Similar Products Used: Decline, Mountain Bike, Bike, and Dirt Rag
Bike Setup: Lynskey 29r, Santa Cruz Nomad and Niner Rip9 with all the good stuff
from Friday Harbor, WA
Date Reviewed: July 31, 2009
Strengths: Some good articles. I like the trail grams. Thats about it
Weaknesses: The biasedness was something I hadn't noticed, but, I had been picking up a really bad vibe from reading the thing lately. I read about that and I realized why. The magzine really does subtly tell you to buy those bikes. My other issue is that the magazine takes itself way to seriously. It has this feeling that it's giving you orders, and telling you what to like, that I don't really like. I am a downhiller, so a lot of the stuff in this magazine I just don't identify with.
Bike Setup: 08 custom Kona Garbanzo Primo, dee trax wheels, x9, raceface
a Cross Country Rider
from Washington, DC
Date Reviewed: June 1, 2009
Strengths: Technical articles; reviews, etc.
Weaknesses: too many ads and biased reviews.
Reading through all of the negative reviews below, I'm pretty shocked that people are surprised that MBA (or almost any publication for that matter) bends their content to please their sponsors. Magazines and newspapers are dropping like flies, so don't be surprised when the publication hands out positive reviews to their biggest sponsors. Take this magazine for what it is: ENTERTAINMENT. DirtRag is a far superior mag.
That being said, MBA has some good points.
- Their "Garage Files" section contain some really good info. I have actually cut a few of them out for future reference.
- Their new bike reviews, while not the most unbiased, contain a lot of good information about the bikes like geometry, suspension details, etc.
- The Trailgrams section is pretty entertaining.
- The pictures (especially user submitted) are great.
During downtime and winter months, it really does get you psyched to get back behind the bars.
a Weekend Warrior
from Whitefish Bay WI USA
Date Reviewed: August 31, 2008
Strengths: it stinks
Weaknesses: it stinks
This is a repost of a comment I made some time ago elsewhere in MTBR. There must be a direct connection between MBA magazine and Specialized and Santa Cruz bikes. I just let my subscription lapse 'cause, amongst other things,I got tired of reading the constant stream of hype associated with these two brands. Another thing I've noticed is a real west coast bias. Moerover the last two years is significant negative reviews of GF and Trek products that ended abruptly and completely with a complete 180 about six to eight months ago and now its all smiles for both brands. In parallel were constant sniper comments about GF himself that evaporated into complete gushing by the same authors around eight months ago. Its all very odd.
BTW has anyone noticed that the photographs in this magazine are angled to make them seem more dramatic and daring. I clearly have too much time on my hands but if you follow the growth of the vegetation, they are often angling the photos by about 30 degrees.
Bike Setup: Full Squish MC Zen, GF Tass, Redline Monocog, Redline Mono9
a Cross Country Rider
from Mantua, OH
Date Reviewed: August 23, 2008
Strengths: Great Articles on just about everything you need to know. Also in the back, there are pages of product and stores so you can just flip to the back if you need to purchase a new component for your bike.
Weaknesses: Would Like to Have a few more articles than what there is for the price of the magazine.
I will still purchase and subscribe to this magazine. It is one of the more popular ones in the US and has alot of good advise from a beginner to expert.
a Weekend Warrior
from Anchorage, Alaska
Date Reviewed: March 21, 2008
Strengths: Trailgrams is cool. It is refreshing to read about people who ride and see pictures of where they ride. It is cool to see that they all aren't riding a Santa Cruz or a Specialized.
Weaknesses: After subscribing for two years I am sick of seeing nothing but advertisements. Yes, they do review a lot of bikes but they seem to focus mainly on Santa Cruz or Specialized. It is more interesting to read reviews from MTBR than to read the biased opinion of a tester who rode the bike one or two days. One thing Mountain Bike Action should know, "If I wanted a KHS catalog, I would call KHS".
I have yet to buy a copy of Dirt Rag, so I will give it a try. MBA Subscription is HISTORY!
Similar Products Used: Bike, Mountain Bike Magazine, Bicycling
Bike Setup: Huffy Pro Thunder 4
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: March 18, 2008
Strengths: man they've got so many cool pictures! well i look at those mags only for the pictures(most of the time) unless there are tips about riding
Weaknesses: i remembered the latest i read which is April and March, they have suggestions about getting more riding hours(those of you who read knows what i'm talking about) and...they suggest waking up 4 in the morning? do all the riding before work (eat,ride,come home,shower,leave for work) man that is just crazy...
oh i almost forgot this is talkin about MBA, i love biking and this mag really inspire me to go on a ride when i'm lazy, looking at all those sweet awesome pictures it just BAM! pull me out on a ride. sometimes i'm really disappointed to see bad reviews on the company i love, i trust, specially the SRAM nation. but sometimes their tips are useful, in those latest one i read they suggest:DO NOT TRUST THE ONLINE REVIEWS, READ OUR MAGAZINE FOR THE BEST something something, you get the idea, i wonder why...
