MBA Sucks - "the buyers guide" issue (March 05)- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    Where's Toto?
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    Upset MBA Sucks - "the buyers guide" issue (March 05)

    Ok - I was traveling on business this week. Happened by the newstand and picked up a Mountain Bike Action to read as I didn't feel like staring at the airline seat in front of me for two hours. I don't subscribe and only buy it when there is something of interest inside (which seems to be rare anymore). This was the March 2005 issue --- the "buyers guide". Some singlespeeds listed, mostly from mainstream companies. Few 29ers listed. Surprisingly Lenz is there, however, most smaller builders are not - Surly?, IF?, Kelly? Vicious?, Wily?, Walt?, MC? Look at the brands that are -- Santa Cruz, Kona, Haro, Specialized, Cannondale, Trek, Iron Horse and so on - mostly advertisers. The guide provides little information of use to the consumer - tells very little about the bikes. Another example of fine objective reporting.

  2. #2
    Only dead people are old
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    Thats why it's also known as Mountain Bike Fiction. The advertising dollar seems to be the only action they follow.

  3. #3
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    All MTB Mag "Buyers Guides" are poor

    All MTB Mag "Buyers Guides" are poor excuses for editorial content. It's a cheap way to fill up pages by having an intern type up stats off bike companies' websites. There's little or no analysis, product testing, or even background. Many times they're even rife with factual errors. Obviously, magazines are starved for content in the dead of winter, but for once I'd like to see a buyers guide that actually mattered. One that referenced reviews done by the magazine itself. One that gleaned useful information for the reader from all those statistics...

  4. #4
    Recovering Weight Weenie
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    Gentlemen, get yourself a subscription to dirtrag....
    It's a little hippie-focused, but great stuff indeed, almost every issue....

  5. #5
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    You betcha - - been reading Dirt Rag for years!!!

    The only bike magazine I subscribe to.

  6. #6
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    I have never seen a buyers guide issue that was worth a darn. I would rather they concentrate on giving a full review on just a few bikes. I will pass every time on a buyers guide issue. Just a waste of print in my opinion.

  7. #7
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    I read Dirtrag on the newsstand, but rarely buy it (nice review of the Asylum 29'er in the last issue). Good content, but the photos are just OK and the whole mag is pretty low budget (which is both good and bad). I respect what they do, but that doesn't always spur me on enough to purchase it.

    I am addicted to MBUK, MBR, Dirt and the other British bike mags. As a magazine art director, I'm a sucker for high production value.

    As for Buyers Guides, I was reading the new Backpacker BG today, and kept wondering why on earth a bike magazine couldn't do something so useful.

    Ultimately, we need some mergers/acquisitions/failures in the bike magazine world. There are too many magazines, and something's gotta give. Mountain Biking (Challenge Publications) for one needs to throw in the towel, and they ought to give up their battle with H3's 26/Decline/Road. Challenge's publications SUCK. No, REALLY, REALLY SUCK. Both Challenge and H3 need to stop insulting the road biking world with their half-baked mags. Neither offer anything close to the the better road cycling mags, and they just fracture the market and the newsstands, hurting the actually good magazines... spoilers. Challenge's Flow tries to be "racier" than Decline by throwing borderling pornography in it, but that still doesn't cover up the fact that their content is thin to non-existant. I've seen better bike mags, and I've seen MUCH better porn.

    H3's 26 mag has the same problem as MBA- a suspicious number of "reviews" of bikes only from their advertisers. But it generally is better than Mountain Biking. I still only buy the occasional copy of 26, where I subscribe to MBA and Bike.

    The MTB mag market isn't large enough to support MBA, Bike, Mountain Biking, Mountain Bike (Quarterly- Rodale), 26, Decline, Flow, Dirtrag, etc. There will always be a place for a cool, good-vibe 'zine like Dirtrag, but the crappier magazines like Flow, Mountain Biking, and even 26 really need to fold. Leave more ad revenue to the mags who put more resources into their better content...

  8. #8

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    Have you guys seen the UK mag Singletrack? Great pictures, great stories, and even moderately objective reviews - it's the best MTB mag I've come across since the early Bike. As I'm a closet roadie though, I also like Cycle Sport and Procycling - very nice mags with good content and high quality production.

