Trying to Keep Outside Honest

I’ve always dug what Outside pumps out both in print and on the web.  I subscribe to the magazine, and their webpage is part of my regular rotation of sites I visit on the internet.  Most of what they publish, their gear reviews, and their book suggestions I find to be honest and helpful.  The content may get a bit stale at times (by now I’m pretty sure everyone understands that getting more sleep will lead to better health, and that a ski vacation to Whistler will be awesome), and their “Best Places to Live” seem to be a popularity contest, but all in all I’m a fan of their work.
Every now and again, something they publish on the web pisses me right the fuck off, and I feel the need to vent/rage about it.  That happened earlier this week, when I saw the headline of the “Speacialized has Mastered the Gravel Bike”.  This is not a usual DC Pissing on Specialized post.  Specialized sucks, but in this case I’ll give them a pass, because all they did in this situation was some sound marketing and PR.
Let’s start with the fact that the test bike is described as “the ideal winter training rig”, costs a hefty $8200, and is billed as damn near perfect.  THIS IS TO BE EXPECTED OF BIKE THAT COSTS THAT MUCH MONEY.  The same way that if you drop a couple grand on a hooker you expect them to be smoking hot.  I get it that this may be a quick or first glance review of a product, but after only a few rides (I assume) can you really say that one bike has “mastered the gravel bike?”
Moving on, the bike’s got a dropper post.  While I dont think a dropper post on a gravel bike is a necessity, I am sure it has its place, and will start to become more and more common in the future.  If you like me are a little hesitant to believe the necessity of a dropper post on your winter training rig, don’t worry the author points out that Nibali rode a prototype dropper post on the cobble stage of the 2014 Tour.  Dropper posts win The Tour, and will help you win your winters.  You may as well quit your day job and join Astana (I’ll bet they have some openings after some off season drug tests).
Moving on, all of the high points in regards to the details of the bike seem like they have already been penned by the marketing and PR folks at Specialized.  Cut and paste those keys points into the main body, and use that extra time to make sure your winter training enduro-roadie kit is looking oh so fly.  This is something I also hated back in 2013 when VeloSnooze rambled on and on about how great the new SWAT system was.  Is it impossible to describe the features of a bike and how it rides using an original thought?  Key phrases like “plush .. yet quick and snappy”, “wanting to ride on fire roads more than pavement”, and “even light singletrack” get shoehorned into the final paragraph.
Obvioulsy, I think Outside has dropped the ball on this review.  If they are reviewing a product, the least they can do is make it appear honest.  It’s not hard to go through their magazine and website and see that the big S (and plenty of other companies) gets plenty of good press.  Here at DC we can be hacks about products we review, and the companies we decide to promote (or talk shit about), because none of us are making a dime from advertising, and we don’t charge a subscription fee.  But Outside does both of those, so a little journalistic integrity should be in order.  Would they have written such a fluff review of a product from another company?
I’m sure plenty of people are going to think I’m just an angry bastard who is always looking to bitch about something.  Some of that is true, and like I said before my main gripe isn’t with the bike.  Its with the “review” of it.  I’ll let you in on a little secret, that most of you probably already know.  You don’t need a tricked out carbon rig to ride gravel roads, fire roads, or short segments of singletrack.  All you need is a fucking cross bike and halfway decent handling skills.  I pedaled a Kona Jake the Snake over, around, and through the back woods on Montana during every month of the year.  That bike was just fine, serving a purpose of adventure bike, winter training bike, and singletrack companion.  Now get out there and fucking ride.

http://www.nikefreerunshoesplus.com nike free cross trainer

Outside_oops
The above photo is from an article in the October 2014 issue of Outside.  Looks like some extra advertising for a certain company.
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmailby feather

About 40 Hands

A fan of riding bikes with one gear, malt liquor, riding without knowing how many miles I’ve covered, and strip clubs that let you bring your own keg. I typically have a stupid grin on my face, it is because deep down I know that no matter what, my mom thinks I’m cool. Denver, Colorado, USA

20 thoughts on “Trying to Keep Outside Honest

  1. Pingback: Trying to Keep Outside Honest | PEDAL CANTON

  2. Honestly, I don’t see how this is any than 99% of bike and cycling equipment reviews. These “reviews” have always been nothing more than advertising. If you want real reviews, you’ll have to find normal humans that do them for fun. You sure as hell won’t find them in a magazine.

