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Run what ya brung

Are we in danger of becoming bike snobs? Do we really have to spend $5000+ to have fun? I’ve seen and heard riders pooh poohing other riders for their cheap, uncool brand bikes. I’ve also seen riders on cheap bikes out ride those on cool brands. Just goes to show.

Buyers of bike mags, and visitors to dedicated mountain biking websites such as mtb-oz.com tend to be more focussed on riding than your average weekend punter. We’ve often been riding for some years, gradually developing skills enabling us to ride harder and faster along technical tracks. We’ve found out, sometimes the hard way, that quality is worth the expense. We spend more. Good quality bikes and bits will certainly make a bigger hole in our wallets, but they also work better.

Now, that’s all well and good, but are we having more fun? We might be able to bomb technical hills with our downhill bikes, or zoom up hills on our superlightweight XC weapons, but is our fun any better than the weekend punter’s?

I’m not knocking anyone for spending big money on a bike – spending $5000 or more will get you a damn fine mountain bike with high quality components, and you’ll sure have fun riding it. I just can’t see that your $5000+ fun will be any more fun than Joe Bloggs has for much less money.

Sometimes I think back to the days when I had a cheap and nasty rigid. Daydreams? Daymares! Bleuugh – compared to my present steed, it was rubbish – heavy steel frame and forks, thin, pressed steel canti brakes combined with wobbly steel wheels to make it a deathtrap in the rain. A few years and a lot more dollars now sees me riding a disc braked light alloy duallie – what an improvement!

Despite that, I used to have a whale of a time on the clunker, and rode that heavy old thing all over the place. Sure, I didn’t ride as quickly as I can now. No way would I have ridden some of the technical tracks I get out on these days, but bloody hell. It was fun. I remember riding one favourite firetrail with a mate years ago. We were belting downhill at what seemed an incredible speed, and every time we came to a rock or branch across the track, we’d pop our front wheels over the obstacle. Weeeeeeeeee! Feel the adrenaline flow!

We didn’t bunny hop, we didn’t get air, just quick “yank on the bars wheelies”. But we thought we were fantastic, and the fact that it’s still a strong memory after all these years is testimony to the great time I was having.

Nowadays I shoot along that same firetrail, far, far faster than I ever did before, with suspension soaking up the bumps I used to wheelie over. Is my fun of higher quality? No. It’s still fun, but no better fun that I had back then – if anything, I need much more technical riding to feel that original rush. When it hits, though, it’s still the same rush.

Riders can have just as much fun on cheap bikes. Sure, they might be restricted to travelling more slowly along less technical tracks and firetrails, but they’ll still have a great time. People do it every weekend, and we should encourage them. Don’t put them down, or treat them like they haven’t a clue, just because they didn’t spend as much money as you.

They get the message alright, and it’s a pretty simple one that applies to all of us. Get out there and ride – just have fun. Let’s leave snobbery to other people.

Now, if only I had $5000. ;^)

The Fat Hippy

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