Review Review

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We’re trimming the fat to bring you more meat to chew on.

Words by Chris Klibowitz.

“Laterally stiff and vertically compliant…” is a phrase that will get a groan from most folks across the bicycle industry. This catch-all sentence has been printed, in earnest and jest, more than anyone in the cycling media would ever care to admit. And yet, it seems like it will be printed again, and again, in countless bicycle reviews in countless publications, because quite simply, it describes exactly what most bikes should feel like.

So, what good is a bike review these days? There aren’t a whole lot of bad bikes out there today. Bicycle companies and their factories, especially those in Asia, are beyond dialed, putting out some of the highest quality bikes that the industry has ever seen. It has never been easier to produce a great bike, no matter how storied or recent the company’s history. Therefore, bike reviews often truly contain little more than spec information, explanations of proprietary features, and some confirmation from an outside source that all these things work as advertised.

But are you truly getting objectivity when all these great bikes are being reviewed? Riding bikes brings a smile to most people’s faces, and your trusted bike reviewer is not immune to that. Logic would point to it being unlikely, barring some failure to perform, that a bike would receive a truly bad review. Of course, there are writers out there—and a publication or two—who don’t fall under those assumptions, but they are certainly the exception, rather than the rule.

Let’s not forget, too, that with the Internet, it’s not terribly difficult to find information, impressions and rantings on almost any topic, including that shiny new bike model.

So why are we even reviewing bikes anymore? Is it what people expect to see when they open a cycling magazine? This certainly was the case for the past few decades, at least. However, considering that the entire idea of bicycle reviews seems flawed, and quite frankly is an easy way to make an issue look dated quickly, we are choosing to forego bicycle reviews in print at this time—we’ll use the pages to tell you a story, instead.

However, we acknowledge that there is a benefit to reviews—they provide invaluable exposure for many companies trying to spread the word about their bikes, and still provide us with plenty of smiles. Therefore, we’ll continue to publish bicycle reviews on our website, and hopefully we’ll be able to push the limits, break the mold, and make bicycle reviews great again.

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