Let's face it, bikes are expensive pieces of kit. As a result, before 'investing' in a new machine, it's worth doing a bit of reading up. Or more to the point, in this modern world of ours - there are online videos to watch. Here's who to listen to before getting your wallet out;
1 The brands
If anyone is going to make a product look attractive, it's going to be the company that produces it. Some are better at it than others however and Santa Cruz Bikes are definitely amongst the former. Their World Cup racing Syndicate team are often deployed when it comes to adding a bit of 'X-Factor' to their latest models. If you can watch this video of Josh Bryceland riding the new Blur TR and not want to instantly swap some credit card numbers for one then you're probably made of stone.
2 The critics
Reviewing bikes is a dream job but that's not to say it's easy. The small details and the slightest nuances can all add up and you want to invest your viewing time into a journo who knows their proverbial onions. More and more we're seeing bike reviews go live online shortly after they've landed in newsagents.
3 The shops
Granted, they have a vested interest but shops and online retailers are increadingly offering video 'unboxings' and product previews online. They allow you to get a look at what you're about to buy and whether or not your money would be better spent on last year's discounted models. Think of them as a half way house between the press and the brands.
4 Your mates
It's not in any way important what anybody else thinks about you.
Now, if you're over 10 years-old then of course that's a lie - it's vitally important what your mates think! Go for a custom-painted neon pink and yellow frame and you'll find them all to be suddenly busy every weekend. Likewise, they probably know you better than you do yourself so listen to them if they advise against the 8in travel DH bike for the weekly Thursday night XC ride.