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ROTFLMAO

Monkey
Nov 17, 2007
363
0
Maumee, Ohio
I am noticing more disdain and loathing of the "review" lately, especially the online "review". It's no secret that I am trying to get a site off the ground and initially I was looking to make it a review based site. I changed that up this year because I found the pressure to review something in a positive manner since I might have received a discount on many of the products to be overwhelming. That feeling of pressure was never coming from the individual manufacturer actually, I was never asked or told to provide a positive review from anyone in the industry. It was all self manifested, I felt guilt if I said something negative about a product that I was offered a discount on. I did my best to give an unbiased review in the end but I felt that it wasn't the best way to go about building a successful website.

From now on I will be doing product features with a small opinion section. Yep, like a commercial for a product. More quantitative data, less opinion. More closeups of certain areas on the bike and maybe some videos of the suspension cycling (I like those). The main focus of the site is the community side now, that's one of the things I like about our sport anyway, riding with friends and talking about it later. Sharing videos and pictures and funny stories about what happened that day. Maybe we could even get some haters over there to spice things up a bit. I'm still going to have the product feature section on the site because everyone likes to look at pretty new stuff, it's just not the main focus anymore.

I have recently taken on the role of an independent rep for Banshee Bikes in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Obviously I can no longer give a truly unbiased review of the most amazing, awesome and best designed bikes in the industry :D. I will continue to write up features on components that I mount on my Banshees. That is unless I start to rep components as well, then I'll leave the "reviewing" side of things alone.

I recently read a "review" on pinkbike that was interesting. It seemed to be more about the author expressing how awesome he is through the use of words and sentence structure that he learned in his journalism classes than it was about the product. Sure there was info about the product but there was so much more "blah blah can't use the f-word to describe blah blah." "I'm going to avoid using cliche terms and industry selling labels and therefore be even more cliche than if I actually used that language because I'm trying to relate to those of you who hate it when that language is used in a review. I'm alternative and just like you!" ITS A F'N FREERIDE BIKE THAT IS DESIGNED MORE FOR DH THAN TRAIL RIDING! FVCK! It was disgusting to read and made me almost physically ill. I want to call over there and tell them to STFU. It is unfortunate that many of us consider that site to be somewhat void of value yet they are the true powerhouse of the MTB interweb. Tons of content that the majority of fanboys love to see. They do their homework and its working for them but damn how I wish it wasn't.

Wow, not very diplomatic of me since I'm now an "industry guy" I guess...oops.

BTW, I didn't like any of Schwalbe's versions of the Muddy Mary or Big Betty tires. I also just bent my Gravity Lights after 3 months of ownership and yes that will appear in the "review". I did clip a tree with the pedal but not all that hard. The upside is that FSA/Gravity's customer service is the best I have experienced to date. Whew, glad I got that off my chest. :weee:

Damn, dropmachine.com has inspired me!

Where is the MTB internet community headed? What drives you to visit these sites and what turns you off? Could be a good discussion eh?
 

atrokz

Turbo Monkey
Mar 14, 2002
1,556
79
teedotohdot
All I know is that I have yet to see a "Review" on PB that didn't make me wonder who the kids are who review them, and how much free stuff they are getting for those advertis... er.... reviews.
 

fluider

Monkey
Jun 25, 2008
440
9
Bratislava, Slovakia
I noticed the change of course of your site few weeks ago, but I still find it very nice place to spend a break in work. Your Rune review was one of the reasons why I bought it this spring from Freeborn as they had it with DHX not with Air.

I'm that 'technical' type so I inhalate all technical information I can get from anywhere. That's why I miss detailed fotos of frame parts and any product features, I always want to see the product disassembled as much as it can be. Pivot assemblies, hubs, frame construction, everything :).
 

Steve M

Turbo Monkey
Mar 3, 2007
1,995
23
Whistler
You know what... if you're going to review stuff, just be honest about your predispositions and expectations. "I was really excited to see the new ____, partly because my mate works there and was talking it up" is fine with me, hell even put an "about the author" section on your website. And despite the fact that it's grammatically incorrect to start a sentence with the word "and", if you can find ANY negatives (or even "areas for possible improvement" a la SickLines) to mention about a product, no matter how small, I'd take you more seriously than the average BS review.

