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The Process: 2018 Bible of Bike Tests

How the test comes together

Putting together the Bible of Bike Tests isn't as easy as preaching to a crowd or fitting every species on the planet into a boat. There is a dizzying amount of logistics to organize on top of the daily cat-herding required once the staff and contributors are all together in one location.

Over the past two weeks in Marquette, Michigan, Bike has had 15 people gathered to make the Bible a reality, with the entire editorial staff, photographers and testers all working together. Ryan Palmer, the Bible event manager, is conducting the organization of it all and arrived a week early to process the mountain of bike boxes arriving at our staging area, Blackrocks Brewery. Palmer enlisted help from Lakeshore Bike Shop in order to build some 36 bikes before the rest of the testers arrived.

In addition to eight testers, there are two filmers and one photographer charged with shooting all the visual content needed for the print and online editions. Here filmer Justin Olsen sets up his gimbal before heading out to film.

With bikes built and testers revved up to ride, the review process begins in earnest. With nine full-time testers and 36 bikes, each tester is assigned three bikes per day to ride on the prescribed test loop. Each test loop is followed by diligent note-taking on characteristics such as climbing, descending, build value, technical prowess, design features, who the bike is for and how it compares to others are all on the testers' minds for each bike. Testers ride  each bike on the same trails—a mix of tech and flow on Marquette’s South Trails system—to maintain a baseline.

The testers are constantly riding the same loop on different bikes, comparing them against each other to find where each bike excels. Here, tester and “Butcher Paper” columnist Kristin Butcher demonstrates how it’s done.

As the sun sets on Marquette, testers come together to discuss the merits of the bikes they rode and prepare to film that night’s Roundtable Reels debates. Each day, while riders are testing, filmers have a second crew on the trails to film B-roll that will eventually be edited into the Roundtable Reels videos, which will start coming out on bikemag.com in early January.

The Roundtable Reels are an integral part of the Bible of Bike Tests. Here, Ryan Cleek, gear editor Travis Engel and Jonathon Weber, who all rode the same bike, talk candidly on camera about the bike in the hot seat.

As the two weeks wind down and testers start heading home, Bike's editorial team starts the long process of distilling the wealth of content gathered ahead of the magazine launch on Dec. 28. All of this will culminate in a full issue of Bike dedicated to the Bible of Bike Tests, 36 Roundtable Reels posted to Bikemag.com accompanied by a review for each model collectively written by testers.

For the 2018 Bible, the Blackrocks Brewery warehouse served as the staging area for bikes. Among empty beers and brewing equipment, there were three bike stands, multiple sets of tools and plenty of pumps to make sure testers had everything they needed to dial in their bikes for the day.

 

Setting up bikes properly is of utmost importance in streamlining the testing process in order to get adequate ride time on all the test bikes while the sun is still up.

 

Organization is key. With the many different bikes, parts and riders, keeping track of everything is no easy task.

 

After finishing a test lap, riders sit down to put their thoughts to paper while everything is still fresh in their minds.

 

Every morning as the sun rises, testers gather at the Blackrocks Brewery to pull their bikes from the rack and begin preparing them for the day, setting sag, shock rebounds and tire pressure.

 

Testers put their blood and sweat into making sure every bike gets pushed to the limits.

 

Every now and then there is a moment to get away. Filmer Olsen put down the camera just long enough to test his fortitude (and his backflip skills) against the cold water of Lake Superior.

Related:

The Bible of Bike Tests Kicks Off in the U.P.

The Bikes of the Bible

Bible Testers’ Choice: Riding Kits

Todd Poquette Fosters Community in Michigan

Mountain Biking is Big Business in Small Marquette