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  1. #1
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    What Are Your Trusted Sources of Mountain Bike Reviews?

    I've been binge watching Bike Magazine's so-called "Bible" of bike tests over the past few days. Sample below. This channel has been heavily derided esp in the past for it's poor production values, astonishing lack of enthusiasm among it's reviewers, and terrible rapport between staff.



    Are there any magazines or websites you find to be a source of quality reviews? Aside from actual off-road demo's, I haven't found any source of reviews which I thought were consistently informative or accurate.

    For the most part, mtb reviews are more a source of entertainment than information, in my experience.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by westernmtb View Post
    I've been binge watching Bike Magazine's so-called "Bible" of bike tests over the past few days. Sample below. This channel has been heavily derided esp in the past for its poor production values, astonishing lack of enthusiasm among its reviewers, and terrible rapport between staff.



    Are there any magazines or websites you find to be a source of quality reviews? Aside from actual off-road demos, I haven't found any source of reviews which I thought were consistently informative or accurate.

    For the most part, mtb reviews are more a source of entertainment than information, in my experience.
    Fify.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Finch Platte View Post
    Fify.
    One apostrophe, seriously! Maybe some therapy is in order.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

  4. #4
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    I only trust the content posted by riders on this forum.
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  5. #5
    the discerning hooligan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Battery View Post
    I only trust the content posted by riders on this forum.
    Bikes are pretty good now and it's very rare to hear about a bike that just doesn't work right. There is no substitute for an actual demo ride to reveal the fit and personality of a bike.

    The thing I do like about "Bible of Bike" is how it proves the fact that a crew of very experienced riders can ride the same bike on the same trail in the same weather conditions and all walk away with different conclusions about the bike's capabilities. Let that fact be the lense you look through when considering bike reviews from now on.
    MERCY! MERCY! MERCY!

  6. #6
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    Trust no one

  7. #7
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    I find camparos can be more informative than one-offs, with relative evaluations perhaps being more reliable than those done in isolation. But mainly read as many as you can find and try to assess each for legitimacy and their impartiality as best as you can.
    Do the math.

  8. #8
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    Vitalmtb
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    I liked Bike many moons ago before their content was painfully obvious bought and paid for. Interestingly it seems Pinkbike is trying to break the paid advertising journalism mould as of late. My guess is websites like vital are eclipsing them so they are now copycatting their formula.

    With that I agree with what said MOJOK on the Bible. I think it offers value to the already discerning mtb'r.
    It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

  9. #9
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    I liked Richard Cunningham's reviews on Pinkbike. Check out the GT Sensor review when he's making the funny faces when the fat chick is talking. Hilarious dude, also a good reviewer.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    Vitalmtb
    Bikeradar
    Blister

    I liked Bike many moons ago before their content was painfully obvious bought and paid for. Interestingly it seems Pinkbike is trying to break the paid advertising journalism mould as of late. My guess is websites like vital are eclipsing them so they are now copycatting their formula.

    With that I agree with what said MOJOK on the Bible. I think it offers value to the already discerning mtb'r.
    Aside from a few instances, I had a hard time detecting hard core shilling.

    The fezzari, yeah, that was a bit over the top. The female reviewers were also trying too hard to promote women's specific geometry, maybe for multiple reasons.

    Aside from that, the reviews are so rambling and unstructured, you could watch these reviews a million times and not come away with anything interesting or useful.

  11. #11
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shark View Post
    Trust no one
    X-actly this.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by westernmtb View Post

    Aside from that, the reviews are so rambling and unstructured, you could watch these reviews a million times and not come away with anything interesting or useful.
    And I'd wager that's exactly because they can't speak their true mind. A lot of times they look at each other with pained expressions trying to formulate a sentence before they start speaking. Go a back a couple of years before the infamous redoing of the Trek. They were a lot more forthcoming of what they did and did not like.
    It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    And I'd wager that's exactly because they can't speak their true mind. A lot of times they look at each other with pained expressions trying to formulate a sentence before they start speaking. Go a back a couple of years before the infamous redoing of the Trek. They were a lot more forthcoming of what they did and did not like.
    These guys are also not on camera personalities, they are mostly writers. They have them do this once a year. I don't disagree that there is bias in these reviews and not to mention the fact they are usually reviewing the highest end spec of the models in the videos. For example someone looking to buy the 2700K version of the giant trance 29er is not going to have the same experience as these reviewers who are riding the 8k version of the bike..