At any rate, I appreciate the attitude and the candour :thumb:
 

SylentK

Turbo Monkey
Feb 25, 2004
1,221
179
coloRADo
I think most people that know a thing or two take "reviews" from websites or even magazines with a grain of salt. There are just too many different factors out there to influence the reviewers comments.

For example I live in CO and race competitively. Am I supposed to believe a "weekend warrior" from Kansas review on a certain tire? Not bloody likely. But that person may comment on wear or fit that may be believable and of interest to me.

So really, feel free to be biased. Most people/mags are.
 

Sandwich

Pig my fish!
Staff member
May 23, 2002
15,977
1,010
01776
you can't feel bad about reviewing something you pay for. if they give it to you for free, then maybe, unless you're a review powerhouse like MBA or BIKE magazine.

In the end, if you pay for it and hate it, then you should let people know, even if you got a discount.

Just my two pesos. You can't really do any of that now that you're a rep for banshee, but I like reading reviews.
 

ROTFLMAO

Monkey
Nov 17, 2007
363
0
Maumee, Ohio
The Rune article was done before I had any connection to Banshee, it was what ultimately made me want to form some sort of relationship with them though.

I still want to have products featured on the site just not in a way that expresses so much opinion. I agree with everyone who is fed up with biased opinionated reviews, they are obvious and abundant. I do like your idea on disassembled product photos. I will start to incorporate that in to my features. I also want others to share their gear on the site in a "more info less opinion" format. I've got some people writing for us but the more people I can get involved that will stick to the ideology the better.

Some more honesty for everyone... I simply can't afford to buy enough new product to keep up with the guys whose sites are mainly about reviews. The are a couple out there doing a good job of creating reviews and the rate at which they add review content is astounding. I don't even want to try to keep up with that kind of action.

My site actually started out as a rider's blog, morphed into a review site because I'm a gear whore, and wound up where it is now. My vision is to create a fun, popular mountain bike social network. I'll be heavily promoting that next season. Each popular forum site has their own individual draw. I want to create something different than just a forum though, no need to try to compete with the likes of RM, NSMB and MTBR. The guilt that I felt from the "review" aspect of the old site is what gave me the idea for the new format.

If I ever win the lottery and instantly have hundreds of millions of dollars of liquidity available to me I will buy bikes at full retail from area LBSs and write completely unbiased reviews of everything cool in the market LOL.
 

captainspauldin

intrigued by a pole
May 14, 2007
1,146
71
Jersey Shore
I understand that to a certain degree most magazines/websites can't trash products in reviews as it has the possibility the hurt the relationships that ultimately "keep the lights on" for them. Dirt seems to do a good job of giving the strengths and weaknesses of products and letting the reader decide if the strengths cancel out the weaknesses. The whole Brit patriotism thing easy to ignore if you need enough reviews of theirs. That being said I would like to see some more "Long-Term" reviews, or updates much like the car mags(I know we get this already, but I'd like to see it more). With new products coming out every year I can see that being difficult, but I would want to know if a fork had to be sent back to get serviced 3 times in a 4 month period.
 

rpet

Turbo Monkey
Jun 9, 2003
2,915
272
El Lay
The advertisers are who keep the lights on in the editorial office. MTB product reviews will be objective and trustworthy when the bulk of ads in MTB media outlets are for non-bike companies.

In other words, it is basically a lost cause.

Personally, I find multi-page bitchy discussions on RM to be generally more helpful than published reviews in mags or blog-sites. It's a matter of knowing which posters are honest and which are the obvious regional-Pro shills. The guys that pay retail have no reason to lie. You figure out who is who if you hang out here long enough.
 

captainspauldin

intrigued by a pole
May 14, 2007
1,146
71
Jersey Shore
The advertisers are who keep the lights on in the editorial office. MTB product reviews will be objective and trustworthy when the bulk of ads in MTB media outlets are for non-bike companies.

