The Mountain Bike Life

As we delve into Spring and with Summer rapidly approaching, we are seeing more and more product releases by companies. I love this time of year and all of the new products to drool over, but it can be a bit over whelming. Sometimes it seems like wherever you go, you cannot get away from the latest marketing buzz words. With all this noise, does the average consumer really care? Oh, and did I mention that it is “enduro specific”?

26, 650B, or 29? Who knew that something as simple as the wheel could be so complicated?

What got me thinking about this topic was when Specialized released their first attempts at a 650B bike. Specialized has released their very first in between wheel size bike with the Stumpjumper FSR Evo 650B. This lays in between the Stumpjumper FSR Evo 26 and Evo 29. This product release brought this whole topic closer to home to me since I ride Specialized bikes, and am considering purchasing buying a new bike in the near future. The Stumpjumper FSR Evo 29 just happens to be one of the bikes that caught my interest. Now I have another option, which just complicates the decision. I am still personally convinced that 29 is still the way to go, but what about buyers who are not so experienced?

I can only imagine what it is like for somebody who does not know a lot about bikes, who is trying to buy a new mountain bike. “Would you like 26, 650B, or 29”? That question alone warrants lengthy discussions. Mountain biking has a market saturated with plenty of technology and innovation, so wheel size is definitely not the sole culprit of this confusion.

There are many questions to be asked. Full suspension or hardtail? Aluminum or Carbon? 1X drivetrain… the list goes on.

I personally did not have much of a rough entry into mountain biking. I just rode what was available to me, and now I have done enough research to understand what I am purchasing and riding. The point that has really been brought home to me when writing this post is the importance of the local bike shop. When buying a bike, the salesperson is the sole link between the customer and a whole lot of measurements, numbers, and information. It is crucial that bike shop employees can figure out what the customer will be doing, and what bike is perfect for them.

So is there such a thing as too much innovation? No, there certainly cannot be too much. It is clear to me that mountain biking is not an easy sport, and it is not an easy sport to get started in either. This is why we should help those who are just starting out, whether it be a shop employee helping a customer or just taking your buddy out on their first ride. More experienced riders should not be intimidating, but welcoming and educating. I know that I would not be where I am today if it was not for the help of others, so pass it on.

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