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Bike reviews: The real story

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In light of Johnny's excellent thread today, I found it amazing that Barry Morris did a video that just popped this evening addressing the exact same topic on unreliable bike reviews and bike reviewers. 

 

Basically, everything we mentioned in the thread Barry talks about, and more. He talks about how a professional rider's experience is so far from ours and our areas of concern are not theirs. I really appreciated Barry pointing out that there tests and reviews are often just a few hours of seat time which really do nothing in terms of a bikes true performance. Excellent stuff from Barry. 

So, who do you trust when it comes to a bike review? 

 

Edited by firffighter
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Glenn mostly 😀

I had a conversation with with one of my sons today. On a slightly different topic I told him that he needs to apply wisdom and discernment to anything he hears, reads, or sees, and that ultimately he needs to decide for himself what's right. I broke it down for him a couple ways, basically saying he shouldn't base the veracity of the message on the likeability of the messenger - sometimes nice guys spew pure crap - and conversely, sometimes the message is true despite the fact that the messenger is rough around the edges.

Bike reviewers are a lot like lawyers - I like a bunch of them, but trust very few. You'll do well to remember that it's the witness that swears to tell the truth, not the counsellors.

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Totally agree. Being discerning and skeptical is a trait that many lack unfortunately, and folks like to get their ears tickled. 

Unfortunately, you need to be skeptical when approaching these reviews, because there's so much that goes on behind the scenes that blindly trusting in a magazine on professional bike reviewer is very risky. 

I find forums to be really hard to get the real story unfortunately. There's so much that needs to be considered before taking a post and relying on it's veracity.

Ridng abilities, skill level, athleticism, age, years of experience, experience across brands, experience across different terrains, etc are all huge factors to really look closely at before accepting someone's information. 

The hard part is, guy's are often not up front with the aspects mentioned above or create a bit of a false persona on a forum and because it's anonymous, it can be tough. I find it hard to hide from these aspects with video evidence. For me, it's revealing and definitely captures the real essentials. That's why guys like Barry are pretty solid! 

There's some great places to get solid information and reliable sources, just gotta dig a bit! 

Edited by firffighter
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IMO, it's nice to hear the "every day man" review of things. The professional racer reviews have their place, but the best insight one can get is from a plethora of average owners with various skill levels who keep their bikes as close to stock as possible. Take my video for example:


If you watch/read enough of the average accounts of a certain machine, you'll be able to piece together the similarities and differences of opinion and come to a more solidified conclusion. I recently got to ride an '18 300rr, and I'll be eventually posting a "first ride impressions" video on it. It's a shitty imo video, but it's just another addition in the long run of videos on the same bike that might have that much more sway for someone who's looking to buy like I am.

Just try not to go over the threshold with information overload, cuz it IS easy to do that with this type of thing
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Reviewing is a business. 

The motivation is not honesty or accuracy.

Personalities and profit always get things wrong.

I actually bought (2) KTM's based on the reviews several years ago, and promptly sold them after thousand of dollars of attempted improvements in the horrible handling and terrible power delivery. 

The only reveiwer that gets close to being honset that I have seen is 'cross training and enduro skills' on YouTube.

.....but the Beta power delivery is 'softer' than every other bike I have ridden or owned, off idle, as it should be, for 'rideability'.  Go up in the rpms  and it's business as usual.

 

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I agree mostly on what Barry has in his videos. Couple of things stand out based on my experience.

1. 80% rider, 20% bike. This works when you are very experience fit rider. With the magazines and Berry, their skill overcomes the differences with newer or different bikes/brands. If this wasn't the case brands like Beta wouldn't be growing like they are. A beginner while might not be financially able to purchase, a newer bike would work much better then a 20 yrs. old one. Newer bikes are easier to ride then older even if it's just a reduced weight. Add in new technology like traction control, map and launch control/hole shot setting, bikes become very easy/less tiring to ride. I seen this time after time with people I help/bring riding.