In other words, it is basically a lost cause.
I just said that.. not sure if you're arguing my point or reinforcing it?
 

dropmachine

Turbo Monkey
Sep 7, 2001
2,923
10
Your face.
First, thanks for giving me this platform to rant. :)

Reivews are tricky. I won't lie, I have made quite a few companies mad at me for the stuff I write. I am honest, and I won't lie. I am fully willing to, lets make that clear. Its just that so far, nobody has written a big enough bribe.

I am in the process of overhauling DM, and am putting some peices into place that will help me grow it considerably. Part of that will be pubilishing negative reviews. I've actually held back, if you can beleive it. Not anymore. I have gotten some truly spectacularly ****ty products in. I won't say which ones, but if your fork has dual arches, throw it out.

You know who I respect more than anyone I've dealt with? Mike Flaherty from Atomlab. He sent us some rims, and we killed them in one race. Smashed the face off em. Not a super harsh course either. We emailed him, had a few unkind words, bit of a disagreement, we published, he was unhappy, and then when his new rims were ready, he sent those. And ya know what? THEY WERE GREAT. Mike is a great example of a person who realizes ITS NOT PERSONAL, and that if your stuff has flaws then its got flaws. Now I would count Mike as one of the people who I truly respect in the industry.

I won't comment on how Pinkbike or NSMB do things, because honestly I stopped reading thier reviews. I know that the X Fusion review that Mike just did was great, and honest, and I was genuinely impressed. But I know that I've read others that actually make me lol, although I am 99% sure they weren't by Mike.

At the end of the day websites are businesses, and sometimes you gotta bend a bit to make ends meet. I know that I've been kinder to some products than they deserved, although I've never come right out and slammed them. I am going to though. There are simply some products that deserve it.

So whos doin stuff right? Socket is damn good in the way he writes things. HEs got a way of simplifying the incredibly complicated crap that happens in suspension that makes even a simpleton like me get it. Mike Levy on PB seems good too, from the few that I've read. Flip Fantasia is brilliant at reviewing things, but I do n't think they'd ever publish him cause hes far too honest and frank. I love it though. :)



Just wait till you see what I got coming. ;)
 

Transcend

My Nuts Are Flat
Apr 18, 2002
18,045
0
Towing the party line.
I think it's hard to review products unless you either paid for them at full retail, or have an agreement with suppliers and get them for no cost and no expectations. When it comes down to it, manufacturers are trying to stretch their ad dollars as far as they can right now. Some of them are desperate for coverage, and the review is there foot int he door, so to speak.

They just have to realize that if a product is terrible, or has flaws you WILL tell people about it. No product is perfect, despite what said marketing dept. thinks. Companies are more willing to accept that now that they can't simply buy their reviews.

Last point, most bike sites and mags are reviewing fairly high end stuff. To be quite fair, most of the upper echelon of products in this industry actually do work well. If you start to review lower end stuff, you will start to run into flaw after flaw, but readers want the latest and greatest for the most part, they don't want to read about mid level FS 26" trail bikes. The only time they want that is when they finally decide to buy a bike, and then it doesn't exist because the rest of the time they want to read about the $8000 carbon Specialized Epic 29", or the brand new Intense DH bike.

Remember, magazines are usually owned by big publishers who own 20 magazines in all sorts of fields. They are publishing a bike magazines out of love for money...not bikes. The bottom line is they need to show a profit, or they get shut down, so you have to give the readers what they want.
 
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FlipFantasia

Turbo Monkey
Oct 4, 2001
1,395
93
Whistler BC
First, thanks for giving me this platform to rant. :)

Reivews are tricky. I won't lie, I have made quite a few companies mad at me for the stuff I write. I am honest, and I won't lie. I am fully willing to, lets make that clear. Its just that so far, nobody has written a big enough bribe.

I am in the process of overhauling DM, and am putting some peices into place that will help me grow it considerably. Part of that will be pubilishing negative reviews. I've actually held back, if you can beleive it. Not anymore. I have gotten some truly spectacularly ****ty products in. I won't say which ones, but if your fork has dual arches, throw it out.

