The UK MTB magazine market is fairly neatly carved up at the moment. MBUK tries to do a bit of everything but inevitably ends up giving most prominence to visually-exciting stuff. MBR goes for the middle-of-the-road trail riding stuff. What Mountain Bike focuses on gear and tests. Dirt is purely DH/4X and associated stuff. Singletrack aims to be none of the above, and our buddies Shred largely avoid pigeonholing by staying out of newsagents altogether.
But a bit of a shake-up might be about to happen, as Dirt relaunches and diversifies. Issue 51 goes on sale on April 28, complete with covermounted DVD (with stuff from Earthed and Fundamentals on it, so it should be pretty good) and the sort of coverlines that have always been the preserve of the more mainstream mags – “We rate the best pedals”, “Where, what & how to ride”, that kind of stuff.
Editor Mike Rose says, “We want Dirt to become the magazine for all mountain bikers and not just for hardcore downhill and dirt jumpers. We want Dirt to grow with mountainbiking rather than become segmented and elitist.” So in comes more comprehensive review stuff including six-bike bike tests – the promise of enduro-style bikes shows the broader appeal that Dirt appears to be striving for. Mike’s keen to reassure existing readers that the relaunched mag won’t alienate them – all the improvements and extra stuff won’t be at the expense of anything you’ve come to know and love.
It’s certainly an interesting, and brave, development. Dirt’s always been happily doing its own thing, operating in an arena sufficiently removed from the “big boys” to not really register as a direct competitor. But with a big chunk of the MTB market moving in Dirt’s direction, it looks like it’s picked a good time to go and meet it coming the other way. We doubt the other publishers’ll take it lying down, though – the Mag Wars could be about to begin again…