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Adventures for All

6 Horrible Things People do to Mountain Bikes

Pink streamers on a fast bike equals funny.

Last season, I got a good laugh out of a fit, fast racer with pink streamers on the handlebars of her tricked-out mountain bike. I loved the “don’t take me too seriously” humor. The streamers were hysterical … but I’ve seen many other people perform perverse acts on perfectly nice bikes – all by fitting them with ill-advised accessories. Here’s a roundup of the six most horrible things you can put on your mountain bike. (And when you’re done laughing, check out 3 Awesome Things People do to Their Mountain Bikes.)

A Kickstand

Kickstands have their place: on beach cruisers, commuting bikes and kids’ bikes. They don’t belong on a seriously sweet trail bike. First, it’s dangerous – with all the jarring of off-road riding, the kickstand will never stay in place. Second, you should be riding way too much to need a kickstand. If you want a way to get to the local coffeehouse, get the right bike so you don’t have to desecrate a real off-road machine.

Slick Tires

Smooth tires are great. They let you pedal over pavement with a lot less resistance, letting you go faster. Notice how I said “over pavement”? That means smooth tires belong on bikes meant for riding in their milieu. Why buy a mountain bike and put slick tires on it? The most egregious example I’ve seen recently was a Santa Cruz Blur with a full XT group all dressed up for road riding. I actually felt sorry for that poor bike.

Flat Pedals

There’s something sad about a off-road racing machine with platform pedals. I can understand a bit of newbie fear factor when getting into mountain biking. But if you can afford a $4,000 bike and are willing to spend that much cash, you’d better already know what’s best for your bike. And platform pedals are not it. I suppose I’ll cut downhillers some slack – but nobody else!

A Gas-Powered Motor

Nothing says “I’ve had one DUI too many” like retro-fitting a gas engine to your bicycle. This is already bad when the bike in question is an ugly POS. But it becomes an epic travesty when said putting engine clings to the side of a decent bike.

A Pump – On the Wrong Side

Frame-mounted pumps are great – they’re always around when you need them. I really like the kind with a bracket under the water bottle cage on the downtube. But obey this one rule: Make sure you mount the bracket so it holds the pump on the non-drive side. In other words, the side that doesn’t include the cranks. You wouldn’t want some off-road shaking and shuddering to knock the pump loose and into the chainrings.

BMX-Style Handlebars

Some grizzled, mulleted old ex-1970s BMX racers love to combine the current reality of mountain bikes with the BMX looks of their youth. The result? An abominable collision of styles – a horribly upswept handlebar desecrating a mountain bike. Combine this with the gas motor, and you’ll be the ultimate two-wheeled hillbilly.

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7 Responses to 6 Horrible Things People do to Mountain Bikes

  1. Another Wanderer says:

    Most of us with some experience don’t buy into the elitist and less than rational attitude that clipless pedlas are the only answer. Each have their place, and ultimately it is rider preference. Some of us have bikes with each style and may even change them depending upon conditions.

    Here’s an example of a balanced viewpoint based on facts and reality:
    http://betterride.net/blog/2011/head-mtb-skills-coach-andy-ws-take-on-clipless-pedals/

  2. A few things you should realize here: First, I’m a cross-country rider, so clipless pedals will always always always be my choice. Second, this post isn’t about “rational facts” and “realities”: It’s about laughing a bit at some observations about our sport. I’ve ridden since 1992, so I love poking fun at some of the things I see. I mean, you seriously took this post seriously? I’m talking about handlebar streamers, gas motors and old dudes with mullets!

    I don’t care what you or anyone else rides as long as you have fun and come home safe at the end of each ride. I will give you one practical piece of mountain bike advice now, though – don’t love mountain biking so much that you can’t laugh at it.

    Just curious – you submitted your comment using my own email address. Is there a particular reason for that?

  3. Sam says:

    This was a nice read. Though I don’t 100% agree with the slick tires. Because some people probably only have one bike that is used for all riding purposes, some people may have 2 sets of tires/wheels for their mountain bike rig. Because it takes too much time to change tires, I have 2 quick-release wheelsets that can easily be swapped. When I’m just riding around town, I swtich it to the wheelset that has really slick tires so that it rides faster on pavement. When I’m going on a trail that weekend, I’ll switch it to the wheelset with aggressive treads.

  4. Harm says:

    Good fun post…I am not even a novice mountain biker…I am not that good. I did learn one important thing…the pump on the wrong side…I will have to check mine!

    I am an old guy (49) just trying to get in shape!

  5. [...] ago, I posted 6 Horrible Things People Do to Mountain Bikes. Let’s flip it the the positive side – here are some awesome things people do to and for [...]

  6. Joe Murray says:

    Anyone who can’t ride a MTB without clipless pedals can’t ride a MTB.
    What do ya need a pump for????
    Sounds like you’re a roadie on a MTB….

  7. Damn, I wish you were the real Joe Murray …

    Thanks for the laugh, either way!

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