After rather too long unchanged, we’ve just overhauled our rating system for bike and product tests. We’ve added a couple of things, revised others and made it all look a bit nicer. But most importantly, we’re about to tell you what it all actually means…
The Ratings box
This is the thing that appears at the bottom of all of our tests and displays our conclusions in a few different ways. This may sometimes lead to a degree or repetition or redundancy, but from experience we know that different people like different ways of being presented with these things, so we hope that this method covers as many bases as possible without getting out of hand. Here’s the breakdown:
In a nutshell, this is how well something works. Generally we’re assessing products against the claims made for them or the market niche that they occupy – we wouldn’t expect an XC race bike to inspire confidence on big drops to flat any more than we’d expect a freeride bike to win in a sprint. So scores should be comparable between similar products.
|As close to perfect as you’ll find. There might be the tiniest niggle but not anything to worry most people.|
|Very good. Not top notch, but certainly nothing to be ashamed of.|
|Works OK, but doesn’t particularly shine anywhere. Will do the job, though.|
|Has some serious shortcomings. Might fit your particular needs, but approach with caution.|
|Anything this bad probably won’t ever have left the drawing board. But you never know…|
Value judgements are notoriously subjective, largely because everyone has different amounts of money to spend. So our Value scores are really based on how much similar products cost. Inevitably it all tends to break down a bit for the real high-end stuff – really expensive bikes and parts will rarely get full value marks simply because there’s nearly always something that’s 90% as good for two-thirds of the price. That doesn’t mean that they’re not utterly desirable things, though…
|How do they do this for the money?|
|Notably better than you’d expect for the price|
|No less expensive than you’d expect for the features|
|Likely to lead to a sharp intake of breath|
What it says on the tin – a kind of aggregation of the Performance and Value scores. It’s not a simple mathematical thing, though. Depending on the product one or the other factor may take precedence.
|In the market for whatever it is? This is as good as you’ll get.|
|May not work as well or be as good value, but you won’t be disappointed.|
|A bit middle of the road, but competent and you won’t have wasted your money.|
|Somewhat iffy in some way or other. Be careful.|
|You may be better off just burning your money|
We’ve also introduced another layer of recommendation in an effort to distinguish between the majority of products that score quite highly (because these days nearly everything is pretty damn good). These three BM Awards go to deserving gear, for whatever reason. And not everything will get one…
Five out of five for both performance and value? That’s a Rated product, that is.Value winners might not be the very best performers, but they’ll be so well priced that it hardly matters.The ever-so-slightly subjective Editor’s Choice goes to stuff that makes us think, “We want one of these”.
So there you go. It’s not perfect, but we’ve been doing this stuff for a long time and have concluded that no system is. If in doubt, read the words – they’ll tell you what’s what…