    but honestly alot of the awkwardness to me looks like simple on camera inexperience and probably nerves. Which i guess is fine that they have thier own writers doing the video version of these reviews and they are not hiring people specifically to do the videos.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schulze View Post
    I liked Richard Cunningham's reviews on Pinkbike. Check out the GT Sensor review when he's making the funny faces when the fat chick is talking. Hilarious dude, also a good reviewer.
    As a fat dude, I am offended by your remarks.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schulze View Post
    I liked Richard Cunningham's reviews on Pinkbike. Check out the GT Sensor review when he's making the funny faces when the fat chick is talking. Hilarious dude, also a good reviewer.
    Great to see a legend still in the game!

    I have to admit, I wondered why that gal was hired. Kind of a mismatch as far as reviewers go. And yes, I am censoring myself just like the Bike Mag guys!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Naolin View Post
    These guys are also not on camera personalities, they are mostly writers. They have them do this once a year. I don't disagree that there is bias in these reviews and not to mention the fact they are usually reviewing the highest end spec of the models in the videos. For example someone looking to buy the 2700K version of the giant trance 29er is not going to have the same experience as these reviewers who are riding the 8k version of the bike..

    but honestly alot of the awkwardness to me looks like simple on camera inexperience and probably nerves. Which i guess is fine that they have thier own writers doing the video version of these reviews and they are not hiring people specifically to do the videos.
    Not so sure I can buy that premise. Ryan Palmer and Mike Ferrentino have spent plenty of time in the spot light and on camera over the years. The Transition guys are pretty regular dudes and they seem to do just fine on camera.

    For the record I like the bible. Again for the discerning mtbr I think there's plenty of good info one can extrapolate.
    It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

  17. #17
    the discerning hooligan
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    I was around when they did Bible in Vermont. It is a big effort and the crew put in long days. More than anything else what you see is a bunch of tired guy talking about their day.
    MERCY! MERCY! MERCY!

  18. #18
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    With the lack of quantitative scores and rankings, the reviews I've seen and read are largely pointless.

    For example, after I read and watch reviews for cars, I have a very good sense of what the strengths and weaknesses are of various cars. I know which cars are faster, quieter, more fuel efficient, which are roomier, which have better sound systems, which cars are the best values, and so on. Consumer Reports rates every single car and truck they test, along multiple criteria.

    With MTB tests and reviews, I have yet to encounter a single US based publication which ranks bicycles or quantifies ratings along any dimension: climbing, descending, comfort, etc.

    At least some of the UK publications rank and rate MTB's in this way, but with so many of the brands tested unavailable in the US, they're not especially valuable either.

    But yeah, I'll rely on actual riding which is pretty fun anyways.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by westernmtb View Post
    With the lack of quantitative scores and rankings, the reviews I've seen and read are largely pointless.

    For example, after I read and watch reviews for cars, I have a very good sense of what the strengths and weaknesses are of various cars. I know which cars are faster, quieter, more fuel efficient, which are roomier, which have better sound systems, which cars are the best values, and so on. Consumer Reports rates every single car and truck they test, along multiple criteria.

    With MTB tests and reviews, I have yet to encounter a single US based publication which ranks bicycles or quantifies ratings along any dimension: climbing, descending, comfort, etc.

    At least some of the UK publications rank and rate MTB's in this way, but with so many of the brands tested unavailable in the US, they're not especially valuable either.

