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Is road cycling taking over mtn biking in popularity?(38 posts)

Is road cycling taking over mtn biking in popularity?Dave Hickey
Jun 3, 2003 11:23 AM
I've noticed a trend toward road cycling vs mtn biking. Is it me or am I just biased? In the last couple of months I seen

1. The latest Excel Sports catalog has pages and pages of road frames and only a couple of mountain bike frames.
2. Norba canceling events because of lack of sponsorship
3. Dailey posts on RBR from mtn bikers getting into road riding.

Is this just a phase the industry is going through?
the whole world is becoming paved nmishmael
Jun 3, 2003 11:37 AM
you are onto somethingjimmyihatetoregister
Jun 3, 2003 11:41 AM
I love mtb'ing but have spent most of my time on my new LeMond Zurich this winter/spring. In Boulder/CO the popular drive-to trails are very crowded & overused, plus you have to drive, which is a waste of time. Other trails are snowed in. You get a better workout on the road. I have a family & job & volunteer work, so a 3 hr road ride on sat. is better than a 2.0 hr mtb ride combined with a 1 hr drive time. I ride both bikes as much as I can.

Now, if you are talking racing--I'd never do a race on the road but dabble in mtb races every summer.
Don't be afraid to race the road...eyebob
Jun 3, 2003 1:10 PM
Really, do some crit races, have some fun. This type of racing will make you a much stronger mountain bike racer quickly.

Some of it is cyclical. Some of it is Lance.dzrider
Jun 3, 2003 11:43 AM
Once upon a time we all had road bikes and mountaing bikes were new. We bought mountain bikes because they were new and different. Now, all kinds of mountain bike riders, looking for something new and different are buying road bikes. It's all fine with me.
I think Lance is part of it and the other part is like SUV'sDave Hickey
Jun 3, 2003 11:55 AM
I'm not bashing SUV's but that industry is also going through a transition. Most of the SUV owners never drive off road so manufacturers are producing vehicles that look and act more like station wagons(Chrysler Pacifica, Nissan Murato,etc...). Maybe most mtn bike owners never took their bikes off road and now they're buying road bikes.
?? Mtn bikers didn't tread lightly and destroyed all of their...Fez
Jun 3, 2003 11:44 AM

Mtn biking enjoyed a long run in the late 80s and just about all of the 90s.

Or maybe its city bikes and cafe cruisers that are more popular these days.

Or maybe more people are discovering that road biking is actually fun and quite addictive, even if they only will do it on overcrowded MUTs.
Only on the most popular trailsOverStuffed
Jun 3, 2003 1:04 PM
There are still trails that have not been destroyed, either through well-organized groups maintaining the trail, or just educated riders. I find myself having to drive farther and farther for well-maintained singletrack--more than I would like, definitely--but I'm not willing to write off the mountain bike purchase just yet. Especially when I can believe that it's just the rain and trail conditions keeping the ATB inside.
Hey Dave here are a couple of stats info for you.......abicirider
Jun 3, 2003 11:51 AM
In my may edition of Bicycle retailer and industry news its saying that the only import category of bikes that droped was that of mountain bikes down 2% compared to last year in jan 2003 294,854 mountain bikes were imported, in Jan 2002 299,635 mountain bikes were imported but in jan 2001 339,575 mountain bikes were imported as can be seen there is a decline in import rate from 2003 compared to 2002 (-2%)
2002 compared to 2001 (-12%) and 2001 compared to 2000 (-15%) these comparisions are just one mont jan totals for each month.
On the other hand road bikes are still behind in import but way ahead of previous years as shown below:
Jan 2003 116,646 imported up 200% compared to jan of 2002 when only 38,904 were imported but still Jan 2002 is a 130% increase from Jan 2001 when only 19,948 were impoted.
the stats show a continous growth in the import of road bikes for the past several years.
Also the value of Road bikes jumped 44% or $89.00 per unit increase in value.
Just some numbers to ponder hope its not too boring!!!!
Be safe Out On The Roads!!!!!!!!
Ray Still
Mooresville, NC
I wonder what catagory comfort bikes fall into.....nmDave Hickey
Jun 3, 2003 11:57 AM
Class Category descripitionsabicirider
Jun 3, 2003 12:12 PM
in the table there are 5 categories they are as follows:

