Is It Time For A Shakeup In The MTB World?

by 95

We can’t pretend that mountain biking is green. Riding your bike instead of getting in a car is green, but that’s not what mountain biking is. Mountain biking is play,…

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Hannah Dobson

Managing Editor

I came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. I like all bikes, but especially unusual ones. More than bikes, I like what bikes do. I think that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments. I try to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

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Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 95 total)
  • Is It Time For A Shakeup In The MTB World?
  • gravedigger
    Free Member

    It would be interesting to know the carbon footprint of a days uplift at BPW !

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    It would be interesting to know the carbon footprint of a days uplift at BPW !

    As with most “events”, far and away the majority of emissions is down to people travelling to and from it.

    This gets brought up re the Tour de France and other Grand Tours all the carbon footprint of “the race” but by orders of magnitude more is the emissions from people travelling to it, following it around.

    I suspect driving a tractor and a minibus up and down a trail a few times is nothing compared to dozens of people driving half way across the country and back.

    chrismac
    Full Member

    So lots of people drove from various parts of the country to talk about making a sport that never has and never will be green. Oh the irony. If anything the sport is becoming less green every year with the rise of e-bikes that are not being used to replace car journeys but just as more toys. The sooner we stop pretending this sport is anything other than harmful to the emotions on all levels the better

    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    Yes.

    Most sports which rely on travelling to new places need a shake up.

    cookeaa
    Full Member

    I think the desire for a less environmentally impactful version of off-road cycling is kind of being met by Gravel these days as it’s just happened to land at the right time to act as a crossover between road/touring/bike packaging/adventure (from the door). I know my own from the door default tends to be curly bars these days.

    I just don’t think MTB ‘culture’ (led mainly by the bigger marketing departments) is really focussed on selling sustainability or environmental considerations. E-MTBs are the big thing currently for them and those are mainly sold on delivering more fun per pedal stroke than anything else (cos nobody can claim they’re any better for the environment and keep a straight face).

    The thing that I think would help tremendously is still being able to do those big trips/holidays with a bike, but without using cars and planes so much. I’ll admit as soon as a group of us start planning anything the question is always “who’s driving? Where should we fly from?” not “can we do this by train?”

    That is probably more of an indictment of how wider society is set-up (or not) to facilitate sustainable transport with a bicycle, but we’re all trained to default to cars and planes now. The alternatives are seen as complex, inconvenient and costly (because they often are), you fix MTB’s biggest sustainability issue by fixing a far bigger problem with society (IMO of course).

    kelvin
    Full Member

    I know people who use ebikes in a way that means they’ve stopped driving to rides completely. They ride from their door… do the group ride… ride home. One return car journey a week… gone.

    As for what is produced by “brands” longevity, repairability, reduced carbon emissions in manufacturing… all can and should be addressed more.

    Cookeaa makes a good point. There was a time when rides away from home for me always meant using the train. This was made harder and harder over the years… removing space for bikes… less frequent stopping services for small rural stations… and I’ve honestly given up on it. Making rail provision work, including room for groups of cyclists on trains, not just one or two of them, could be pretty easily achieved in the UK. The lines already run through great riding spots. But the services seem to be designed to work against using them with bikes for leisure.

    weeksy
    Full Member

    How many car trips are equal to the planes I’ve not sat on for 12 years? I know people who fly rens of thousands of miles to sit in the sun, then fly back.

    Or how many car commutes equal my drive to Fod? I work from home and have for the last 3 years

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    Good crossover with the “best 26er” thread…

    MTBs have been getting more and more lairy (call it skill compensation) so the trails have developed to increase the challenge even more, so the trails need more work and need to be more specialised, so there are fewer “good” ones, folk have to drive to get to them and then want an electric motor to get them up the necessary hills. Oh, and all of this should be provided at zero cost, after all, who can afford a few quid for parking when you’ve worked out £6k for a bike and also have the cost of fuel to consider?

    chrismac
    Full Member

    of off-road cycling is kind of being met by Gravel these days

    I disagree it’s just another niche that’s having its moment to sell more bikes. Most have similar geometries to 10 year old hardtails so you could have just used one of those

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    I have a 10 year old hardtail and a gravel bike. I can assure you that they’re not alike 😂

    Onzadog
    Free Member

    Once you start thinking about this, you can just keep going deeper and deeper.

    If I stop driving my electric car (charged from renewables) to Hope and everyone else stopped going there, the village itself would suffer as it would be unable to support the shops it has with just the locals. They then start driving towards Sheffield for the things they can no longer get locally.

    Just playing devil’s advocate. It’s a far more complex question than most give it credit for and there are no simple answers.

    tjagain
    Full Member

    Mtbing is not a sport and can be green.  I very rarely drive to ride.

    daern
    Free Member

    I guess it’s down to what you ride, but speaking personally, 80% of our MTB riding is still either from the door, or within 20 mins drive from home and, races and holidays excepting, it’s unusual for us to drive a long way just to go for a ride. On the road bikes, it’s even more extreme and, races aside, we almost never ride anything other than from the house.