    But yeah, I'll rely on actual riding which is pretty fun anyways.
    Exactly, and suspension kinematics are now well-enough understood to provide data on this as well, maybe not to the point of slamming or saying something is the best ever, but it should be easy these days to predict performances and the differences in that performance and then report back on it. It should be possible to provide more details about how it works and how it's different than the next bike, other than the usual "it pedals well" crap. I don't just want to compare to one or a few, I want quantitative measurements to compare to a lot of bikes so I can make an informed decision. It's simply not possible to ride all of the bikes and component/size spec that I might be considering and this would help narrow it down.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  20. #20
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    Any hardtails in the BofBT?
    Ripping trails and tipping ales

  21. #21
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    I wonder if some of the independent reviewers like an MTBYumYum are more trustworthy? After all, if the independents buy and demo or rent bikes on their own dime and don't have to rely on manufacturers for test sleds, much less advertising revenue to keep the lights on, then perhaps they are more likely to be able to offer frank assessments of bikes both positive and negative.

  22. #22
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    If you read a lot of reviews you start to get to know the writer's style and riding preferences. Over time you are able to read between the lines and use their opinion to decide if said bike would suit your needs. Some reviewers' priorities are close to mine, so I tend to put more weight on their views.

    Delivering a review with absolute scores and results is kinda hard IMHO as rider preferences and local conditions vary too much and what's "best" is subjective. German sites and publications seem obsessed about scores and test winners, but often I feel the test winner would not be my bike of choice.

  23. #23
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    I take everything as input but ultimately it's ME that I trust. There's too many variables to think that what's good for one person is going to be good for me. Not just bikes...true with everything.

    Lot's of self-appointed 'experts' out there...my expert advice is to do your research but YOU decide what's best.
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  24. #24
    Magically Delicious
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    My most favored review is the one spawned from my own personal experience.

    No paid subscribers or advertising incentives.
    A bad day of cycling is better than a good day at work

    Work Truck - Dassault Falcon 7X

  25. #25
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    For those who only trust their own experience, how do you get that experience? I see a lot of suggestions in other threads about test riding as much as possible before buying. I ride a XL, and the few riders I know ride smaller bikes so I can’t test theirs. A few local shops have demos, but they have limited sizes and rentals start at $80+ per day. Some shops will apply the rental fee to a purchase, but most shops only carry a couple of manufacturers. So that only works if you like that brand but need to narrow down on model or size. Going to other shops mans I will not recover that fee. If I wanted to test ride all of the most popular trail bikes I could easily spend $1000 on rentals. I don’t have that kind of cash lying around so I have to rely on what others think. If I can narrow it down to a model I think I will like then a demo may be in order to confirm. But I still had to rely on reviewers to get to that point.

    As to reviews, the terrain and reviewer’s riding style can be so different from yours that even honest reviews may not apply to you. So you have to get a feel for what the reviewer wants and expects out of the bike, and whether those line up with yours.

  26. #26
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    Just go to on Dirt demos, and ride your ass off.
    Get there early.

    (Which I know is difficult if you live in Alaska)
    "We LOVE cows! They make trails for us.....

    And then we eat them."

    Thrill Bikers Unite!

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schulze View Post
    I liked Richard Cunningham's reviews on Pinkbike. Check out the GT Sensor review when he's making the funny faces when the fat chick is talking. Hilarious dude, also a good reviewer.
    Classy.
    I'm sick of all the Irish stereotypes, as soon as I finish this beer I"m punching someone

  28. #28
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    Don't trust MBA. All they care about is bowing to advertisers and 7K+ bikes....
    My Bike: '19 Giant Talon 2 29er
    My Blog: http://http://kona0197.wordpress.com/

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by offroadcmpr View Post
    For those who only trust their own experience, how do you get that experience? I see a lot of suggestions in other threads about test riding as much as possible before buying.

    As to reviews, the terrain and reviewer’s riding style can be so different from yours that even honest reviews may not apply to you. So you have to get a feel for what the reviewer wants and expects out of the bike, and whether those line up with yours.
    A good question that is somewhat difficult to answer. My experience is just based on many years of riding and riding many different bikes (friends, rentals, demos etc.) and many more set-ups. Pay close attention to proper bike set-up. Personally, I place more emphasis on a suspension prepared for my weight and riding style in order to properly evaluate the bikes true qualities. I great bike can fail your expectations simply because it was not set-up for your style.

