I try to keep politics out of TREAD. We mountain bike for fun, enjoyment, pleasure… We ride to escape the daily grind, which of late, has been filled with political noise that’s really hard to ignore. In fact it’s not to be ignored.
The recent actions of the guy that’s supposed to be the leader of South Africa, as voted by his party, will hit us all in 2016. In fact we already saw the impact on the mountain bike industry in December.
A weaker currency – significantly weaker – means that we’ll all be spending more on daily living – food, rent, bond repayments, water, electricity, transport, groceries, school fees, leaving us with less to spend on our passion, mountain biking.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. We’ll still be able to ride our bikes on cool trails. We’ll still be able to race some of the world’s best events. We probably will have to be more selective which events we enter. We’ll be less likely to afford a new bike and will have to consider upgrading something on our existing bikes instead – maybe new wheels, or a single chainring conversion…
Sure, there are guys and girls who won’t feel the pinch and that’s really great. But there’s a large chunk of us (me included), who find mountain biking quite a costly passion to pursue. I’m of course fortunate that my job allows me to travel widely and ride many different trails and bikes. I don’t actually own a bike to be honest. I ride test bikes only.
One of the bikes we reviewed in this issue (I’m actually on it in the above photo), the Specialized S-Works Camber, costs R139999! It’s an amazing bike in every way, but there is no way I would ever be able to afford that kind of money for a bicycle. Okay, perhaps that’s not entirely true. With finance available for bicycles, such as that offered by Bike Life, it is possible to own a dream bike. And if mountain biking is a really big part of your life, it’s justifiable. But if you have a family and mountain biking is your personal pursuit, then it’s very difficult to justify the purchase of an expensive new bike.
So I’ve decided that in 2016, we’re going to doing less top-end bike tests and more entry-to-mid-range bike tests. Because there are many bikes out there that offer a great ride and good value for money. I don’t like using the word cheap when describing mountain bikes because I prefer to reserve that word for certain humans. Mountain bikes, no matter what they cost, all offer the ability to pedal away from the madness, to escape – even briefly – from the daily grind.
We don’t have to let our weakened currency affect our fun in 2016. We must not let it affect us. Let’s keep focussed on what makes us smile and makes us feel good about ourselves and about our beautiful country. Let’s not worry about what bike we’re riding. Let’s worry about making sure we just keep on riding…
Sean Badenhorst, Editor
TREAD Magazine is sold throughout South Africa and can be found in: Spar, CNA, Exclusive Books, Discerning bike shops and on Zinio
*Originally published in TREAD Issue 38, 2015 – All rights reserved