2. Suspension just for pro's/racers. I believe spend as much as you can on suspension as this will pay 2x back in your growth. Like above, highly skilled riders can work with suspensions not set-up or at the for front of technology while lesser skilled fight it.

3. Barry about Pro's. While I respect Barry and he is a skilled rider this is a contradictions when he talks about what do the pro's know about the average guy want/likes?? His skill is well above most and what works for him doesn't really work for others. This is where Barry is better then magazine reviews, he presents the options but leaves any real approval off. Example, Barry's review of the Xtrainer's fork options was all over the place. Several people I know seen this video and had the same feel,,,, was he supporting these options or not. His skill building videos are much more respected with most people I talk with then his above video.

 

 

Edited by weantright
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9 minutes ago, weantright said:

I agree mostly on what Barry has in his videos. Couple of things stand out based on my experience.

1. 80% rider, 20% bike. This works when you are very experience fit rider. With the magazines and Berry, their skill overcomes the differences with newer or different bikes/brands. If this wasn't the case brands like Beta wouldn't be growing like they are. A beginner while might not be financially able to purchase a newer bike would work much better then a 20 yrs. old one. Newer bikes are easier to ride then older even if it's just a reduced weight. Add in new technology like traction control, map and launch control/hole shot setting, bikes become very easy/less tiring to ride. I seen this time after time with people I help/bring riding.

2. Suspension just for pro's/racers. I believe spend as much as you can on suspension as this will pay 2x back in your growth. Like above, highly skilled riders can work with suspensions not set-up or at the for front of technology while lesser skilled fight it.

3. Barry about Pro's. While I respect Barry and he is a skilled rider this is a contradictions when he talks about what do the pro's know about the average guy want/likes?? His skill is well above most and what works for him doesn't really work for others. This is where Barry is better then magazine reviews, he presents the options but leaves any real approval off. Example, Barry's review of the Xtrainer's fork options was all over the place. Several people I know seen this video and had the same feel,,,, was he supporting these options or not. His skill building videos are much more respected with most people I talk with then his above video.

 

 

I agree with this.  You can be highly skilled rider but not have a clue what rake, trail, or a shim stack is.  How does this help average Joe?  Some fast guys just instantly adapt to a setup and claim its fine, and it is, for THEM.  Even my fast B SSR rider buddy is like that, as long as its not way off he can ride it.  This same setup may shatter the confidence of others especially beginners in tough terrain.  I like to discuss bike issues with guys who understand technically why things are the way they are.  The ability of an average rider to ride a bike and evaluate issues in specific conditions,  understand and explain exactly why, is way more valuable than an entertaining YouTube video of a pro ripping it up.  

 

 

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Being honest with yourself and your abilities goes a long way in evaluating reviews. Where and how people ride is also important. Even the reviewer's skill level versus the terrain the bike was designed to be ridden is important. I could care less what pros or fast A motocrossers care aout an off road 2t. Desert riders and racers have no clue what I as an aging Super Senior B Midwestern Harescramble racer needs. If they are not reviewing how it handles in muddy, cold or oppressive humidity, sandy, rooted, steep, rocky, slippery conditions conditions then it is utterly useless to me. Plus I recognize that what it really comes down too is a good responsive dealer.

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Bike reviews are nothing more than OPINION. and like sphincters, everyone has one. I'll still look for intel from a wide variety of sources to make my OWN opinions on said item- from pros, first time riders, and everything in between. Many of us can ride just about anything well and there is no such thing as the "perfect machine" for all people, all conditions, and all skill levels. I can tell you from personal experience that pro level bikes in the hands of the meager don't make the meager a pro. 

I can recall more than a handful of times I have heard someone say something like "my bike's set up for MX, so it does not perform well in the woods". Had one guy show up to ride with us on the most blinged out 450 you have ever seen. 5 miles into the ride we are waiting on him at an intersection and waited, and waited. Finally the guy shows up and claims he hit a stump and thinks he broke his foot. So we ride back with him, load his blinged out bike into his truck and send him home. Never heard from him again. He's on TT, and NO I will not name names. :)

 

Take reviews with a grain of salt. 

