If you’ve ever ridden or purchased a mountain bike, you are likely aware of how expensive the sport can get – quickly. No, those aren’t gold plated brake levers, but for the number of zeros on that price tag, it wouldn’t be surprising.
While there are plenty of deals can be had in the second hand market, many folks demand the highest quality products and are willing to pay for it. The only issue is that when spending anywhere from five to 10 thousands dollars on a bike, you really need to take it out for proper test ride. After all, who would buy a car without actually driving it first?
Online reviews, spec sheets and photos/videos of World Cup racers demonstrating how much better they ride than you is all well and good, but the most important thing is how a new bike feels. And the only way to feel a bike isn’t simply throwing a leg over it and riding it around the car park in front of the bike shop, it’s by getting that new whip out on trails.
Outerbike Whistler took place this past weekend in beautiful Whistler, B.C., an event riding on the coattails of the uber-popular Outerbike Moab, where hundreds of folks spend three days commuting out to the Moab Desert to test the best bikes from the best brands. It gives attendees the chance to not just sample the one or two of the bikes available at their local bike shop, but to try dozens of different brands on some of the best trails in the world in Moab, Utah.
Outerbike Whistler takes that model and substitutes the dry Moab Desert for the convenience of Whistler Village with hundreds of trails – including the world class Whistler Bike Park – right on its doorstep. Over the weekend almost 350 people attended the event, travelling from all over North America to try their potential new bike, as well as sampling Whistler’s divine singletrack network. A four-day vacation of riding the most beautifully engineered mountain bikes in the industry, what’s not to like?
Having sampled a handful of said bikes at this event, there were moments made me feel like like an Enduro World Series racer, even if I wasn’t travelling as fast. Across the board there were a few consistent features that come pretty much standard at the high-end level of mountain bikes, such as:
The dropper post. This allows you to switch your seat height on the fly from a trigger on the handlebar. Particularly useful in steep terrain with technical features where a high seat can be hazardous.
The 11-speed Drive train. The often lamented and chain-dropping front derailleurs are on the way out, replaced by a more versatile 11-speed gear set on the rear and a single chain ring on the front. This gives the rider full range without having to shift the front chain rings.
Carbon everything. Frames, handlebars, brake levers… If it’s made of carbon fibre it’s lighter, stiffer and more responsive. It’s also a lot more expensive to manufacture than alloys.
Bummed you missed out on Outerbike Whistler? It will be returning in June, 2016. Until then you can check out Outerbike Moab, which runs semi-annually in March and October.