Bikes vs. Skis (2020 edition), Part 1 (Ep. 24)


  • Who is providing the most bang for the buck? (5:11)
  • Current “cool kids” bike & ski brands? (9:58)
  • Which brand do other companies want to be? (16:59)
  • Which brands have the most upside? (24:45)
  • The bike equivalent of Kastle & Stockli? (40:54)
  • “Custom” in the bike & ski worlds? (46:35)
  • Whose reputation is better than their products? (50:50)
  • Which companies have the most brand loyalty? (57:27)

Which bike company is currently most like which ski company? And which bike and ski company do most other bike and ski brands secretly wish they could trade places with? Today, Noah Bodman, Jonathan Ellsworth, David Golay, and Eric Freson make parallels and analogies between these two industries to get a better sense of the current position, reputation, and trajectory of a bunch of different brands in these sports.

And we want to hear from you — where do you agree or disagree, and can you come up with better, more accurate analogies than the ones we’re proposing? Let us know in the Comments Section below, and then we’ll incorporate some of your answers into Part 2, which will air in a couple weeks.

Bikes vs. Skis: which bike brand is most similar to which ski brand, and how are different bike brands stacking up against each other? We discuss this and more on Blister's Bikes & Big Ideas podcast

19 comments on “Bikes vs. Skis (2020 edition), Part 1 (Ep. 24)”

  1. The Kastle and Stockli part is fucking hilarious.

    BTW I love my kastle fx96s – so light and fun. Also love enforcers, mantras and my 15 year old Salomon pocket rockets. But i definitely wouldn’t let someone skiing pocket rockets date my daughter .

  2. Its pretty difficult for me to think about a “cool kids” ski company or an emerging ski company without thinking about Lib Tech skis. They’ve always had a weird cult following of crud busting PNW dead heads but more recently it seems like they are taking R&D way more seriously; working closely with some of the most progressive freeride and freestyle skiers I can think of (Lucas Wachs and Mike King). Their graphics are also S I C K.
    Its also hard to ignore Sego; a small core brand who works closely with their athletes and just had their skis top the podium for FWT 2020.
    I think line is making the most companies jealous right now. Every year they seem to be ahead of the curve; developing cool skis in market niches that people actually want to buy (the vision, sakana, and blade come to mind)

    • I’m not a dead head.. don’t live in the PNW…. I love Lib Tech boards.
      My only issue is they don’t make a current ski over 186.
      Me 6’4 ” 230.So I’m scrambling to get close out wrecreates in188 or 191.
      I guess they are for cool kids.

  3. The Company I would buy stocks: YT. They just launched 1 or 2 years ago in the US, but here in Germany, where they are from -> togehter with Canyon they take the market in a rush. YT is the Black Crows or Evil. They were for the cool kids once, now they are for the ones that want to be like the cool kids. But whatever, YT is great, you will hear much more from them.

  4. For an up and coming ski company I nominate Liberty. Their new lines seem to be doing well and they are growing a lot.

  5. I love direct to consumer. For skis it’s awesome. Haven’t pulled trigger on j skis or on3p but will next season. For MTB it’s awesome but harder. Local bike guy would be pissed. My local bike guy has hooked me up many times and I only trust him and smaller shops generally for service, fittings etc. if I buy a bike from revel or guerilla i would probably take it to one of the chains where the people are kind of dbags and do a crappy job.

    • That’s awesome to know – had no idea. I would definitely do that. May cancel my Ripmo on order and get one of their bikes instead. Only problem is that it’s a quarter pound heavier than another bike – oh wait that’s a cheeseburger and I’m 15-20 pounds overweight anyway.

      Don’t you guys feel like skis are way more tuned in to a rider than bikes. I can get on almost any Higher end bike my size and have fun. With skis there’s so much of a difference. Maybe I’m more willing to adapt my bike riding to the bike/terrain than skis – with skis i want a them to be precise and dialed in 100% of the time. Maybe its that I started skiing when i was 5 and didn’t start mountain biking until a few years ago.

      This quarantine stuff is driving me nuts. I left my house the other day on an XC bike and almost killed myself going Mach chicken down a hill i had no business on (on that bike). Ended up in the bushes after a 8-10 foot launch. Was a lot of fun and got up and kept riding. Turned out to be exactly what i needed.

  6. This has to be one of my favorite topics you guys talk about. So funny and the comparisons are always spot on.

    Stoked for part 2!

  7. I would like to point out the Stockli actually makes bikes. Therefore, the bike equivalent of a stockli is a stockli

  8. Totally agree with the most bang for your buck, but some of the big players give a lot of bang for your buck. I have to think Trek does a good job, as well as Giant.

    Ibis is one of the cool kids right now. I see a lot of YouTubers, athletes from other sports and “influencers” riding their bikes (they also make great bikes).

    Totally agree with Revel as one of the upside companies.

    Completely disagree with DPS. DPS should be part of the Sockli and Kastle discussion. People who ride them think they and their skis are God’s gift to snow. They are not accessible in any way and overall aren’t that great to ride compared to their competitors. JSkis has to be the answer here. JLev is such a good marketer, he makes skis that everyone likes to ride and their limited addition top sheets are genius.

    ON3P has great brand loyalty with the new generation of skiers. Every time I ask someone with a pair about them, they freak out. Brand loyalty is probably higher when it comes to bikes because of the barrier to entry. Once you find a company you like, it is hard to leave knowing how much money you have to spend. In the long run if you don’t like the bike you bought, your in a bit of a pickle. One or two demo rides never seem to answer the long term, do i love this bike question.

