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What was it like while Danny was getting big?


Alyksett
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For those that are seasoned, what was it like seeing trials be blown into global spotlight after Danny started making his massive videos? I can imagine it was great having trials being exposed that much, but I would be interested in hearing how the trials community reacted to that level of exposure

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Doesn't matter at all to me. Who cares about exposure? You see how dead this forum is? How group rides have shrunk, most riders ride alone and competitions/competition attendance has dropped? I was actually just talking about this with another rider earlier--there always seems to be this talk of exposure importance, but not enough talk of benefiting your everyday rider.

Not that I don't love Danny Mac, but just saying. You make it sound like the sport has blown up, but the sport has dwindled during that same time.

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11 minutes ago, US_BenR said:

Doesn't matter at all to me. Who cares about exposure? You see how dead this forum is? How group rides have shrunk, most riders ride alone and competitions/competition attendance has dropped? I was actually just talking about this with another rider earlier--there always seems to be this talk of exposure importance, but not enough talk of benefiting your everyday rider.

Not that I don't love Danny Mac, but just saying. You make it sound like the sport has blown up, but the sport has dwindled during that same time.

I mean more how during that time this sport was in a big spotlight. Obviously it didn't lead to trials being a mainstream dicipline at all but it seems like it'd be an interesting time period for the sport. FWIW I think Danny did inspire a lot of younger riders, they just post on Instagram not message boards and are riding street instead of comp style :P

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From memory there was a real split in the community with half living what Danny was going and half hating it.

 

The half that hated it would complain that he wasn’t really a trials rider and he was just doing Bmx and it was giving people the wrong impression on what trials is. I also think there was a lot of jealousy from people who wanted success but never got it.

After Danny’s video I noticed a lot of riders try to recreate his approach and make their own “epic” videos (some even using the same song I think) just like people tried to copy Martyn’s Road Bike Party video.

I’m part of the half that liked what he was doing. He’s a unique rider and extremely humble and kinda fell into success after putting in the work to become the rider he is. I know some other riders who’d stab you in the back trying to get the same success so it was great to see it happen to someone so organically.

 

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I have to agree with Ali’s comment. I’ve never ever met or spoke with Danny. But when I watch a video before, after, during I have to say what Ali said is how he comes across. He’s a unique rider and extremely humble and kinda fell into success after putting in the work to become the rider he is. He’s very open and honest about it, he’s very simple in what he says there is nothing hidden. 
 

Being big, brash and and ass won’t win you anything. Be your self. Be natural. 

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2 hours ago, Ali C said:

The half that hated it would complain that he wasn’t really a trials rider and he was just doing Bmx and it was giving people the wrong impression on what trials is. I also think there was a lot of jealousy from people who wanted success but never got it.

A very brief look on Instagram will tell you that this attitude is still very much alive and kicking, although now opened up to other big name riders too.

It's always seemed like a weird split in a way, I don't really know of many (or any, to be fair) street riders who think negatively of comp riders, but the other way round that's definitely not the case. Some of it certainly appears to be motivated by what is essentially jealousy that street riders appear to be able to make a living through riding more easily than comp-focussed riders. Some of it seems to come from the idea that street riders fundamentally aren't 'as good' as comp riders. The most common example I've read/heard of this is that the way that guys like Danny are open about taking hundreds of goes to do a trick means that they're "not very good" and are "inconsistent". That's more of a fundamental misunderstanding of how making videos works, but is still one of the ways that people seem to want to knock down street riders.

I suppose it's probably always seemed odd to me because I've been lucky enough to film and ride with guys like Jack Carthy, Vincent Hermance, Abel Mustieles and Charlie Rolls, but also with Danny, Fabio, John Langlois, you/Ali, etc. The thing that stands out as soon as you see any of them ride in person is that they're all really, really good at what they do. You don't get to the level that any of those riders are at without having that ability. Seeing it in video never does it justice, and often the things that happen off camera are as impressive as the things that happen on camera. The first time I filmed with Charlie at the Academy his 'warm up' was mental to me, in much the same way that the first time I rode street in Glasgow with Danny I couldn't believe how high his standard level of riding is. I think a lot of people would be surprised to see how good at trials John Langlois is too. Not that it's ever explicitly come up, but I think there's generally a level of respect each way from those riders regarding what the other type of riders are doing.

