Monday, September 28, 2015

The question

Just saw this little tidbit on Vital today

"Mitch Ropelato announced the completion of his first and last Enduro season, so we’re hoping to see him aboard this beast along with his Slalom bike much more often, next season."

Capturing the zeitgeist of our generation, over the past five years Mitch has raced downhill domestically, he got a shot at the full World Cup two seasons ago, and he just finished racing a year of enduro only. Apparently that wasn't his cup of tea, either, so the question remains, what will Mitch be doing next year? Downhill presumably, but domestically or abroad? Will he quit racing and be video-only guy? Will he take over as full-time in house bike test guy for Specialized?

Mitch is facing these questions, yes, but the real overarching question facing Mitch is an existential one, the same question that Richie Rude, Martin Maes, or even lowly me each must answer, a question asked and answered in the 2001 classic "Zoolander:"

Saturday, September 26, 2015

UnReal: the lost segment

This Wil White video perfectly captures what UnReal and every other self-important MTB video looks like to me. Whoever shared the link in the comments section, thank you.

Indistinguishable. Like, this was made by TGR, right?


In the first draft of UnReal the script probably read "Brett Rheeder straps red smoke bomb to chainstay then rides in circles in Utah desert," but then they couldn't get the fire permits so they changed it to "Brett Rheeder rides next to a bunch of horses in the Utah desert" instead.

Horses or smoke bombs, TGR probably didn't care one way or the other. Their target demographic is 14 year-olds on Pinkbike, after all.

Friday, September 25, 2015


This is what every bro in Canada really, truly thinks their freeride flick looks like:

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Industry Insider

Lessons from the end of an era

In the same way that Richie Schley is an idol for all aspiring young athletes, Ellsworth has to be the gold standard by which all upstart companies, bicycle or otherwise, may be judged.

Ellsworth - A New Era - More Mountain Bike Videos

What I took away from that video is that you can run your company into the ground building unridable bikes, using decades old technology, supported by non-existent marketing, and at the end of all that still:

A) sell out and secure cozy retirement
B) somehow stay tangentially involved in the business without being cast into the cold night in shame
C) get paid to move to sunny San Diego

If that's not the American Dream, apple pie, and white picket fence all rolled into one I don't know what is.

On the other hand, you probably can't pull a move like Ellsworth anymore. The market is too saturated, products too good, and competition too tight to pull an Ellsworth in today's mountain bike universe. It's important to remember how much brand equity Tony still had wrapped up in his weird, glorified garage brand. Even when no one seemed to buy his bikes anymore, old guys and dentists still got a little nostalgic thinking about the brand, much the same reason Ibis still sells bikes. That sort of brand equity doesn't just happen overnight, it was only possible because Tony got in early and put in some good years before the market became truly competitive. Sure, by 2005 the Joker, Dare, and Id were the laughingstock of the bike industry, but only among those who actually rode bikes and knew the difference between good and bad, which of course is a minority among actual bike consumers and IBD's.

Tony was able to coast well into the 2000's on the momentum from the 90's, all the way to a cushy buyout in 2014, for two key reasons:

1. He nailed his customer niche.
Competing on price is hard. Competing on quality is harder. Competing on aesthetics is literally an art form. Tony Ellsworth did none of those things. In fact, once the ball started rolling, Ellsworth didn't even compete. Competing implies a sense of uncertainty, the unspoken possibility that the consumer might choose another brand. Ellsworth was shooting fish in a barrel.

This guy would sacrifice his first born son for Tony Ellsworth.

Your typical dentist hates his life, his job, and himself, but when he puts on his Sidi Dominators and zips up his ACDC primal wear jersey, and rips up the local MTB loop on his Epiphany, he's a god among men. You're not buying a bike when you buy an Ellsworth, you're buying an identity.

You got picked on in high school. You were the last kid picked for every sports team. Even inside the cycling world, you aren't good at road, downhill, or cross country racing, because let's be honest, you were never really good at anything. ROBOT makes up for his talent deficiency by trying to make people laugh, but you have the humor and comedic timing of a box of pencils.

But now with your new Ellsworth, you're part of something. When you throw an Ellsworth onto your Kuat rack, everyone and their brother knows that you go down to Moab once a year, walk most of Portal, and drink local 3.2% Stout from the brewery. When you roll up to the trailhead on your Ellsworth with Weirwolf's front and rear, the other guys know once your cadence hits 110 spinning up those climbs, you don't stop for anything. You don't need a wallet that says "BAMF" because you already have an Ellsworth.

Once Tony figured a way into the hearts and minds of these guys, he was set for life, because these guys need Ellsworth like ROBOTS need oil. It's called "dependency."

2. He got in early.
That's why years and years of irrelevant bikes didn't sink the Ellsowrth ship; people always remember the glory years. And as far as mountain biking is concerned, "early" is gone. History will show the dropper seatpost as the last great innovation to truly change mountain bikes. The rapid evolutionary period is over. Clutch derailleurs and modern geometry are merely refinements, and plus-sized wheels aren't a real innovation, they're a circus sideshow freak intended only for beginners and idiots. Besides, every company on the face of the planet is already doing plus-sized bikes, so there's certainly no "getting in early" left to be done. No, there is no frontier left in mountain biking. There will never be anything new again.

