Outerbike Offers Opportunity to Demo New Bikes in Festival Atmosphere

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[Editor's Note: This was about the 2017 Spring Outerbike. Things are different now, and the article has been reflected to update that.]

By Chris Magerl — Sascha Anastas met The One at the first Outerbike. She had seen him before, and even spent time on the same trips. But there was something about the time spent together at that Moab gathering in October 2010 that sealed the deal. She and Simon Stewart became a couple.

Outerbike organizers can't promise you will find a life partner. But they are serious about helping you find your next great ride.

Ashley Korenblat of Western Spirit Cycling started Outberbike in 2010. It has become a stellar desert bike festival, and a great way to shop for a new bike. Photo by Chris Magerl

Outerbike is about bikes. About riding bikes, checking out a lot of options, seeing how all that exciting newness fits your unique style. You've heard about that new model, seen photos online, perhaps even passed each other on the trail. Outerbike is a chance to throw a leg over the toptube and go for a ride. A real ride, on real Moab trails. A chance to find The One.

Outerbike is not Interbike. Interbike was an industry insider affair. It happened in Las Vegas in the autumn, and includes an on-dirt demo where shop workers, distributors and journalists can ride all the new models. If you can't claim industry affiliation to finagle an Interbike pass, you are left out of the party.

The morning sprint for the demo bikes. Photo by Chris Magerl

Outerbike brings that party to everyday riders. You pay for your pass and get three days of riding all the bikes you can handle. Ride that carbon 27 Plus on Bar B, and then hand it back, grab the aluminum 29er and go hit Bar B again. Return, repeat, and find The One for you.

A full three day pass at the Fall Moab Outerbike costs $250. For that, you'll have access to bikes from more than nine manufacturers, shuttles to other Moab trails, a tasty and filling lunch (fresh fruits and vegetables, pasta, meat, all in ample portions), post-ride beers on Friday and Saturday, a Saturday night party in town and a great festival feel.

Outerbike includes shuttles to some of Moab's best riding. The offerings this spring included Navajo Rocks, Mag 7 and Amasa Back. Photo by Chris Magerl

There is also a BYOB (bike) option that gets you access to the festival and shuttles, but no bike demos, for $155, or the Social card, which gets you lunches, party, beer, but no bike demo or shuttles, for $75.

The autumn event has become a MTB world mainstay in only six years. World is not an overstatement. The Spring Outerbike drew riders from all over, including South America and Europe. Outerbike has become a cornerstone of a US MTB vacation for international riders.

Pivot mechanic Brad Pastir, second from left, installs pedals on a demo bike about to be ridden by John Shuld of Chicago. On the right, Pivot's Tom Noaker steadies the bike to set front and rear sag for Romuald Mineyko of Montreal. You bring your pedals and the bike folks set up the bike to your weight, height and riding style. Photo by Chris Magerl

Most riders are at Outerbike because they are in the market for a new bike. When contemplating a $5,000 (or greater) MTB purchase, it is hard to feel confident based on a ride around the parking lot or down the street. You really want to take it on the trail, ride it hard, and see how it compares to other models. Outerbike is your place.

This is especially true if you are a rider who is very tall or shorter than the average female. Few shops can offer you one bike to test, much less four or five or six options. Outerbike can.

To be certain they get to test the bike they want, many folks line up well before the gate opens at 9 A.M. On Friday and Saturday at a recent Spring Outerbike, Romuald Mineyko was the first person in line. He traveled from Montreal to be a part of his third Outerbike, and was in line at 7 A.M. each morning. On Sunday, Joel Mikle of Minnesota was four minutes earlier, putting Mineyko into the second spot in line. Not to worry, Mikle was after a Pivot Switchblade. Mineyko had his eye on a Pivot Firebird.

“I am looking to buy a bike,” said Mikle, and was drawn to Outerbike from Minnesota. The second day of the festival, he rode four different bikes from three manufacturers.

Some riders show up just to be a part of the festival, or to take advantage of the shuttles. One midwest rider on Saturday did three complete laps on the Mag 7-Bull Run-Gemini Bridges route, pedaling back down to the Moab Brands parking lot and jumping onto the next shuttle.

There were former college friends from various regions meeting up for a Moab MTB weekend. Families from different regions gathered at Outerbike. If you add up what you get (top-end bike rental, shuttles, lunch, beer, over three days), it is cheaper than doing the standard bike shop demo and shuttle routine.

Bring your pedals, shoes, helmet and bike clothes. No need to bring a bike. This makes for an easy bike vacation, without the hassle of traveling with a bike. Top-end bikes abound. Before you head out, a mechanic tunes the bike to your weight, adjusting shock pressure, fork pressure, rebound rate, tire pressure and seat height. They want the bike set up for you. They want you to think this is The One.

On the shuttle, during lunch, in the morning line or over afternoon beers, Outerbike participants embraced the chance to interact. “I really liked the chance to meet other riders,” said Dave Gontrum, a participant from Salt Lake City who was looking to upgrade his 10 year old Santa Cruz. He was really smitten by the Ibis Mojo 3 set up with Plus tires, in red.

Vendors showing and selling bike parts and accessories keep you busy when you are not riding, eating or drinking. Want to demo a pair of bike shorts? You can do that (bring your own liner, please). Checking out tire or wheel options for your current ride, protective gear, glasses, helmets, riding clothes, components, racks? It's all there.

There will be two more Outerbikes in 2022. First to Moab for the now-traditional autumn event, this year September 30-October 2. Then off to Bentonville, Arkansas from October 21-23. More chances to see if you can find The One.

As for that romance that took shape at the first Outerbike? Sascha and Simon were married in 2015, and they had their first child in September 2017, about four weeks before the October Outerbike. 

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