It’s a tough question to answer but one that many of us don’t fully understand before we buy a bike. This is mainly because we lack the understanding and experience when we first make a purchase. This is not to say that you need to know your shit about bikes but rather that it means you need to know your shit about what you love in a bike. Let’s face it, everything that makes a good bike is totally subjective to the one who rides it. But here is what I think.
I am having the most fun riding when the bike is not doing all the work for me and I feel like I am riding a fine line between perfect flow and perfect chaos. The bike essentially relies on me just as much as I rely on the bike.
You may remember a video from Rocky Mountain Bicycles called “Dumbing Down the Shore” which was essentially a marketing video for their new bike the Pipeline. To put a long story short, it essentially told a story of how the Pipeline was so good that it made “gnarly” trails too easy.
From a marketing perspective, I still cannot understand why Rock Mountain Bikes would make a video like that. Who wants a bike that makes trails easy, what’s the point?
To me, a great bike is not about perfect engineering but rather about perfect balance, balance of workload between rider and bike. Giving the rider the confidence that they have control to perform but not too much to make them feel like they can’t lose it at any moment. A bike that essentially keeps you on your toes.
With the technologies coming out in suspension and components, I have a burning fear that we’re going to get so good that bikes will never make you feel as content as they do right now.
Do you remember your first bike, hopefully as a kid? How did you feel back then on the shitty BMX you had? Have you ever felt that like again? It took me a while but I think I’m there again.
My message – Don’t get caught up in the marketing hype and focus on what makes you happy when riding. You can spend thousands of dollars/pounds on a top of the range bike and never feel as good as you do right now on the trails. I hope you find that perfect bike for you, but remember, you may have it already.