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Welcome to Beta, a new home for mountain bike news, stories, images, videos, and gear. The Beta team includes some of the most creative storytellers and trusted voices in mountain biking, and we are beyond stoked to bring you a new magazine and website celebrating the joy, freedom, community, and—yes—occasional hard knocks of the sport we love so much.
Some of you may recognize our names and faces as the team from Bike magazine, and if so, thanks for following along as we transitioned to Pocket Outdoor Media, the publisher of Beta magazine and betamtb.com. If you’re new, hello and thanks for checking us out!
Today’s website launch has been three months in the making, starting with an intense ride-and-plan session in the southern Utah desert. We spent our second week with Pocket holed up in St. George amid a wealth of early winter riding possibilities. Our mandate: Create a brand, a voice, and a content plan that speak to the soul of mountain biking in ways that would connect with the most grizzled lifer as well as all those newbies just throwing a leg over a bike for the first time. The location felt right because it was fairly central to our team, but in retrospect, there could be no better place to forge something new than Zion, a region synonymous in mountain biking with progress and creativity.
We laid out a mission, brainstormed editorial ideas, dreamt up new ways to engage readers directly … and banged our heads against the wall trying to come up with a catchy name that had an available URL. And social handles. And rolled off the tongue. And had design potential. And could be trademarked. For the record, I named a human not long ago, and this was way harder.
It all clicked when someone suggested “beta,” a word synonymous with hard-won wisdom—and the act of gifting it to a friend. The most useful beta is the inside dope about a particularly gnarly stretch of singletrack or the way a certain bike corners, and you only learn it by riding hard, falling, and riding that stretch again. But beta isn’t just about intel—it’s about sharing. And that’s what Beta is all about. We strive to be a definitive information source where all riders are welcome and where you’ll find best-in-class product reviews, places to ride, technique, and inspiration.
Today, we’re proud to provide a glimpse of what we have in store. On this page, you’ll find columns from beloved writers like Mike Ferrentino and Kristin Butcher, travel pieces from the Colorado Trail and British Columbia, a stunning photo essay shot in the Santa Cruz Mountains in the wake of last year’s devastating wildfires, and profiles of women who have pushed past barriers to carve out their own niche in the professional ranks of the sport.
In gear, we’re debuting The Beta Tests, our take on the annual bike buyers’ guide, kicking things off with the venerable Santa Cruz Nomad. We’ll continue to roll out in-depth video reviews of two dozen more bikes over the course of the next two months. Elsewhere, gear editor Travis Engel combines history with DIY repair as he tackles a seemingly simple repair on a 2007 Specialized Enduro in the first episode of “In The Stand.”
You’ll notice that some of our in-depth stories, like Engel’s “The Long Game,” which examines why the long end of the dropper-post category has taken so much time to develop, or Ferrentino’s “Operation: Reasonable Compromise” about his quest to find the holy trinity of trail-bike happiness, require membership to read the full story. Those pieces, and future stories like them, are available to Beta Pass members. By becoming a member, you’ll receive Beta’s quarterly print magazine (the first one drops March 30), access to all of our premium digital content and experiences, an ad-free viewing experience, and other perks. You can also upgrade to the Active Pass, which grants you the same ad-free experience across Pocket’s entire network of brands, like SKI, VeloNews, Triathlete and Backpacker, along with industry discounts, books, event tickets, recipes, and training plans. Check out both options over on our membership page.
How we’re coming to you may have changed, but the goal hasn’t. We want to inspire all mountain bikers—whether you’ve been on wheels since you could walk or you’re one of the thousands who discovered bikes during an unprecedented time of pandemic-induced lockdown—to get out and ride, to chase that feeling that feeds all of our souls, one that can only be found out on the trail.
Tell your friends, join us on social at @BetaMTB, and write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope you like Beta, and we look forward to seeing you out on the trail.
Photos: Anthony Smith