Global Mountain Bike Boom: The cost of Popularity

It’s pretty clear to all of us that we had no idea that a pandemic would change the world as it has and no idea exactly what the future may hold. We can all just hope that each and every moment we spend on this earth is a good one. With the pandemic came an unprecedented boom in the mountain bike industry, a bucket more people hitting the trails, buying new bikes and getting hooked on the sport we love. What has this popularity cost us?

By Mike Branch

Mountain biking has always been a sport that hooks people, that lights a fire within our soul getting us out and about on the trails every moment we can. The sheer joy of immersing yourself in the forest, on the mountain, amongst the hills and belting down trails is enough to have many of us begging for more. Some of us love a climb, some love a descent, some love both, but we all love to ride.

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Supply Issues within the Bike Industry

The influx of mountain bikers into the industry has led to long lead times on complete bikes, difficulty getting parts and an absolutely boom in the manufacturing sector. This in itself is an amazing thing in a time when the global economy is suffering the effects of the pandemic, with lock downs, travel restrictions and a large amount of death and disability secondary to COVID. Is this a good thing for us, the consumer?

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In short, yes it is. The increase in demand means that manufacturing can be up-scaled, which may lead to lower costs, more products and a better outcome for the end consumer. This of course won’t be any time soon, but the growth of the industry will mean more bikes on the trails, larger research and development budgets and flourishing bike companies. This hopefully has trickle down effect and we all reap the benefits in a few years time.

Crowds on the Trails

The influx of riders has meant an influx of traffic on the trails and I know first hand that the local trail networks have all been pumping on weekends, with an huge amount of riders on the trails. This means more people out and about, getting healthy and riding bikes, surely this is a good thing right?

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In my opinion it certainly is and the more of us on the trails then the more chance of more trail networks and funding for expansion of trail networks here in Australia. With more riders comes more traffic on trails, the call for one way trails and people bickering about who should give way on a trail has certainly increased. Surely a bit of common courtesy goes a long way and we can all just slow down when approaching any rider, climbing or descending?

Are we not all out there to relax and have a good time? If you are too worried about it effecting your strava time then perhaps you have lost the whole point of riding a bike. Bottom line is more people on trails is great, yes we need to be more courteous, but being nice never hurt anyone. This obviously extends to other trail users, after all disputes between riders and other trail users can certainly lead to trails being shut down, with trail advocacy being set back considerably. Simply be nice and give way…

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So what has the mountain bike boom really cost us? Nothing in my eyes, all it has done is deliver a whole lot of companies small and large a more stable future, put a heap more people on bikes and a whole lot more smiles on people’s faces. So next time you are on the trail remember this, maybe it’ll bring a smile to your face.

Keep your Brakes Wide Open and see you on the trails….

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