Vélo-flâneur’s article on underbiking was written nearly two years ago, but it’s still very much valid as “adventure biking” grows in popularity. Will we see rough stuff riding become the Next Big Thing and become whored-out by the bike manufacturers, or will it remain what is essentially a fringe activity?
The bicycle industry loves specialization. Witness what’s become of the once-universal mountain bike. We’re now bombarded with cross country, all mountain, freeride, trail, and urban variants. One bike is no longer sufficient. The off-road enthusiast is now expected to choose a bike much like a golfer would choose a club. Gone is the one-bike-fits-all paradigm.
The image and allure of competitive cycling definitely helps drives bicycle sales. And for the tiny percentage of enthusiasts who do compete, function-specific equipment absolutely makes sense. But what about everyone else? Are they to believe that their “endurance” road bike needs to be swapped out for a cross bike when they encounter a few meters of dirt or gravel? Are bikes shod with chubby, treaded tires permanently relegated to MUPs?
“My bike takes me places that school never could,” may sound trite and rather Hallmark-esque, but chances are, if you’re reading this, it probably resonates with you. Riding a bike–any bike–is a chance to color outside the lines, or even ignore the lines completely. And when I color, I don’t want to be restricted to a single medium.