    That said, I know plenty of people who used to ride like this, but now wouldn’t entertain getting out the MTBs for anything other than a “proper trail centre”, which generally involves at least a 1-2 hour drive from home. In fact, I’ve more or less given up trying to get them out on local rides any more, which is their loss more than mine.

    Personally, I think the drive to more capable bikes and many that are “descending focused” has led to a mindset that a traditional, local XC route has nothing to offer them any more, which is a real shame. My son rides with a large and ever-changing group of peers and it’s astonishing to me just how few of them will (or even can!) ride back up the hills to the top of the next descending trail. Again, a mindset that MTB is all about the down and not the up any more.

    nickc
    Full Member

    I have a 10 year old hardtail and a gravel bike. I can assure you that they’re not alike

    But there’s nothing stopping you doing the rides you do on a gravel bike on the ten year old HT. Consumerism has just made it possible/desirable to buy a slightly more specific tool for the job.

    endoverend
    Full Member

    Is it time…. what took them so long when this stuff was obvious over 15 years ago. Rather than the mindless consequence free consumerism that appears to be normalised now, we could have had a situation where if one had invested in a product, it could be usable 10-20 years down the line.. not made obsolete as soon as the next must have tripe comes along. The best thing about cycling, is that can be an awesome activity to do that is also really low impact, anything that takes it in a direction away from that doesn’t get my vote.

    alpin
    Free Member

    (cos nobody can claim they’re any better for the environment and keep a straight face).

    A few of the likely contenders will be along shortly, I’m sure.

    Was on Finale for a few months at the end of last year. I guided for a couple of days to help out a friend. There were over 80 vans departing in the morning…. and that’s just shuttle tours, not single lifts. There are now proper mini busses, not just 9 seaters, bashing up to Melongo  and NATO Base. Traffic jams leaving Finale and traffic jams on the way up. It was really off putting and I ended up not bothering and only ride around Le Manie as there aren’t many shuttles and hence quieter over that way.

    It seems like the idea of pedalling is alien to many riders.

    However, compared to many sports such as skiing or even football cycling has a lot more potential for improvement.

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    However, compared to many sports such as skiing or even football cycling has a lot more potential for improvement.

    Yep – a lot gets made of a football team taking a private jet to and from their matches but no-one seems to say much about 50,000 fans driving the length and breadth of the country each time there’s a match on.

    Just playing devil’s advocate. It’s a far more complex question than most give it credit for and there are no simple answers.

    Very much this – so many of the working forests absolutely rely on the income from car parking; the forestry works themselves don’t cover the full costs so their economic model relies on supplements from people coming to their (remote, far from public transport) venue to walk, cycle and so on.

    rickmeister
    Full Member

    Events bundled with public transport options or discounted travel… eg, Lenzerheide Bike Kingdom offers return travel to and from by train at a discount. Swiss train, room for bikes, works and on time, wifi and all that schizzle.

    Public transport in the Uk with a bike is just not set up to help with bikes really. It doesn’t seem easy enough as an attractive option…

    munrobiker
    Free Member

    It’s entirely possible to be green and mountain bike. I live in a city, the bulk of my MTB rides are from the door. People have got very lazy and don’t seem to be willing to ride to the trails.

    Emtbs are not the answer. They’re a waste of the world’s resources with a negative environmental impact.

    In other countries, you can use public transport easily to go and ride. Last time I was in Switzerland you just got on a train, no booking, with your bike to all the places you’d want to ride a bike. Even in somewhere as capitalist as Canada, all the car club cars in Vancouver have a bike rack. You’d need to improve the public transport system but it’s possible to do here.

    People do need to take a good hard look at themselves. You probably don’t need an e bike, unless you’ve got some serious problems. You definitely don’t need a massive van. You don’t need to drive to every ride. But every bugger has an excuse for why they are happy to contribute to climate change, and it will ultimately boil down to “I’m too lazy and selfish”.

    cookeaa
    Full Member

    How many car trips are equal to the planes I’ve not sat on for 12 years? I know people who fly rens of thousands of miles to sit in the sun, then fly back.

    Or how many car commutes equal my drive to Fod? I work from home and have for the last 3 years

    These things are never going to be constructive if people pull the same old trick or treating it like an environmental pissing contest.

    The whole “I’m not as bad as the next person because…” is just endless circular, defensive argument as a way to get out of the actual discussion.

    All I was really saying is We’re all as bad as each other, but we live in a world where it’s still not that easy to actually make positive changes.

