Photo by Anthony Smith. Story by Brice Minnigh
We at Bike have a hard time taking ourselves too seriously, having long since
acknowledged our status as modified monkeys—with only the scantest of reflective capacities. Given this, it's hard for any of us to stand in sartorial superiority to another mountain biker, especially considering the ridiculous attire that we've been known to wear on the trail. But lately we've noticed that all is not quiet on the fashion front, and, in the race for brand recognition, things are getting way out of hand.
Here are some postulations as to why we come across as Bozos on bikes:
The vast majority of us are dorks—though most of us find this excruciatingly
painful to admit. We geek out over things like axle and wheel sizes and bore
people to tears with detailed explanations of linkages and leverage ratios. Far too many of us spend more time on web forums, pontificating at length over tech issues, than we do on the trail. OMG? WTF? We're definitely not LOL… .
With a captive audience of tech weenies in constant pursuit of the newest and
shiniest, many mountain-bike apparel companies have apparently decided that
what we want is the most flashy, gaudy clothing imaginable. And they could
almost be forgiven. Almost.
Just think about how many times you've been out for a long singletrack ride and have come across some dude on a DH bike, sweating in a full-face helmet and a matching pajama suit. It seems that we are so sorely lacking in identity that we are willing to settle for trickle-down technology that rarely applies to our everyday trail-riding application.
The importance of brand recognition in mountain-bike photography seems to
have led to an astonishing proliferation of helmets, gloves, shoes and jerseys that 'pop' against various backgrounds. While Bike is largely to blame for perpetuating this trend by publishing photos of pros—and ourselves—wearing horrible things such as Easter-egg-colored helmets, we have taken this too far. Just look at the eggheads on the cover of our latest Bible of Bike Tests and see if your stomach doesn't turn.
Many of us, in blatant denial of our lack of athletic ability and bike-handling skill, emulate our favorite athletes—who, due to their understandable need to please their sponsors, often wear color-coordinated kits emblazoned with energy-drink logos.
News flash: Few of us will ever possess the talent of, say, Brendan Fairclough.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that, compared to the high-performance textiles in the ski industry, many of the garish, mid-market mountain-bike clothes don't work nearly as well. Maybe if we had affordable rain jackets that breathed as well as the average ski shell there would be fewer fair-weather riders.
At the end of the day, having fun on the trail is far more important than how hip we look at the trailhead. Ever been dropped by some kid on a shitty hardtail wearing jeans, a T-shirt and skate shoes? Who's cool now? –