Will Mountain Bike Technology Kill Mountain Biking?

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A piece in the Times documents Forest Service efforts to close trails in Montana to bicycles:

As the number of mountain bikers has soared in recent years, the bikes have become lighter and more nimble — to the benefit of riders and the detriment of forest lands recommended for wilderness designation, said Dave Bull, the director for recreation, minerals, lands, heritage and wilderness for the Northern Region.

“There’s no comparison between bikes made 20 years ago and those made today,” Bull said. “People are better able to get to places they couldn’t reach before without hiking. They’re pushing further and further.”

As a general luddite and an admitted retrogrouch, I can’t comment on the increased capability of dual suspension mountain bikes. I do know, however, that you can get up and down almost any trail on a rigid “traditional” bike, just not as fast. I do, however, know how to recognize a poor argument. So, its mountain bike technology that drives this decision? Would they be OK if folks rode rigid steel MBTs in Montana?

Mountain cyclists are well known for trail maintenance and for not riding wet trails. Horses are much more of a threat to trails and creeks. At the same time, I do lament that “getting out there” on a mountain bike has become, at least in industry discourses, dominating the landscape ever faster. Regardless, I don’t like this story at all, and hope it doesn’t foreshadow future Forest Service action.

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