20 inches
24 inches
Mountain bikes
27" , 700c, other

Most likely comfort bikes fell into the road bikes yet there are plenty of 26" comfort bikes also this is just a import table not including domestic units the import countries listed are China, Taiwan, Phillppines, Mexico , other china by far is the leading import country. for example in all the above categories for the month of Jan 2003 899,097 units were imported from china comared to only 63,514 from Taiwan

Ray Still
If Lance had anything to do with that, he's way under paid. nmpurplepaul
Jun 3, 2003 1:37 PM
re: road cycling rules!Fredrico
Jun 3, 2003 1:08 PM
Always has. Always will. Mountain biking was born out west. That's the main place you'll find pristine outback, like in the SUV commercials. But most people live in cities or suburbs, where there are lots of roads, and the trails are sidewalks. As long as there are roads, road biking will thrive. Roads are wide enough to ride side by side and get to know your riding partners. They're long enough to give you someplace to go, smooth enough for comfort and speed, and graded to give you a better aerobic workout. Convenience and comfort will win every time.
I made the switch...ArvinC
Jun 3, 2003 1:34 PM
...from 10 years of serious MTB'ing to road riding this year. The main reason was getting to the trails and all the stuff that went along with it. Also, was just getting too reckless on the trails for my own good (Went through three helmets in 20 months! Ouch!)

Have yet to really feel comfortable in traffic while on my new ride...but have fallen for the speed, quickness and efficiency a road bike delivers. I think as more and more riders really give riding a road bike a shot, they notice how much fun it can be. Sometimes, when I've really got a good spin going and have a tailwind giving me a gentle push, I realize how effortless speed can be. And for me, this is a way better time than anytime I spent riding singletrack!
Jun 3, 2003 1:43 PM
I hardly think the Excel catalog is a leading indicator of the industry. The fact is there have always been more companies making road bike frames than mountain bike frames, so naturally, road frames will get more pages. Also, some of the heavy hitters in the MTB market (Trek, Specialized) don't allow their frames to be sold online or through catalogs. You have to walk into an LBS to buy one.

Norba? Norba has pissed off everyone and everything it has ever touched. It's no surprise that it is losing sponsors and interest. But the real story here is that Americans haven't done anything in MTB for a long, long time. The best riders right now are Canadians and Europeans. American companies aren't very interested in sponsoring Euros, so unless Americans start winning again, American sponsors aren't interested, and American sponsors are the ones with the bucks to spend.

I mountain bike a lot, and from what I can tell, mountain biking is as strong now as it has ever been. I don't see any fewer riders on the trails today than I did two years ago. But maybe that's just the SF Bay Area, the birthplace of MTB.
Mountain biking is too tough for most beginnersColnagoFE
Jun 3, 2003 1:43 PM
When you are just starting out the last thing you need is to encounter 4 foot drops and 15% climbs over slippery roots. Road biking is much easier to go at your own pace. Mountain biking can really beat you up. People who mistakenly bought mountain bikes for road and cummuting use are discovering that they aren't as agile or comfortable as a good road bike can be.
better watch girls on the sidewalk than trees passing bycolker
Jun 3, 2003 1:54 PM
mountain biking took it's cool factor to the limit and it's fun is now plugged on danger/ accrobatics. who can jump 15 ft on $4000 bikes?
otoh, the idea of a mountain bike as the perfect commuter leaks... a road bike is faster and takes you far far away in comfort. it looks better too.
LBS says sales were 90/10 MB, now almost 50/50cory
Jun 3, 2003 2:13 PM
Happened to talk to a couple of Reno shop owners about this recently. Both said they were about 90 percent mountain bikes a decade ago, but now are close to 50/50. Main reasons, one guy said, are that road cycling is easier on aging baby boomer bodies, and "you can GO somewhere." Even here where mountain biking is pretty good, you can run out of new rides. On a roadie, there's always someplace to go.
Wish I could have the money I spent on my mtn bike back..TNSquared
Jun 3, 2003 2:16 PM
my road bike would sure be alot sexier if i'd saved the money i spent on a higher end mtn bike - which, btw, hasn't left the wall of my garage since i bought the road bike
Wish I could have the money I spent on my mtn bike back..gtscottie
Jun 3, 2003 2:39 PM
Man don't do that!! Don't let your mtb collect dust. Remember back to the good times you guys had together on the trails. The drops the roots the nature and compare that to getting blown off the road by everybody in SUVs. I use my mountain bike to find a little sanity after a week of commuting 50 miles a day to work on my road bike.

