If youíre an avid cyclist, thereís no doubt you can find a cycling magazine to fit your style and interests. If youíre a hard-core mountain biker and your vocabulary runs towards words like rad, shredding, ripping, and a liberal sprinkling of mild profanity, Bike may the magazine for you.
Once youíve rifled past the first 30 or so pages, sheets filled with numerous tempting advertisements, the editorís column, and letters to the editor, you come to one of the best features of the magazine, Buzz. If you want a glimpse of awesome mountain biking spots around the world, check out the readersí photos featured in Buzz. One issue alone (November 2011) had full-color, large-format photos from Hawaii, British Columbia, Argentina, Slovakia, California, and Washington. Other photos focus on the amazing mix of people out there riding in those fabulous places.
The next item in the table of contents is Splatter, a collection of short essays on events, people, places, trails and culture. With motivating photos taking up more room than the words, Splatter gives a quick overview of a variety of information, opinions, personal stories and advice. The first essay typically is The Scene, a brief depiction of some aspect of the mountain biking scene, whether itís a tour company with a unique perspective, a place for women to learn to ride, or a great urban riding locale. 7 Reasons Why gives you seven reasons why...itís cool to ride with a guide (Sept/Oct 2011); weíre really nothing more than a species of freaks and kooks (Nov 2011); or your red herrings can hardly swim (July 2011). Other personal essays bring to light individual perspectives on the sport.
Ask Chopper is ďthe bible of bike advice.Ē Readers send in questions about bike mechanics, training, culture, and more, and regular columnist Greg Randolph answers their questions with humor-laced practical information.
Flip past a few more advertisements and youíll find Grimy Handshake, a regular column by Mike Ferrentino. These essays tend to be about some aspect of the mountain bike culture: wearing lycra instead of baggies; the morality of poaching trails; or the importance of paying attention and staying in the moment.
The longer feature articles in Bike vary widely in topic and content. Recent articles have covered cycling in Peru, public trail access issues, and outrageous rides in Taiwan. The annual photo issue focuses entirely on readers photographs. Itís like a wonderfully expanded Buzz that fills the magazine.
In the last section of the magazine are the bike, gear and products reviews. Most are based on first-hand testing, but some are simple product descriptions. Either way, itís a good place to find out about the latest stuff you can buy for mountain biking.
Bottom line? Bike magazine is definitely worth a look if youíre a mountain biker or if youíre at all interested in the possibility of getting off the paved path. For a newbie, the level of commitment and excellence displayed might be intimidating, but the sheer inspiration is worth it. Check it out and see if itís for you.
Note: I obtained copies of Bike on my own; none were provided to me for the purposes of this review and I have no expectation of recompense for writing this review.