You know who I respect more than anyone I've dealt with? Mike Flaherty from Atomlab. He sent us some rims, and we killed them in one race. Smashed the face off em. Not a super harsh course either. We emailed him, had a few unkind words, bit of a disagreement, we published, he was unhappy, and then when his new rims were ready, he sent those. And ya know what? THEY WERE GREAT. Mike is a great example of a person who realizes ITS NOT PERSONAL, and that if your stuff has flaws then its got flaws. Now I would count Mike as one of the people who I truly respect in the industry.

I won't comment on how Pinkbike or NSMB do things, because honestly I stopped reading thier reviews. I know that the X Fusion review that Mike just did was great, and honest, and I was genuinely impressed. But I know that I've read others that actually make me lol, although I am 99% sure they weren't by Mike.

At the end of the day websites are businesses, and sometimes you gotta bend a bit to make ends meet. I know that I've been kinder to some products than they deserved, although I've never come right out and slammed them. I am going to though. There are simply some products that deserve it.

So whos doin stuff right? Socket is damn good in the way he writes things. HEs got a way of simplifying the incredibly complicated crap that happens in suspension that makes even a simpleton like me get it. Mike Levy on PB seems good too, from the few that I've read. Flip Fantasia is brilliant at reviewing things, but I do n't think they'd ever publish him cause hes far too honest and frank. I love it though. :)



Just wait till you see what I got coming. ;)
don't forget bike industry ego's, jeffy! they can't handle people thinking that whatever product they designed isn't the absolute best in the world and may have some very real flaws or shortcomings.

another big thing is people need to remember that a 'review' isn't a be all end all of a product. one person's piece of **** is another's best ever....perspective based on riding style, trail preferences, length of time being in the sport, etc....give 4 people the same product to review and they'll all likely have very different opinions. but we've ranted about all this at each other, jeff......I think most 'reviews' are pretty **** cause they give no perspective on aforementioned variables, they don't tell the reader where the reviewer is coming from, what they like riding, etc etc etc....there's no baseline to put it against, I don't know if the person has been riding for a year, or ten, and in turn I put very little value on some random dude on the internets opinion about something.

you know what they say about opinions, and when it comes to bike and component reviews, it's pretty much bang on....
 

ROTFLMAO

Monkey
Nov 17, 2007
363
0
Maumee, Ohio
All very good responses. Here's how I see it. I want the highest of the high end stuff. Will I ever have it all, probably not which is why I like to read about it and see hot pictures of bikes with wheelsets that I would smash in five minutes. But...its a 32# build!! Reviews of amazing gear attracts readers, it is how we are wired. Until that reader uses enough products to realize that most of the reviews are either biased or limited in usefulness because of user preference.

I really can no longer offer my opinion on these products seeing that I am now an industry man. That won't stop me from transparently promoting the products that I rep shamelessly but it won't be in a review format. The Banshee Legend MKII makes hot rich chicks dig you, did you know that?

I'm so turned off by the review side of things that I am thinking about not having anything like that on my site anymore. Just pictures, videos, event announcements, groups and camaraderie. Reviews do bring droves of Google Searchers though which is why it is tough to ax something like a review section altogether. I would like them to find my site, sign up and post some videos or something, that would be cool. In reality most of them look at the pictures, leave the site and go look for more pictures. Few stick around and hunt for the useful info on the product.

Ideally I'll be able to gather enough video footage and pictures from my travels this season to attract the people that may appear on the site. Having our riding community be the focus of the content would be awesome IMO. Then everyone's friends can sign up and say, "hey rider X, nice segment in that video, you're slow and you can't jump." Oh, how we'll laugh...

Pslide, reviewing reviews is fun. Maybe I'll have a "review" review section...that would make me some friends quickly...
 

ROTFLMAO

Monkey
Nov 17, 2007
363
0
Maumee, Ohio
Reading through my posts I am getting the feeling that I am talking about my site too much. Out of respect for RM I will stop referencing it. Let the "review" reviews continue however.:thumb:
 

Tetreault

Monkey
Nov 23, 2005
877
0
SoMeWhErE NoWhErE
I also have a site in the works. Its more for local content and doing it the way i want to do it. I'm reviewing some products, and other people i know also are. There is no bias put towards products that we recieve and if it sucks it sucks and we say why (given that its just own opinion on not to be taken as fact). I don't feel any guilt in doing it, and i haven't had any problems with manufaturers being "upset" with the reviews.

