Mountain biking, unlike some things in this country, is great. There are however 10 Trends that could make mountain biking even greater. Many of the trends are happening now, and fingers are crossed they help make our sport better than ever. These are definitely things that I wish I could shake a magic wand at and pull them out of a hat.
10 Trends That Could Make Mountain Biking Great Again
1 – More towns embracing MTB tourism – Bentonville, Arkansas is a prime example. This northern Arkansas area may be an unlikely place for a destination town without typical big mountains or vistas. The town is crushing it with a ridiculous amount of accessible singletrack and massive buzz. Now OuterBike and Epic Rides have their highly popular events there. Who will be next? Roanoke, VA or Victor/Driggs, ID or Caliente, NV?
Less than a half mile from downtown Bentonville, Arkansas – Slaughter Pen trail system.
2 – More kids and women on mountain bikes – It’s pretty awesome to see all the kid’s programs popping up to introduce them to the sport. Little Bella’s, IMBA’s Take a Kid Mountain Biking, Cyclekids and NICA are few that come to mind doing the kids great. Women’s skills camps and retreats designed to teach and inspire women seem to be building serious steam. The women are on fire promoting the sport. Just check out Roam Events, Vida MTB Series and Ladies All Ride.
3 – More affordable AND fun bikes – Are carbon mountain bikes and components really that superior to their aluminum and steel counterparts? There’s not as much difference as companies want you to think! The bike industry has just figured out that we will pay for the extra dough for carbon. While the big boys are occupied with their E-bike marketing and development, the consumer direct bike companies are building steam. Compare some of the prices from YT, Canyon, Intense, Spot and Commencal’s consumer direct programs. Many of their bikes are $1000 – $2000 less with the same components!
4 – Reliable dropper posts – Ok, this one is a little personal. Droppers, for the most part, are fairly quirky/unreliable though. I use mine hundreds of times during a ride and have had few be trouble free for 1500 miles. This wouldn’t be horrible if the posts were more user serviceable. Lucky for us the prices are coming down and now we can snag a decent dropper for under $250. I would pay more for a reliable one though!
5 – More directional/suggested direction trails – Its amazing what directional trails do to distribute traffic loads. Directional trails are safer, more enjoyable and tell those new to the trail system the proper way to enjoy.
6 – Paying to play – I believe mountain bikers should pay to play for trail access *especially* IF they choose not to help maintain trails. Trail work is put on the shoulders of local trail organizations since national and state forests likely don’t have enough funding. Some local mtb clubs have the organization and funding to make things work. Many do not. If we were more involved…
Getting involved with trail maintenance days is a great way to donate your playment.
7 – Trail etiquette education – With all of our advancements in bike technology, Strava, E-mountain bike etc the continued education of trail etiquette is SUPER important. Better signage of the rules for many areas is one thing that seems to be missing for many trailheads. Here’s our basic guide – https://crankjoy.com/http-crankjoy-com-trail-etiquette/
8 – Less grumpy locals – really?! We come and spend money and increase your real estate values and you hate us and want to keep your “locals only trails”?
9 – Mountain bike advocates working together – A couple years ago we had a new movement start with the Sustainable Tails Coalition that likely disrupted our progress and hurt the health of IMBA. The Sustainable Trails Coalition is fighting for bikes in Wilderness. That’s fine, but let’s look at the bigger picture and not try to destroy the advocacy group that is responsible for so much trail development.