Saturday, November 30, 2013

This is awesome

Someone in a position of power at DVO looked at this video and thought, "This is a great video. Send it out to all the MTB sites. Now people are gonna know our shit is good to go."

These are the only things I can conclude after watching that video:

1. The Emerald fork will probably bend before it snaps. Probably.

Based on the video evidence, we can conclude that, at least when deflected in one direction, the fork bends a really long way before it snaps.

We don't know when it will snap, crackle, or pop when bent in that direction, or how much force was required to do so. We don't know if they ever got it to snap, crackle, or pop in that direction. We don't know if the stress test shown in the video permanently deformed the materials, and we don't know how much deflection or force is required to permanently deform the fork. We don't know how much deflection the fork will sustain in other directions before failing. We don't know what effect impulse vs. constant forces will have on the fork.

Most of all we have no baseline and no way to compare the tests shown in the video to literally anything else whatsoever. Which leads us to our next key learning from this video:

2. As a company, DVO is probably ethical. Probably.

After watching the video, we can conclude that DVO does test their forks. We don't know if they test them a lot or a little. All we know is that tests occur.

What were the results of those tests?
Do they test products more or less than their competition?
Did DVO test products from their competitors?
Do we have any means to interpret the results of those tests or compare against the competition?

We have no idea.

It goes up AND down.

Here's another fun game: I'm going to list all the suspension fork manufacturers I can think of, and you're going to guess which of them doesn't test their products:

SR Suntour
White Brothers

If you guessed "all of those companies test their products," you would be correct. Every single one of those companies test their products. Some test them more, some test them less, but no one just doesn't test stuff. That one of the steps required to be legit. Or here's a better word: Ethical. It would be unethical to not test products, because someone could get hurt using your product if it failed in a predictable, measurable, avoidable way. Testing your product is one of those absolute bare minimums for being considered a real company.

Of course, Bryson Martin shared this on Vital: "Unlike many other companies, we just wanted to show everyone that this fork went through very stringent laboratory testing and passed with flying colors." 

"…very stringent lab testing… passed with flying colors."

That's the MTB equivalent of claiming "World's Greatest Cheeseburger:"

I haven't tried every cheeseburger in the world, so I'll have to take them at their word.
And besides, why would a restaurant exaggerate about something like that?

DVO, we don't even know if your product is better off because of your testing. Maybe the results were horrifying and your product is dangerous, but you have too much invested and there is no cost effective way to fix your product, so you're just going to produce it anyway and let the consumers deal with it. We call this "The Avid Elixir Approach."

To be fair, this guy has white handlebars, so he probably had it coming.

Maybe you discovered that your product is massively overbuilt and over-engineered, and you could make it 99% as reliable and only Andre the Giant would notice the difference (not really, he's dead. And seriously, it's 2013, that's a pretty weak pop-culture reference). Maybe by cutting back a little bit, you could save all the consumers 30% in the process. But maybe you just didn't change anything because you have too much invested and there is no cost effective way to fix your product, so you just going produce it anyway and let the consumers deal with it. We call this "The Magura Gustav Approach."

Sure that thing hasn't had a fresh bleed since we found out Backstreet's Back [editor's note: ALRIGHT!!] but I'm sure it will still stop a semi truck dead in its tracks.

Whatever, I have no reason to assume the guys at DVO are evil or deceptive. We'll give them the benefit of the doubt: we'll assume that DVO did the bare minimum to be considered ethical, and they tested their products to the benefit of their products and consumers. Of course this doesn't make DVO special or differentiate their product in any way, but we can still give them kudos for doing the bare minimum.

Congratulations DVO, what do you want? A gold star? Great, here's a gold star for testing your fancy new fork:

You earned it.

3. The results of their testing probably weren't great.

Here's a simple rule: If you're selling something, you cite every imaginable benefit in your sales pitch. 

Exclusive this.
Proprietary that.
Best ever.
New and improved.

You know what companies LOVE TO ADVERTISE WITH? Statistics. Specifically, comparative statistics that resulted from testing their products against their competitors' products:

40% more compliance than the last model.

30% more torsional stiffness than Overdrive 1.

40% more brightening power than detergent alone.

It's not exactly like BMC, Giant, Santa Cruz, or Oxiclean had to hide these numbers from their competitors. It's not like this is all top secret black magic voodoo stuff that occurs behind close doors. If there is a measurable advantage, than you will advertise the hell out of it. That's what marketing is.

