Is road simply more accessible to the newcomer? Or are savvy off road customers waiting for the industry to settle on a new standard?

Comment: Why is the dust settling on MTB?

The 2013 show season has drawn to a close, with both the Birmingham Cycle Show and Interbike having passed since the last copy of BikeBiz hit desks and workbenches.

You’ll read more on the Cycle Show here and here, while with the Vegas exhibition has been analysed in greater detail online. If you’re wondering what you missed at the Bootleg Canyon Demo day and the main Interbike show, the answer is: a lot. If you’ve been putting off the trip to Vegas, wait no longer, the mountain trails at Bootleg’s Outdoor Demo are worth the trip alone.

One thing that has become evident over the 2013 show season is that mountain biking continues to find itself in a strange place. No sooner had Eurobike seemingly dictated that 27.5 ‘is the new standard’ to re-invigorate the off-road sector, we were faced with the news that Privateer – a highly-thought of magazine full of soulfull content from both the worn and unbeaten tracks around the world – was to cease publication. The question that immediately sprung to mind is; why is the road customer seemingly much more affluent, or at least willing to spend on both low and high ticket items, than the typical MTB rider?

As you may have read in last month’s magazine, Dickon Hepworth, the man in charge at premium mountain bike distributor Jungle says that sales of mountain bikes above £3,000 are flying. Anything below that threshold remains fairly stale. Does that indicate that the enthusiast is taking their time to mull over purchases, instead of rushing into spending hard-earned? Is it a simple sign that the fat tyre market has matured, while the post Tour surge in tarmac goers is gathering up all those newbie cyclists eager to impulse buy shiny kit? Or is it simply that road is ‘more accessible’ to the newcomer?

Certainly the seasoned mountain biker is far more reserved when presented with ‘must-have’ new gadgets. Serious dropper posts, for example, are a relatively new creation, but one that’s taken some work to perfect. The majority of mountain bikers waited and waited until the product matured before jumping in. Some are still questioning the need altogether. Could it be that the same thing is happening with wheel sizes? Is the consumer waiting for the dust to settle on another season full of launches before deciding that 26-inch wheels are no longer adequate? Time will tell.

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