Find the balance Dude!!
You're right of course, but the road is calling for now..TNSquared
Jun 3, 2003 6:31 PM
I will get back to the trails, and won't miss the stop lights one bit. Right now, though, I'm making alot of improvement on the road bike, and so it has most of my attention.

I have to admit, though, that you've got me thinking about how I can fit some mtn biking in to my schedule. I'm sure my wife will be thrilled to hear that! :)
Road is just more pure!nicholasdunford
Jun 3, 2003 11:15 PM
I used to ride a mtb years ago, and then just recently decided I would get back into it. But when I went to purchase a bike, I was upset that mountain bikes have turned into a mess of suspension, disk brakes and other crap that just isn't right. It just seemed like everyone wanted a motocross bike they could pedal. So I started looking at rode bikes because there is something so clean and pure about a rigid frame made solely for riding. I think like everything else, people are getting sick of the hype and the flash and either discovering or rediscovering the beautiful simplicity of rode bikes.
There's Mountain Bikes and Mountain Biking...miposy
Jun 3, 2003 2:37 PM
...Mountain Bikes were the top selling style of bike for awhile, and Mountain Biking did grow from nothing to what it is today in a very short time, but you have to realize road biking and road bikes already existed, and didn't have as much room for growth as Mountian Biking did. What we are seeing now is a "correction," much like the Internet bubble when it burst.

Another consideration is, and I say this as somebody who does both and with all due respect, anybody can ride a road bike on a road or MUT (granted, not all people are fast, but they can all do it, men, women, children, grandparents, etc.). Also, anybody can do it right out their front door; it is only a lucky minority that can MTB right from their front door.

Road riding is very, very, easy compared to "real" mountain biking. What I mean by real is rocks, roots, ruts, drops, sand, shale, and sometimes snow here in the Northwest. You can either do it or you can't. It's much harder to be a poser on an MTB.

The market for roadbikes is dramatically larger than for mtbs, and the popularity of Lance hasn't hurt either.
There's Road Bikes and Road Biking...seyboro
Jun 3, 2003 5:05 PM
To paraphrase your second to last paragraph:
Mountain biking is very, very easy compared to 'real' road riding. What I mean by real is 28 mph group rides, pulls into hurricane strength headwinds, 8% grade for 8 miles, a rotating paceline, echelons in brutal crosswinds, thunderstorms and sometimes frost here in the southeast. You can either do it or you can't. As for the poser factor, undecided, plenty of dual suspension out there on the rails-to-trails, though...
There's Road Bikes and Road Biking...FearNo1
Jun 3, 2003 7:46 PM
Since I am a experienced mountain biker and race within the midwest and the western states as an amatuer, I can definitely agree that the mountain biking scene exploded within the last 7 years. As for the poser factor, it is amazing to see people buy expensive mountain bikes and then go out to technical trails and totally biff or become involved in accidents while trying to do something that they do not have the skills or yet to learn. But for a majority of the people you call "posers" they deserve the credit that at least they are out there learning and trying it out and actually helping my race team and local clubs out by actually promoting the sport in a big way. If it weren't for the "posers" and the massive influx of trail riders, we would not have been able to fight legislation with the combined forces of IMBA and CAMBR here in IL to build new trails, repair existing trails, and fight for the extension of our natural Forest Preserves. Don't get me wrong, I am not a die hard Conservationist but am a die hard mountain biker who sees that the more land we set aside for preservation may help in opening up some new trails so that the existing trails/areas can be rotated out so that it can be regrown and repaired. But there are definitely people who deserve the term "poser" because they have no trail etiquette or regard to the land and ruin it for everyone else. These people are usually the people that ride the expensive over-priced full-suspension downhill bikes which the LBS has been able to con them into purchasing and then going out in the Preserves blazing new unsanctioned trails and ruining the natural land while usually hurting themselves and their new bikes. That is why not everyone can be labeled posers since beginners can be seen as that and everyone started at some point. Even after nearly a decade of mountain/trail riding I still only consider myself an experienced advanced amatuer who has now become entrigued with single speed hardtail mountain bikes. But since I am now learning the sport of road riding, someone on the road more experienced than I may see me as a poser since I am new to his/her sport. Sorry for the rant, but just my $.02.
Lance, OLN, spinning....Bruno S
Jun 3, 2003 4:13 PM
I do believe these three factors are making road bikes more popular. What is not clear is if less mountain biking is being done because of it. People may be getting into the sport, not necessarily transfering from mtb.
Lance, OLN, spinning.... yesThe Human G-Nome
Jun 3, 2003 4:24 PM
IMO, the arrival of Lance as a marketable commodity mirrors the arrival of Euro stars in basketball like Nowitski and the arrival of Yao Ming for China. their success has brought in a fan base where it never existed before and in turn, has created a whole new generation of young Euros playing basketball and excelling. the first round of this year's NBA draft promises to be the most euro saturated ever. Yao went 1st last year, while Darko will go #2 overall this year.

