Here are the top five things I’m not doing right now to monetize my riding, but these are tips for all pro riders everywhere. If you aren’t living by these five tips, you’re pretty much pissing away money.
1. Ride for IXS.
Sorry Stik, it’s been great. We’ve had some good years, I’ve always loved the TLD look and fit, love the company, the history, the other riders, everything really, but real talk: what have you done for me lately? I’ve got bills to pay, mouth to feed, and I can’t be paying rent with jerseys and gear bags. Money talks.
Did you see that Cedric is running the new IXS helmet? That can’t be cheap, and if you’re a random pro reading this, trust me: you want a piece of that action.
Cedric thinking about the new garage he has to build for all the new toys he’s gonna buy with the IXS money.
And it’s not just Cedric. IXS’ sponsored rider list is longer than the ingredients list for Cheetos:
I don’t want to do it, but these IXS guys are spending money like it’s going out of style. Cedric, Berrecloth, the Athertons, Hans and Richie- these are not cheap riders, and we all know they aren’t busting down the doors at IXS HQ because the new helmet looks so good.
The IXS train is chugging along at full steam, with a whole team of engineers shoveling cash into the engine as fast as they can. This is a train you don’t want to miss.
2. Lower the bar. No, I mean waaaaaay lower.
Aaron Chase knows how to hustle:
That video was horrible. Unwatchably bad, but sponsors love that stuff, and it will probably get shown on Good Morning America or something and get 50 times more views than every video I’ve ever made. It’s sort of like how Trump is getting five times more media coverage than all the other presidential candidates, Republican and Democrat, combined.
He’ll do any town hall, BBQ cook-off, local whogivesashit radio call-in show, shake any hand, and say anything to get air time, and it works. Is it good media coverage? Who cares. Trump doesn’t, and neither does Aaron Chase. If the Pivot fat bike video didn’t convince you of that, nothing will.
If you want to make the real scrill, there can be no product, no video, no poorly-written script that is beneath you. You can’t make house payments with standards and dignity.
3. Really, just pick any Euro brand.
You know when the USSR broke up, and everyone in Russia and the Ukraine went crazy for blue jeans? Wrangler and Levi’s both posted their all-time highest sales numbers in ’91 because Sergei, Alexi, and Misha couldn’t get enough. For the new, democratic Russia, freed from decades of repressive authoritarian rule, blue jeans were like apple pie, John Wayne, and the star spangled banner rolled up in one.
That’s what it’s like as a North-American pro rider approaching a Euro company. The reason I still think “Germans love David Hasselhoff” is funny is because it’s true. Of course when I say “Germans,” I really mean “Euros,” and when I say “David Hasselhoff,” I mean “any english-speaking rider from the continent of North America.” Tomato, /Tə’ma:təʊ/.
Sure, IXS is Swiss, POC is Swedish, Mavic is French, and Lazer helmets are Belgian, but they’re all distinctly Euro. I assume they all share the same industrial designers, who in my brain are also the design team that brought us Gary Oldman’s hair piece in Fifth Element.
The other thing those four brands have in common is that they want to legitimize their products in Europe with a real, bona fide english-speaking American or Canadian freedom loving cowboy badass.
Are you from the wrong side of the tracks in Providence, Rhode Island? Doesn’t matter, you’re John freaking Wayne in Europe. From some depressed mining town in interior BC? No worries, you might as well be Grizzly Adams himself.
Tell me with a straight face this helmet looks good:
And yet, right now in August of 2015, I guarantee you Lazer helmets is looking to drop five figures on a North American racer for next season to help them pass off this reject storm trooper helmet to eager European customers. You could be that guy. Here’s the model:
Make weird product ====> Give American rider [you] money ====> Make millions in Europe.
Racing makes you good. Video parts make you famous. Weird Euro sponsors make you rich.
4. Embrace “EPIC.”
People don’t want to hear about reality. At all. Reality is the crushing burden most mountain bike consumers carry on their backs all day long at their unsatisfying jobs, and then come home to every night with their unsuccessful and(or) failed relationships. Mountain biking is supposed to be a glamorized dream world, a fantastical escape, not a sober look in the mirror.
No one wants to hear that life as a pro mountain biker is boring most of the time. That travel to exotic, far-flung locations takes a long time, most of it is really boring, and half the time you feel like shit when you get there. That the food in Europe, or most places where bike events occur, sucks. That most pro riders spend more time on planes, trains, van rides, and email than on their bikes.
The last thing any MTB consumer wants to hear is that mountain biking requires hard work and assertiveness, patience towards other people and the vagaries of life, a conscious choice to maximize the talent you were given while working on your shortcomings, and a constant, undying hope for the future, because that sounds a lot like the same qualities that create success in real life. If MTB consumers possessed any of those qualities, then they wouldn’t need to escape their shitty lives with mountain bike media.
This escape comes in the form of spoon fed travel fantasy, mixed with a small dose of action sports and a heaping helping of feel-good bro-brah inclusive millenial triumphalism. In other words, MTB consumers want EPIC.
Your job as a pro mountain biker is to give consumers the EPIC they crave, even if the process of “capturing the EPICness” feels like entering your own personal hell.
Mountain bike consumers want to be lied to. They want to be sold a fantasy world that doesn’t exist. In fact, that’s literally the storyline of the biggest MTB movie of the last five years. Seriously, they didn’t even try to hide it, the name of the movie is “UnReal.” Reality is unpredictable and uncomfortable, so stop trying to tell it like it is.
New years resolution: start selling #thisEPIClife
If you want to make it anywhere in the mountain bike industry, you’d better get your shovel ready and start piling up the dust, because roost is your one-way ticket to the big leagues. Out of last months 31 POD selections on Pinkbike, these four are basically the same picture.