It’s hard to believe it’s been a month since 2016 Fall Outerbike, the annual consumer demo event where mountain bike enthusiasts go to Moab to ride impressive bikes on awe-inspiring trails.
When Mark Clark suggested we get a group together, the idea seemed unbelievably good and got better the more we thought about it. Moab is known as one of the best riding spots on the planet, so it became kind of a bucket-list thing for all of us. Our group included two industrial designers and two engineers — the photo above is a group shot. From left to right, we are Dan Massam, Ed Mitchell, Mark Clark, and Andrew Weiman. We put together this post as a quick recap of our adventure.
But first! The all-important crash tally:
Dan: Zero (but lots of close calls)
Mark: Zero (and one close-call wheelie going up a steep hill)
Andrew: Er, uh, I win!
The Best Bikes We Tried
Mark: The Ibis Mojo 3: It has the dw-link Suspension technology which just feels rock solid on climbs and plush on the rough terrain and downhills. I rode many other bikes during the trip and this one was the lightest and most nimble. That said, some of the bike’s suspension was not well set up, and that really took away from the experience. The fine tuning and adjusting required to get the feel you are used to takes some time and energy.
Dan: The Haibike Downhill E-Bike was amazing. It was the last thing I tested, and I was dead tired. Dialing up the assist to 300% of pedal input and silently flying uphill at 20mph was so effortless and unreal that I couldn’t stop grinning.
Ed: Either the GT sensor or the Salsa—I really enjoyed the way they rode.
Andrew: It’s hard to say—I was really happy on Santa Cruz, Ellsworth, and Yeti bikes.
Dan: Bull Run, for its really fun fast sections, some exposure (“exposure,” I learned, is the term for riding along the edge of a cliff), and fantastic terrain. Lots of slrickrock, which you just don’t get back east.
Mark: Mag 7 (Magnificent 7), because it has an amazing view and is technically challenging with some great exposure. Also didn’t hurt that I was riding the Ibis Mojo 3.
Ed: The beginning of lower Captain Ahab was the most fun for me! It had awesome terrain, big drop, and rocks to climb over.
Andrew: Captain Ahab — the terrain is just so spectacular.
Most Interesting Technology
Dan: It was really interesting to me that over the past the years, the top-end bikes have moved away from 29” wheels with 20+ gears to 27.5” wheels with 11 or 12 gears in a 1×12 configuration — so no front derailleur. Every bike had an invaluable dropper post (a telescoping seat post) as well.
Mark: The Yeti had a floating pivot, which looked really interesting. I didn’t get an opportunity to ride it, but the technology allows the pivot point to float an inch or so vertically. There was also an internally geared hub that was really interesting, but I couldn’t see how the added weight would offset its benefits.
Andrew: E bikes were certainly interesting — but they’re not mountain bikes in my humble opinion. I can imagine exploring a state park on one, but there’s a satisfaction in the exertion it takes to ride to the top and down.
Ed: There is a lot of cool stuff out there, lots of carbon fiber and full suspensions. Probably one of the more technically unique bikes was the Cannondale Lefty. I didn’t get a chance to ride it, but it looked wild.
Most Impressive Design Detail
Dan: Ellsworth finishes its bikes with a semitransparent paint job so you can see the beautifully laid up carbon fiber underneath. If I had one of their bikes, I would wash it constantly.
Mark: Carbon fiber everywhere! What was interesting was how it was finished — raw or painted; sleek, or made to look industrial. All while providing amazingly beautiful bikes that you almost don’t want to ride for potentially scratching these pieces of art. The Specialized S-Works stood out as the one that took the form, the material, and the finish to another level. Though the Ellsworth looked amazing, too.
Ed: There were interesting details that were almost universal, like dropper posts and the removal of gear indicators. In terms of aesthetic treatment, the Specialized S-Works stood out because of its dynamic form and paint job — it just looks cool. Some of the accessories they were demoing had nice details, too. I purchased an Osprey bag that uses a magnet to attach the end of your drinking valve to your shoulder straps for easy access to water — little details like that really came in handy.
Andrew: All the beautiful carbon fiber, everywhere.
Dan: Sausage gravy is the best part of a trail day breakfast.
Mark: Technology continues to innovate and provide new things to try and enjoy. The industry is defiantly converging to 27.5mm wheelsets and people are going with larger width wheels.
Ed: You’ve got to jump when you’re going over rocks! And I need to go out West at least once a year.
Andrew: Awareness creates desire, and desire is very expensive. In other news, I learned what I would spec out in my ideal bike: lots of suspension travel, light weight, 27.5 wheels, continuous dropper post, carbon frame, 1×11 gear set, and beyond that, it just has to look cool.
The Existential Question
The question: Would you rather ride your dream bike at home, or your current bike in Moab?
Dan: Ride my current bike (Felt Hardtail) in Moab, but I think the terrain would destroy it.
Mark: My current ride is a Santa Cruz Bronson with a 150mm VPP suspension technology, Chris King 27.5 wheelset and 2.5 continental trail kings, 1×10 drive train, 160mm RockShox Pike, Fox float with Kashmir coating and needle bearings, running a 125mm RockShox dropper post, and best of all, in kelly green! In short, it is AMAZING, so give me Moab any day of the week!
Ed: I have a city bike. It wouldn’t go very far in Moab.
Andrew: My current bike in Moab — those surroundings are just so awe inspiring. It’s fun to ride on expensive bikes but the experience was about the environment. Plus my bike is pretty good. The biggest upgrade it needs is the rider.
If you’re curious about Outerbike and mountain bike design, here are some sites to explore:
(This post is part of Curiosity Club, a series where Bresslergroupers go exploring and ask questions. Goethe wasn’t lying when he said, “Mere curiosity adds wings to every step.”)