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Firstly some information about me to give this review some context:
I am 27 years old and I have been cycling actively since I was 12. In fact, mountain biking has always played a huge part in my life. As I grew up most of my friends were more into dirt jumping, downhill and free-ride, where as I was more into XC (cross country) type riding.
I am now a full-time cycle mechanic in a local bike shop in Eastbourne and I love to ride XC, road, fixed gear and I commute about 40% of the time by bike.
Back to when I was starting out riding, MBR was the magazine that I would buy. While my friends all obsessed over the MBUK magazine I preferred MBR because it was basically about UK based XC/trail riding. The routes were excellent and on pull-out guides, they were one of the main features. They also had a pull out workshop guide usually with a scantly clad model half wearing a cycling jersey on the reverse. Reviews were concise and there were great articles about riding, in the peaks or dales for example.
Fast forward to 2012 and MBR is all together a different magazine. I put it down to the change in riding styles I guess but these days they don't really care about XC riding. They now only care about long travel bikes with big wide handlebars and short stems, basically because it suits the riding that the authors do, which is no longer XC but instead just down hill orientated trail riding, preferably on man made trails. In a way, I can't really mark them down for this because it's just progress and unfortunately for me I don't like their opinions.
What I do mark down though is the actual content of the mag. The reviews are written in a half-arsed manner and regularly contradict what me and my customers feel and they're also seriously brief compared to what they used to be. Essentially I just feel like they're not trying very hard.
At work we now all joke that MBR, MBUK, What MTB and others are just comics and we prefer to read the American "Mountain Bike Action" magazine as it's less biased as well as "Privateer" for the good stories.
MBR, Wow, what a fantastic magazine. MBR is refreshingly different to other Mountain Biking mags out there. The main thing is that is isn't solely orientated around downhilling, duel, and jumping - as other mags often are. You can be sure that there will be something interesting and new inside each mbr. Every month you get new routes to ride, right across the country. Maps include handy locaters which show you in which area of Britain they are, if your geography is not too hot. MBR also features many exclusive tests and reviews on items that won't be hitting the shelves for months to come. Other than MBR's "ride guide", and the exclusive test, you will also find information useful to help you in the workshop - Readers letters are particularily interesting. As with most magazines, MBR features the occasional competition where you could win your dream bike, and nearly once every two months you will be please to find useful free gifts glued to the front cover of the mag. All in all, I have found that after reading about every MTBing mag on the shelf, MBR is definitely the most informative and interesting read. Definetly worth a try, at £3.25 its a bargain!
Any semi-serious biker needs to know certain things 1) where can I ride? 2) how can I ride it better 3) how do I fix the bits I will break or wear out on that ride, and 4) how good is that new bit I want to buy to replace the bit I broke/wore out? 5) where can I get that bit and how much will it cost? With these 5 things in mind MBR is an excellent source of information, pull out graded route guides (with maps), featured rides and news of new trails tell you where you can go (not the easiest of tasks recently due to Foot & Mouth). The recent addition of a technique section (and the fitness section) help you how to ride it better and faster. The workshop section gives you hints and tips on replacing and fixing parts. The product reviews and group tests review and rate all the latest stuff (and for bikes ratings are broken down into subcategories). And the mail order adverts help you track down that elusive part the review has convinced you to buy. Throw in news of mountian biking events that allow you to marvel at the fitness/skill/stupidity of the top riders, spectacular and inspirational pictures, interviews, letters, a consumer watchdog section, the occasional free gift and you have a fairly complete mountain bike magazine - but only if cross country (XC) is your preference. Downhillers and trials riders will find it a bit dull and would be better sticking with MBUK. That's not to say these disciplines aren't mentioned and sometimes featured, they are, but XC is the main focus. When it dicusses technique it's not about how to bunny hop onto a 3ft wall, it's about getting round that rocky switch back with a 1ft drop off in the middle without ending up going over the handle bars. It should be remembered that MBR (and it's main competitor MBUK) is a specialist magazine for people interested in Mountain Biking. As such it isn't going to review the £199 Halfords bikes, in fact it treats £400 as the entr
y level for mountain bikes. Even with this in mind some of the equipment featured can seem a little out of this world, so while we all like to dream, how many of us are really in a position to spend £3000+ on a bike? - I think the editors could do with remembering this a bit more often. Some people critise the number of mail order adverts the magazine carrys, but not all of us live next to a huge selection of bike shops that carry every make and model under the sun - so the mail order folk provide essential access to the less commonly available bits and pieces. The only section I feel is a bit wasted is the bike listing in the back - listing the models, prices and brief component details tells you very little other than letting you know which bikes are in your price range and what kind of spec you can expect. If they were to indicate a rating of each bike and a brief review that would be much better. Overall a great magazine for people XC riders who like to keep up with all the latest news.
MBR is more specifically aimed at Cross Country Riders than Down Hillers although it does contain small pieces on Down Hill, Dual Slalom etc. MBR is a great Magazine to buy if you are considering Cross Country Riding or are a Cross Country Rider. This magazine boasts all the usual items you find in a good Mountain Biking Magazine. Reviews of all the new Product Releases. Which does a team of Specialists check. They rate everything from Heart rate Monitors for that serious Fitness Fanatic to Wheel Sets (Hubs, Rims and Spokes) They also give you a free Gift monthly that will allow you to enhance the performance of your Bike. They also include free Pocket Size Trail Maps, and even a Workshop Guide which over months when collected will inform you on how to correct the Trickiest of Problems. They also Feature the usual cover Stories on Biking from around the world. Taking everything into Hand this is a well laid out and put together Magazine and well worth the £3.25.
Mountain Bike magazine does not seem to be aimed at people who actually ride mountain bikes. The target audience seems to be people who are obscenely wealthy, who collect very high end mountain bikes. I am not one of those people. I ride a GT Backwoods, with a few modifications that I have made myself. I ride singletrack, fire roads, and sometimes on pavement. I read mountainbike magazine's to find tips on better riding techniques, maintenance help, reviews of products, and stories about mountainbikers. This magazine doesn't seem to feature any of those things. What passes for product reviews in this magazine are glowing endorsements of products made by the advertisers. And high praise of 2000 quid, bikes that a real person could never afford. The hints and advice that I crave are nonexistent. I want to know how to avoid pinch flats without riding high psi in my tires (aside from spending big bucks for tubeless tires, that is), this magazine will never tell me. The articles about racers are bland, outdated, and too focused on downhill, which doesn't interest me much. The worst thing about this magazine is that it, like so many magazines these days, is comprised mostly of ads; and articles about things advertised in the mag, which really equals another ad anyway. As I have said in many epinions about magazines: a publication should strive to strike a reasonable balance between ad space and content. Another poor aspect of this magazine is the column by Zappatta, or as he calls him self, Zap. This is a huge waste of space and paper. He has nothing to say that would be useful, or of interest to mountain bikers. The final point is: this mag costs much too much!
Mountain bike rider magazine is a definite must for anyone who is remotely interested in mountain biking. Between these glossy covers hides a multitude of,reviews,routes to ride,event reports,tips on tecnique,pull-out workshop sheets,etc etc etc,in fact anything you need to know about mountain bikes and biking. Out of all the mags available,I would say that this one offers the best value for money and a good overall mixture to cater for all ages and abilities .So pedal off to your local newsagents and reserve yourself a copy of this great magazine.