Cheyenne, WY - October 12, 2016 -- OutdoorGearLab, the outdoor industry’s most popular review site, with more than 35 million visitors to date, today announced a new approach to reviewing bikes that it believes will revolutionize bike purchase decisions. The web site’s 2016 Enduro Mountain Bike review combined four elements never before combined in bike reviews:
- Buying all the bikes themselves (no manufacturer freebies or advertising payola),
- Months of extensive side-by-side testing by a team of experts,
- Benchmarking bike performance based on repeated races on carefully chosen test courses by multiple expert riders,
- Choosing clear winners
According to OutdoorGearLab co-founder Chris McNamara, “We have explicitly set out to change bike purchasing with our reviews -- for the better -- by providing the world’s most in-depth, scientific, and objective side-by-side comparison of bike performance. If we succeed in our mission, consumers reading our reviews will have better insight into actual bike performance than ever before.”
The World’s Largest Investment in Bike Testing
OutdoorGearLab believes its bike reviews represent the largest investment in bike testing the industry has ever seen, totaling more than a $300,000 dollar investment over a two year period. The OutdoorGearLab testing process began with a full year spent testing 11 top-rated 2015 enduro bikes, simply to dial in the testing process. With a team of more than 20 bike experts, OutdoorGearLab’s first year of testing was spent carefully crafting the test plan and processes that could identify pure mountain bike performance in a thoughtful and scientific manner.
That testing process was then applied to the Top Enduro Mountain Bikes of 2016 starting in April 2016, by a team of four expert enduro bike testers, two bike mechanics, and six expert mountain bike consultants. Unlike most reviews based on an afternoon session on one bike, the OutdoorGearLab team of testers spent more than 1000 hours testing the bikes side-by-side.
The Bikes that “Feel” Faster, May Actually Be Slower
According to McNamara, “One of the big surprises in our testing was that the bikes our expert riders ‘felt’ were the fastest turned out to be actually slower on the stopwatch in many cases. Yet, most reviews today are based on one rider heading out for an afternoon ride in isolation and how the ride ‘felt’. We’re not interested in what bike ‘feels’ faster -- especially now that we know that might be misleading. We want to know, to a precision of 1/100th of a second, how much one bike is actually faster than another. Competing reviews will sometimes say, ‘that bike pedals as hard uphill as it shreds downhill.’ That’s not good enough for us. We want to know exactly how fast, compared to competing bikes, based on a scientific and objective measurement process. “
Benchmarking Testing, Not Guessing
One unique aspect of the OutdoorGearLab testing process, is the use of scientific performance benchmarking. Multiple laps on carefully chosen benchmarking courses by a team of expert riders were used measure uphill and downhill performance. Each tester raced in the benchmark course at least four times on each bike. Rather than guess at which bikes felt the fastest, each bike's performance was scientifically measured to within a 100th of a second. OutdoorGearLab invested heavily in scientific benchmark testing because of a belief that this level of detailed side-by-side comparison reviews are a missing piece of the bike purchase information.”
“It’s Not About the Bike” -- Or is it?
Lance Armstrong famously said, “it’s not about the bike.”
McNamara notes, “Everyone who rides knows a $300 Walmart mountain bike can’t keep pace with a state-of-the-art mountain bike. But, how much difference is there even between the very best bikes? How much is it, really, “about the bike?” We set out to find the answer, and we think a lot of mountain bike riders are curious about the question too.”
Based on OutdoorGearLab’s benchmark tests there are real and significant performance differences between bikes. Perhaps surprisingly, the fastest bikes were not the lightest, and the lightest were not the fastest, contradicting a common belief.
In talking about the state of industry bike reviews, McNamara offers strong opinions, “We think most bike reviews today are too strongly influenced by marketing budgets. The result is reviews that are sugar coated by advertising dollars, often based on a brief ride on a loaner bike, offering an inevitably positive spin on each and every bike. This isn’t how reviews are supposed to be done. If you are going to buy a car, there are a lot of really well done reviews. That ethic doesn’t exist for bike reviews today. Yet, many of our friends spend more money on their mountain bike than their car. We think mountain bike consumers deserve objective, in-depth, and scientific bike reviews to guide their decisions just as much as car buyers do.”
Bikes Designed for Performance
McNamara thinks the bike industry will be more consumer-centric once bike reviews are more objective and in-depth. He said, “We believe the kind of honest and in-depth reviews we create will catalyze a shift of manufacturer’s attention away from marketing sizzle, to designing bikes with a pure focus on consumer interests in performance and the real value delivered.”
Watch This Space
OutdoorGearLab has deeply committed to providing the world’s best bike reviews, and has announced that their review of the Best 2017 Trail Mountain Bikes will come out this fall, to be followed by a road bike review, a fat bike review, and more. To date, no company has ever invested so much into bike reviews, and OutdoorGearLab is on a mission to prove the investment is worthwhile for consumers. As McNamara notes, “we’re just getting started.”
The full review of Best Enduro Bikes is available for free viewing at: