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2/23/2011 1:09 AM
Edited Date/Time: 2/23/2011 1:32 AM

Just stopped over on Decline's site and I noticed they had a survey going about what people would like to see more of in the magazine. I voted, saw the results and I was encouraged by what I saw. The two leading topics were tied, and those were Racing/event coverage and trailriding/freeride, beating out a bunch of topics that were gear and bike related. The reason this is encouraging to me is that I have become completely burned out on much of the mountain bike media world. To go on most of the popular forums or read many of the popular publications, you would think that no one even rides bikes but rather everyone simply builds them, looks at them, and upgrades them as funds become available. After that they go argue about which crankset is the best on the internet. I understand to some extent, there was a time when I could dork out endlessly about some new bike part, but it seems to be completely out of hand.
I am curious as to how this came about and the way I see it there are two possibilities. One is that Mountain Bikers are more interested in their equipment than they are their sport, which paints a grim picture of us as a group. The other is that the competition between struggling manufacturers as well as between struggling media outlets has resulted in complete marketing overload. Common sense tells me it is more likely the latter. Don't get me wrong, I want bike companies to make money, there is no doubt that prosperity in the industry is good for the riders. But I think instead of the constant onslaught of product marketing, the sport and therefore the industry as a whole could be better served by promoting an image that gets people excited about riding or excited about being a fan of the sport. When more people want to ride, the product marketing will be easier and more effective. I just think there is a better way, of course I was wrong once, and my analysis of what is going on could be totally off base. Despite my bitching, I do see light at the end of the tunnel, the primary source of that light being this site and the huge amount of riding and racing content it features. Keep it up.

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2/23/2011 7:44 AM

Key thing to note here is that Phil finally admits: "of course I was wrong once"

But seriously- I think he's right. There's enough 17 Helmet Shoot-out! and 93 Pumps Reviewed- Which is The Best For You? type garbage out there and I think we all know just where to find it.

The less I tinker with my bike, the more I realize it's pretty damn good and the more fun I have with it. I get excited about new parts but that is fleeting at best. A good ride on my trusty bike leaves a lasting impression.

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2/23/2011 7:54 AM

stuff like urge cabo verde is awesome - http://www.vitalmtb.com/videos/member/Urge-Cabo-Verde-Video,5817/sspomer,2 - initially, i didn't quite understand what was going on with the whole event, but the video sums it up so well. helping people AND getting epic riding and competition. a great combo showing how great bikes can be.

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2/23/2011 8:02 AM
Edited Date/Time: 2/23/2011 8:03 AM

Agreed. Anything that helps build a sense of community is good for our sport. The mega-review laden media outlets and most parts dork forum threads only accomplish this on a shallow level. It gets some light argument going but that's about it for community from this kind of media. What I want is the kind of stuff the reminds me of why I love the sport and that's the friends and great places and amazing experiences that riding bikes has given me. I just don't get that out of gram counting product reviews.

Even stuff that promotes the "go be by yourself in the middle of the wilderness" still promotes community so long as it reminds you that you're not the only one that loves to do that- other people are out there doing the same thing right now.

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2/23/2011 8:05 AM

less regurgitating of the same press release garbage, more original content.....sell the lifestyle of this great sport and you'll build participants for life instead of those who just get off on new gear for a couple years then move on.

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2/23/2011 8:09 AM

I think you guys are misinterpreting the signs out there. Just because we like to geek out on the latest tech in the forums doesn't mean we don't love the ride most of all. The sheer joy of riding is the draw for all of us, but that's not really what I want to read about on a forum or in a magazine (unless it's really well written). Words just don't do it justice. (Pictures sometimes do though!)

So instead, it's fun to talk about bikes and parts and damping. I love this sport because it combines all the things I love...nature, speed, adrenaline, tinkering, tech, toys. And since media can't really deliver nature, speed, or adrenaline, it might as well deliver the rest...

