Off into the wild
20 Feb 2021
Reading Time: 5 minutes
One could sit back and ponder just what the hell was all that about but near a year and a half of work came to a sudden and abrupt head a little over a week ago in Taipei, as the new Mountain Cycle line was finally revealed. It’s been interesting since then…
It stared with the lead up. Several days in Taipei building the bikes which included receiving the San Andreas 2.0 frames at 8pm one day out, after their journey right from the factory, via the Mega Fast Train, to me in the basement of a building – an interesting place to be when Japan’s shaking hard a few hours to the north.
After a late night, it was then to the photo studio the next morning where we undertook a clinically precise shoot – the one thing that I had planned in advance. I then got to go to the hotel, while John, fresh off the plane from the US, got to go and deal with setting the bikes up at the show. Something I avoided after seeing all the things that were wrong when I went and oversaw the final stages of completion. I was chuffed to find on the day that the things we had told them to fix, they didn’t and if you work in TW enough, you’ll learn this is often the way: “We know you told us you want that but we think you need this”. If it was back home, I would have either not paid the bill or had them there until 1am until they got it right. But as we were in TW, I had to accept that they under quoted and then didn’t really give a shit.
Then the great anti climax, the show. Turn up at 8.30pm and…… that was it.
The following days were a a blur of people looking, going to meetings, dinners, and potential buyers including the obligatory one who said:”…that’s too heavy, too expensive, can I get something lighter and cheaper?” No shit, that really happened on the first hour of the first day! Overall though, the reaction to the line was great. Some were and still are lost (more on that later), as the San Andreas 2.0 does challenge people in a big way but overall, especially from those around long enough to know, everyone loved the line and what we’ve done with it.
It was then back home on the Sunday and head down and bum up, as I got the new website live, something that took a week longer than I had expected. It’s done now and I’m happy as it addresses all of the issues we logged over the past months after we launched the ‘Interbike’ website. I might well be proven wrong but I think the site is deadpan easy to use and for those that want more, it’s there, easy to access.
So, it’s been busy.
Of course, since the bikes went ‘live’ the opinions have been coming thick and fast… as is to be expected in Internet Land. First observations are that the San Andreas 2.0 is polarising people into love/hate. There is a list of growing ‘the more I look, the more I like’ but either way, I could not be more chuffed; that I think bothers some out there, as I think I am meant to be more apologetic. If you want a design that appeals to everyone, go buy a something beginning with ‘G’. No offence, but their bikes appeal to everyone, they are in every way the 50th percentile – that’s treading what I call the safe line. Things people remember, stand out. They might not like them at first but after a while they come around. The original San Andreas was like that, actually, most Mountain Cycle’s were like that. At the time you either loved or hated them. I loved the San An, not so much the Moho and the like. 20 years on though, people who hated the SA love them. Says something right there and I’m happy we’ve got MC back where it belongs – on the edge.
Now I’m not comparing the new to the old. Never intended to, never would, but in many ways the parallels are interesting and the comments coming forth mirror those that the first SA received at the time. What I do find most interesting are the amount of people saying ‘but it looks nothing like a San Andreas’. Well duh! I answered this recently with this comparison: ‘Does a 1964 Ford Mustang look anything like a 2010 Ford Mustang?”, How about a new vs. old Chevy Camaro? Well no, they don’t. I ccan imagine the reaction if Ford or Chevy just rehashed the old designs, so sure, the lines are similar, actually more ‘reminiscent’, but that’s the end of it. It’s more about the overall feeling and a clear, modern interpretation.
Somehow though, in bike land, new should look like old and if it can’t, it should, it seems, look like everything else out there – swoopy TT, saggy DT and something in the rear. Unchallenging at best.
I’ve never done unchallenging and I am not about to start.
Funnily enough, the new San An does actually have a pretty clear lineage, you just need to look at the two side by side. I know I did, and I have been around the San An since 1993. Some out there have already picked up on this, at least those who care to not jump to a conclusion in what I like to call ‘an Internet Second’, a measure of time about half of a ‘New York Minute’.
Perhaps the greatest unknown for most, and in my eyes the greatest mistake made by MC, was that back when MC conceived the Fury, it actually was as a replacement for the San An, after it was realised that as an adaptable chassis, the monocoque was a disaster. It was a mistake as they should have phased out the San An (rather than make the DNA) and called the Fury, San Andreas. Line the SA1, the Fury and the SA2.0 up in a line, and you’ll see a direct lineage. The Fury was, and now the SA2.0 is, a solid solution to creating a design and production efficiency the original San Andreas lacked, while trying to be true to the old girl. So, no new San Andreas was ever going to replace the original, it was and remains, infeasible at so many different levels, hence will always be an ‘original’.
I guess that means if you have one that’s intact, polish it and hang it on a wall, because it’s a true collector’s item.
There is no apology to those that somehow, and unrealistically, are disappointed. The San Andreas 2.0 is in every way as much a departure from the norm as the original, just in a design, production and market environment that has moved on over the past 20 years. True change uproots people’s ideas of what is and what should be. I also sit comfortable in the fact that no matter what we would have done, the minute we stuck ‘San Andreas’ on it, a segment was going to get their nose out of joint. It might mean we’ll loose some die hards but at the same time, we’ll gain a lot of new blood and that’s good for a brand. Languishing in the past is never a good thing.
And now it’s on to Sea Otter. That will be manic for sure. We hope that we have the Shockwave Two there. If people thought that the San Andreas 2.0 was challenging, the Shockwave Two is going to truly rattle some cages. It will also put the line in front of the greater bike world, not the somewhat distorted world of ‘industry’. That’ll be interesting to watch unfold. As usual, it will be good to catch up again with people that I know and see at the various trade shows we go to these days. It’s a sort of two – three time a year catch up.
For now, I’ll spend the rest of the week cruising before the wind up to Sea Otter begins next week pondering if I’ll get the chance to get out on my Zen again before I leave.
Out for now,
Copyright 2023 Gerard Thomas. All rights reserved.
I've run mtb events, distributed some legendary brands, ran my own cycling clothing brand, designed bikes and was a GM and head designer for a famous but sadly now extinct mtb marquee; and after 20 odd years I decided riding bikes was more fun than working with them.
Over that time though, I wrote (and some wrote for me) a lot of stuff about bikes, on blogs and the like. Some was good, some, well... not so much. Rather than loose it all when I shut everything down once and for all, I have kept some of my favourite, and more popular pieces here for... prosperity?
I also am working on new pieces as well...