For me it comes down to the phrase "A rising tide lifts all ships". From first hand experience at TartyBikes, just because someone's gateway into the trials world may have been the April 2009 video, they can still then get interested in comp style riding and choose something like an Echo Lite for their first trials bike rather than an Inspired. It isn't a zero-sum game. Although in the trials world the gap between street and comp seems vast, for the outside world trials in general is just a tiny little niche discipline, and whether the bike has a seat or not it's still a funny little bike with a super spinny gear ratio. It's easier than ever now to find out more about each different type of trials, so having riders who are capable of putting any form of trials in front of millions of people will only really help get more people involved in either type.

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When exactly was the high water mark for trials? Being in the US, I have a skewed view of the sports popularity. I've heard it was around the mid 2000s, but I wasn't into trials then. April 09 compelled me to buy my first trials bike (street trials anyway), but I'd seen probably all of Ryan Leech's videos up to that point too. Mid 2000s seems to be about the time street and comp really split, but don't quote me on that.

I received some of that 'Danny bandwagon' hate early on and at the time I didn't really understand it. Now I've owned numerous comp bikes and entered trials comps, but I still prefer my street rigs. Like Ben said, in the 13 years I've been doing this, I've only seen trials dwindle. Danny's not even sposored by a trials company anymore is he?

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I'd say mid-2000's was probably the case to an extent for TGS stuff, and possibly also for comp trials in terms of the size of entries for local and club comps. In the UK, the number of clubs/comps now compared to when I rode comps back in the early 2000's is quite starkly different.

Street had a following back then, but I'd say that April 2009 definitely got more people involved, especially in Europe it seems. I'd say street trials itself is doing pretty well over there - there are plenty of younger riders posting clips of rides and so on on Instagram, as an example.

The trials industry has become leaner, but part of that is because back then some brands were a little... 'unrealistic' with how they operated. Echo producing 14 different colours of rim for example, or having 5 sub-brands producing largely the same parts. Koxx getting multiple bailouts/investments and making bigger and bigger plans before going bankrupt (although there was a lot more going on with that). Even to an extent Onza having a large range of bikes, but packing them in way too tightly at different price points. I think there was just a general bloat, whereas now with margins getting tighter it's whittled down the number of companies out there from the larger spread there was before to a tighter group now. 

As for Danny, he still rides Inspired and Trialtech parts, but I don't think Santa Cruz really want him broadcasting that seeing as they're the ones paying serious cash to be associated with him. He wasn't required to black out their logos in the same way Fabio was with Canyon, for example.

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In the USA I think the peak was the late 90's and early 2000's. That's when you saw a lot more local comps and larger group rides. That's also the peak of USA based shops and websites. For me when I was starting in the early 2000s we had a local series that followed the local downhill series, and group rides of 15 or 20 people in my city. Fast forward another few years and I was only Rider within a couple hours.

Things are starting to pick up again. I'm seeing more riders and for the first time in almost 20 years have someone local to me, a few younger guys and all of them ride Street.  I believe that some of the social media work, vlogs and youtube things that have been highlighted on places like pinkbike over the last few years have really given a better view of trials to the mountain bike community.  People like Sam pilgrim and other more well known mtb riders dabbling in trials makes it seem like a fun addition instead of a weird sideshow. for a little while things like road bike party and stuff were really fun, but maybe a bit tacky. Also, appears that most mountain bikers now have multiple expensive bikes, for all sorts of different situations, so adding a trials bike seems normal. All the local trials riders I have now still ride their trials bikes less than their mountain bikes.