    BadlyWiredDog
    Full Member

    The one sentence out of almost 2,200 words – sorry, I actually copy and pasted the text so I could do a word count as it seemed an extraordinarily long article  for an online read – that made sense was the line from the Trek guy which reads:

    “Consumerism and disposability are the two greatest issues, neither of which can we cycle our way out of, and no matter how many trees you plant, keeping your current bike will always be a better option than buying a new one.”

    We need to stop making more and more stuff and stop pretending that somehow making the stuff we make marginally more sustainable somehow will make it all okay. The solution is way beyond a single small  leisure industry’s agency.

    UK-FLATLANDER
    Full Member

    As others have said it’s such a complex situation and all any of us can do is to chip away at the problem within all the constraints each of us faces – finances, physical and mental health, time, etc. are different for us all. Personally I’m convinced that we need to migrate away from a capitalist and consumerist economic system to stand a chance, but too many people controlling the economy are invested in maintaining the status quo. Perhaps insisting that all goods should be repairable for at least 10 years would be a good place to start, rather than building in obsolescence and telling us that a 3 year old item has no spares.

    More to the point perhaps we should stop electing self serving, power hungry egotists or allowing tin pot dictators or religious fanatics. Just imagine not wasting billions in resource on military action, but rather putting all that money and brain power into solving global warming?

    Getting back to bikes, I’ve never been a serial bike changer, but often it comes to a point were it’s neither economically viable or logistically possible to repair your existing bikes. The wife and I had been riding 25 year old MTB as our gravel bikes for many years but 26″ wheels, rim brakes, 8 spd transmission, 1″ quill steers and rusting frames eventual became ridiculous to source or solve. The new gravel bikes will now hopefully see us thru until e-bikes are the only way we can continue to get out and about. Using the gravel bikes have made the local BW more challenging and the car is rarely used at weekends these days. Did we real need to change from 26″ to 29″ wheels? Sure they ride better, but my 2011 5 Spot could still manage most things I want to ride. New geometry, improved suspension, better brakes do indeed make for a better bike, but then the existing trails start to feel tame and there becomes a push for more knarly features.

    Personally I’m now more concerned about how I’m going to be able to afford an electric car and convert the domestic heating to a greener alternative given I’ve entered retirement.

    alpin
    Free Member

    gets made of a football team taking a private jet to and from their matches but no-one seems to say much about 50,000 fans driving the length and breadth of the country each time there’s a match on.

    I was thinking about the thousands of amateur participants or kids that get ferried to their crappy 20 minute-a-half 7-a-side match each weekend. Didn’t even think about the spectators.

    Last time I was in the UK I walked across to the next village to watch my nephew get beaten play against another local team. The car park was heaving.

    This isn’t a pissing contest. Riders, generally mtber are just as bad as anyone else. At least roadies generally ride from their front door.

    alpin
    Free Member

    I’m convinced that we need to migrate away from a capitalist and consumerist economic system to stand a chance, but too many people controlling the economy are invested in maintaining the status quo.

    chrismac
    Full Member

    I live in a city

    So do I and it’s rare for me to ride within an hours drive from home. Tomorrow my friends and I will drive upto the Peak District for our weekly ride. It’s about  an hour each way

    bikesandboots
    Full Member

    Aside from my hour-long evening spins, I pretty much always drive at least 40 miles each way to ride. I also always drive to hike, at least 100 miles each way although it’s rare for that to be a day trip.

    I’m not enthusiastic about any shakeup which tries to make me choose between doing the things I love, and living somewhere I can earn a living and have an affordable place to live. I’m not going to be constrained to old waggonways and a gravel bike.

    One day though perhaps when I’m in my 50s and can afford it, I’d like to move somewhere with all those things not so far away. Then I’ll start lecturing those not able to do that about how they should stick to riding around whichever local area their economic circumstances dictate.

    grimep
    Free Member

    I guess we can’t go back to the pre pneumatic days, the wooden frames would help “save the planet” but we wouldn’t be allowed to have the iron tyres. I dunno, take up horse riding?

    singlespeedstu
    Full Member

    I was never attracted to MTB because I thought it was a green sport.
    But as it turns out it has lead me to being more green.
    I came to the world of MTB from a long history of racing MX and Endro bike.
    Not because I thought it was better for the environment than what I was doing but more because it offered more bang for the buck, less time maintaining and more time riding.

    Off the back of a decision I made back in the mid 80’s it has made a huge impact on my life on the green front despite me not really going that way for the sake of it.
    It’s ultimately ended up in me moving to an area that has a huge reputation for all the riding that goes on there.
    Giving up a job that involved traveling and driving at least 1200 miles a week most of which was pointless.
    It’s been replaced by a much better and less expensive life both in expenditures and pollution.
    I nevertheless realise that this has only been allowed by a set of circumstances that I’m very grateful for.