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Being in SoCal and around the industry I know a lot of these magazine review guys. I 100% believe they give their honest opinion on the bikes. They aren’t influenced by ad sales or $. 

Now are there options valid or apply to you? That might be a different story. Plus they are all different. Look at Shoot-Out results, when they list how each test rider ranked the bikes it can be all over the place!

Riding style, age, ability also plays a huge roll. Even on here there are guys that setup a bike vastly different than what I do due to their riding style. If a guy mainly sits down while he’s riding he gets a completely different feel than I do with my stand up style. 

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The great thing is, that at least for the RR-S/RS models, and for pretty much the entire Beta line,  there have been plenty of good if not GREAT reviews on all of them.  There was a shootout of the dual sport 500's back in 2016/2017 between the Beta, HQ and KTM, and another one between the Husky and the Beta, and then there was one where Dirtbiketest took the stock 430 RR-S and raced it for 24 hours, by now, there are lots of great reviews on Beta's, so why all the insecurity? and defensiveness regarding the reviews?  

Beta has been reviewed very favorably ever since I had started reading all the reviews starting 12/2016.  

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3 hours ago, GP said:

I agree with this.  You can be highly skilled rider but not have a clue what rake, trail, or a shim stack is.  How does this help average Joe?  Some fast guys just instantly adapt to a setup and claim its fine, and it is, for THEM.  Even my fast B SSR rider buddy is like that, as long as its not way off he can ride it.  This same setup may shatter the confidence of others especially beginners in tough terrain.  I like to discuss bike issues with guys who understand technically why things are the way they are.  The ability of an average rider to ride a bike and evaluate issues in specific conditions,  understand and explain exactly why, is way more valuable than an entertaining YouTube video of a pro ripping it up.  

 

 

I know several pro riders and they have no idea what happens when you adjust the clickers. Crazy how fast they are and they NEED someone to set-up the bike. I'm not talking about valving or internal parts.

 

40 minutes ago, Ben500RR-S said:

The great thing is, that at least for the RR-S/RS models, and for pretty much the entire Beta line,  there have been plenty of good if not GREAT reviews on all of them.  There was a shootout of the dual sport 500's back in 2016/2017 between the Beta, HQ and KTM, and another one between the Husky and the Beta, and then there was one where Dirtbiketest took the stock 430 RR-S and raced it for 24 hours, by now, there are lots of great reviews on Beta's, so why all the insecurity? and defensiveness regarding the reviews?  

Beta has been reviewed very favorably ever since I had started reading all the reviews starting 12/2016.  

Well except the poor suspension and some years unbalance chassis.

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This subject draws lots of conversation, and that's what I like to see on any forum. Sometimes forums can get a little too technical about how to do a repair and stuff. The Beta TT site has always been one of my favorites, and I thought I might have a little fun with some sarcasm, which is not well interpreted by most online because they don't read the thread, just jump to the end to answer the title. I thought a little red meat to the visitors might be fun and educational.

My beef with testers is the methodology is woefully obsolete.

This is 2019, and the ability to accurately time a lap or session is easy peasy and cheap. Any cell phone can do it with a free app.

Not 1 magazine or website uses timing as a standard method. Many of them admit to having timed lots of sessions, but not a mention of it ever in the results or conclusion.

For any of us in the group that most rides end with a checkered flag, that is completely missing the target. Feelings and input are worthless compared to lap times for riders who race. If you don't want to know how to improve your time by even a second a lap, then you aren't really competing.

 The conclusion, based on my own experience and others, is that Beta's are really fast, deceptively so. Most ride them and "feel" a slow power delivery, and incorrectly conclude that they are slow. There are many instances where they have proven to be winners. The failure to use repeatable, measurable, precise methods of comparison is just not acceptable in today's high tech world, especially to those that know better.

