Gear-testing website buys bikes and a team of experts benchmark them

OutdoorGearLab already tests cycle clothing and accessories but now it’s branching out into testing bikes. The founder of the US gear-testing website said he plans to "change the bike purchase process with a new standard of bike reviews." Chris McNamara added that"we buy all the bikes ourselves, no manufacturer freebies or advertising payola."

OutdoorGearLab – which now gets up to 1.5 million individual users per month – sprang from what was originally the climbing-gear review section of SuperTopo, a climbing guidebook publisher and rock-climbing website. The site’s first bike review is of Enduro MTBs (hint: the Yeti won.)

Unlike bike mags which make their money from cover sales and ads, OutdoorGearLab is funded via Google ads and affiliates, including links to online retailer sites.

McNamara said: “We have set out to change bike purchasing for the better by providing the world’s most in-depth, scientific, and objective side-by-side comparison of bike performance."

The OutdoorGearLab testing process is done with a team of four expert enduro bike testers, two bike mechanics, and six mountain bike consultants. Together, they spent a combined 1000 hours testing the bikes.

"Most reviews today are based on one rider heading out for an afternoon ride in isolation and how the ride ‘felt’," claimed McNamara.

"We’re not interested in what bike ‘feels’ faster. We want to know, to a precision of 1/100th of a second, how much one bike is actually faster than another. Competing reviews will sometimes say, ‘that bike pedals as hard uphill as it shreds downhill.’ That’s not good enough for us. We want to know exactly how fast, compared to competing bikes, based on a scientific and objective measurement process.“

Too many reviews from mags and bike websites are influenced by linked advertising, continued McNamara.

“We think most bike reviews today are strongly influenced by marketing budgets. The result is reviews that are sugar coated by advertising dollars, often based on a brief ride on a loaner bike, offering an inevitably positive spin."

Next OutdoorGearLab plans to publish its review of trail MTBs followed by a road-bike review, and then a head-to-head of fat bikes. “We’re just getting started,” smiled McNamara.

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