Marketing for Dummies: 

Step One.

Make sure your shit is better than the other guys. If this is impossible/difficult/inconvenient/you're lazy/SRAM, skip ahead to step two.

Step Two.

Tell everyone how much better your shit is.

If you do a bunch of testing and DON'T tell us what the results are, then the only reasonable conclusion is that there's nothing to tell. That doesn't mean it's bad news. Not necessarily, anyways. But it's way more powerful to say "top secret" than to say "it's sort of the same as the other guys. It's a little better in some ways, maybe a little worse in other ways."

I could keep ranting. But that will do for now.

-Team Robot

You're all pussies

Thank you spending money and supporting our industry and my racing, but if you can't turn an 11-36 cassette you are a gigantic pussy.

Just so we're all on the same page: You don't have to run a 40 tooth up front and be a tough guy. A 32 is fine. If you can't turn a 34 with an 11-36 out back, you're probably not going that fast down the hill anyway, so that 32 isn't going to hold you back too much.

But if you honestly can't pedal a 32 front-36 rear combo up everything short of a wall, you should just kill yourself. And just to clarify, it's okay if you can't clean every single climb on every single ride. That's called mountain biking.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

This is how I feel after Thanksgiving

That's also what I wish would happen mid-sentence to the next blowhard touting the benefits of "flow trails," "sustainable trail building," and "collaborative and(or) inclusive" trail building."

1. Terminal bullshit level occurs.
2. Backpressure builds up.
3. Small sarcastic comment from a third party.
4. Explosion.

Flow trails are not a thing.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Upcoming mountain bike atrocity alert: Sea Otter Classic x Enduro Collab

Sea Otter will have an Enduro race next year.

Great header, Team Big Bear. It's like every marketing department in the mountain bike industry got together for burritos and beer. And then the morning after someone collected the contents of all of their toilets. And then that was made into an event.

Sea Otter BroCal industry/MTB recumbent consumer event + trendy industry/MTB recumbent new race format + no geographic/topographic opportunity for actual mountain biking =

Sea Otter Enduro.

Most Enduro races I've been to have between 3000 and 5000 feet of climbing and descending. Some races have a lot more, but 3-5k seems pretty standard for the U.S. So with the 400 foot hills around Laguna Seca, we should be able to get that sort of vertical in somewhere between 9 and 16 stages. Knowing that everyone in the downhill world will also be racing slalom and downhill already, an extra 16 stage day on Friday shouldn't be too bad.

Oh, the event promoters already said it's only three stages? But, all the hills are 400 feet tall, at best. The downhill track is the longest continuous downhill anywhere around, where are you going to put the other tracks? The downhill track's only two minutes, so even if you ran that three times you'd only have six minutes of racing. Wait…


  1. You don't have much vertical, and 
  2. You're only going to run three stages, and
  3. You want to have a race that's at least ten minutes, then…

Carl Decker winning the 2010 Sea Otter Super-D.

Realistically, Decker would be a pretty good bet for your 2014 Sea Otter Enduro Champ. It's possible that the event promoters, Team Big Bear, will build two sweet, new, mostly-downhill trails around the raceway, and we'll race on badass trails with a few uphills and maybe some tight corners thrown in.

But probably, that won't happen. Probably, it will be a dead ringer for the atrocity that was the Sea Otter Super D, and that would make Decker the odds on favorite. Probably, it will have a combined five minutes of descending, but even that will be chopped up and confused, and the descending won't really factor into the results. Probably, the 10-15 minutes of flat fire road and climbing will have a little bit more influence on the results.

Probably, stage one will be on a fire road, with an awkward taped off section midway down that goes into the grass and does a bunch of traversing switchbacks on a pancake-flat section of Laguna Seca's best treeless south facing hillside. It will probably be five minutes, with two minutes of dead flat traversing, but no big climbs. Okay, maybe a 100 foot climb at the start. Six minutes.

Probably, stage two will be a novelty stage, with an equal mix of slalom course, actual Laguna Seca racetrack, probably some of the CX course around the venue at the bottom, including hopping barriers and running up a set of stairs, and, probably, it will start with a climb up the corkscrew to start. Four minutes. Oh, and maybe they'll throw in seven laps around the speed and style course. Five minutes.