  3. Can’t agree with you more. I know magazines are out there trying to get that advertising money, but outside does seem like it takes the teet of big business a little too often. I like how out of all their winter riding gear (9 peices) review 90% was 45 nrth and inly one peice cost less than $100. While real people that ride in the winter use about 20% cycling specific gear.

  4. Seriously, my nice non winter bikes aren’t $8,200 HELL to get to that number I’d have to add my cx bike, my sscx bike, my road bike, and my mountain bike and it might still not get to that sum. Not to mention spending $8,200 on anything I’m riding/training on in the winter. My winter bikes are always cobbled together from shit I have laying around my house, turns out if you’re not some rapha softshell wearing nimby you can ride any bike basically anywhere basically anytime you’d like.

    Will it take fenders?

  5. Winning at winter. LOL. I’m a get cracking. But wait…Lance Armstrong (a real american hero a good sport and all around decent fellow) was exposed as a cheat?!?

  6. Since when has Outside produced a good review outside of “Who wants to be seen with respectable gear so I can try to hang with my friends who actually do that”. The review is the perfect fit for the $80 single malt, $500 watch, Audi, whatever crowd.

    Re; dropper post? Sign me up. I’m looking at putting one on my road bike. Pinning turns to a new level. Fun will be had.

    P

  7. Magazines product reviews are advertorials. Some are honest about labeling them as such, and some are not. I work for one, I know first hand. I’ve seen writers try to insert a little honesty in their reviews only for any negatives to be edited out in the end. Don’t want to piss off the advertisers! Adjust your expectations and get your reviews from more impartial sources e.g. amazon. Then your free to enjoy Outside magazine for the great articles.

  8. This is ‘Murica! Follow the money. Honest sites/mags only stay that way until the urge to “monetize that asset” overwhelms the urge to be unbiased. I like DC because they’ll “pants” anyone they deem worthy.

  9. I’ve seen it first-hand, and talked with the folks in several companies. Its not straight “pay-to-play”, but it’s close. There are a TON of “back room” conversations that go on between marketing and ad-buy personnel. If I see an ad for a bike in the mag, AND a review, chances are, that ad cost juuuuust a little more than normal so the review would be nice. I don’t believe a word of it.
    The only reviews I actually trust are from the “smiling folks in the woods” who don’t get paid to use the gear, or are up front that they received it as a “promo”.

  10. As someone who works in the magazine industry, I can tell you there is no DMZ between editorial and ad sales. Interpret as you may. Words like “advertorial” and “brand journalism” might bubble up. Stay skeptical, my friends.

  11. Granted, no one needs a bike like this for winter training…but I guess you missed the part about this bike being the top of the line of the Diverge range…looks like you could get the entry model for $1100.

  12. AY! I just ride my bike. Point and shoot. Just like I shoot my tuggin’s at the shower wall when I am… ehem… juicing the mango.

    Ride bikes. Ride what’s real and reliable.

  13. Eight grand for a training bike? Jebus, that’s retarded. Hell, my road bike, mountain bike and my truck all together ain’t worth that much.

    Mr. Matty speaks truth— get your reviews from smiling dudes in the woods. Of course, you might meet me, riding an ancient alloy hardtail with a blown-out fork, side-pull rim brakes and a noisy 7-speed drive train, grinnin’ like a fool.

    Rubber side down, brothers and sisters. See you out there.

  14. Some years ago I had a Columbus-tubed Schwinn Prelude road bike fitted with Michelin 700×23 clinchers. Bought it (barely) used for $150. Gravel, singletrack, towpath, whatever-I rode the fuck out of it, anywhere and everywhere.

  15. So the bike costs $8200. That’s too much for you? So don’t buy it and shut the fuck up.

    There’s lots of shit I can’t afford, but I don’t go on the net screaming that it should never even exist.

    Oh, and biased magazine reviews? Well daaaah!

  16. ” Is it impossible to describe the features of a bike and how it rides using an original thought?”

    Nothing better than decrying the lack of original thought, with the lack of original thought.

  17. Pingback: Let's Make a Beer Map - Drunkcyclist.com