    Perhaps above all, I know what I want in a bike and how I would like it to perform. And this comes from experience. I have found that a very favorable bike review doesn't always translate favorably to my preferences.
    A bad day of cycling is better than a good day at work

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  30. #30
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    i read a lot of the online reviews from... Bike, BikeRadar, MBR, Pinkbike, Singletracks, Dirt, Dirtrag, Enduro etc and watch people like BKXC, MTByumyum, Skills with Phil, JC TRAILS on YouTube and kinda compare them to one another, to get a feel

    also Podcasts... Vital, Singletracks, MBR etc

    its a lot of content, but i enjoy checkin it out, and i dont make it a chore. if i miss stuff or whatever, i dont worry

    good time to be a mtber

  31. #31
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    I don't trust anything. I have been around long enough that I understand that mag reviews almost never apply to me. The reviewers don't ride how I do, and they usually don't ride where I do. I might make a little more of a note of a review if it's done on trails I know. I will basically toss the review if nothing critical is said about it.

    The truly useful information is from criticism. A "review" without criticism is an advertisement.



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  32. #32
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    The Trail!

  33. #33
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    I wonder if reviewers love the fact that they get to test the most expensive, most feature packed, most advanced bikes every month or whether it's incredibly frustrating?

    It has to be fun on the one hand, but it has to be frustrating constantly testing $10K rigs if their salary only allows them to buy a bike in the $3K range?

  34. #34
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    I like shoot-out style reviews. Generally, I like the German bike mags, since they're so data rich. I like the "factory tours" and destruction testing too.

    Haven't found much else that would compel me to buy. All these others are just advertisements that are easy to ignore, mostly since they don't do good comparisons.

  35. #35
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    The last place I go to for reviews is online. Throughout the year I ride with a lot of people, attend several mtb events, race a handful of times, hang out with new people at the TH, and participate in trail maintenance. I speak with people and ask what they're riding, what their wish lists are, and what they dislike about their current rig.

    Once I'm in shopping (buying mode), I'll go to my LBS.

    Online reviews are my last stop. I'll read them just to flush out any known redflags.

    IMO, I used this processed to buy my new Kuat. In person conversations with other riders and the LBS really deterred me from getting a One-Up. Then the online reviews and chatter One-Up had at the time were the "nails in the coffin" so to speak.

  36. #36
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    When I'm shopping for something I tend to read/watch every source I can find then compile that info in my head (then make a questionable purchase).

  37. #37
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    Use your brain and soak up all you can on the different brands of the same product and then use your brain to make the decision on what is the best purchase. Pretty much the same with any large purchase in life.
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

  38. #38
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    Consumer Reports buys all their test items at retail, anonymously. They evaluate reliability by polling their membership / subscribers. They don't need to maintain access to the industry. They are pretty unique.

    Capture of enthusiast media happens all the time. You have to just regard it as advertising.
    https://www.fastcompany.com/3065928/...-mattress-wars

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
    Consumer Reports buys all their test items at retail, anonymously. They evaluate reliability by polling their membership / subscribers. They don't need to maintain access to the industry. They are pretty unique.

    Capture of enthusiast media happens all the time. You have to just regard it as advertising.
    https://www.fastcompany.com/3065928/...-mattress-wars
    The problem I have with CR is that I often disagree with their conclusions. As in, 100% disagree. Not to sound like a dick, but I am often left with the impression that the reviewer is nowhere near me in terms of expertise for the specific product being reviewed.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbkrmike View Post
    The problem I have with CR is that I often disagree with their conclusions. As in, 100% disagree. Not to sound like a dick, but I am often left with the impression that the reviewer is nowhere near me in terms of expertise for the specific product being reviewed.
    Their tests can be a bit clinical.

    I often buy based on "ownership experience", hence why getting details regarding a company's product support (e.g. warranty and small parts support) interest me so much. The kind of reviews normal people leave tends to just be useless hype or smack that says little about the company, and more about what this person agrees/disagrees with.

    I give high praise to Toyota, Shimano, and various other companies that make quality reliable products that are super affordable and simple to maintain, and do their job more than adequately enough for the price paid. Rare to find metrics that prove such reliability, besides just seeing all these late 80s Toyotas and beat-up looking Shimano parts out in the wild, still taking a beating.

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