 

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As someone who has only been in trials for a little more than a year, I really don't get the whole looking down at street riders thing. I had been told that comp riders looked down on street riders, but I didn't believe it myself until I went to a recent comp and then heard the scoffs from the comp riders when I was riding my Inspired around after the comp had finished. Plus, I've just built a comp bike up to start doing more natural trials and seeing how difficult it is, I have huge respect for the comp riders. I suspect the fact that street riding is more appealing to wider audiences than comp trials has a part to play in any jealousy/resentment that comp riders who put the time in don't get the same level of success or exposure. 

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On a basic level, it was funny to go out riding and have more people approach me asking if I was trying to do what the Youtube guy was doing, and even having people name Danny Macaskill was a fun change compared to 2008. I went from being a lone trials rider at school to seeing 3-4 more trials bikes being locked up in the school bike shed, mainly Onzas and those guys were trying to whip like Danny Mac. 

Since I've gotten more involved in climbing it's funny to see the similarities with how some purists don't like how there's a slight free running influence making it's way into bouldering. Seems like those splits in styles are bound to happen in individual sports that allow for creativity in ways that group sports don't.  

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Totally, I’m not sure what the thoughts are between Bmx racers and street guys but there was certainly a lot of hate towards street riders when that became a thing

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Some interesting insights here. I remember trials being popular when I was in my early teens and even watched Danny’s video when it was first released whilst at uni in my 20’s but spending the majority of my ‘riding life’ in MTB the trajectory has kind of been the opposite to trials.

I think MTB now is popular in the same way trials was in the mid 2000’s because it looks and feels cool to send big stuff! The 50 to 1 and Caldwell visuals lot made their names doing the same kind of jam sessions and properly on edge riding seen in the TGS era. In the same way, Danny showed the world the potential of his style of trials riding and I think it really helped to give context to the size and scope of what trials could be with a more creative approach. Much the same way we’re seeing with BMX riders taking to MTB and applying that creativity which is driving its popularity.

Coming into trials later there is certainly a feeling that the ‘glory days’ are in the past but I feel the sport is simmering with potential if that same creative approach is used to broaden the appeal of the style of riding rather than the hardcore fundamentals of the sport itself. 
 

It’s always going to be a big ask to get the current younger generation to put the time into learning back wheel hops and gaps when it’s so much easier to just hoof it off a massive gap jump in the woods and get instant kudos from mates and the internet (Pinkbike Saturday Sends…). I think Danny deserves full credit for trying to engage a wide audience coming at it from something achievable and popular like wheelies to promote just messing about on a bike which will hopefully lead a few down the rabbit hole. 
 

 

 

 

 

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7 hours ago, Ali C said:

Totally, I’m not sure what the thoughts are between Bmx racers and street guys but there was certainly a lot of hate towards street riders when that became a thing

That might be a pretty good analogy, Ali. BMX racing and freestyle are two very different sports now. Those bikes have completely diverged too and the poor flatland guys are lonelier than the artistic cycle folks. At least for now you can still take a comp trials bike and have a fun street session or enter a street trials bike in a trials comp and not be completely out of place.

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16 hours ago, bikeperson45 said:

Since I've gotten more involved in climbing it's funny to see the similarities with how some purists don't like how there's a slight free running influence making it's way into bouldering. Seems like those splits in styles are bound to happen in individual sports that allow for creativity in ways that group sports don't.  

Yeah, it's certainly analogous. On that note, a non-rider I happened to be speaking to once was saying that Danny was so "inconsistent" that he thought he could have got the ghost-bounce-front-flip thing Danny did in Gymnasium within the same amount of tries (which from memory Danny had said in a video was something like 700 or so). That same guy was also quick to point out that Alex Honnold was shit at climbing when I happened to bring his name up.

From interviews with him, Honnold is quick to point out that he's by no means the best climber out there. Regardless of that though, the things he's done speak for themselves, both in terms of his free solo stuff as well as his more traditional climbing. The 'problem' is that the level of popularity he's achieved will always mean some people will turn against him, in the same way that there are plenty of people in the trials world who really dislike Danny because he's so successful.

