Sexism In Mountain Biking: An Open Letter To Maxxis

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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.



Comments (28)

    Beautifully put.

    As a bloke who’s been round the block a few times I feel really uncomfortable with the fact that large companies still think this sort of promotional material is acceptable in this day and age.
    Was bad enough 30 years ago but now it is beyond belief that they think it’s OK.

    Well put. Glad sweamrs has’t seen anything from Maxxis on this as between us we’ve got enough sets that switching them all out would be expensive….

    Well said. Having had two daughters I’m now far more sensitive to this sort of objectification. Thanks for raising my awareness of what Maxxis are doing. They’ll go on my ‘other’ list until they crawl into the 21st century. Plenty of other decent tryres out there!

    The ‘babes’ website looks like an advert for Hooters.
    Get a sharpie and blacken out the logo on your tyres.
    Better still get a yellow one and write ‘Sexxis’ on them…
    Poor taste, Maxxis

    Dear Maxxis, you can save yourselves here. No need to ditch the calendar, but let’s make it more balanced. 4 months of guys doing amazing stuff with your tyres, 4 months of gals ripping up trails too, then 4 months of aspirational stuff with guys and gals sharing the trails, scenery, experiences and life. Every one’s a winner. Including you. Marketing person, lift your game.

    It makes me cringe when brands try this sort of thing. I get the feeling that a commonly heard phrase in the Marist office is ‘ now I’m not a sexist, but….’
    Get a grip of yourselves (or let go of it and zip up) and realise that women are part of life and not to be objectified.

    This stupid sexist crap belongs in the bin. Shame that Maxxis feel the need to go down this route. Sent them this article

    Agree, 4 months Girls, 4 months guys, 4 months kids.

    Change the script please Maxxis

    Brilliant stuff Adele!

    Perhaps someone should have a word with this guy at Maxxis –

    Not a good start to a new job, although I’m pretty sure he’s not the one responsible.

    Shame on you Maxxis, get a grip its nearly 2016 not the 1970s

    What I think this shows is just how much work has been put in over the years for cycling and mountain biking.

    Sadly, it looks like the same hasn’t happened for the world of motorsport – which this calendar is firmly aimed at.

    As mentioned, Maxxis could see this as an opportunity to get ahead of their competition.

    They should spend more of their resources in getting more decent 27.7 tyres to the UK market. Only a pitiful choice between 4: HR2, Minion, Ardent and Crossmarks from their vast range.

    Awesome. Great work Adele. The big ‘boys’ need to be called out on their treatment of women in this industry.

    Mmmm, not sure here, rightly or wrongly ‘sex sells’ and is used in virtually ALL forms of product advertising, the link to the calendar does not actually open the calendar, only the front cover that has female silhouettes on it, do you same people complain about the Armani aftershave adverts on the TV with men in only swimming trunks for example? Is appreciation of the human form and its association with a product wrong?

    Bravo everyone who managed to use (intentionally or otherwise) the phrase ‘get a grip’.

    Buy tyres from On One – the urban myth goes that they are made by Maxxis, but branded differently anyway – and are a damned sight cheaper.

    Until the On Ones I always used Maxxis as they were the best balance between grip, strength, price and the ability to get them on and off rims with cold thumbs. It’s a bit of a gaffe on their part – the smart money was already going to them anyway in my opinion, this is more likely to divert that to another brand. Marketing fail methinks.

    Oh, and it’s also news to me that there is no longer a Pirelli calendar – shows how much notice I take of this sort of thing!

    on the maxxis website the babes calender looks to be aimed at the car tyre market.

    My daughter is 21. She’s more intelligent than me, much more talented in a whole range of skills, will leave Cambridge with a great degree and should therefore have much greater opportunity than I have had. And yet, in 2015, that is still not the case. Despite noticeable improvements in altering the balance of power, we still live in a society where men’s values and behaviours are seen as the norm and women have to fit around them. This kind of objectification is part of the insidious way that women are placed into a compartment labelled ‘chattels’. It’s easy to say ‘ah, it’s only fun’ but while there’s such inequality, these things have to be called out. If and when we do provide equal space for women and we allow them to behave like women, rather than having to conform to some male stereotype in order to succeed, then maybe the world will be a better place. Us men haven’t made too good a job of it judging by this year’s headlines.

    My small contribution? I was going to fit a Maxxis Shorty this week and instead bought a Schwalbe Magic Mary. I doubt they’ll notice, but I feel better for it (although I expect that Schwalbe’s senior management team are equally mysogynistic!)

    Just to offer a counter-balance; I find Adele’s article almost as offensive as the Maxxis calendar itself. Each are in their own way, naively out of touch with the reality of life.

    If you really don’t like a company’s marketing ethos that much…simple, don’t buy or associate your self with that brand. In the meantime, there is no need to preach your views in such a overt way. It’s offensive.

    I’m slightly confused how someone who was the Beauty Editor for ‘Just 17’ magazine, can go from promoting the brainwashing of young, impressionable teenage girls into believing self-image, style and beauty is all important, to having the views she now preaches.

    Is it not a bit of an assumption, that?

    Have you read any of these articles, SD? How do you know what they contain? Maybe her editorial input was “Stuff that makeup, cover yourself in MUD!”

    “Thanks for visiting. The Maxxis Babes website is no longer online.”

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