Similar Products Used: i like that one guy who said toilet paper, that was amazingly funny
Bike Setup: iron horse something PRO (green with RS team boxxer), gary fisher cake(can remember the model, pretty much built from scratch, except the frame) Mondraker(man i wish i know the model, its red with black rear triangle, its a all mountain fullsus), JBC Pro(its really light...no clue what the model is again...) and last my trial/street/dirt jump/wheelie/messin around bike, its from a frame company called Astro in Taiwan, its really awesome but kind of too big for me to do trial and DJ...
a Cross Country Rider
from Mission Viejo, Ca, USA
Date Reviewed: February 16, 2008
Strengths: Cool photos, every now and again a refreshing idea
Weaknesses: VERY BIASED REVIEWS TOWARDS BIG MANUFACTURERS, TREK GT, SPECIALIZED,GIANT, etc. are their cash cows and are always well taken care of. It is real easy for mountain bike action to beat up on the little guys.
The real problem with Mountain Bike Action is what truly makes The USA a great country, Capitalism. The all mighty dollar controls what is written in this magazine. It is crystal clear in the bikes that they review and the way they write their reviews. Big manufacturers especially SPECIALIZED never had anything negative written about them. There is never any mention of Specialized NIGHTMARE warranty policies where 6-8 week turnaround is common, or NO warranty is offered. It also doesn't mention how lousy these high production bikes ride in extremely technical and steep stuff. Our thrash tests have seen riders who own specialized bikes carry their bikes back to the truck, in pieces.
Where I have issues with MBA is when they self market themselves as the #1 tip for buying a bike in the March,2008 issue. These are the issues that you really have to look out for as they show you 80 bikes and their price ranges. The cover features pics of Specialized, of course, Giant, Haro, KHS, and Kona. $$$$$. They claim that their testing is the best way to buy bikes, and to stay away from online forums. They fail to mention that forums are a true UNBIASED opinion, but do say that forums provide wrong information. I have a problem with this as I have gotten a wealth of useful product info online.
It was also interesting to see an article on how to sell your old bike. No mention of the classifieds here at MTBR, this must be a competitor. They mention E-Bay and Craigslist, but do not mention this site, very interesting. It must be because MTBR offers a review of their magazine here, are they scared?
In summary, you always have to remember that MBA is a big magazine and their big dollars come from big manufacturers that pay big dollars. MBA will never bite the hand that feeds it, they are not that dumb.
My father-in-law insists on buying this poo. MBA has been exposing itself to me since the late '80s, like a molesting uncle. It is comparable to Fox News in the quality of info- you might see pictures but you're not getting the facts. The most annoying thing is Dick Cunningham (Ask R.C.!). He paints himself the world's most knowledgeable expert in all things mountain bike, but the bikes he had a hand in (Mantis, way back when) sucked resolutely. His personal opinions color all the reviews, and while there may occasionally be good tips or even some insight on a part or design, he never ever admits a mistake. He bagged on the DW-Link suspension design in its first appearance in MBA (I think it was an Iron Horse) and look now- DW-Link is one of the best-regarded designs in the sport. This mag is a cult of ego for the guy. Try Singletrack (UK) or Dirt Rag or Bike for some perspective. Mountain biking is more about the ride than what you ride, but MBA will never stop pimping new gear and recycling old tips.
Similar Products Used: shoprags, toilet paper, campaign mailings
Bike Setup: Ventana El Salt, other stuff
a Weekend Warrior
from Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Date Reviewed: August 3, 2007
Strengths: More directed at my kind of riding
Weaknesses: Specialized, Santa Cruz and other So-Cal bike companies seem to get an inordinant amount of press from them.
i wrote a letter a couple of years ago criticizing them on their choices of bike tests, as it seemed Specialized and Santa Cruz were featured waaaaaaay too much for my liking. They published it but unfortunately for me, I didn't make my point clear (I mentioned bike tests vs actual page space dedicated to certain brands.) So, in their rebuttal, they proved me wrong. Oh well, my bad,I guess. Anyways, i still read MBA, as my wife bought me a two year subscription for my birthday. I find it the lesser of all other evils since I do mostly XC riding anyways. I would love to see a wider variety of brands featured but they state they only feature what they receive from the manufacturers. While this may be true, it is obvious that Santa Cruz and Specialized have picked up on this marketing opportunity.
Weaknesses: Technical advice in their articles is not infrequently flat wrong. See below.
Letter to the Editor of MBA
I wanted to point out a few criticisms of the MBA article “Riding Tips That Don’t Cost Anything” (May 2007) that I feel are quite important. The most helpful educational tool for me has been “Mastering Mountain Bike Skills” by Brian Lopes and Lee McCormack. (If you like mountain biking, there is no reason not to own this book.) The lion’s share of this criticism is straight from that fine book.