What may be helping turn the tide a bit is that some of the newer generation of comp riders are starting to embrace social media a bit more, and put themselves out there more. It really wasn't that long ago that most of the top comp riders would seemingly vanish off the face of the earth over winter so they could train without anyone seeing, so when the season started any new techniques or things they'd come up with would give them the advantage. There was definitely also an attitude (that I think remains in some ways) that to earn a living riding, they shouldn't need to do anything other than ride comps and win. Even without the fact we live in a social media age there are gaping holes in that mindset, but now especially it really doesn't help themselves or 'The Sport'. Guys like Carthy, Charlie, Sergi and to an extent people like Eloi Palau putting more clips out has definitely boosted their profile, and I imagine will be pleasing their sponsors too. The fountain gap clip Sergi posted a while back went fully viral as an example, even ending up on the news in Spain. It just goes to show you never really know what might break through for people, and get more people inspired to give it a go.

 

On 5/11/2022 at 1:20 AM, US_BenR said:

Doesn't matter at all to me. Who cares about exposure? You see how dead this forum is? How group rides have shrunk, most riders ride alone and competitions/competition attendance has dropped? I was actually just talking about this with another rider earlier--there always seems to be this talk of exposure importance, but not enough talk of benefiting your everyday rider.

Not that I don't love Danny Mac, but just saying. You make it sound like the sport has blown up, but the sport has dwindled during that same time.

Just to touch on something in this, to an extent growing either discipline of trials will usually wind up benefiting 'your everyday rider'. On the most basic level, part of the reason that costs are higher for trials bikes compared to other bikes is simply economies of scale. Trials bikes are made in miniscule numbers, and that drives costs up. If companies start to do better and manage to produce more bikes, this could lead to a reduction in costs. The other side is the human side of it - if more people get into riding then that inherently reduces the "most riders ride alone" thing simply because if there are more people riding, there's more of a chance of someone starting to ride near you.

Aside from that though, I'm not sure comps/comp attendance has much of a meaning. I know when I was first getting into comps, I'd been riding for a few years but I was on the fence about doing one because they were such a black box at the time. There was basically no media from them, and so from a new rider perspective there was no idea of what you might have to do save for some photos or videos of the Elite riders doing stuff I could never dream of doing. Fast forward nearly 20 years and we're still in almost exactly the same position. When I was in a customer facing role at TartyBikes, people would often ask about comps as they had no idea what to expect or how they worked. That aspect will generally put people off on its own, but IMO comps also don't really give a great value proposition to riders in terms of having a day out riding. I've entered an enduro race later this year, and with that I'm going to get to ride a 45km loop, including 7 fun stages that are each about 5-7 minutes long. As a brand new rider to that type of riding, even if I make a lot of mistakes I still get to ride all those stages and have a lot of time out riding my bike. If I was a brand new rider to comps, if I make a lot of mistakes - especially early in sections - I could wind up only getting to actually ride my bike in that competition for a combined total of a minute or two. I can see how that, combined with the fear of the unknown, the pressure of a competition situation, the inaccessibility of a lot of comp venues and so on would lead to not wanting to ride them. When you factor in clips of guys like Charlie making riding street look really fun, there's not really much of an incentive to do comps, and I don't really think that that is going to really be a factor in how big trials as a whole gets.

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This is a really interesting topic! The most popular period of trials I’ve experienced in Canada is mid 2000s. I was involved in demos, competitions, and group rides of 20 riders. Now, I’m the only active rider within a couple hundred km (that I know of). 
 

As for the Danny hate/love/jealousy, I’ve been on all sides haha! In 2009 I was so “pure” that I said something like “it’s crappy bmx and crappy trials.” Then I got heavily into BMX for a few years and started to open my mind on what’s possible on a bike. I became a little jealous of his exposure and thought “I could do that!” Turns out front flipping off buildings isn’t only difficult, it’s terribly scary!