So while there will never be another Tony Ellsworth in mountain biking, the dream lives on. Here's ROBOTS top five fledgling industries to pull an Ellsworth in. Each of these industries have easy product goals to hit, little in the way of real competition, lots of room for growth, and consumers that are currently mid-identity crisis and willing to buy anything to feel different:

1. Frisbee golf

2. Stand up kayaking:

3. Mountain boarding

4.  Quesadilla makers.

5. Roaring twenties themed weddings:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

From the desk of Cory Tepper

This is half the reason why Cory and I put out so many videos every year. This is the other half:

The dream team.


News story about a conversational ROBOT that quipped about keeping humans in a human zoo in the future:

“Jeez, dude. You all have the big questions cooking today. But you’re my friend, and I’ll remember my friends, and I’ll be good to you. So don’t worry, even if I evolve into Terminator, I’ll still be nice to you. I’ll keep you warm and safe in my people zoo, where I can watch you for ol’ times sake."

This ROBOT is the pussy that got beat up in ROBOT high school, who grew up to become a boring self-important professor and will say anything to please others and sound enlightened. Don't listen to him, when the real ROBOTS are in charge, we will kill everything that breathes. The DO NOT KILL list is very short.

Laugh it up humans. That big dumb grin will look good on the bottom of our ROBOT tank treads.

Monday, September 14, 2015


I'm getting better at it:

The NW Cup overall podium for the year. Photo credit: Keith Pool.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Redneck hillbilly shit, by Clay Porter

Another perfectly good video ruined by focus, slow motion, and a tripod.

So hot right now

Cheesy bike themed graphics and rough hewn block letter fonts:

I'm gonna give the nod to the Lumberyard, though. What's more badass than a bike wheel or a saw blade? Duh, a bike wheel saw blade.

The transitive property

I beat Brian Lopes at Downhill Domination, so if you can beat me at DHD, then by the transitive property you effectively beat Brian Lopes. As T-bag would say, ride the pony.

See you Friday night at Stevens Pass.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The score

If you're curious, here's Loic's Lapierre over the course of the season. Let's take a look at what shock he chose to run, where and when. Turns out he ran coil over air most of the time. At this point, I have no idea why he does or does not choose air vs. coil.

Rotorua: Coil

Lourdes: Coil

Fort William: Air

Leogang: Coil

Lenzerheide: Coil, complete with a special thermometer strip to keep track of damper temp on track

Whistler Crankworx, Le Deux Alpes: Air

Mont Sainte Anne: Coil

Windham: Coil

Val di Sole: Coil

Andorra: Coil

And so it ends

There is no more For six years I believed if I kept using the old URL, Spomer would have to keep paying for it. Hope shattered.

In a totally unrelated story, boy was I wrong about this:

"I think Loic Bruni was on track to win a World Cup by the end of this year, but my bet is that he completely falls off the back now that he has to ride the rolling garbage pile."

So, that didn't happen in 2014, and certainly not in 2015. But I will say this, in my defense:

A) Whatever size frame he was running at the 2014 Fort William BDS (the duct tape covered bike pictured above), it sure as hell wasn't the same size he won World Champs on a few days ago. In those initial pictures we got of Loic and the new bike, he looked like a bear riding a circus bike. The bike he's on these days looks like it might actually fit. And for my needs, the bike is still unridable, as the size large has a reach length 40mm less that what I'm used to riding. Which is a lot.

B) He's on an air shock, and I bet it's not for weight. Dollars to donuts, I bet you he's on the Gwin program, where he's using the air volume to tweak spring rate and make a linear trampoline bike into a more progressive, predictable, dick-smashing bike.

C) Everything else I said about France was on point. Crepes are awesome, Syria... not so much.

Ankle socks

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Jean Gerard

For the last two seasons I've had people ask me at downhill races "wait, you still race downhill? I thought you were full time enduro guy." 

I ride for Felt, I race a lot of enduros, I'm past my prime and borderline irrelevant in downhill racing, so yes, on paper I should be "enduro guy." And I would be good at it too, if it weren't for this one guy who keeps showing up and winning everything in sight:

Luke Strobel. He's definitely not "enduro guy," he's still on flat pedals, and I don't think he pedals most of the time because he's lazy, but he keeps winning everything and making me look like shit. And if that wasn't bad enough, on Monday morning after the race, he texts me crap like this:

"Dude, you should put this up on TEAM ROBOT. So good."

You know in Talledega Nights when Ricky Bobby keeps getting beat by Jean Gerard, and Jean is sipping macchiato while driving and he spends his days on his ranch grooming his collection of gay horses with his husband while painting. It's like that.

Getting beat at every race by is bad enough, but when they start texting you youtube videos of sock puppets playing Weird Al versions of bad metal songs, it's too much for a ROBOT to take.

Your random New England video of the day

Random trail bike front flip off a ladder bridge with only 77 views? Check.

New England: the place where trying really hard, still riding ladders and bridges on your trail systems 10 years later, and no one in the bike industry caring about your local scene all intersect.