    Rambling I know but the point I’m trying to make is that I do know anyone that’s got into MTB because they think it’s green.
    It’s not and never has been but can go some way to helping.

    Daffy
    Full Member

    Is It Time For A Shakeup In The MTB World?

    No. Per person, and including riding equipment, MTBing has a lower footprint than most/all event based sports.

    Do you have any idea how much energy it costs to run a stadium, a gym or a swimming pool? All of those are on top of the cost of millions of people worldwide actually getting to them, several times per week.

    Whilst I agree we should all try to think about our impact, talking about MTBing emissions is just sucking the air from more important, more impactful considerations.

    kerley
    Free Member

    My cycling is fairly green.  I buy used frames when I change them and most of the parts on my bike are used or old.All my rides are from my door.

    I have also not been in a plane for 14 years and I wood work from home permanently if I was allowed to.

    However, that is just what I would do anyway and nothing to do with trying to be green and just sheer coincidence!

    jameso
    Full Member

    Agree with the comments about having a sense of scale or proportion here. Riding a bike can be about as low impact and high personal benefits as a passtime can be, apart from walking maybe.

    Main thing that bugs me is the way outdoor sport marketing and cultures are about destinations more than what’s on our doorstep. Flying and driving to participate is the biggest factor in all this at a personal level; on the bike industry side it’s probably overseas manufacturing and the travel and logistics or shipping involved.

    irc
    Full Member

    Any reason why MTB should be green? It’s just a hobby after all. The only reason really would be a marketing ploy. MTB companies are in business to sell bikes. A bit of greenwash night salve a conscience here and there. A one way bet. Get the green vote while not putting off the rest.

    I haven’t bought a new bike since 2011 so I can claim some green points there. On the other hand we are a two car two person household. Not green.

    Looking around at friends, family, and work colleagues I would say I am middle of the pack as far as my carbon footprint goes. Either way I’m not losing sleep over it

    oldfart
    Full Member

    Wonder what the carbon footprint of Hardline Tasmania was for our entertainment?

    StuE
    Free Member

    Is there any need to print the magazine when it could be just published online ?

    alpin
    Free Member

    I wonder about the environmental cost of golf…

    nickc
    Full Member

    You can debate whether mountain bike companies have cynically manipulated us into buying new things every few years because the old thing is now obsolete and all the new things don’t fit together with the old things.

    I don’t think it needs a debate to realise that this is a massive part of the cycling world’s energy expenditure, rather than us going to the trail head in our cars once a week or so. That the debate is happening is worthy, but the ball’s firmly in the court of the manufacturers to take a lead on it, as that’s where the biggest bang for your buck is.

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    I was never attracted to MTB because I thought it was a green sport.
    But as it turns out it has lead me to being more green.

    I think that mountain biking, and walking, trail running etc, can play a part in helping folk appreciate their natural environment, even if it’s not now all “natural”. If you are restricted to living in a city then talk of forests, moors, rewilding and so on can seek very esoteric. There’s been lots of chat in here about the likes of the Cairngorm funicular or the Yr Wyddfa train but they definitely had a role to play in showing some folk what a mountain environment could look and, maybe even a little, developing an appreciation of why some of that needs to be preserved.

    Of course, most MTB facilities are almost the opposite of this. The concentration of bike development towards downhill isn’t currently encouraging mountain bikers to go exploring outwith commercial forestry. A long time ago, one of the aims of DMBinS was exactly this, based on setting up longer signposted routes from the various trail centres as a sort of transition. One of their many failed notions.

    It’s already been said in this thread, but maybe this is where Gravel bikes are finding a place, with some of the longer events being a good place to start..

    nwgiles
    Full Member

    Is there any need to print the magazine when it could be just published online ?

    there is a magazine?

    ampthill
    Full Member

    The title here is about a shake up in the MTB world. There are lots of good points in this thread but many aren’t within control of the MTB community or industry. For example the obvious problems around bikes on trains. Although of course these things can be lobbied for.

    Sadly I think the magazines are part of the culture of redundancy. I literally wouldn’t know that my bikes geometry was out of date without reading this forum or the magazine. Because the one place it’s not obvious is when riding it.

    I’m going to give a shout out to the world of “gravel” and the over lapping area of “bike packing”. I normally ride from the door mixing up minor roads and rights of way. It’s something I enjoy and I really appreciate that this sort off riding is back in vogue with YouTube videos, threads on here and Facebook groups. The shape of the bars you use for these rides seems irrelevant. The key is that most people can ride like this locally.

    mrchrist
    Full Member

    TL\DR

    1. Need better public transport to avoid using car (not specific to mountain biking) or be able to afford descent riding from your door

    2. Need to keep our bikes (things)  for longer which will reduce environmental impact (not specific to mountain biking) but some folk may lose their minds blown when you post a question about frame warranty and picture of a 7 year old bike:)

     

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