Edited by Johnny Depp
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16 minutes ago, Johnny Depp said:

This subject draws lots of conversation, and that's what I like to see on any forum. Sometimes forums can get a little too technical about how to do a repair and stuff. The Beta TT site has always been one of my favorites, and I thought I might have a little fun with some sarcasm, which is not well interpreted by most online because they don't read the thread, just jump to the end to answer the title. I thought a little red meat to the visitors might be fun and educational.

My beef with testers is the methodology is woefully obsolete.

This is 2019, and the ability to accurately time a lap or session is easy peasy and cheap. Any cell phone can do it with a free app.

Not 1 magazine or website uses timing as a standard method. Many of them admit to having timed lots of sessions, but not a mention of it ever in the results or conclusion.

For any of us in the group that most rides end with a checkered flag, that is completely missing the target. Feelings and input are worthless compared to lap times for riders who race. If you don't want to know how to improve your time by even a second a lap, then you aren't really competing.

 The conclusion, based on my own experience and others, is that Beta's are really fast, deceptively so. Most ride them and "feel" a slow power delivery, and incorrectly conclude that they are slow. There are many instances where they have proven to be winners. The failure to use repeatable, measurable, precise methods of comparison is just not acceptable in today's high tech world, especially to those that know better.

Funny you post about timing yourself not results ending in a checkered flag. On another place here on TT someone was trying to discredit me because I timed myself on a trail I rode many times vs. timed at a race (knowing I don't race) simply because he wanted a better review of his brand.

Edited by weantright

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16 minutes ago, Johnny Depp said:

The conclusion, based on my own experience and others, is that Beta's are really fast, deceptively so. Most ride them and "feel" a slow power delivery, and incorrectly conclude that they are slow.

It's so much easier than the DRZ, so yes, it can feel that way, but it's like it has a 'built in tutorial'. I can ride the DRZ so much faster by learning things that come quite easy on the Beta.

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2 hours ago, Cullins said:

They aren’t influenced by ad sales or $. 

This one is tough. Tons of rumors abound about whether or not this is the case. 

I'll give you 2 examples, one recent, one from the past and you can take it for what it is worth.

Recently Chilly White shut down his website and stopped doing bike reviews. Chilly has been one of the best bike testers in the industry for decades and has great all around skills and an accomplished rider in deep woods enduro, extreme enduro, GP, and desert. Chilly also has a lot of seat time on a wide variety of brands as he was with GasGas, has a fleet of KTM'S, tested TM, Beta, etc.

My dealer know Chilly and rides with him yearly. He said the reason Chilly shut down the site was because KTM threatened to no longer provide bikes to him if he continued to do favorable reviews on other brands. 

One from the past. I just listened to Super Hunky podcast. Very interesting guy as you'd imagine. He was the best read in the dirt bike mags! Long time tester for dirt bike and if a bike was bad, he'd say so. He said he reviewed a certain Japanese bike and it was simply terrible and he said so, wrote it, told people not to buy it, and it went out in publication. The following week, a Japanese gentleman was in the editor's office. Rick is summoned in and told to never say that again about this brand. 

Again, take it for what you want, but if you don't think magazines are driven by ad sales, I'd say you're maybe not getting the full picture. 

It's a business like any other and boils down to one thing in the end, money. Magazines, especially now that they're on life support, are going to do whatever it takes to stay in business and make a profit. Selling ads to the highest bidder is simply business.

Let's just say KTM has a lot of ads in the magazines!

 

Edited by firffighter
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26 minutes ago, weantright said:

Funny you post about timing yourself not results ending in a checkered flag. On another place here on TT someone was trying to discredit me because I timed myself on a trail I rode many times vs. timed at a race (knowing I don't race) simply because he wanted a better review of his brand.