-Aaron

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2/23/2011 8:22 AM

I just realized I didn't really answer the question. So this is what I like:

1. Great photography (along with nice art/design)
2. Latest news, including races, rider updates, etc.
3. In depth race coverage and articles on the people, companies, venues, technology in our sport
4. Interviews are always good
5. Product reviews

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2/23/2011 8:26 AM

What I am stoked to see the most are the Freecaster live dh and 4x races especially with Warner announcing, the Atherton Project and then Vitals 17 questions, answer the machine and the photos with the audio in them. Clay Porters dvds are rad too.

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2/23/2011 8:50 AM

Pslide wrote:

I think you guys are misinterpreting the signs out there. Just because we like to geek out on the latest tech in the forums doesn't mean we don't love the ride most of all. The sheer joy of riding is the draw for all of us, but that's not really what I want to read about on a forum or in a magazine (unless it's really well written). Words just don't do it justice. (Pictures sometimes do though!)

So instead, it's fun to talk about bikes and parts and damping. I love this sport because it combines all the things I love...nature, speed, adrenaline, tinkering, tech, toys. And since media can't really deliver nature, speed, or adrenaline, it might as well deliver the rest...

-Aaron

Pslide nailed it. The more time I spend geeking out on the forums, the more I want to go out and ride (i'm lucky in that I have great riding on my doorstep...so it's generally doable...).

As for the original question:

I think Vital's formula is very cool - for proof, I visit the site daily, and always check out multiple features. I love the racing insights, love the video selections (including ride stoke videos by members, not necessarily just the latest pro stuff), it's awesome to be treated to top photo work by guys like Sven (KICKASS!!!), love the slide shows with the audio/voiceovers...and yes, I do click on features on new bikes/gear/whatever...that is also part of it. Remember, new gear is not just about the bling - product innovation gives you a real advantage out on the trail! (deep down, I'm just a gearwhore, but somewhat in denial... :-) ).

It would be nice to see the forum here grow bigger, it is an important part of our online experience for some of us. There's plenty of forums out there though, that is not the main draw of this site.

As for the broader media (beyond the internet), a good glossy mag is always nice. Gives a physical experience that you can't get from a website (and you can read it on a plane!). Favorite mag by far is Dirt - lots of high quality content (pics), good subjective writing that makes no excuses for what it is and does not just rehash ad copy from the biggest advertisers that month. Love the style, and the "look and feel" of the paper (their website sure leaves much to be desired though...). But I do pick up the more gear-oriented mags as well from time to time (I fly a lot!).

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2/23/2011 8:58 AM

quote from iceman - "Pslide nailed it. The more time I spend geeking out on the forums, the more I want to go out and ride"

yeah, i agree. i see stuff online (both tech/product related or riding related) and it makes me want to ride. also, most people are at work or on a computer all day long, so getting geeked out is easy to do and fun...especially when it makes you jones to get out on the trail!

i'm stoked at the growth of our forum and community. that stuff just takes time, there's no way around it, and i feel like things are coming along great here! thanks to everyone who chimes in!

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2/23/2011 10:29 AM

I'd like to see detailed race schedules for every locale in the world. Put it in size 4 font on one page in the back, I don't care, just some place where all the local races can be listed. Too many mountain bikers I run into haven't even heard of the local series. And though I make it a point to know about every local race, even I don't hear about them sometimes until it's too late. It would have a positive effect on the health of racing in the US, even if small, which is good for all of us.

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2/23/2011 10:40 AM

Race coverage! I really like race reports from other countries and would be stoked to see more coverage of US regional series as well.