    Sam

  9. #9
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    I bought my first issue of Bicycling in June 1976. I subscribed a few months later and was a reader for many years. At the time it was about the only thing going. Now we have a flood of magazines on the market trying to be everything to everyone. "Outside" magazine is another example of good things gone way bad. Used to be a great mix of outdoor sports/activities. Stories. Good reading. Now it's a platform for sales of Hummers and gee wiz kids toys while trying to disguise itself as some king of environmentally conscious publication. I understand economics enough to know that these guys have to sell ad space in order to publish and sell the magazine at a price that is affordable. However, selling magazines doesn't mean selling out. Red Bull Rampage and bubbas hucking off of roofs is neat stuff, but I don't know of anyone that does it. Don't believe that most US riders are doing it. Yet content in most of the magazines is slanted towards tests of aggro bikes and huckiing/DH/4x events. Am I missing something? Is aggro riding the next skateboard boom? BMX? for generation Z? I used to love the early Bike magazine until they went this way. Oh yeah --- and I love the ads and testing in MBA for Fox jeans (aka denim) - gotta get rid of my Levi's and get me some of dem.

  10. #10
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    Someone email these threads to the concerned mags!
    Klok - XC - Skate - Ski

  11. #11
    Witty McWitterson
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kolo
    Have you guys seen the UK mag Singletrack? Great pictures, great stories, and even moderately objective reviews - it's the best MTB mag I've come across since the early Bike.
    Sam
    Amen Sam. I picked one up not so long ago for the first time and was very impressed with its quality. Oh how I wish some of the US mags would produce mapped routes for trails ridden. From a map geek perspective, that service simply rules. I may never get to ride there, but having map lets me go there mentally....I just wish I could justify affording Singletrack as a subscirption.
    Just a regular guy.

  12. #12
    Cold. Blue. Steel.
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    Two Words:

    Dirt

    Rag


    Spinning and Grinning...

  13. #13
    Just Ride!
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    Quote Originally Posted by endure26
    Some singlespeeds listed, mostly from mainstream companies. Few 29ers listed. Surprisingly Lenz is there, however, most smaller builders are not -
    Yes, my flame suite is on.

    I don't think MtBA is really the evil seed or whatever most are thinking. First off, it is a business, not a hobby..... think about it. Secondly, if these smaller builders want to be recognized, all they need to do is submit the photos and info.

    Example, my company serves the auto industry, but does not purchase advertising in the magazines. We do however, send quality photos and ad copy when we offer something new and it will usually always get free exposure in some type of new product spotlight.

    It is wise for some companies to control growth by not sharing the news. If i'm not mistaken, Chester, Jones, and similar have one year wait times. If they were to be in print, they would have to hire additional monkey's, then you would not get the same quality item.

    Though I could be completely wrong, after all, I just knew the trails would be dry the other night when I called a ride!

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by kustomz
    It is wise for some companies to control growth by not sharing the news. If i'm not mistaken, Chester, Jones, and similar have one year wait times. If they were to be in print, they would have to hire additional monkey's, then you would not get the same quality item.
    The other possibility would be that they could charge even more....

  15. #15
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    With those smaller builders I more often wonder "how do they make a living then", rather than "how dare they ask so much for a bunch of welded tubes"?
    Klok - XC - Skate - Ski

  16. #16

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    I was just going on basic economic principles of supply and demand - if they have a backlog of a year at their current prices, obviously the prices can afford to go even higher (and you can't argue ~$4000 for a Jones is not already pretty high). If they advertised/publicised more then they could probably go higher again. But as I understand both Jeff Jones and Matt Chester are far too nice blokes to be such capitalist swine

    Sam

  17. #17
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    A few things worth mentioning...

    First off, while I've never tried to get any of my stuff into any mainstream mags, I do have some close friends who work for a variety of manufacturers who have dealt with MBA. MBA functions as a large, glossy advertisement. Not that there's anything really wrong with that - they have to make money too. But let's just say that the only ways to get reviewed are:
    1) Buy an ad.
    2) Know a member of the editorial staff personally.

    I've seen it happen multiple times. Free (often VERY expensive) product sent over to those guys that they hold onto indefinitely, then return (sometimes) if no ad space has yet been purchased. Not that cool.

    To keep things straight, I have no interest in getting that kind of PR. And MBA is so stupid, I'd probably prefer not to be in it regardless. I like the fact that anyone that wants a custom frame from a small builder has to do their research first - it really means that I get to deal with smart, interesting people who know what they want and are willing to listen to my ideas. Not to get too touchy feely here, but I like to feel like I have some kind of connection with my customers - I don't think I'd get that kind of customer from reviews in MBA.

