The Pinkbike Podcast: Episode 103 – World Cup Pit Secrets with Henry Quinney
The Pinkbike, as I first came to know it, was a goofy mountain bike news and review source with a mostly unmoderated comment section and an unhealthy addiction to “bro- science”. I loved it, and have read articles almost every day since I discovered the site. Everything changed one fateful day in November 2021, when Radek Burkat announced that he had sold Pinkbike to Outside, after running the site almost on his own for 23 years. Now, for most people that wouldn’t be a big deal, but for us loyal Pinkbike readers and reviewers, it was the beginning of the end. The Pinkbike community immediately began to immigrate to other rival websites such as Vital MTB and NSMB. Me and other members of the Pinkbike community immediately realized that this was not an isolated incident. In early 2021 Bike MAG went bankrupt and the rights and former employees were bought out by Outside Inc. Again in early 2021 Outside Inc. bought Backpacker magazine, also in early 2021 Outside Inc .acquired Gaia GPS and Big Stone Publishing. (Publisher of Rock and Ice, Trail Runner, Ascent, Gym Climber and other popular publications) at the end of 2020. As many have pointed out, it feels less like Outside Inc. is trying to expand its audience , and more like he’s trying to get a monopoly from North American outdoor publications, especially since they’re buying up not just one mountain bike-related website, but several.
This is a problem for several reasons. Most notably, they have placed most of these publications behind a sort of paywall, contradicting their so-called “mission” to extend the outdoor community to the less privileged. They hold overwhelming influence in the ranks of the outside media, enabling them to bring their agenda to the masses with little or no competition; they have majority power, which is bad. Outdside Inc. has also been known to draw attention to little-known, local secret locations, increasing the amount of traffic these fragile ecosystems have to endure. In many cases, the quality of content published by these Outside Inc.-owned websites and magazines drops dramatically and often leans more towards advertisements and consumerism than the tips, tricks, stories and reviews the publications were known for in the past. the origin.
When Outside Inc. forces a previously free website to put up a paywall under the guise of creating more “quality content”, and promises that most of the content will remain free, but reduces the quality of that content to shameless advertisements , clickbait, and links to other websites that are right behind paywalls, it at least makes everyone feel a bit intrusive and at worst blocks people’s access to exit by preventing those who are unwilling or unable to pay for access to the very thing that might entice them out. Going out is quite expensive with hardware purchases and travel, so doing paywalls on an online site has got to be the worst kind of access control in an otherwise beginner-friendly industry (one could even argue that the outdoors is led by enthusiastic beginners). So if the whole point of buying outdoor posts is to get more people outside, then putting everything behind a paywall is definitely not the right way to go. At this point, it appears that Outside Inc. is only here to make money, not to inspire people, or even to provide quality content, and it could be pointed out that Pinkbike has thrived as a fully-fledged website. free for more than 20 years, so no we can say that it is impossible.
Monopolies over entire industries are banned in most of the world for many good reasons. But even owning a large number of publications or companies in a given industry should prompt further investigation into the buyer’s intentions. Especially in an industry as important to the future of our planet as the outdoor industry. The best way to get people to care about something is to show them its value, so getting people to experience nature outside of a walk in the park is an integral part of our future. I’m not sure of Outside Inc.’s intentions, but I think they have a dangerous ability to control the opinions of many consumers through the types of content that the posts they produce. If the free copy of Outside magazine (Outside Inc.’s flagship publication) that I received with my latest Backpacker magazine is anything to go by, the content they produce leans heavily in favor of loosely concealed and non-concealed advertisements. any advertisements for expensive trips. . Worse still, the new “tips and tricks” release, at least as far as Outside Inc. is concerned, reveals local secret spots.
Take Hanging Lake, a beautiful, blue, and very ecologically fragile lake to the top of a short but steep one-mile hike just off I-70 in Colorado. It was relatively unknown until the advent of geotagging on Instagram (a feature that allows users to add the location where a photo was taken to their post). Hanging Lake quickly exploded and visits grew exponentially. People started disobeying no-swim signs and the fragile lake was put in jeopardy. The authorities were forced to set up a permit and shuttle system to protect the lake before it was destroyed. This is one case I know of, but there are others, and most of them are not caused by Instagram. They are primarily (but not exclusively) caused by posts owned by Outdside Inc., and most of these hidden gems don’t enjoy the same protection as Hanging Lake. The extra traffic on these previously rarely traveled trails will eventually cause irreparable damage to the environment around them, especially if the infrastructure around them cannot be sufficiently maintained to handle the increased traffic.
Perhaps the most trivial of these reasons is the quality of the content produced, but that doesn’t make it irrelevant. The quality content that I and many others are used to on Pinkbike, and other posts is quickly becoming a thing of the past. For example, Pinkbike usually does a goofy year in review, in which they reveal the best reviews, most-read articles, best new products, and most interesting racing team moves. That hasn’t happened this year and has been replaced by a few crummy articles about 2021 as a whole. This is not an isolated incident, my Backpacker magazines are getting shorter and shorter, but are filled with more ads than ever (and I’m paying for that one). Instead, the vast majority of the quality content we’re used to has and will likely continue to decline in favor of shameless advertisements and holiday giveaways, and I just have to point out that Outside Inc. is listed as a sales company at detail, not a media, and belongs to a ghost (all you can know about the guy is his name).
I will miss having wacky and weird outside posts to read, but most of all I will miss the small website feel of Pinkbike. It used to look like a tight-knit community, I mean everyone knew who the wackjobs were in the comments, and they were tagged and downgraded all the time. Now, where do we go to fill up on bad puns and inappropriate comments? I for one am in favor of a new MTB website called Purplebike, but for now I will eventually stop reading Pinkbike altogether and spend more and more time on NSMB. Hope this has shed some light on Outside Inc. and its impact, and maybe even inspire you to cancel your Outside+ subscription.