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2/23/2011 11:32 AM

I stopped buying decline for 2 reasons, 1) I can no longer justify paying over $10 to buy any magazine that doesnt include artistic nudity. 2) Im sure as hell not going to spend $10 on a magazine that only gives me a handful of pages specific to my interests (dirt jumping). I have a stack of 30 plus declines that prove I used to love the magazine but now I find there trying too hard to be all things to all people and in doing so they have alienated readers like me. I used to look forward to enjoying each magazine for at least a couple of weeks, pacing myself with the articles and thoroughly enjoying each of the large full color ads and photo spreads. I can't believe Im going to say this but I think MBA has the right idea or at least the correct format for success, 95% of what they report on is XC related, the other 5% is made up of downhill, freeride and dirt jumping. They dont try to cater to everyone, if you exploded decline into its natural parts you could literally have an XC magazine with an all mountain slant, a downhill magazine with domestic and international Race coverage and a third magazine focussing on dirt jumping, street and freeriding. I realize that its easier and cheaper to produce 1 magazine than it is to produce 3 but if none of the sub categories are being satisfied under the current format then it stands to reason that they will continue to lose readers like me who can no longer justify the $$$ / content ratio. Ive been buying Thrasher magazine for the past 25 years, I still pay $3.99 an issue and there usally in the range of 200 or so pages, full color, high gloss, standard format. I realize that decline has a unique look and feel but I wonder if in a more traditional format, 12 months per year at say $5,99 they couldnt deliver more content in each category and more value to there advertisers and even substantially increase the number of advertisers. It cant be cheap to advertise in decline and the evidence is in how few advertisers they have, I suspect if they lost shimano or trek or Giant they might fold like a cheap lawn chair. Clearly Im just talkin out my ass and I have no real world magazine experience but on the other hand I have bought and read and kept thousands of magazines in my lifetime and feel rediculously over qualified to add my 2 cents.

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2/23/2011 12:11 PM

It would be nice if there was more articles on recommended PLACES to ride. Although I mostly ride "street", I still like to read reviews on ski lift accessed MTB resorts and NW trails I may not know about. And i esp mean trails in the USA, not trails in the Andes Mts, or Switzerland, where it is highly unlikely I'm going to visit.

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2/23/2011 12:25 PM

Vital surely does many things right, like the slideshows with audio, simple concept, massive insight. I love the idea of the Atherton Project and how well it is produced, I hope other companies will try to be as good as Porters work there. Generally I always prefer media about stuff that I can relate to, I dont really care what someone does in the Gobi desert.
Oh and I hope JRA will become a frequent format like 17 Qs. It really has the potential to make full use of the variety in our sport. What about conducting an Interview while racing downhill? Or while riding some epic singletrack? I mean backyards and goats are nice, but you can always step it up a notch.

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2/23/2011 12:53 PM

For me it's all about the photography and Vital hits the nail on the head - the more the better, in my opinion. The audio with the images is a nice touch too. I subscribe to Dirt (never read a copy of Decline; maybe I should?) and the first articles that I read are race and event coverage and rider interviews. Product & bike reviews generally get read last of all.

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2/23/2011 3:27 PM

I would like to see articles that cover what local organizations are doing to create more riding opportunities. Info on how they get public support and how they overcome opposition. Maybe some articles on how to build a proper section of trail. I've notice MTB media gives incentives for creating videos or photos. How about incentives for people to get involved and put some time in with a shovel. Its great to get stoked on Vids & tech but without trails there would be no reason to get stoked.

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2/23/2011 7:33 PM
Edited Date/Time: 2/23/2011 7:39 PM

Downhill mountain bikers have just turned into a bunch of 17 year old girls. Instead of worrying about things that matter like going out and geeking out on how you're going to bench cut a section of new trail, the vast majority of at least the online presence absolutely would rather stress about accessories and what they and their bike look like. Call it what you want, but it's fucking pathetic. The entirety of the mtb population literally dresses up if they're going to go take some riding photos or shoot video. It's like a transvestite audition.

Throw up a video and it gets a few comments. Throw up a new bike part and watch it go pages deep with idiots arguing pointless crap that has zero to do with actual riding.

So I'd love to say go with a stress on content with regards to riding over bike parts, and technology but the truth is, it's the color coordination and the latest earrings (bike parts) that generate way more interest.

That said, this about the only place I ever even look for riding content any more. So for the love of god, keep doing what you're doing with the actual riding content here.

