Bikes vs. Skis, Part 1 (Ep.21)

Which ski company is most like which bike company? Who is the Moment Skis of the bike world? And which ski company shares the most family resemblance with Yeti? Or Transition?

Blister’s bike editor, Noah Bodman, and I have been having this conversation for years, and we’re now taking the debate public. So give it a listen, then let us know in the Comments Section below where you agree, where you disagree, and where you’ve got the better analogies.

Then in a week or two, we’ll run Part 2 of this conversation, and we’ll share some of your comments and questions, and do another round of Bikes vs Skis.

TOPICS & TIMES:

  • Which ski brand is most like Specialized? (4:15)
  • Evil & Transition? (8:48)
  • Yeti (15:41)
  • Santa Cruz (25:40)
  • Giant (34:02)
  • Trek (42:04)
  • YT (45:55)
  • Cannondale? (51:08)
  • Ellsworth? (52:48)
  • Pivot vs. Ibis, Transition, and Yeti (55:03)
  • Preview of Part 2 of Bikes vs. Skis (59:25)

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The 750 miles of trail in Gunnison / Crested Butte


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15 thoughts on “Bikes vs. Skis, Part 1 (Ep.21)

  1. This is a fun discussion, of which I’ve drawn a lot of parallels from in the past on my own as well. I feel that there’s an even broader scope of comparison, where you have all these cool niche Italian, Belgium, French even American road bike brands which are very boutique and focused, and how those align with smaller, technical ski brands just as larger bike brands relate to the bigger ski brands. The loyalty is all the same, the emotion and identity you get from your ski to your bike is the same, and as a ski brand, I think realizing all this helps further define who your (our) customer is. Looking forward to part 2.

  2. So, Is Scott, Scott?
    Scott has some of the best bikes across multiple categories, but they are a bit under the radar in skis (at least here in the US, their winter clothing is great though)

    I would almost align their bikes with Fischer skis

  3. Ibis = DPS – both companies defined early on by unique designs constructed from carbon, neither are particularly focused on racing.

    Giant = Solomon is a good one.

  4. I think Specialized is Atomic; both big manufacturers who invest across every discipline of the respective sports. They’re both making unarguably good quality and desirable products in the high, mid, and budget offerings and both emphasize innovative development.

    Black Crows is Commencal; Frenchies that you only see here and there and make really awesome stuff!

    I like the YT and 4FRNT comparison but I’d argue J Skis; All 3 are going against the corporate grain to send a message that you can make awesome products at reasonable prices, but YT and J Skis emphasize the carefree “good times” vibe.

    Yeti is DPS because dentists….

  5. G3 = Rocky Mountain – small Canadian outfits doing rad things
    K2 = Kona – was ‘the’ brand back in day, fell out favour, now coming back on trend and once again seen as an innovator
    Rossi = Trek – makes everything under the sun, some products are amazing, some are ok, some are over produced hunks of….

  6. I like to walk up to a rack of skis after lunch and pull mine out that nobody else has. Same goes for my bike.

  7. I spend hours thinking about dumb shit like this. I came up with my comparisons prior to listening to the podcast (which I thoroughly enjoyed, as is usually the case with Gear :30). I apologize in advance for the novella. You may just wish to skip to the last comparison if you are looking for some inflammatory comment (concerning DPS).

    YT=J skis: Independent young guns going out to upset the industry with DTC sales model, good prices, quality product, and “fun” image. (Since J skis owns 4FRNT that connection works as well).

    Santa Cruz=Black Crows: Both have been around for a while starting as boutique manufactures and moving increasingly into the main stream (SC being a few years ahead in that respect). They still retain a significant “sex factor”. Both companies have a penchant for subtle yet bold graphic design that signals a product which, if not the most innovative, is sublimely refined. Such consistent quality comes at a price premium that, though not the most extravagant, can be questionable at times.

    Transition=Line: Both started as small rider/skier owned brands on a mission to make durable products that didn’t suck for young rippers. Both companies have become mainstream brands albeit much smaller than some of the big players; mainstream alternative one might say. They continue to offer mid-higher end products at a reasonable price. Marketing-wise they seem to follow a similar strategy with Transition’s fun, wacky edits and Line’s Traveling Circus series.

    Trek=Rossignol: Two huge players in their respective markets with product in every category and at every price point. They are somewhat conservative and less prone (though not immune) to gimmicks than the other big players. Each has flagship products that could be described as having a unique feel: solid yet accessible. Soft and forgiving but damp. The analogy may be dated but I always thought of my S3s as winter versions of my Remedy.

    Specialized=K2: While I don’t necessarily associate K2 with Spec’s “evil big company” vibe, both are huge players again at every price point and product category. Both companies have relied heavily on gimmicks (Brain shocks and Brain skis ring a bell?). Each maintains a wide range of eponymously named accessory lines (e.g. tires and boots, inline skates and soft goods etc.). IMHO both of the company’s bikes and skis have similar performance characteristics as well: soft and a bit off the mark.

    Evil=Moment: They are both the current cool kids with products that legitimately rip and defy neat characterization. I have the feeling that both are quite happy with their current market niche.

    Yeti=Volkl: Self serious image, all business race oriented feel, die hard following. Top quality, low value (relatively speaking).

    Giant=Elan: They make other people’s stuff. Their own line is solid, reasonably well priced and utterly unremarkable.