    -Walt

  18. #18
    Cold. Blue. Steel.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt
    To keep things straight, I have no interest in getting that kind of PR. And MBA is so stupid, I'd probably prefer not to be in it regardless. I like the fact that anyone that wants a custom frame from a small builder has to do their research first - it really means that I get to deal with smart, interesting people who know what they want and are willing to listen to my ideas. Not to get too touchy feely here, but I like to feel like I have some kind of connection with my customers - I don't think I'd get that kind of customer from reviews in MBA.

    -Walt
    And that, in a nutshell, is why you (Walt) will be getting my order for a frame and fork in the very near future. Plus, I rode Eric's WaltWorks 29er on Friday night (first one on the east coast)!
    Adam
    Spinning and Grinning...

  19. #19
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    Yep, DR and...

    the Riv Reader are my two favorites. The Rivendell Reader is "different" in many ways, but a great read. You don't need to be retro to enjoy it. IMO.

  20. #20
    giddy up!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt
    First off, while I've never tried to get any of my stuff into any mainstream mags, I do have some close friends who work for a variety of manufacturers who have dealt with MBA. MBA functions as a large, glossy advertisement. Not that there's anything really wrong with that - they have to make money too. But let's just say that the only ways to get reviewed are:
    1) Buy an ad.
    2) Know a member of the editorial staff personally.

    I've seen it happen multiple times. Free (often VERY expensive) product sent over to those guys that they hold onto indefinitely, then return (sometimes) if no ad space has yet been purchased. Not that cool.

    To keep things straight, I have no interest in getting that kind of PR. And MBA is so stupid, I'd probably prefer not to be in it regardless. I like the fact that anyone that wants a custom frame from a small builder has to do their research first - it really means that I get to deal with smart, interesting people who know what they want and are willing to listen to my ideas. Not to get too touchy feely here, but I like to feel like I have some kind of connection with my customers - I don't think I'd get that kind of customer from reviews in MBA.

    -Walt

    Word. Good to have people like you around in the bike biz these days.

    B
    www.thepathbikeshop.com

  21. #21
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    Just playing devils advocate because I'm bored at work, but a couple things stick out. Someone mentioned "objective reporting" but that's a bit off. All of these reviews are completely subjective, the opinions of someone's ass riding around on whatever product being reviewed for a period of time. The whole magazine is purely editorial and their stories are not looked at the same way they would be in an actual news organization. They're NOT reporters and there's no need for objectivity. I think the business is a little fickle too so there's gonna be a need for some ass kissing on their part.

    The other thing is its a business catering to a specific audience. To me its more of the large manufacturer/complete bike buyer, since they make up the bulk of high end MTB purchases. I don't think people looking for a custom bike they're willing to pay large sums of money and wit months for really could get anything worthwhile from a magazine. Not when you can just call the builder and talk on forums like this. The mag is a business, they need to make money to keep publishing. So they go where the green is, big deal. Just don't buy it.

    The web has to be killing niche mags like MBA and such. I get all my info from here and general web surfing. They're fighting a losing battle IMHO, struggling to keep their advertisers when all people need to do is check out a mfgr's website and read posts here about how a particular bike rides. To me its only a matter of time before they all go belly up. Sad but true.
    The red couch has moved from Alaska to Florida...

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbogner
    H3's 26 mag has the same problem as MBA- a suspicious number of "reviews" of bikes only from their advertisers. But it generally is better than Mountain Biking
    Unfortunately (or not), TwentySix's November or December issue was their last. I guess H3 sees more potential in the freeride market.

  23. #23
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    Agree w/ AK Chris, two distinct markets for the mags:

    *HUGE* Undecided "mass-market" buyers & compulsive upgraders who love glossy photos & ads,

    *SMALL* Riders who are more or less content with their equipment, are into not-so-mainstream aspects of the sport, and looking for a good read.

    I used to love reading MBA when I was itching to buy something, but I could never stand it otherwise because it's always "Buy Buy Buy!".

    For me it took a few journeys down that path before it really sinks in that mountain biking is more about the ride, less about the bling (although there is always room for some of each).

  24. #24
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    It would be TOO cool to take over TwentySix's distri channel and rename it TwentyNine...
    Someone out there with a sense of homor and willing to express it with their big fat wallet?
    Klok - XC - Skate - Ski

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