Exploring an Aesthetic – Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is an activity that is well known to many people, especially those here in Colorado. The premise is simple: ride trails with natural terrain on two wheels using your own leg power or gravity to propel yourself forward. In practice, however, mountain biking has a lot of intricacies which make it a challenging, yet still very enjoyable, sport.

Mountain biking is unique enough to have its own aesthetic qualities, in my opinion. To me, it combines three separate, contrasting aesthetics: a mechanical/technological aesthetic, an aesthetic of intensity and adrenaline, and a serene, natural aesthetic.

In mountain biking, the bike itself is usually a well-crafted machine. Inherent to the design of the bike, all of the moving parts and interesting mechanical devices are out in the open and can easily be seen. This, to me, achieves the same visual interest as a watch with all of the internal gears and other mechanical systems displayed behind the watch hands. Although most bikes have their own color scheme, finish, and overall design, this exposed-mechanism aesthetic is found on all mountain bikes.

The next aesthetic that I believe mountain biking achieves is one of intensity or adrenaline. More often than not, a mountain biker will encounter high speeds, steep trails, big drops, or other features that make the heart pump a little faster. Mountain biking definitely qualifies as an intense sport. Although this is not a visual aesthetic (it might be pushing outside what the word ‘aesthetic’ means entirely), I think that it is important to consider the rush that a rider can experience when looking at the overall aesthetic of mountain biking.

The final piece of the overall aesthetic of mountain biking contrasts the others: the aesthetic provided by the secluded parts of nature that can be found while biking. Often times, mountain bike trails take you away from civilization. Even if you are not a significant distance away geographically, it is not usual to see any indication of urbanism. Instead, you are surrounded by nature: trees, streams, mountainous rock features, etc.  This is a completely opposite aesthetic from the mechanical aspect of the bike and from the intensity of the sport. The fact that mountain biking provides a way to achieve multiple, contrasting characteristics within one overall aesthetic is the reason it speaks to me.

Works Cited:

[1] Lim, Chhorika. “Best Mountain Bikes under $400 in 2020 – Buy the Cheap and Quality.” Business 99, 27 Dec. 2019, www.business99.net/mountain-bikes/.

[2-3] Cleek, Ryan. “Review: Knolly Warden Carbon.” BIKE Magazine, BIKE Magazine, 13 Apr. 2017, www.bikemag.com/gear/mountain-bikes/review-knolly-warden-carbon/.

[4] Caldwell, Tom. “A Bigger Slice of British Pie.” Dirt, dirtmountainbike.com/bigger-slice-british-pie.

[5] Worsey, Trev. “Stanton Switch9er FS in Review – Fusing Steel and Aluminium in One Frame.” ENDURO Mountainbike Magazine, 7 Oct. 2019, enduro-mtb.com/en/stanton-switch9er-fs-review/.

[6] Coogan, Melina, and Dave Brown. “A Quick and Dirty Guide to Mountain Biking in Asheville.” RootsRated, 10 July 2016, rootsrated.com/stories/a-quick-and-dirty-guide-to-mountain-biking-in-asheville.

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Abdulrahman Nashawi
    January 26, 2020 8:14 pm

    I think your topic is really interesting because you chose to write about something that, in my opinion, cannot be sensible. I have not thought that the word aesthetic can be applied to a concept, but rather, only things that we can sense such as objects, music,…. I like what you said and agree with your three points. The physical and mechanical parts of the bike make the bike aesthetic, and the nature and surroundings make the experience aesthetic. I think your idea is smart, however, I am just curious, is it actually correct to call an experience or a feeling aesthetic or did you come up with this expression?
    One suggestion I would add is to add more images. Thinking about it, there is no objective type of images that can describes the aesthetic of mountain biking. It is all perceived the way each person sees it, so maybe more images on how you personally perceives it.

  • I think intensity and adrenaline as part of an aesthetic is completely valid – things that aren’t tangible, such as music or uneasiness, are considered parts of an aesthetic.
    I think it’d be interesting to explore the natural/serene part of the aesthetic in contrast with the adrenaline part.
    Also, can you explore the people that mountain bike? Does there tend to be a certain body type, or specific clothing brand, or does mountain biking attract certain personality types…?


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