I would assume that you time your sessions, good for you. It doesn't matter if it's in a race or not, actually a race can be the wrong place to do timing, because often there is not a clear path due to traffic. Nothing personal here, just that timing and comparing is far superior to anyone's "feelings".

 I'm curious why you choose not to enter races, would you mind sharing your thoughts (sorry to derail)? I'm soon to undertake promoting some events that I think might be just right for riders like yourself, although they will be in central Texas.

Edited by Johnny Depp
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30 minutes ago, firffighter said:

My dealer know Chilly and rides with him yearly. He said the reason Chilly shut down the site was because KTM threatened to no longer provide bikes to him if he continued to do favorable reviews on other brands. 

This in itself will keep me from ever buying orange. Promote your brand, but do not impede the progress of your competition by these tactics. 

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11 minutes ago, Johnny Depp said:

I would assume that you time your sessions, good for you. It doesn't matter if it's in a race or not, actually a race can be the wrong place to do timing, because often there is not a clear path due to traffic. Nothing personal here, just that timing and comparing is far superior to anyone's "feelings".

 I'm curious why you choose not to enter races, would you mind sharing your thoughts (sorry to derail)? I'm soon to undertake promoting some events that I think might be just right for riders like yourself, although they will be in central Texas.

I timed myself several times when I'm on a trail I know well. No different then any other brand I was riding. My home loop is 2.25 miles of single-track and this is where I test and train riders. Trail seldom changes so timing is a good base on what works or not.

Why I don't race anymore,,, I raced for years many years ago??? My last endure was this past August and I was 14 out of 27 riders. Class was 30+ C and I am 50. Kids are the reason I don't race,,, often. I now support them in racing for the few we do. My son chased points in his mini class on a CRF150rb and took third overall. He aged out and haven't went back to chasing points. We hit national endures, HS, GP, GNCC and DS events. Many times our trail rides are races without the flags. Other times we adventure ride off trail scouting. More riding then racing equals more seat time for all of us.

I know more fast trail riders then fast racers. I listen to riders talk about how fast they are only to find out it's in an open field.

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31 minutes ago, firffighter said:

This one is tough. Tons of rumors abound about whether or not this is the case. 

I'll give you 2 examples, one recent, one from the past and you can take it for what it is worth.

Recently Chilly White shut down his website and stopped doing bike reviews. Chilly has been one of the best bike testers in the industry for decades and has great all around skills and an accomplished rider in deep woods enduro, extreme enduro, GP, and desert. Chilly also has a lot of seat time on a wide variety of brands as he was with GasGas, has a fleet of KTM'S, tested TM, Beta, etc.

My dealer know Chilly and rides with him yearly. He said the reason Chilly shut down the site was because KTM threatened to no longer provide bikes to him if he continued to do favorable reviews on other brands. 

One from the past. I just listened to Super Hunky podcast. Very interesting guy as you'd imagine. He was the best read in the dirt bike mags! Long time tester for dirt bike and if a bike was bad, he'd say so. He said he reviewed a certain Japanese bike and it was simply terrible and he said so, wrote it, told people not to buy it, and it went out in publication. The following week, a Japanese gentleman was in the editor's office. Rick is summoned in and told to never say that again about this brand. 

Again, take it for what you want, but if you don't think magazines are driven by ad sales, I'd say you're maybe not getting the full picture. 

It's a business like any other and boils down to one thing in the end, money. Magazines, especially now that they're on life support, are going to do whatever it takes to stay in business and make a profit. Selling ads to the highest bidder is simply business.

Let's just say KTM has a lot of ads in the magazines!

 

If you believe that you have to believe it works that way for every review. 

Standing around BSing with Ron Lawson and a couple other industry guys at a recent race about the motorcycle industry.  Ron mentioned that Beta is now spending more on ads in Dirt Bike than any other manufacturer.  Didn’t Dirt Bike just give Beta a glowing review? I know that didn’t have anything to do with it, but if you think that way..

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