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2/23/2011 9:03 PM

Way to get the hate flowing Woo, I like it. I was 17 once, and I must confess that I could spend a lot of time drooling over new bike stuff. I'll even go so far as to confess that it was usually trials bike stuff, and it takes a big man to admit to that if I may say so myself. Now I just don't get it. I don't usually frequent too many of the other forums, I was a sporadic ridemonkeyer before Vital but didn't bother with PB or MTBR at all. After nationals this year I perused all of em to see what people had to say about the event and the tracks, and to see some pics of whatever I missed being in the shop. Ridemonkey had a good thread, MTBR had a bit, and PB had not even a mention of the event, or any other event for that matter. Smack in the middle of the racing season, and every single thread was about some bike part. Maybe I just need to stay away from a few specific outlets and my faith in humanity will begin to rebound.

I could write a thesis on how the real blame lies with the governing bodies and certain promoters of our sport and their complete neglect/ mismanagement of it, but that horse has been beaten to a bloody pulp by now. But seriously, they all but sucked the life out of downhill, lets hope the second wind is on the way...

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2/24/2011 7:10 AM

ill just say the main reason vitalmtb is my favorite site to be on for mountain biking is because of all the pictures and videos. Yeah i do like to read about new things out there that are being offered but when it comes down to it i want to see videos and pics of the sport i love.

seeing new products doesnt make me want to ride. yeah i would love to have a bunch of stuff out there but i dont see a new crankset being offered and think "damn i want to get out and ride". i know coming to this site everyday there are gonna be new videos to watch and pics to look at. seeing those makes me want to ride.

I dont even like getting on forums anymore since all people talk about are what they have, what they want, what there building, and stuff like that. dont get me wrong that stuff is cool but i care more about getting out there and riding than what other people have and stuff i cant afford lol.

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2/24/2011 10:10 AM

Ah, if there was just a Dirt North America. Decline isn't it. I tried to like Decline, but dark photos, stupid huge size, and lackluster articles always let me down. I did like their coverage of local races and events, tho. Which brings me to my point, Dirt mag, north america. Why does it seem that Dirt's photos are sooo much better in quality than Decline's? I don't think it's the photog, maybe the publisher?

I'd like to see more articles on trails around the US. There are tons of places to ride in the US and very little coverage on them IMO. Not talking super secret stuff, but regular "trail centres" maybe even some with "up lift" service. Usually the forums are the best at asking around for this type of info, and many have spectacular pics to boot. Maybe like BIKE's annual "best trails" issue, but more like a regular feature each month and maybe on more obscure, non-played-out trails.

Also, I'd like to see more and learn more about trail building. I see some amazing trails in mags/videos and would like to hear their building techniques. Why is LeeLikesBikes the only person who published how to build a pumptrack? I think seeing/reading about peeps building their own stuff is contagious and will get the 17 year olds off the internet and out building and perhaps even riding. We've all seen Zach Dank's trails, but i doubt half the people on this site know what goes into such works of art. Know what I mean?

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2/24/2011 2:06 PM

I second the idea of Dirt for north america. No other mag can compare to Dirt IMO. Dirt is more than a mag, I find that its almost a peice of art. Photos are awesome, write ups are top notch overall the mag just has style. I love thier no bullshit out look on the world of DH and mountianbiking in general. They are not just trying to sell the latest and greatest. They will say a bike is shit if its shit they will say what is good. Everyone that is involved in that magizine just loves racing and riding bikes. Not to kiss ass but I kind the same here at vital. Vital is one of the only sites I will go to. Keep up the good work.

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Is it friday yet?

2/24/2011 2:31 PM

All the things people have stated they would like to see more of in print are spot on to me, BUT. What we need are media people that can put more than two sentances together that actually make sense. Case in point, read any MBA magazine, the writing is atrocious. Little to no in-depth new or inventive material. They seem to still believe that all mountain bikers are unwilling or unable to read. Reading all the above responses to this post, i'd say thats quite untrue. The Internet media has the ability to satisfy all your needs, other than providing dry single track and a chair lift out your front door, they can keep you coming back day after day with new information. What most print media seem to forget is the life of a magazine. Once recieved it gets browsed all the way through, from back to front in 10 minutes. But then what happens to it? Common scenario is that it gets batted around and around ending up next to the TP roll, am i right! From there it lives a different life, the pictues get all used up and the ad's, well those don't do anything anyway, then come the words. I'd like to be able to get as much information from the words about trials, tech, tests... Anything, and keep coming back to it because i missed a short article about an intesting new widget! Talk to me, even if i do not agree with you, constructive dialouge with reader and writer in the convience of my own bathroom.
I'm pretty new to Vital MTB (very cool site), i wonder if my wife will let me have a permanent laptop in the John!

