less flow trails, sanitization of everything hard, and social media glory we are left with a large population of mountain bikers that have never experienced the soul of the sport. Lots of these riders never get far beyond their after work and weekend warrior local loops. Maybe the adventurous of them will travel to an over-hyped MTB destination *cough* Cannell, *cough* Sedona...

    There is a whole world out there full of wonders, challenges, and great trails to explore. Unfortunately lots of these riders will never see much of that would because they're too busy riding the same mediocre trails over and over, or bickering with other MTBR members over 29er vs 27.5, what color of shifter cable will improve their strava time, or other useless nonsense. Go out and ride! Explore!
    Ah yes. I miss the soul-filled late eighties/ early nineties when the pinnacle of the sport was an elite rider wearing a fixed grimace, bent over a stretched out cc thoroughbred sporting badly engineered, drilled out pink anodized faux technology which the slower pretenders had to have. Then along came xtr and freeriding. Thank the gods for technology, hype and trends. And I can still ignore it all and find my soul in the woods in a technologically near perfect steel hardtail if that's what I want to do.

  86. #86
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    I don't know. Do bro brahs high fiving after a 6 mile ride wearing body armor on cross country trails and shuttling half of it before hitting the brewery have soul??

    Obviously, there are also truly amazing riders doing bigger things that were never imagined in the early days that are full of soul. I guess regarding the sport as a whole, the soul for adventure is still there. To a detriment in some instances in my mind (aka, redbull / heli-bking). I also still see excited people just getting into the sport, which is great!

    I would argue the ethics have changed, maybe not the soul though.

  87. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    With all of the new and changing standards, new geometry, multitudes of genres and racing formats, and lack of a true community, has the mountain bike industry sold its soul? An overriding thirst for adventure and fun has been replaced by a need for speed and numbing of the offroad experience. Strava and action cameras are encouraging riders to ignore the treasures on the trails and end the ride as quickly as possible. Bigger wheels, more suspension, and geometry on cross-country bikes more suited to downhill than the gravity bikes of previous decades increase speeds while minimizing the challenges that make mountain biking so exciting. Has it become more about the bike and less about the ride? I'm not against better and safer bikes, but have we misplaced the heart and soul of our beloved sport?
    I am looking at a Specialized RH hardtail to get back into MB-ing. Guy at store, local place not big box store, said the new geometry is to sit more upright.

  88. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by leeboh View Post
    You want to separate the industry making a buck to the riders and such. The challenges are still there. Still riding your rigid 26er with 2.0 tires and canti brakes? Good luck with that. I like to do 2-4 hr rides and be able to get up off the couch the next day. Love those 29" wheels and 6 " of travel. Try e bikes, talk about soulless.
    So get a 29 no matter what yes?

  89. #89
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    I can't say for sure if mountain biking has lost it's soul, though being out on a bike has certainly helped me maintain my own.

  90. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jlpowell84 View Post
    I am looking at a Specialized RH hardtail to get back into MB-ing. Guy at store, local place not big box store, said the new geometry is to sit more upright.
    New geometry is meant to lengthen the front to allow a shorter stem and shorten the rear end to maintain a reasonable wheelbase and some semblence of handling. Slacker head angles increases the wheelbase even further, while shorter chainstays keep some nimbleness. Great for fast downhills and flow trails, but not so great for twisty singletrack and general climbing. Nothing to do with comfort or being more upright. This is going to reopen an old can of worms, but I think most would agree that the shop is trying to sell you on a bike.

  91. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    This is going to reopen an old can of worms, but I think most would agree that the shop is trying to sell you on a bike.
    Shops do try to sell bikes, that hasn't changed.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  92. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Shops do try to sell bikes, that hasn't changed.
    Excellent insight.

  93. #93
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    Yes because Gary Fisher turned out to be a Manchurian candidate for e-bikes.

  94. #94
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    Mountain biking doesn't have a soul. We do, and it sounds like we're doing just fine.

  95. #95
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    Great for fast downhills and flow trails, but not so great for twisty singletrack and general climbing.
    This is why I'm contemplating trading my Mach 5.7 for Targnik's soul. Or maybe a couple $k.

  96. #96
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    It's fine. Don't try to categorize everything. Except e-bikes, those fall firmly into the "suck" category.

  97. #97
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    New geometry is meant to lengthen the front to allow a shorter stem and shorten the rear end to maintain a reasonable wheelbase and some semblence of handling. Slacker head angles increases the wheelbase even further, while shorter chainstays keep some nimbleness. Great for fast downhills and flow trails, but not so great for twisty singletrack and general climbing. Nothing to do with comfort or being more upright. This is going to reopen an old can of worms, but I think most would agree that the shop is trying to sell you on a bike.
    My new bike ascends and descends better than every other bike I've owned. And with more comfort. Perhaps it's a matter of fit, or something else, I dunno, but it works for me. I willingly purchased my bike from a local dealer, and even built it with some locally manufactured parts. How is that soulless?

  98. #98
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    I find that the amount of soul is directly proportional to how much beer I'm drinking.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  99. #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fleas View Post
    I've said this before, but in anyone's MTB career, those early years can never be re-lived or re-experienced. The first time you had to drag your butt on your rear tire to negotiate that ridiculously steep descent, or the first time you learned how to rail a corner, or the first time you finished a huge climb and you weren't tired... that's all over and done. Enjoy the now. It is what you make it.
    This is stated well. It may only apply to people who've been riding 2 or 3 decades, but it's true and that lack of 'newness' can feel like a let-down. As I posted above the fix for any "let-down" is the personal drive to up your skill level. For me it was buying a cutting edge trail bike as well as keeping up with the pro racing scene (thank you internet). I found I wanted to rail corners at (what seemed like) out-of-my-reach speeds. Skill clinics; repeating challenging trail sections till I learned them, mostly effort, and I'm enjoying MTB as much as ever. Yes I miss the old days too, but that's what memory is for.
    oops I wasn't clipped in

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    Except for e-bikes and Strava douchery I think the sport is doing just fine.

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