You have probably noticed that in addition to workout descriptions, training schedules, and nutrition ideas, that this blog has begun to include more gear reviews. I thought it important to take a moment and address my thoughts and opinions on this topic.
I am currently in the market for a new race mountain bike. For an average height and size rider this proves an easy task. For someone of my short stature and advanced riding ability it proves tougher. Bike shops don’t carry bikes in my size because the chances of someone being 5 foot nothing and walking in to drop $3000 on a bike is not a likely occurrence. I went through this 4 years ago and I am going through it again. Instead of having the luxury of test riding a bike, I must take measurements of myself, and of my current bike and start comparing to the geometry of bikes online. In between, I am reading reviews of bikes on all possible sites. In fact, I rely heavily on these reviews.
The funny thing about bike reviews for women is that if they exist at all they are written by men! Men write about their girlfriends and wives and how much they like or do not like a bike. Why aren’t the women writing the reviews themselves? Certainly a man cannot tell us how the top bar grabs my crotch or the length from the seat to the handlebars is too much of a stretch. A market that produces more women’s specific gear demands more women reviewing products that they use themselves.
That being said, I think that gear reviews are so much more than marketing a product. They are important for those of us thinking about trying a new shoe, hydration pack, or jacket. Before we decide to buy a product and drop big money on it, it would be nice to know what people liked and disliked. What fit right and where or wrong and why. Like my Mom says, “buy right the first time.” And “You get what you pay for.”
I was tempted to bid on an Orbea Alma Hydro 29er hardtail bike last week on ebay. After searching around, the price seemed right and I thought that the size might be a good fit. After reading a few reviews I realized that the fit wasn’t for me. People liked it because they “sit in the cockpit of the bike as opposed to being higher above the handlebars.” I like being above. Those reviews helped me to decide.
Yes, some of the items that I review have been sent to me to try and review. And I take this seriously. I wear the products to do what I do all the time-hike, bike, run, ski. However, I learned quickly that I will only review products that I would actually have bought myself and that are of quality to support my active, adventurous, outdoor lifestyle. Sometimes I am introduced to products that I would not have thought of buying and that’s ok too. I try to be honest and straightforward with these reviews. I have not reviewed products that I did not agree with. In some cases, they asked for the product to be sent back and I am ok with that.
Yes, gear reviews send a lot of people to my site, but for all the same reasons that I get sent to other people’s sites and blogs. When I am interested in buying something, I google the product name and read what real people have to say about it. That to me speaks more about the product than a sugar coated magazine review. (Although if it has made it to a big name magazine it usually has a solid seal of approval).
I also take the time to review a product on the site where I bought it. Whether that be Sierra Trading Post, Backcountry.com, Amazon, or the actual product site. Then the next time someone goes to buy a pair of shorts or skis, they can see if something runs too big, too small, or just right. I also make a point to share my review on facebook and twitter. If you are looking for product information, looking up those sites can help.
That being said, expect more gear reviews. I want to contribute and give to the internet product reviews what I expect when searching for items for myself.So, look for a bike review as soon as I chase that elusive new carbon hardtail 29er race mountain bike down.
How do you feel about product reviews? Helpful or people selling out?
What do you like or don’t like about reviews?