Sexism In Mountain Biking: An Open Letter To Maxxis

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December 15, 2015

By Adele Mitchell

Dear Maxxis,

I love your tyres.

When I built my new bike earlier this year I chose them over all others because I loved the feel, grip and handling they delivered.

I’ve ridden tubeless for a long time and I was really impressed by how easily the tyres popped onto the wheels when first fitted, and how well they have maintained their pressure over the recent months of using them.Your tyres have consistently given me a reassuring, grippy but fast ride and the wetter it has got, the more I have admired them.

When one of my girlfriends asked about winter tyres recently (because we don’t just talk about hair straightners and men) I gladly recommended your brand. And I was quite happy to ride around with your big yellow Maxxis logo on my wheels because I was having a great brand experience with you.

Then this morning it all went wrong. There it was in my timeline – a tweet from you suggesting that we might like to buy your calendar – or more specifically, your Maxxis Babes calendar. It turns out the Maxxis Babes even have their own hashtag. (To save anyone looking, rest assured that they all have lovely smiles).

Maxxis, you have gone from hero to zero, just like that. When I tweeted you to say I was disappointed to hear that you had created a Babes calendar, you justified it by saying that all proceeds go to charity. So, it’s okay to objectify women for a fiver a go if you’re giving the money to a worthy cause? I don’t think so. (Everyone: let’s just send Macmillan Cancer Support – the designated charity – £5 and cut out the Maxxis middle man).

Even Pirelli has woken up to the fact that objectifying women is no longer a viable option if you want to shift rubber. Look how much positive publicity their collaboration with Annie Leibovitz has received. Look what happens when you treat women as individuals who have achievements that are worthy of celebrating.  Positive and far reaching brand-love, that’s what happens.

Ultimately I don’t want to advertise your tyres on my bike while you carry on like this. You make me look stupid. You make me feel stupid.

I rode my bike this morning – channelling my inner rage as I went, of course – and weighed up the dilemma of loving a product that is unfortunately backed up by a sexist marketing campaign.  Ultimately I don’t want to advertise your tyres on my bike while you carry on like this. You make me look stupid. You make me feel stupid.

So, halfway round my ride today I stopped the bike, parked it next to a tree, and took this selfie.  This is for you:

adele mitchell maxxis babe calendar singletrack magazine sexismMaxxis:  I am a woman and the image above is what I look like when I use your tyres.

Your tyres enable me to forget about my appearance and ride into a world where what I can achieve and how good that makes me feel is everything. Your tyres represent freedom and personal authenticity. This is marketing gold dust. As a brand, you should be shouting from the rooftops about it.

Women are coming to mountain biking in droves, and I believe you have a choice: get on board with your marketing and support and celebrate us, or risk getting left behind, forlorn and despised, in the ‘Benny Hill’ bin.

I want women to feel that mountain biking is an appealing option and not some sort of boys’ club where we have to sneak in through the back door and hope no one notices us. It’s a better sport than that, with better people in it (because many men find this type of marketing off putting as well). And I want brands to make us feel welcome because our money is as good as anyone else’s.

Maxxis, you have a great product: please, don’t let us down.

Yours,

Adele.

Premier Partners

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