Now I’m just plain happy for anyone who makes it. I love Danny’s riding, and I love anyone who puts their own flare on riding/video making. Ali found his niche with his vlogs being more technical/educational. Fabio is just crazy with his stunts. Charlie is mind blowingly fluid and fast! Shindiggers have a fun, friendly, group ride feeling to their vids. Everyone is coming into their own, and it feels like the Danny copying is coming to an end? Except for me when I’m not filming of course haha! I bet we all copy each other!

Moral of the story, go have fun on yer bikes :) And we are the ones responsible for making trials big or small now. It can be whatever we want it to be.

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5 hours ago, JT! said:

This is the original thread when the video came out.

I'd seen Danny ride in one other video maybe and knew he was doing stuff that I'd never seen before, but this was on a whole new level.

 

"It's basically parkour on a bicycle and it's how babies are created"

Sounds about right.

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6 hours ago, Luke Rainbird said:

"It's basically parkour on a bicycle and it's how babies are created"

Sounds about right.

Haha, didn't even notice that! Not even sure where that picture was pulled from. :wacko:

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Cool topic! It seems to have diversified a bit now, so I'll just ramble a few of my thoughts and observations if thats ok?

It terms of the danny vid/time period it blew up. Yeah I think there was a bit of a split like @Ali C said but it did also get trials into the spotlight a bit more. You had riders who were saying it wasnt trials blaa blaa and some were very vocal about that. But it also helped riders explain what we did. You get people asking " oh like that danny macaskill" And whether you liked the video or not, you could answer yes or sort of, either way it became a good point of reference for people, especially around the time when the comp scene and bikes were getting more extreme and less liek normal bikes more and more.
I've always enjoyed both sides of 'modern' trials, the street and comp riding. I first rode a prototype zoot 24"back in 2010 and thought it was great, it may have taken till 2022 but I finally have a street bike myself!
The only downside i think there may have been, and I may be well off, @Mark W may be able to help with his tartybikes insight, But in the old days, riders would buy an old monty, onza, MTB, gradually upgrade bits and gradually learn trials skills. After the danny mac explosion, it seemed younger riders would buy a brand new inspired build, learn a few basics, learn how to footjam whip and be done. There seemed to be less of a want to improve overall trials skills - which may come from riders not competing as much or not needing to go to comps to ride as much now/then, so they just learnt the certain tricks they fancied or looked good and were happy, rather than needing the specific skills associate with compy stuff, which a lot of us grew up needing to do. Not saying its a bad thing, just something I  think I have noticed.

 

I think the biggest Era for trials in the UK, and specifically on the comp side was the late 90's, early 2000's. I remember the Essex club having to limit entries to 100! Back then you'd had maybe 8 Essex club rounds, 10 tyketrial club rounds, 6 Hampshire club rounds, YMCA, Hudderfield running 5-8 events too. Then you'd have 5 British rounds, 5 world championship rounds. So there was always a competition on and they were nearly always fully entered.

 

I think there still is a big divide between Comp and street, but its getting better. Some comp riders are still very against street. Personally I've never had an issue, i've always enjoyed watching and riding with street guys, to the point where I have a comp and street bike now and have riddeen my street bike more this year. This maybe because I grew watching bmx, motorcross, where theres a mix of styles and influences.

 

 

So i've rambled on there and think I've missed all the points, but there you go haha

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Wow... and this is why forums > facebook! 

 

Great thread .  I liked Danny on his long echo the most !!! But that was very early on and we only saw him ride in a few videos, but you could see he was different back then!   Great to have success and more folks on bicycles, just sad most youths can triple footjam and 360 drop off but not ride up a loose rocky hill... The essence of trials , to me, is not there in street- riding you bike up and over something without putting your foot down.   I also don’t count dog pee skinnies as “making it” !! But that was Jeff Lenoskys rule in the 90s that I stick to.

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