Mike Levy on PB knows his stuff, but i don't want to see words like perpetuating, pigeonholing, or "ambiguous geometry" in the first three sentences of a review. WTF is ambiguous geometry

am·big·u·ous
open to or having several possible meanings, of doubtful or uncertain nature; difficult to comprehend. lacking clearness or definiteness; obscure.

Geometry for bikes is static, even if it is adjustable, once you change a shock mount or what ever, the geometry doesn't magically change back to something crazy
 
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jonKranked

Press Button, Receive Stupid
Nov 10, 2005
55,323
4,456
media blackout
this one is directed towards Jeff & Fraser (and whoever else has actual industry experience):

say a company puts out a product thats complete crap. Which would the company rather deal with: (A) being called out for making sub-par product and moving few (if any) units because of the review, having to eat the cost on the bad parts and begin to redesign, or (B) having a good review, selling a lot of product, but then having to deal with warranties and angry customers when their product starts failing?

or does reality lie somewhere in the gray area in between? which is more damaging to their reputation?
 

ROTFLMAO

Monkey
Nov 17, 2007
363
0
Maumee, Ohio
Levy knows his stuff, no doubt. His tech videos are great as well. That review was a bit too self-indulgent for me. I've ridden the Kalula, its a goddamn freeride bike that felt like other freeride bikes that I've ridden. A lighter Cove STD with a better leverage curve is what it felt like to me...

I meant no offense to Mike at all, he's doing a really great job. Maybe the passion I expressed is fueled by a bit of jealousy...:(
 

ianjenn

Turbo Monkey
Sep 12, 2006
2,493
284
SLO
I think most of you guys have it right. There are a number of things to consider while reading a review.
1. Advertisers Product?
2. Product on Loan vs Bought vs Given (all three happen)
3. Type Of Trails Being Used
4. Rider Ability
All come into account I think. It is super expensive to do. As Fraser said earlier testing a high end bike versus a mid-range model will eliminate many negative aspects. I have enjoyed the frames we have used so far. These are bikes that I would personally look to purchase. It takes a lot of time to shoot/edit and set up days that people have open to ride. So they are fun to do but also very time consuming.
 

dropmachine

Turbo Monkey
Sep 7, 2001
2,923
10
Your face.
Heres how I handle things.

Once the review is done, I fire it back to the companyt o make sure it makes sense.

If the product is crap, and it gets a crap review and I was fair, then thats that. If they really don't like it, I won't publish it. But I won't change anything, unless its a mistaken technical fact.

I don't care about the companies image, but I care about mine. When you see people putting out sketchy and obviously biased reviews, to me they've sold out. I won't, unless they send over massive checks. Then I will happily.
 

Kanye West

220# bag of hacktastic
Aug 31, 2006
3,450
165
Best I've found is to upfront with them before making the purchase. Tell them that you will be making the review unbiased - if it's great, you'll say it's great, and if it sucks or needs improvement, you'll say that too and say what needs improving. If they don't want to face those odds, they won't get you the product.
 

nmpearson

Monkey
Dec 30, 2006
214
8
ROTFLMAO: i originally got turned onto your site by someone who sends in reviews for you and loved the concept of the site. I enjoy your articles, but the site does need a change of look. It just looks kinda like a 15 year old girls blog. Aside from that, I don't like the fact that it does kinda look like some of the reviews were being done for hookups sake, not for actually seeing if a product is good.
 

ROTFLMAO

Monkey
Nov 17, 2007
363
0
Maumee, Ohio
ROTFLMAO: i originally got turned onto your site by someone who sends in reviews for you and loved the concept of the site. I enjoy your articles, but the site does need a change of look. It just looks kinda like a 15 year old girls blog. Aside from that, I don't like the fact that it does kinda look like some of the reviews were being done for hookups sake, not for actually seeing if a product is good.
Are you speaking of the look of the old site mtbgeartech.com/blog or the new site mtbgeartech.com/home ? The new site is incredibly more complex to configure so I hope it doesn't come off that way. I would like to continue to allow third party reviews and welcome anyone who would like to write them for the site. Like I said though, new direction and a new focus. I welcome constructive criticism.
 
