I've always been into bike magazines. In fact I've always been into magazines full stop. As a teenager in the 1990s they were my main connection to the wider sport of mountain biking, and a monthly source of inspiration. This is pre-internet, so the magazines were my monthly hit of photography, race reports, news and the only way to find out about the latest products.
When Dirt Magazine came along, it was a real eye opener. Suddenly there was an alternative to the mainstream stuff, it was raw and honest. The photography was like nothing I'd ever seen from our sport - it was more like the awesome stuff from surf, skate and bmx magazines. It was then, and always has been a source of inspiration. Both the people in it and the way the title was put together. Fiercely creative and rebellious, they've never been afraid to take risks with the layout and stick two fingers up to the conventional way of doing things.
As I write this I'm waiting for my issue of the new 20 Years Of Dirt special edition to turn up. My two copies to be precise. But since it hasn't arrived yet, I thought I'd share my favourite issue with you. I'm not saying this was the best - that would be too hard to call - but this one had a particularly inspiring effect on me.
In April 2010 I was Head of Design for a big company in the outdoor industry. A sweet job to be fair, but at that time I'd been doing it for some years, it was getting a bit samey and I'd been saving up to start my own company for close to 8 years. I was getting itchy feet but I didn't really know what I wanted to do. In drops Dirt Issue 98 like a slap in the face. It had four particular articles which were a real source of inspiration, and when I did finally sack off my job to set up Airdrop, I went straight back to this issue to re-ignite the stoke.
What I got when I read this issue was pretty simple: you can set up your own company. It can be awesome. This is how bikes will be in the future, and this is how they're made. So I'd like to say thanks to Dirt, to Cy Turner, Cesar Rojo and Brant Richards for that.
It's a short interview on how Cy set up Cotic. I won't repeat the story here but the bottom line is it took a lot of balls and a lot of hard work. He did it all by himself and somehow, against all the odds, made it stick.
This was my first exposure to Cesar Rojo other than seeing his name on the DH results sheet. The article was largely about the new Mondraker Summum which would go on to make a big impact on the DH circuit, but it also gave an insight into what would become forward geometry. Cesar's philosophy on geometry has influenced us all, and most serious modern mountain bikes owe a bit to his way of thinking.
Crank Brothers is by all accounts an awesome company to work for. They're focussed on quality and creativity, and they seem to have a great time too. This little look inside was a reminder that working within a company doesn't have to be soul-destroying; it can be a great way of life. But only if the company is willing to make it happen.
This was a tech article on the new DH bike Brant was developing for Nukeproof... The Scalp. We all know what kind of impact that bike made, and continues to make. Although I knew a lot about bike tech even then, this was a valuable insight into how mountain bikes get designed and developed. And as it happens, I work with the very same factory today to produce the Airdrop Edit.
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James is the 'other' member of staff at Airdrop. With a background in DH and a lot of bike park laps under his tyres, his custom built Edit v2 is unique. So we thought we would kick off our new series of bike checks with a look at James' bike, and why he's chosen to build it this way.