Probably, stage three will be the downhill course, but we'll start the stage at the shuttle drop off spot, and then pedal up to the DH start. And then after the log double, they'll tape off eighteen traversing 5 mph chicane switchbacks through the grass to get you down to a snail's pace before the uphill. And then, instead of ending in the grass field next to the road, we'll just pedal down the B Road all the way to the grand finish on HWY 68. Four minutes.

Total race time: 15 minutes.
Total descending: 700 vertical feet
Total climbing: 2300 vertical feet

I'll be there.

Monday, November 25, 2013

TEAM ROBOT two-weeks ago update

This is still pretty awesome, and in the laundry list of reasons why I'm a gigantic pussy, chicks taking their brakes off and going faster than me would be near the top of that very long list:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fabien Barel

He got 3rd place in the Enduro World Series on Michelin tires. One more time:

He got third place on Michelins.

Monday, November 18, 2013


hot on the heels of our enlightening look into maybe the worlds worst titanium mountain bike we stumble upon this smug abortion of a bike.

Spoiler alert: it's an ad for a German chemical company.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Positive feedback

Everyone really liked my RAMPAGE!!! article.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Slow Clap

Mitchell Scott with one of the best mountain bike articles ever. I opened the link, and all I could do was just slow clap as I read it. He hit the nail on the head, and it was cool to hear his perspective knowing that he was there at the 'PAGE!!! as a team manager. That's a weird position to be in, because it's basically your job to encourage your guys to risk their lives. By the way, insert mandatory Team Diamondback shout out to Kelly here.

Kelly has a similar podium strategy to my sombrero technique. Even if you aren't on the top box, you can still draw attention away from the guy who is. Also, while we're on the subject of RAMPAGE!!! podiums, you know what every professional freeride athlete wants? A set of square-taper cranks with a five-bolt BCD and a 53 tooth chainring.

I would not want to ride in RAMPAGE!!!,  I would not want to be at RAMPAGE!!!,  and I did not watch RAMPAGE!!! live because:


It didn't happen this year, but if we keep doing stuff like this someone is going to die or get horribly maimed doing one of these events. And I'm not just talking about RAMPAGE!!! either. I mean the whole freeride contest thing. It gives me the creeps being at Crankworx slopestyle, too. The shit is so gnarly, someone is going to get really hurt, and you are surrounded by thousands of people who don't give a shit; they just want to see more backflips, more tailwhips, and more bigger. It's a straight up gladiator event, complete with the bloodthirsty, apathetic crowd. Unlike gladiator matches and NASCAR, I'm going to give spectators the benefit of the doubt. I don't think people watch Crankworx or RAMPAGE!!! for the explicit purpose of seeing people get hurt, but that doesn't mean that rider safety is a big concern for the audience, either.

Here's the score for 2013 so far: two broken femurs at RAMPAGE!!!,  and a tib-fib at Crankworx. With 36 athletes at RAMPAGE!!! and 18 at Crankworx, that brings the broken leg rate for both events to 1 in every 18 competitors, or a little over 5%. I've seen a broken femur in person, and it is without a doubt the worst thing I've ever seen in person. I would rather relive the worst wedding I've ever been to  a hundred times than relive the two hour pain saga that was watching someone get carted off the hill with a broken femur. That's just the broken leg rate, too. Lot's of other people got hurt at both events, but I'm just going to talk about the crashes that require backboards or body bags for now.

The question Mitchell Scott asks in the Pinkbike article is exactly right: is this what we want mountain biking to be?

This is what I want mountain biking to be.

So many sports have had this discussion. F-1 killed people until they restricted engine displacement and gearing back in the 60's or 70's or something. Group B rally racing killed people until they banned the relatively unrestricted cars. Football (the real kind, not the kind where a bunch of foreigners run in circles and finish 0-0) has seen all sorts of evolutions to reduce deaths and now head injuries. Before all this UFC BRO shit took us back to the stone ages, boxing was the result of mankind's attempt to make fighting sports less than deadly for the participants.

Big mountain snowboarding is a similar sport at this same junction right now, except that unlike RAMPAGE!!! people have already died. Lots of them. Riders die every year in avalanches and big falls, and it's not a question of whether a high profile skier or snowboarder dies this year but rather who it will be. That sucks.