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Delimeat

Monkey
Feb 3, 2009
195
0
Canada
This is a good read, thanks for both the kind words and the criticism, it's all taken into account. I think that a review is just like any other writings... I doubt many of us read the same authors or enjoy the same books, it's impossible to keep everyone stoked! I personally really like the words that Jones puts down in Dirt, but like anything else, there has been some hate on his work as well. There are certainly both print and online sources that I simply can't wrap my head around, but having first hand knowledge of how hard it is to include as much info as possible, rider feedback, and try and to word it so it makes sense, I'll refrain from **** talking. I feel that one point that websites struggle with is credibility, after all it does seem like anyone can post a review of anything they like. The key is to differentiate the quality reviews from the so-so reviews. I'm of the belief that one mistake people make is nearly always assuming that a positive review must be a poorly done or influenced in some way. This is especially challenging to a lot of websites because we usually focus our time on higher end products. You'd read a lot more critical words if we reviewed $1300 full suspension bikes and $400 forks, something that I've always wanted to do and that you'll see more of on PB. As far as protocol goes, if I'm testing a product and have an issue with something I'll let the company know and give them a chance to respond, but it doesn't get removed from the article.

I personally want more from a review than just a list of what the product does good or bad. I want someone to tell me how it does it... if that makes sense?

Tetreault, I stand by my wording. My new goal will be to include the word ambiguous into every single article.

PS. I'm Mike Levy on PB...
 
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ROTFLMAO

Monkey
Nov 17, 2007
363
0
Maumee, Ohio
Anyone remember the ambiguously gay duo on SNL? LOL

Mike, cool of you to chime in. I really meant nothing personal with my remarks. I have nothing but respect for you and your work. The recent talk about reviews here there and everywhere got me thinking and that review just bent my derailleur hanger a bit. It was too wordy in my opinion and yes, I know what opinions are like. The review was probably not deserving of my harsh words early in this thread either. I let my frustration get the best of me.
 

nmpearson

Monkey
Dec 30, 2006
214
8
Are you speaking of the look of the old site mtbgeartech.com/blog or the new site mtbgeartech.com/home ? The new site is incredibly more complex to configure so I hope it doesn't come off that way. I would like to continue to allow third party reviews and welcome anyone who would like to write them for the site. Like I said though, new direction and a new focus. I welcome constructive criticism.
i may actually send you stuff if that's cool. i usually go through about 8 bikes a year and love giving people reviews....that being said, i saw mike's comment above. I think pinkbike is now the overall site except the forum(i only visit ridemonkey). the articles are new, relevant, and really do span the mass of biking. i'm so stoked that everything has turned around for that site. all the guys there are such standup people
 

ROTFLMAO

Monkey
Nov 17, 2007
363
0
Maumee, Ohio
i may actually send you stuff if that's cool. i usually go through about 8 bikes a year and love giving people reviews....that being said, i saw mike's comment above. I think pinkbike is now the overall site except the forum(i only visit ridemonkey). the articles are new, relevant, and really do span the mass of biking. i'm so stoked that everything has turned around for that site. all the guys there are such standup people
They do generate content at an alarming rate and new content keeps you coming back. Unique views are what generate income potential and when you have 300,000 plus a day you can demand a pretty penny for advertising space. Correct me if I'm wrong but don't most of the core PB guys work for PB? As in that is their job? For me its more of a hobby but it does get me pretty excited and motivated when new members join and participate.

nmpearson, send me a PM on mtbgeartech and we'll talk. Thanks!
 

dropmachine

Turbo Monkey
Sep 7, 2001
2,923
10
Your face.
Sorry to bump this up, but I just had one of the biggest let downs of all time.

Just noticed in the newest dirt (on the stands anyways) that they reviewed the Magura Thor, and gave it a positive review.

REALLY??????!?!!?!? Its a goddam horrible fork, absolutely terrible. Every fork magura makes is only for masochists who like things that explode. Maybe the aren't as unbiased as I thought?

Then again, they did rip into the Karpiel pretty good, so I dunno....