On braking tips, the MBA article does not mention loading (pressing your bike into the ground). This is the best way to slow down fast and spend less time on the brakes. In their chapter, Braking Better to Go Faster, Lopes and McCormack say: “Really cram your tires into the ground.” (pp.47) Pro mountain biker Mark Weir says, “two fingered braking is bad braking” (Lopes and McCormack agree) – use one finger at the end of the lever (unlike your cover-featured demo rider).
On cornering tips, the MBA article does not mention loading or leaning the bike – the two of which in combination are the key to turning fast. “You can dramatically increase traction by pressing your bike down while you carve your turns.” (pp.56) Lopes and McCormack spend many pages describing how to lean properly in corners. Leaning is treated as paramount.
The MBA article says: “Unless you’re launching a huge double-jump or riding through a rock garden, you don’t need to have a death grip on the handlebar,” and that in rocks riders should “…brace your arms and shoulders…. let you bike’s front suspension punch down the trial.” In the chapter on jumping and the section on rocks, Lopes and McCormack emphasize over and over the importance of staying loose and relaxed – no bracing, punching or death griping. Jumping and rocks are NOT the time to tighten up. (Look at a photo of a confident rider laying their bike flat in the air – most of the time they are barely holding onto the bars at all.)
“Jumping is easier said than done.” This statement is unhelpful and perpetuates a misplaced, awe-struck fear that many XC-focused riders have of jumping. Jumping is (or should be) a fundamental part of trail riding. It is not outside the ability of the average mountain biker to learn and feel comfortable with the basics of jumping.
“Any rock that meets your tire at or below the axle can be safely rolled over.” Rolling axle high rocks or logs is a bad recommendation and with any speed, potentially dangerous. Lopes and McCormack say: “…try to unweight, wheelie, hop or jump over the obstacles. When you stop crashing into things, you’ll immediately increase your speed and control.”
Similar Products Used: All mtb publications available in bookstores and online in English
a Cross Country Rider
from Denver, CO
Date Reviewed: March 31, 2007
Strengths: Decent technical tips and techniques
Weaknesses: Intellectually, very weak.
This mag seems pretty dumbed-down but they do go into a lot of detail on components and the tire reviews are somewhat helpful. They also make an effort to cover all genres of mountain biking which is difficult.
However, by quoting their weights in pounds and ounces they are losing a lot of credibility and come across rather obtuse and foolish. It's offensive to that they think it's readers are unable to understand the metric system which is the standard in the bike industry.
Similar Products Used: Most other bike mags - bike, mountain bike, velo, mountain biker, bicycling.
a Weekend Warrior
from Prescott, AZ, USA
Date Reviewed: February 10, 2007
Strengths: Good Reviews, good columns, very good magazine.
Weaknesses: Seem to like every bike they test.
This magazine is very informational. They do plenty of testing on higg quality bikes. They give you information about upcoming events, what the pros are doing. They give reviews of products, like tires and jerseys and other stuff, overall it is a very good magazine that I would recommend to any real mountain bike enthusiast
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: January 25, 2007
Strengths: Bike reviews and tech stuff
Weaknesses: Starting to get some lame editorial columns which I skip anyway. They seem to like every bike they test.
This is the best mag for reviews of bikes and equipment but mostly bikes. Full suspension bikes are always evolving and this mag gives you the most reviews. I'm not interested in cycling culture tell me about compression damping, leverage ratios and cuncurrent shocks and forks. The only negatives is that they like every bike that they test. In 4 years I've only seem them rip a bike 2 or 3 times. I know it's bad for the industry but damm they can't all be great. Also they are in bed with Santa Cruz and they like to test the same Cannondales all the time. I wish they had more reviews of trails and riding destinations like Dirt Rag but other than that it's the best out there.
Well, well, well. No need to delve into the history of this forum's commentary on what M.B.A. has said over the years with regard to the big wheels. What was the famous quote from a few year's back about twenty niners? Something about 29"ers were a passing fad that was dead and pronounced "Stick ... Read More »
I know people have varied opinions on here about MTBA but I just received the May issue and there are several pages dedicated to South Mountain. I haven't had a chance to read the articles but some of the photos look pretty nice. Might be worth checking out at your local newsstand.Read More »
Not sure this is the correct place to post this, but I will give it a shot. I am looking for an old issue of Mountain Bike Magazine, December 1991 to be specific. My wife was on the front cover of this issue and I am trying to find a copy to surprise her with for her birthday, she lost her one and ... Read More »
Has anyone read the article reviewing the Epiphany in this magazine? I tried to buy a copy today but the book store was all out. Do any Epiphany owners want to give an update of their reviews? Not that it matters, I have one on order, just waiting for my 2007 Fox Talus RLC and RP23 to come in...: ... Read More »