Making MTBing Great Again

10 Trends That Could Make Mountain Biking Great Again

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?

Bentonville, Arkansas

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.

Making MTBing Great Again

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 –

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.

10 – More fun events! Poker rides, mountain bike festivals and gatherings like Yeti Tribe Gatherings and of course the Ibis Migrations that are focused on guided rides in incredible destinations.

Let’s make mountain biking great again!!


This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Ronald Murray

    Many great points there Chad, well done. I would like to comment on the paying to play concept : In the moto world everyone is required to purchase OHV stickers to use trails on state and federal lands. This money is pooled and largely used to fund maintenance and new trail construction nationally for motorized use. It is in the millions of dollars annually and the money is earmarked for motorized trails only. The MTB community could consider a similar model. Gasoline tax also supports this motor fund. Could the bike industry as a whole decide on a per unit “tax” to donate towards trail funding as well ? Could the MTB trail users pay a nominal fee per year to help support trails on public lands? Our forest service funding is under attack from the current administration and they need help now. The private non profit sector can only do so much. Thoughts ?

    1. Chad Davis

      Hey Ronald, Great idea! You are definitely correct about the FS funding. They definitely do not have the funding to build/maintain trail in most regions. The work has fallen on the shoulders of local trail organizations to do the brunt of the work. The problem is many are totally underfunded and don’t have enough volunteers.

  2. Scott

    Chad, you mentioned the “big boys” working on eBikes. The reason being is, this new technology can bring many more into the Mtb bike world. If that happens Mountain biking can become more like skiing where mountain bike resorts open up that charge a pass fee to use the trails and terrain. These resorts would feature maintained one way trails, pump tracks, jumps, hill climbs and other fun features along with food and drink stops creating it’s own culture. This could well be the future. I live in Marina CA and our town promotes mountain biking as a point of tourism. We have great mtb biking in Ft Ord National Monument and every year the we host the Sea Otter Classic. I can say, going to the Sea Otter Classic for many years, when eBikes showed up in 2014 they’ve been gaining popularity more and more each year. I really think the eBike will dominant sales in the coming years and change the sport for the better.

    1. Chad Davis

      Scott, It for sure could be cool if ebikes did provide that opportunity for resorts to introduce riders to the sport. I really wished bike companies would step up and consider increased advocacy and education efforts as they are marketing e-mountain bikes to the general population that’s riding on public trail systems though. Its something I don’t think there is enough focus on in general in our industry – ebike or not. I’d just hate to see trail access be jeopardized due to e-bikes.

  3. Scott

    Chad, I agree that the industry needs to better educate the mountain biking public in that there are rules for trail use, otherwise known as trail etiquette. Trail etiquette pamphlets should be given to those buying mountain bikes (maybe even take a test) and public parks should have more trail etiquette signs posted in prominent areas. With narrow singletrack trails and blind curves, mountain bikers must know the proper speed and have bells that warn others your here. I do think most of us are cognoscente of the need to be safe and conscious that others are also sharing the trails but there will be those that are just not thinking that way and create a dangerous situation. Unfortunately they give mountain bikers a bad name. Skiing has those few reckless as well but they have ski patrols that can take away their lift pass if deemed necessary. Otherwise skiing has few rules while using the slopes yet for the most part people find ways to avoid each other. They even allow and provide alcohol for skiers to drink on the slopes and even with that skiing continues to progress. I think in the end eBikes will make the sport more enjoyable for a greater number of bikers and with that open up more riding options for all!

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