Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole ValleyMuddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

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Bits and pieces – a quick round up

Posted by Matt | October 12, 2019 | 5 comments so far

Muddymoles forum design 2019
I thought I’d post up some odds and ends which have been quietly claiming my attention recently. None of them warrant their own post but together add up to quite a lot.

Forum update

Well, this is the big one really. We started the Muddymoles forum back in 2010 and since then it hasn’t really moved on much technologically. Which is a problem, because the rest of the world has!

What this means is that ‘back in the day’ mobile browsing was more of an idea than a reality, whereas now it forms over half of all the traffic to this website. The forum badly needed bringing up to date, a fact I’ve known for a long time (I even mentioned it in January and the problem goes back much longer than that).

The task was compounded because the version of the forum software – phpbb – was so old there was no easy upgrade path to their latest variant. It’s not just the software either but the database itself which needed tickling, and that always causes pause for thought.

Happily, the whole process (using good old manual updates) went smoothly enough but it was rather a tense time at MoleHQ.

The result is a modern forum that works better in a mobile environment. At the same time, I’ve built our own custom templates that incorporate visual design cues from the main Muddymoles website, so the user experience should feel a lot more cohesive. I’m quite proud of it and hope people like it.

Shirt design

I shudder to think about producing custom shirts again; last time it was a fraught business of cat herding but the end result was something I was disappointed with.

Very much a case of design by committee (let alone potential issues of copyright), I was also disappointed by the Endura shirts; they may have stood the test of time functionally but they were not the same cut and cloth as Endura’s own offerings.

So I approach this subject with circumspection and certainly aren’t committing to anything at this point. However…

The Radavist 2019 MTB shirt design

I recently saw the new MTB shirts that are sold via The Radavist website and they certainly have an appeal. You can see what I mean in the image – simple two-tone colourways (they offer more than one design), with a discreet logo. Plus the cut of the shirts looks much more like you’d find from mainstream cycle retailers.

If I were to look at this, this is the direction I’d go visually. I’d also be tempted to set up an online shop and get the shirts made in batches rather than for individuals… dunno at this stage if this might go anywhere but I think I might look at the practicalities first.

Watch this space, because I do need to find a way to cover the costs of running this site!

e-Bikes

Wow! Just a comment really… I was off work with holiday time this week, which allowed the forum upgrade I’ve spoken about but was otherwise a wash out. Sod’s law that I picked up my first head cold in months, probably linked to the fact that I’m really burned out.

I’ve only had a couple of weeks off this year and work has been frantic. Coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Day on Thursday, I don’t mind admitting that I am fried!

My plan had been to get in some extended riding time, tapping individual Moles for some ride company but in the end that didn’t happen; I felt physically and mentally rotten and just plain exhausted.

I did get out once though, a long 45 mile road ride round the Hills which included a stop at Peaslake for refreshment. While I was there I saw two riders depart the bus stop outside the Stores on e-Bikes (MTBs) and shortly after was then joined by the biggest e-Bike posse I’ve yet seen – 8 riders turned up for coffee and all of them were on e-MTBs!!

So in the space of a few minutes I had seen – conservatively – about £50-60K of electric mountain bikes. And all the riders looked very happy!

Getting chatting to them they explained that they had both powered and conventional MTBs (they called them digital and analogue bikes) but that if one of them was on an e-Bike, they all needed one to keep up! Not only that but they claimed they were an absolute hoot, making the twisties fun uphill as well as down.

I got thinking that if that was how it was on a quiet Thursday lunchtime, there’s a lot of mileage in this trend…

Matt

About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years he's now running a YT Industries Jeffsy 29er and a Bird AM Zero Boost.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

There are 5 comments on ‘Bits and pieces – a quick round up’

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  1. Andrew AKAK says:

    New kit would be good. To be honest it looks like endura have moved on as well. Can get mt500 based kit and they take orders and payment directly?

    • Matt says:

      I did note that Andrew after I’d posted my thoughts. MT500 stuff is good so I will make a mental note…

      The other factor is costs – we’ve never made money out of the shirts but I’d like to find a way to do so because the hosting etc all has a cost. We’ll see 🙂

  2. Phil says:

    You need to do a few things with the shirts. For a start get the costs right down – mine were all UK printed as I liked the idea of supporting the economy, and still do. UK printing means you suffer instantly against those that print abroad (my print costs per cotton t-shirt in the end were over £8 a unit – so much for sticking with the same supplier). It can be done, but you need great quality, customers that appreciate great quality (you’d be surprised how many really don’t care), and a top design. With basic cotton t-shirts you can be up against the likes of ASDA who can punt them out at a fiver. It may well pay to focus on the more technical items highlighted in your post – to a degree some production costs can be hidden in a slightly higher price. That’s a good call.

    Copyright – ha ha! Say no more. No Olympic symbols, Whyte style logo etc.. The Mole logo is clever – local, friendly and good looking.

    The main one, though, and here you have a great head start, is in reaching an appreciative audience. Every boy and his dog can post on Facebook / Instagram now – so in having your own audience here, you have a willing market. You don’t need to sell many to cover initial costs, so can dip your toe in the water easily.

    Oh and don’t think that because your first design did not sell well, if you produce 37 more, the profits will roll in. If the first one does not sell well, there’s perhaps a fundamental problem somewhere that needs to be addressed before ordering in more.

    There’s also the “oh they are brilliant, I’ll buy one next week / month / year” factor. This is OK if you already have hundreds sitting in your garage, as you can ignore these people. It hurts when you add in an extra 15% or so at the order stage, only to find those people go away upon delivery.

    As for the rest of it (what to order, when, how many, declare the income etc.), well that’s for you to find out!

    • Matt says:

      As I said Phil, I still shudder at the memories.

      It’s early days at the moment – there’s T-shirt options, and ride jerseys and it’s a case of managing it around that.

      Endura is interesting – I will probably ask for free samples of their MT500 and Singletrack jerseys. If they allow individuals to order directly that would be even better, but the Endura costs are high and don’t allow a margin really and the whole point is to cover website costs. I just prefer to offer a product in exchange for that support.

      There’s lots of alternative companies – but many look rubbish, so it’s a case of finding a decent supplier.

      My preference would be something simple, a discrete logo and of a quality you would find from regular MTB suppliers. I always think companies like Fox, Gore, Nukeproof, Endura, Morvelo produce good quality kit.

      T shirt-wise, I’m tempted by the print-on-demand route, but it depends who ends up owning the design. POD would also allow other products to be cheaply produced e.g. coffee mugs?

  3. Phil says:

    Stop prevaricating and even thinking of mugs – awful things. Just do your design, get some technical ride shirts printed, put them up for sale! I’d buy one ????

    As you say, you just want to cover web costs not be the new Superdry…. It’s a fun exercise, and nothing beats seeing one of your designs being worn around town.

    Go for it.

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