    Ellsworth=DPS (in the very near future at least): It was the late ‘90s. Bikes had just entered a period of rapid evolution but the industry really didn’t have its shit together yet. As it stood there were proto DH beasts and XC bikes. Ellsworth entered the scene with graphically stunning adverts (I will never forget the Truth or Dare road gap spread) promoting bikes for a new niche: bikes that could climb well and rip on the descents. Ellsworth bikes were met with breathless reviews by the Bike mags and AOL chat rooms and list serves were set ablaze. For the time Ellsworth bikes really did work better than anything else for their intended purpose. And for this prestige Ellsworth Bikes commanded an exorbitant price premium. But quality was worth it right? Unfortunately Ellsworth bikes had a nasty tendency to break. And soon other companies made comparable, then better bikes which they sold at a fraction of the cost. For a time Ellsworth bikes retained near reverent status because of their earlier reputation and because they were… bespoke. It wasn’t too long until Ellsworth became the butt of what were perhaps the original “dentist bike” snips. From there it was a short jump to irrelevance and financial ruin for Ellsworth.

    It was the mid 2000s. Skis had just entered a period of rapid evolution but the industry really didn’t have its shit together yet. As it stood there were goofy and ungainly attempts at rockered out powder skis and purely piste oriented skis. DPS entered the scene with graphically stunning web edits promoting skis for a new niche: powder touring. DPS skis were met with breathless reviews by ski websites and chat rooms and social media were set ablaze. For the time DPS skis really did work better than anything else for their intended purpose. And for this prestige DPS commanded and exorbitant premium in price. But quality was worth it right? Unfortunately DPS skis had a nasty tendency to break. But soon other companies made comparable, and then better skis which they sold at a fraction of the cost. For a time DPS skis retained near reverent status because of their earlier reputation and because they were… bespoke.
    And that is where the story of DPS skis stands now. Care to guess how it ends?

  8. Coming from the bike industry, I think about stupid shit like this all the time too.

    Partially stolen from above, but this is how I think about it:
    Specialized – Atomic (although the Rossi argument is ok too)
    Trek – Rossi
    Giant – Salomon
    Yeti – Volkl
    Kona – K2
    Commencal – Black Crows or Faction
    Intense – Liberty (bright and loud!)
    Ellsworth – why are we even talking about Ellsworth ??

    My favorite bikes and skis (and I’m not even a cool kid):
    Transition – ON3P
    Evil – Moment
    YT – 4FRNT

    What I’m struggling with:
    Santa Cruz – Blizzard or Nordica? Maybe earlier Armada or Line??
    Ibis?
    Pivot?

  9. Hey, more fun than sudoku.

    first, some from bike to ski:
    Giant – Atomic
    Trek – Salomon
    Specialized – Rossignol
    Santa Cruz – Line
    Pivot – Fischer
    Intense – APO
    Norco – K2
    KHS – Elan
    Raleigh – Voile
    Scott – Stockli
    Bianchi – Head
    GT – Dynastar
    BMC – Amplid
    Independent Fabrication – Folsom
    Fat Chance – Wagner
    Merlin – Igneous

    and, some from ski to bike:
    Volkl – Lapierre
    Liberty – Marin
    Dynastar – Cannondale or GT (it’s a tie!)
    Kastle – Ritchey
    Blizzard – Rocky Mountain
    DPS – Ibis or Jones (can’t decide!)
    Black Crows – Mondraker
    J Skis – Fezzari
    4FRNT – Haro
    Icelantic – Orange
    ON3P – Yeti
    Moment – Evil
    Faction – YT
    Head – Scott
    Dynafit – Jones
    G3 – Salsa / Surly
    Armada – Ghost
    Vishnu – SE Bikes
    Rocky Mountain Underground – Moots
    Renoun – Robot Bike Co.
    Lib Tech – Renovo
    ScottyBob – Rock Lobster

    Bonus points for historic:
    Coreupt – Karpiel
    HG Skis – Swobo
    Karhu – Bridgestone
    Tua – Klein
    Pre – Univega

    Blah blah blah:
    any splitboard – Dahon

  10. aaah, loved this podcast!! Information value 0, entertainment value 100.
    Also, you did a good job with your comparisons. I also like Jakes above, then I stopped reading.

    Santa Cruz = Black Crows is certainly very good.
    DPS = Ibis is also good. In every case, several parings are possible.

    I would just like to say that in my opinion Yeti is not as expensive as its reputation. Yeti just does not make cheap versions of their bikes while from Santa Cruz, you can have aluminum frames, or lower speced models (that weight 15kg).
    I find that few not direct to consumer brand bikes are specced as well and sound as a Yeti. If you buy a Trek for example, you pay the same price but you need to change a few parts right away and thus end up with a more expensive bike.
    If you want a Santa Cruz with specs as good as the Yeti, it’s a 1000 bucks more (at least in Switzerland).

    That being said, I still believe there is no rational reason to buy a Yeti SB 5.5 instead of a YT Capra (I have/had both).

    Have fun!

  11. Uuh, we forgot some big players (in the DACH region):

    Canyon

    Cube

    Radon

    Switzerland has two manufactureres that make very nice carbon bikes

    Bold Cycles

    Stoll Bikes

    And since some readers listed some brands I never heard of, let me list some “exotic brands” that I saw in German bike magazine, such as Drössinger, Storck, Centurion, Bionicon, Votec, Rose, Conway, Fuji.
    Personally I like Solid, Alutech and Propain.

    Then there is Rotwild and Focus, which have/had race teams.

    BMC needs to be paired better. They are huge on the road and in XC, less on trail, even though they used to have an Enduro Team at EWS.

    Norco needs to be paired better. I do not think they are K2 as someone proposed above.

    Have fun!

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