Can you have the same level of competition and creativity without the same mortal risk? I'd guess that you probably can. Even if you can't, the obvious follow up question is "is it worth it?"

I know there's more to sport and competition than downhill racing, but downhill racing is what I know, so that's what I'm going to talk about. Downhill doesn't kill people very often. It's happened, but it's extremely rare. And yet, I don't think anyone would call downhill a particularly safe sport. I think everyone would agree it's gnarly as shit, but in terms of statistics there's no comparison. Think about how many downhill races you've been to. If one in eighteen people had to take a backboard off the hill at every single race, there would be no more downhill races. If one in eighteen participants got taken off the hill in a backboard, than the World Cup top 80 would be the World Cup top 52 by the end of the a seven race season.

I think the lesson that racing downhill has taught me is that there's an important distinction between a sport that is inherently dangerous and one that's thoughtlessly dangerous. This would be an example of the "thoughtlessly dangerous" genre:

In downhill we have one course to ride all week, and it's available the day you show up. If you're not a complete jabroni, you hike the course before you ever ride it. You have two to three days to practice before you have to go balls out. That means you can slowly get up to speed. You can watch other people hit the scary stuff, and you can choose to hit the scary stuff slow or not at all for the first couple days. There's either a shuttle or chair lift to get you to the top, so 100% of your energy can be focused on your riding, and practice is only a few hours a day. You have way more waking hours off the bike than you do on, and in my experience most of your off-bike hours are spent eating, sleeping, watching cable in the hotel room, or hanging out in someone else's pit trying to sound knowledgeable about how well Dungey's doing in the outdoor season. The whole downhill format is designed to give you every chance to learn the track and choose your battles, and you are supplied with ample time to rest, to think about what you learned the day before, and prepare for tomorrow. In short, risks are managed.

At RAMPAGE!!! you are on the hill all day every day trying to get ready, and you're responsible for getting your ass to the top of the hill for every run, for practice and competition. If you have friends that push your bike to the top that's a bonus, but you still have to walk your ass up. You and your three best friends are responsible for scouting a line, raking it in from top to bottom, building lips and landings, dragging water up the side of a mountain to water your new lips and landings, guinea pigging everything, and learning your whole line top to bottom. And you have three days to do that. In the desert, probably in the heat.

Looks pretty mellow.

You simply cannot do all that shit AND be rested AND be prepared to perform safely on Saturday. You need to build, practice, and rest, and realistically you don't have time to do all three. Almost no one is going to skip out on dig days and ride a half-assed line if they want to make the big dance on Sunday, so your real choice is to:

A) practice a lot and be tired as shit when it comes time to do your canyon gap flip or your dumped 360 on Saturday and Sunday, or

B) don't practice much, and hit stuff relatively blind.

Neither one of those options is safe, and that sucks. Before you even talk about the course, all of those organizational and logistal factors put RAMPAGE!!! squarely in the "thoughtlessly dangerous" column. And this isn't run of the mill gnarly shit, either, this is the gnarliest shit that the gnarliest riders on the planet have ever hit. When was the last time you built and guinea pigged a big new jump? How scary was it? How long did it take you to do that? Now imagine doing that 10 times, back to back, in three days in the desert, and each of those jumps could kill or cripple you. And then when you're done guinea pigging everything, backflip half of them on your next run. Sounds pretty reasonable, right?

Would it kill the spirit of competition to give riders more time to rest, a shuttle to the top, or if the course had predefined standards and certain stuff was off limits? Or, I don't know, maybe some catch netting? Joyride is safer than it once was. Ditto for Formula Uno and the WRC.

But no one watches those sports anymore, right?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Truer words...

"Dear mountain bike world. Our sport used to be gay as fvck. Just admit it and let's move on."


Bonus sponsor shoutout

Inside pro tip here: when reviewing a bike rack, that's just a bonus opportunity to show off your free sponsor shit, like you and your bro's bikes with four sets of Burgtecs:

At full retail that's $1200 in pedals, but if you can get a photo of it on the internet suddenly it starts seeming normal.,101/Softride/Hang-5,13069#product-reviews/1465

Saturday, November 2, 2013

There is nothing fun about mountain biking

Having absolutely no fun ever is more than a job. It's a lifestyle.

Matt Delorme brings you the details.

If you liked the Russell Brand video, you'll love this one, too

The Russell Brand video was bad, but this one is actually the dumbest video I've seen all year.