on a different, less visible scale, the same thing will happen to road biking in the U.S. with so many more young folks thinking it's "cool" to ride a road bike and ride it hard, eventually this will translate into even more american success in Europe. sure, we have our successes now, but 10 years from now (even 5 perhaps) it will be a whole new world.
In general, yes. For me, NO!Tig
Jun 3, 2003 6:06 PM
I still love a fast lung-busting group ride or any ride on my fixed gear, but I've been riding MTB more and more the last 6 months. I started MTB riding back in '84 before it got really popular, so its in my blood. It might be because the trails have been dry during our drought. It could be because of the many hundreds of hours of trail work by volunteers like myself to improve the local super technical single track at Jack Brooks County Park. These trails are a blast and would challenge even the most experienced NORBA pro. It may also have something to do with the weekly rides with my 70 year old dad who loves to ride single track in the forests here.

I think is it a combination of all the above, plus the special feeling I get just by being in the trees and away from "civilization". The only downfall I see in my local MTB riding would be I have to drive to get to the trails, and too much rain keeps the trails off limits for a few days. Oh yeah, I forgot the poision ivy and banana spiders!

Joe launching a bit of air in the "Brickyards" at Jack Brooks Park.
re: Is road cycling taking over mtn biking in popularity?toronto-rider
Jun 3, 2003 8:05 PM
This year I have ridden my MTB 3 times, 2 were provincial cup races and the other was a mid week MTB race

Reasons why I road ride more than MTB now:

We have had the worst spring/summer with lots of rain, the trails are too wet and I don't feel like cleaning my bike after every ride. After the Sunday race I spent 2 hrs cleaning my bike then the next Wed. spent an hour cleaning the bike after the Mid week race. I spent more time cleaning my MTB than ridding it.

I am much stronger on the road than on the MTB. I race in the Sport class in MTB and my best result in 3 years is 15th. On my group road ride there are guys who come in top 3 in the Expert class, and I can drop some of them on the road. That same guy puts 15 min on me on a 1hr 30min MTB race.

I have to get in my car to get a decent MTB ride.

With the mud, sand, rocks when MTB ridding my MTB is always in the LBS for repair, truing wheels, new brake pads after a wet ride, shock needs servicing. I have yet to take my road bike in for service.

I still enjoy MTB ridding, but the hassle factor is just not worth it.
It's true for me...config
Jun 4, 2003 12:32 AM
I know I'm a convert. I loved MTBing but I opened my eyes one day when someone asked me one day why I drove over 10 miles to go mountain biking approx 7 miles then load everything back in the car to drive back 10 miles. Why not just ride the paved road? So that is what I do now.
re: Is road cycling taking over mtn biking in popularity?copenhavertl
Jun 4, 2003 12:36 AM
First time I got on a mtn bike I thought I'd never ride road again, now I'm back in the fold. I think that the popularity of Lance Armstrong has put a lot of focus back on the road bike.
re: Is road cycling taking over mtn biking in popularity?aliensporebomb
Jun 4, 2003 3:12 AM
Oddly enough it took my wifes gift of a mountain bike to get
me back into cycling again. Which lead to me getting a new
road bike last year and I've really liked it. But now I'm
going to replace that heavy old hardtail with a different MTB
with suspension this time. I figure if I had my roadie, my
MTB and my commuter that should be enough for the moment.

