Singletrack Podcast: What’s the point of bike tests?

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For this episode, it was a question from a reader that sparked the conversation: they wanted to know ‘why don’t we test bikes to see which is the fastest?’. Hannah, Mark and Chipps navigate their way through this question, plus a whole pile of tangental bits of science, conjecture and anecdote. Could we figure out which bike is fastest? Is fastest bestest? What is the point of a bike test, or any product review, and is it all just marketing anyway?

Give this episode a listen, and if you’ve got things you’d like us to discuss, drop them in the comments. We can’t promise definitive answers, but we’ll likely have some interesting perspectives to debate!

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Comments (5)

    I found that podcast satisfactory. 😉

    I don’t normally listen to podcasts but I found this an interesting and honest discussion.

    I agree that if the reviewer loves 100mm bikes and is testing a DH bike then they have to put themselves in the shoes of a downhiller, and comment from that person’s perspective. I do think though that it is possible to comment on quality. Is the carbon frame from X better finished on the inside than the one from Y? And are the suspension bearings much better protected? That said, I sold bike X and bought bike Y and it’s a lot more fun to ride!

    One final thought; another site includes “recommended upgrades” in their tests. That seems to tell me a lot about the bike’s major weakness, and something about likely cost of ownership.

    Anyway, Happy Birthday!

    I suppose if you want “Clarkson” style bike tests there’s always GCN/GMBN…

    I think any (journalistic/consumer) test/comparison, should really come with a clear introduction where the use case the tester(s) had in mind is laid out.

    e.g. were you comparing ~130mm travel “Trail bikes” with aspiring #Enduroists or typical weekend warriors in mind?

    But yep I’m interested in people’s qualitative opinion and I would like that opinion from someone with some experience of other bikes, but not necessarily a racer.

    I wonder if it’s worth getting testers to fill out a pre-test questionnaire having only had sight of the marketing blurb: Who/what they think it’s aimed at, do they think any claims made are a bit dubious?
    Try and get them to acknowledge (and get past) any bias they might have. you may already do that, does it result in a more objective test?

    The recommended upgrades idea I like a lot. I shall make sure we discuss that.

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