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2/24/2011 3:28 PM

The only reason I bought a laptop is so I could surf from the shitter.

I wholly agree on the quality of writing in many of today's publications. The way in which product reviews are written has contributed largely to my fatigue with the whole arena. In specific, when it comes to product and bike reviews, the magazines stick to highly non-technical language and superficial opinions. Part of this is certainly the aversion to revealing anything negative in a review, for fear of losing coveted advertising dollars. The result is a bunch of fawning reviews that provide no real information to consumers. Carrying the same theme over to the forums, it seems as though no one wants to admit that they bought a half-baked product, so all you get is a bunch of people telling each other to buy whatever they have regardless of their level of expertise, experience with the product, or with it's alternatives.

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2/24/2011 4:32 PM

I'd like to see a magazine have the balls to admit that the old model for a profitable print media business is irreparably broken.

The new model I would like to see rise up is something web-based for daily stuff and common news (race schedules, results, press release junk) and have that site be supplemented with quarterly, large format, high quality print publications that would include the best of the photography, articles, and editorials from the previous 3 months. Sell the big quarterly books for 15-20 bucks each but make them actually worth owning and putting on a book shelf to keep forever. I don't want to read a shabbily written article on a race that already had web coverage on it two months earlier. I want to read the well written retrospective on the race and the impact it had on the previous and following races. I want to read about the epic stories of people traveling to new places to ride and their in depth experiences and their returns to the real world. I want to read long term reviews on products that don't just re-word the company's copy-writing into a "review" but actually give field experience relative to similar, already established products (think Wentz's Vivid shock write up on here). I want the best banger photos in large, fine quality print format to show my grand kids one day. I'd rather have one of these "magazines" every 3 months than 3 shitty pamphlets over that same period of time regurgitating tired and then dated web content. I'd pay for it too- whatever the price, I'd rather pay top dollar for top content less often than pay a relatively high cover price for sparsely worthy content every month. And if some publishing folks would sack up and be confident about it, they could get companies to buy ad space on both web and print versions- because subscriptions have never, and will never support publishing expenses.

When you see how gutted the newspaper industry has become by resting on their old sloppy laurels, how can mountain bike magazines (or any niche sport magazines for the matter) not see the writing on the wall for their own death unless things change?

The methods for content distribution and consumption have changed. I'd like to see mountain bike media adapt before it's too late.

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2/24/2011 7:37 PM

^^^ That is a great idea. I completely agree. Although I think Dirt is already halfway there with great web content and race weekend coverage and a great looking, great reading monthly mag

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2/24/2011 8:48 PM

I will just say: Dirt is fantastic.

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2/24/2011 9:14 PM

Silly rabbits, Dirt can't exist in N.A. The frank nature would scare sponsors. Plus the discussion on actual riding would hurt sales of pajamas.

The single best thing that could happen to mtb media is if K.shiz won the lottery and did whatever the hell he wanted. Because the result would an awesomeness that we currently don't even have the tools to comprehend.

Also........vital still rules and my time off the bike is better for it. So in that respect......at least here. Don't change and thing dahling!

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2/24/2011 9:25 PM

Woo, I always knew you had the drop on the pajama lobby on this damn continent.

good hate.

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2/24/2011 9:32 PM

I could agree more. I get so tired of Decline when I open it up and all I see is the same stuff I saw on the Internet the month prior.

I've emailed them a ton saying I'd like to see some more coverage about riding. One of my suggestions was a feature on trail builders. Like Digger, BRMBA and whats his face from follow me.

Lately theyve had some cool stuff like the feature on deity and the Mottolino bike park was cool.

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I'm Slow