They each have their purposes and I go thru phases being
obsessed with at least one of them for a while.
Blasphemy!Mel Erickson
Jun 4, 2003 6:39 AM
Three is never enough! What about a fixed gear or a one speed? A tandem is a must if your wife thinks along cycling lines (she must to have given you a MTB). You need a wind trainer bike, too. And, and...a rain/winter bike. Plus, a show bike, something to drop some serious cash into (think black hole). There must be more. Stop me, before I buy again!
I'm really amazed that more people don't do both...dante
Jun 4, 2003 5:52 AM
Each compliments the other, and anything on a bike is fun as hell... On my MTBs I ride XC, I freeride, I race DH (sport). Just got a road bike over the winter and am enthralled by the speed, but it is still only in the 1/3 of the rotation. Speed is fun on the road, but grinding through techy roots, rocks, loose shale descents, slick-rock "rollers", jumps, wheelie-drops are fun as well. There's nothing better than smooth twisty single-track that you can crank in the flattish sections and carve your way through the trees, leaning your bike into each turn and barely avoiding smacking your shoulders into the trees. Or a rocky rooty descent where your bike is moving fluidly underneath you but your upper body maintains almost a straight line down the hill.


(me while visiting Sedona last year)
Yep, I love MTB and road riding but for different reasons. . .js5280
Jun 4, 2003 7:56 AM
Road riding is all about speed, efficiency, and endurance while MTB tends to be more about power, momentum, and quick decision making. I love drafting someone doing over 20mph, but descending a rocky trail section at 5 mph can be just as thrilling. Road biking is convenient because you can go out your front door and it takes you somewhere. MTB can take you to serene, remote areas that few people ever see and takes you to nowhere. I find that road biking is more competitive (keep up or be dropped) whereas MTB is more social (let's re-ride that cool section and take some photos, meet you at the top of the hill). Spend a little time on MTBR and you'll immediately see the different view of what riding is about.

They both compliment each other, but they are very different forms of riding. Why choose between grinding away endless miles on the road or riding trails only on weekends when you can do both? I do think though that some people (i.e. perfectionists) do like to choose one and master it, whereas us ADD types prefer the variety.
re: Is road cycling taking over mtn biking in popularity?Mazinger
Jun 4, 2003 6:19 AM
I do both, but since I've been trying to loose weight I ride the road most of the time. MTB for me is more for fun and road is for fun and excercise.

It's also been raining like crazy around here, so the trails are off limits until they dry up.
I feel safer...Mazinger
Jun 4, 2003 6:27 AM
I feel safer going down a steep hill w/ ruts, roots, rocks, and drops than riding in traffic. lol
HistoryCharlie Amerique
Jun 4, 2003 10:27 AM
Like everything else, there are cycles involved (well, I would have liked that pun to have been intentional). Years ago, pre-Lance and even pre-Lemond, road riding and racing was a viable sport in NorAm. Along the way it became the sport of the elite and after a while it became passé. New sports took over (anyone remember the handball craze of the late 80s??) and cycling faded.
People discovered mountain biking (no, it wasn't Gary Focking Fisher) and the exploration began. New trails... new adventures and racing on dirt! Time goes by, trail access becomes an issue. Not In My Backyard mentalities, Wheeled Locusts, etc. grow and people have to fight for every inch of dirt.
Road riding becomes easier... grab a bike and hit the road. No drive time to the trails, no parking passes needed, no trail permits.

I was and still am an avid mountain biker and when I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area I would only ride on the road to commute to and from work. Never... NEVER for pleasure because of the traffic, the crappy drivers and the lackadaisical attitudes politicians had towards making roads safer for cyclist (don't even get me started on CalTrans!).

No, living in the Montréal area I can appreciate riding the road for pleasure. Everywhere I look I see cyclists riding or bikes of all kinds in or on cars. Bike racks filled with bikes in front of cafés and stores and even separated lanes just for bikes in the downtown areas. My love for the road was reborn in new place, but my mountain bike still gets dirty on a regular basis.