  9. Considering Seth’s Bike Hacks & Eric Porter, what do you think of Diamondback in terms of the best bang for your buck category?

  10. I got a little too into this…

    Mega Corp
    • Specialized – Salomon + Atomic: Haters gonna hate
    • Giant – Rossignol: Weekend warrior and proud of it
    • Trek – Head: Second place is first loser

    Usual Suspects
    • Kona – K2: Legacy > Present
    • Santa Cruz – DPS: Timeless, but modern
    • Yeti – Nordica: Mainstream hardcore
    • GT – Elan: Hans Ray, Glen Plake
    • Norco – Blizzard: Try to not stand out too much
    • Ibis – Line: Goofball AF
    • Intense – Volkl: Do you even lift bro?
    • Transition – Black Crows: Where’s the party
    • Evil – Lib Tech: Welcome to The Darkside

    Down with DTC, yeah you know me
    • YT – Moment: Welcome to The Darkside’s website
    • Commencal – ON3P: Look at how these kids have grown up
    • Guerilla Gravity – J Skis: The garage band that’s now on pop radio
    • Canyon – no one: How cool would it be for a Canyon in the ski industry?

  11. Nice podcast
    You asked so here goes:
    Top brand loyalty bike: Geometron Bikes, a tiny industry trend leading brand with an amazingly loyal following. SO many bikes moving towards Chris Porter’s game changing geometry now. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
    Yeah, Mondraker started the movement mainstream, but mr Porter made it work right.

    Most reliant on name rather than qualities as a bike:
    Santa Cruz. With colour co-ordinated Enve wheels I’d say that’s the “dentist” bike.

    Full custom bike:
    Nicolai. Anything you want within reason. Geometry, spec etc. Want a gearbox, you can have that too.

    Biggest stealth back-step for mountain biking enjoyment: Letting E-Bike makers claim to be making mountain bikes, thus inheriting the wide trail access that’s been fought for over the last 35 years and, due to use characteristics, potentially causing a great deal of trail conflicts.
    Riding everywhere even uphill at 15mph past walkers equestrians etc will hurt eventually IMO.
    Sad. Nothing wrong with E-Bikes on the right trails but riders must realise how disconcerting they are for other trail users.
    Yeah, I picked that idea up from Richard Cunningham.

  12. Super interesting podcast again! Thanks for the great stuff always.

    Super difficult to add comments when you listen 99% of the time your stuff on the way to the ski shop and on the way home.

    So I always have a lot stuff in mind to throw in, but I never make it so far, shame on me.

    Very interesting to see the differences between North America and Europe and I was asking me anyway if you guys would also be interested in a bit more european perspective on products, I can see some things that are different but also a lot of things that we share.

    Regarding this podcast, I´m not good with bikes, but I heard some stuff about skis and boots in the last 20 years.

    – Your Stöckli/Kästke skier is in Europe actually every skier in wanna be FIS norm race boots and on “real” (of course not, but his Austrian ski dealer told him) FIS norm race skis. Go to those famous European ski resorts known for there alpine ski culture and you will see them. So your Stöckli guy can be in Europe someone on an Atomic Redster :-). BUT you can also find this attitude amongst Black Crows skiers, but this is a different story.

    – The “coolest” thing in Europe was in the last years Black Crows. That was till ,let´s say, the 18/19 season the cool kids brand. Now, everyone is skiing them, also the guys who think they are now very special.

    – Faction seems to have a way better image in Europe than in in the US. Faction is right now replacing Black Crows as the cool shit ski brand. BUT black crows still has a very loyal fan base!!!

    – We have no really upcoming stars over here. The market is dominated by the big guys. Blizzard has not the same “cool” image like in the US, Völkl is just big and you can get them most of the time for a very good deal. Ok they make a good job with their international team, but in the end, does this brand has character/soul? (Same with Atomic, Head, Salomon, Rossignol… maybe to harsh, but sometimes you have to hyperbolize). Very difficult for small brands, but we have some who found their niche (Moonlight for example)

    – For a lot of skiers Faction is offering a very wide and I think coherent range of skis from all mtn/groomer skis, to touring skis, freestyle skis and charger. They kind of have everything, just need to keep with quality on track /they made huge steps by changing factory, no more big deals in the last season) and see that they do not surf to close to the beach, because success can be so fast over.

    – A lot brands have a higher reputation than the quality of their products, but we see this mostly with smaler brands than with the big ones. Maybe one plus for a brand like Armada that they mostly got produced by big cats (these days Atomic). Difficult to actually name a brand, do not want to throw anyone in the trash, we tell our partners always the truth and when we pick up new stuff we always ask IF THE BRAND FEELS READY FOR THE NEXT STEP, poor thin, they mostly think that they are but my time in the business showed me, only a few had really been.

    – For Europe we can say we have different groups of skiers/buyers maybe like everywhere, 75% of the market and sales will be done by the big five, 20% by middle size brands (the Armadas, black crows and factions of the world) and the rest by fine little handcrafted boutique ski brands. And when you sell stuff for this group of fine five percent then I can tell you Moment is also in Europe a very hot horse in the race and remains the underground winner just before the also from you mentioned on3p…

    sorry no time to listen to the podcast for a second time and forgot about all the rest, now back to corona work…

  13. Am a bit behind so have not listened to episode 2 yet, so you may have answered this, but think Zai Skis was the expensive brand you were trying to get to

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